Celebrating Black Creators Year-Round
February 24, 2023 / by Cassandra Baralis
Recognizing and appreciating the important contributions that Black game developers have made to the gaming industry should be celebrated all year long – their work challenges us to confront our biases, examine our histories, and rethink our assumptions about the world around us. Below are a collection of games, immersive experiences, and Festival sessions for the gaming community to explore race, identity, and social justice issues. Take a look at some of the fantastic work from the G4C community:
Kinfolk, developed by Movers & Shakers, is an augmented reality app that allows users to explore the physical world around them through the lens of digital monuments. These monuments are works of art dedicated to Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and LGBTQIA+ histories that everyone should know. Kinfolk provides a unique and interactive way for users to learn about the past and gain present-day tools to become better ancestors of the future. Using augmented reality, Kinfolk makes history come alive in a new and dynamic way, giving users a more immersive and engaging experience than traditional history books.
Catt Small’s SweetXheart is a slice-of-life visual novel that explores the experiences of a modern Black woman trying to navigate her way through life. The game’s protagonist, Kara, is a 19-year-old girl from the Bronx who attends an art college and interns at a tech company. Over five days, players experience the highs and lows of life, including microaggressions, race, and gender. The game is a powerful reminder of the daily struggles many Black women face as they strive for success in their personal and professional lives.
Dot’s Home, developed by Rise-Home Stories, is a narrative-driven video game that follows a young Black woman in Detroit as she travels through time to relive key moments in her family’s history. Through interactive scenarios exploring the impact of redlining, urban renewal, and gentrification, Dot’s Home asks players to consider how their family ended up where they are today and how many choices they had in that journey. The game is a powerful exploration of the systems that dictate our relationship to race and place, and it challenges players to think deeply about the role of historical events in shaping our communities and our lives.
1,000 Cut Journey, developed by Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab, is an immersive virtual reality experience that allows participants to embody a Black man named Michael Sterling as he experiences racism throughout his life. The piece takes players through three different stages of Sterling’s life: as a child experiencing disciplinary action in the classroom, as an adolescent encountering the police, and as a young adult experiencing workplace discrimination. Through the use of VR, 1,000 Cut Journey provides a visceral and emotional understanding of the impact of racism on the lives of Black people. The game’s title refers to the idea that each instance of racism is like a “cut” that accumulates over time, creating deep and lasting wounds.
Breonna’s Garden is an XR experience created by artist and curator Lady PheØnix in solidarity with Breonna Taylor’s family. The Garden is a sacred space, brimming with flowers, butterflies, and a few of Breonna’s favorite things. The experience allows audiences to fully immerse themselves in Breonna’s Garden and hear about Breonna from her family, Ms. Tamika Palmer, Ju’Niyah Palmer, and Kenneth Walker. Breonna’s Garden honors the life and memory of Breonna Taylor while cultivating a safe healing space for anyone to plant a message of hope for Breonna’s family or a personal message in remembrance of someone they miss.
Black developers are crucial to the growth of the video game sector. They are creating games and immersive experiences that push the boundaries of what is possible in the gaming industry, and they are paving the way for future generations of Black developers to make their mark on this field.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into some of the work featured above and from other Black creators in the G4C community, check out this selection of G4C Festival sessions:
- Black Games: African Diasporic Work and Social Impact
- The Technically Brilliant Show
- Using AR to Imagine and Empower New Forms of Activism
- Anti Racism + XR with Dr. Courtney Cogburn
- Breonna’s Garden: The Power and Responsibility of the Metaverse
Let us support their work and continue to advocate for more diverse and inclusive representation in the world of gaming. Together, we can create a more just and equitable world for all.