Diversity in the Game Industry with Ray Graham

by Brandon Pham
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This episode was Sponsored by Autodesk.

For amazing resources and a vast online hub of articles, tutorials, and content for 3D artists please check out https://area.autodesk.com/.


 

“I think there are a lot of biases and preconceived notions that are at play- unconsciously, which is at the heart of the problem. ” – Ray Graham

Ray Graham is the Technical Director at Unity Technologies. He has been in leadership positions at game studios and tech companies throughout his  long career, and was gracious enough to come on the show to talk about diversity in the workplace. We went though a slew of various discussion points, attempting to pinpoint where the industry is currently at, and how far we are from solving today’s biggest issues.

One of the most popular and misleading trends about diversity is that there have been substantial progress in the past few years made in the game industry. But during this discussion, reflecting from our own experiences, we’ve concluded that things have largely remained the same. Part of the illusion of progress have come from the marketability of hiring for diversity. Lately, new studios do take advantage of that hype to promote their brand. Which is great if that initiative is followed through. However, the problem is that there really is no coverage after the declaration and studios would fall back  to fast hires instead of really investing behind the idea for diverse hires.

Also, there are issues that lies deeper within a studio culture, as most people are embedded with unconscious biases and would often refer friends for hire. This is a very common practice and normal behavior when job openings are available.  But a game developer has a non-diverse circle of friends they usually recommend, it would always remain a closed specific circle. Experiences are everything, and the exposure to different people with differences in culture can only be felt when spending time with one another. Which is the root of the challenges for job recommendations and even leadership opportunities. We always vote for people we know.

The other side of the argument has always been about fairness in competition which I believe both sides truly want. Fairness in judgement and opportunity for job placement and promotion. However, as it stands, the opportunities are being fenced off and fundamentally that have proven to be unchanged until more and more diverse groups of people are at leadership roles of major studios to help push for recruiting talent.

Topics discussed in this episode:
0:00 Autodesk Sponsorship
2:15 About Ray Graham
2:53 Introducing the issue about diversity and remote working
5:52 The marketability of diversity hires
8:50 Unconscious biases in the workplace
17:00 Hardships on overcoming preconceived opinions
20:00 Fundamental flaw on how studios are currently setup
26:25 Zoom hires and the challenges with hiring remotely
34:00 Minority percentages haven’t changed over the past years
38:34 What is the resistance against diversity?
39:39 Why are game jobs more desirable to most engineers?
47:49 Bystanders continuing to bystand
54:40 Being comfortable by familiar surroundings
59:33 School ratio versus workplace ratio to get to the root of the problems
1:08:00 How COVID have changed this initiative?
1:16:30 Shoutout

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

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