Black Professional Gamers Scarce: Playing With Diversity In The $300 Million Gaming Industry
- 73% of African-Americans are active gamers, compared to 66% of the total U.S. population
- The gaming industry brought in $131B in revenue in 2018
The gaming sector is one of the fastest growing and lucrative entertainment industries out there, with experts projecting it will earn over $300 billion by 2025. However, one of the main issues with this growth is that it is not inclusive or representative of the gamers who support the industry. With 73% of African-Americans being active gamers, how much money is being missed by ignoring the culture?
Why This Matters: The outlook is bleak for diverse representation in game characters and industry professionals: there were only 14 playable Black female characters to choose from in 2015, and that number has only risen by a few since then. Currently, the racial makeup of corporate gaming is 68% white and 74% male. Despite this lack of diversity, the culture has still made its mark on gaming by increasing its clout within popular culture and helping the industry reach $131 billion in revenue last year.
Artists like Drake and Travis Scott have joined famous gamers on live streams, and have brought these same gamers on stage at their shows. In a 2018 partnership between Luminosity Gaming and Universal Music Canada, they agreed to stream music through Luminosity’s channels and signed talent to reach new markets and demographics. Hip hop playlists were made as part of the deal so that gamers could stream them while they played. Additionally, major players in the music industry have invested in gaming businesses. Sean “Diddy” Combs recently invested in PlayVS, a high school esports initiative, after their raised a Series B round valued over $30 million.
What’s Next: If Black musicians and investors are engaging with such a lucrative industry now, imagine what can be done with even more capital and awareness to increase representation. A few companies have started to support minority gamers, such as Thumbstick Mafia and Brown Girl Gamer Code. Both were founded in 2015 and make streaming channels for video games that offer minorities a space to have discussions, publish podcasts, and engage with other gamers.