This year’s Hamburg Pride Week is in full swing and yet before the final three-day-long showdown takes place at the Binnenalster lake, Goodgame Studios has entered the gig. Together with gamecity:Hamburg and a few other gaming companies, we discussed the topic of LGBT in the gaming industry. The event was organized as a pub crawl along Hamburg’s hip LGBT hotspot Lange Reihe.
Those who take a strong interest in gaming will have noticed that over the past years more and more games include LGBT characters. From Mass Effect’s tough hero Shepard, who develops a weakness for Kaidan, to The Sims, where two female avatars enter into the bond of marriage, sexual diversity is definitely beginning to get integrated in today’s games. . At the same time, it is striking that discrimination based on sexual identity is still a daily issue in game chats and forums, and can sometimes turn quite violent. This brings up the question of how LGBT employees get along in gaming companies and how the topic is treated within the teams. At Goodgame Studios, we are totally open about it, which we also recently demonstrated with the anniversary party for our internal LGBT community Gaymer & Friends.
This is why it was very important for us to share our experiences with other participants at the event, both from the point of few of the employees as well as the company, and to answer any questions about the topic. Richard Illig, founder of Gaymer & Friends, talked about the individual steps that need to be taken in order to initiate an LGBT employee group. For example, it is very valuable to have an open relationship with your superiors as well as the management in order to have enough support, especially in the beginning. He also gave some personal insight into how coming out at the workplace can be done successfully.
Brigitte Reisinger, our Team Lead HR Marketing and Feelgood Management, gave a detailed talk about how to integrate the topic into the communication with applicants and employees in an authentic way. To her, one key aspect is not to use the topic as a publicity gag in order to lure people in with false promises. It is very important, however, to strongly integrate equality and acceptance into the company values. That way every employee can claim their right to be treated respectfully in case of a conflict.
Several smaller indie studios also gave some exciting insights on their challenges, which are very different from what we experience with a team of 1200 employees. For example, one of the founders asked himself the question whether anyone would take him seriously as a manager and business partner if he lived openly as a gay man. Today, he can say that there was no need for him to worry and that his professional competency cleared up any potential reservations.
The general tenor at the evening and among all participants was that the gaming industry is a great place to work for LGBT, especially since the staff tends to be quite young and well educated. Everyone gets the chance to fully develop themselves professionally, no matter whether they work in a big company or a small start-up. With this positive conclusion , we are now awaiting the weekend with the big CSD final and the parade here in Hamburg. We hope to see you at the Binnenalster!