An interview with a Community Manager: SockMonkey chats to BAME in Games

Currently BAME individuals make up 10% of the gaming industry, a figure far too low to allow for the accurate representation of this community in video games, but a statistic far too apparent when you go to any gaming convention.  

Founded in 2016, BAME in Games (BiG) work year around to make the gaming industry more accessible to those of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds. They celebrate diversity by hosting virtual meet-ups, developing a mentorship programme and working with a number of studios. 

Community Manager to Community Manager, I sat down to have a chat with Jerreau from BiG to chat – in between one to fifty completely unrelated tangents – about his journey navigating the gaming industry. 

What’s your role in BiG? 

“I’m the Content Creator and Community Manager at BAME in Games (BiG). So, I manage the communications and visual content on our social media and I also get to work with some amazing games industry partners to help promote EDI initiatives.” 

Tell me about your journey, how did you end up in the gaming industry and how did you get to BAME? 

“For as long as I remember I’ve always been passionate about video games. My first consoles were the Sega MegaDrive and Super Nintendo back in the 90’s haha! I loved the music, the art, and the immersion – and I still do.

I remember watching 101 Dalmatians (1996) for the first time. There’s this scene with a boy working as a game tester and I remember thinking, ‘kids can get paid to play games?’ Of course, back then people said that it wasn’t a real job (how things have changed) but I wanted to do it. 

Herbert from 101 Dalmatians 1996
101 Dalmatians, 1996, Walt Disney Pictures, Great Oaks Entertainment

I studied Computer Hardware and Software Engineering at university, but the hardware side of things wasn’t all that appealing to me. I didn’t feel like I could use my creativity.  

Fast-forward to 2020. I just remember thinking to myself ‘am I doing what I really want to do?’ I realised that I wasn’t. So, I decided to pursue my passion in games. At that time, I wanted to create an inclusive community for gamers, myself. I ended up finding BAME in Games in the process. I met Saskia (Event Manager at BiG) at one of their meetup events, mentioning to her at the time that I wanted to contribute. I worked on a lot of content and projects, updating their social media content, and next thing you know I’m the Content Creator and Community Manager for BiG.” 

How do you feel the landscape has changed for Black Creatives since you first started working in the creative sector? 

“The George Floyd protests (2020) definitely opened up a global discussion for Black representation in the workplace. There is still a long way to go, and barriers that need to be broken down. But I feel like industries are taking representation more seriously and I’ve noticed there have been more Black leading roles in games. Hopefully, that will translate over to employment figures as well.”

Off the top of your head is there anything you think the games industry should be focusing on to be more inclusive? 

“As lockdown is coming to an end, there should be more programmes in schools being run for people from all backgrounds, as well as ambassador programmes branching out to improve diversity and inclusion in games. It’s important to inspire young people and to show what is possible.  

When I was younger, I didn’t see people in the games industry who looked like me, I just had my dreams and ambition to get me where I am now. I want aspiring developers to have more people to look to.” 

Jerreau, Community Manager at Bame in Games (BiG)
Jerreau, Community Manager at Bame in Games (BiG)

If you had a message for young Jerreau what would it be? 

“Don’t be afraid to create what you want to see in the world; it sounds cliché but it’s true. Keep believing in yourself and don’t let the current status quo be the standard that you set your bar to. Always network and continue to build relationships. Understand and believe in my own abilities, too.  

I used to feel like in order to create something, I needed to have all of my people jump on board in making it… but I don’t have to rely on others to achieve my goals, I just believe in myself. That has been really important.” 

How does the games industry compare to others when it comes to inclusivity? 

“It’s a breath of fresh air; the fact that it doesn’t matter what your background is for the most part (and from my personal experience.) It’s very open and more about who you are, what you bring and your sincerity. 

It really is a unique industry and a melting pot in terms of disciplines. It’s so inclusive and diverse, from art to voice acting and law, there are so many untapped areas and so much potential.” 

Are there any black creatives in games or beyond who inspire you?  

“3 who immediately come to mind are: 

Elisha Brown from Way to Blue. She’s a Senior Social Media Account Manager with just so much knowledge, having worked on a number of AAA titles. She has been a huge help to me and it’s fantastic that she is generous enough to share her experience with others. 

Davionne Gooden; he’s an indie developer and the creator of the game “She Dreams Elsewhere.” His game is still in development. I think it’s great how he is almost single-handedly creating a surreal, adventure RPG focusing on exploring the Black Experience and issues on mental health. I’m looking forward to the finished product! 

She Dreams Elsewhere, Davionne Gooden
She Dreams Elsewhere, Davionne Gooden, Studio Zevere

Lastly, Jabrils. He’s a programmer mostly on YouTube who is changing the landscape for young Black developers in the industry. He makes easily digestible content. His work is mostly focused on AI and I love what he is doing education-wise to make coding for games more accessible.” 

Black History can never and should never be relegated to a month, but if BHM has inspired you to get more involved in the conversation then take a look at the BiG site as well as their Facebook, and Twitter to find out more about their continuous initiatives, virtual meets and mentorship programmes. 

Share this post: