Xbox Launches ‘Project Amplify’ To Address Gaming’s Desperate Need For More Black Developers

To cap off National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, Xbox announced “Project Amplify,” an outreach program to help the next generation of Black game developers begin charting their career paths within the industry.

In a blog post from Xbox, the company announced it will have a panel at Revolt Summit 2022, an event whose mission is to offer young aspiring artists an opportunity to celebrate, network, and curate the necessary skills to grow within their careers. Although the event typically features celebrities and musicians within the music and entertainment industry, Revolt Summit also highlights those within the technology spectrum. The event takes place from September 24 to September 25 in Atlanta, Georgia.

For those still wondering why Xbox wished to be a part of an event whose lineup included appearances from hip-hop celebrities like Amber Rose, Killer Mike, Gucci Mane, and Bobby Shmurda, the statistics from Microsoft’s commissioned survey paint a pretty clear picture: Today’s Black youth are hungry to dive into the gaming industry despite it not highlighting folks that look like them.

According to a recent HBCU, 95 per cent of its 200 college students and alumni want to work within the game industry. Of those 200 respondents, 34 per cent want to be program managers, 24 per cent engineers, and 18 per cent want to be game developers. I don’t think I’m pulling the back under any reader’s chairs by reminding you that the current climate within the gaming industry is still pretty damn white. And for those pearl-clutching at my lukewarm take, Xbox agrees, saying “only 2% of professionals in the video game industry are Black compared with 13% of the US population.”

For folks unable to book a plane ticket to Atlanta in this economy, this is where Project Amplify’s video series comes in. Xbox uploaded a video series under the same name [email protected] YouTube Channel. Throughout the 16-episode playlist, viewers can watch videos featuring 14 game designers working at Xbox. It features folks from 12 different disciplines of game design, including narrative directors, character artists, and software engineers.

My two cents, as someone who’s (check’s pigmentation) Black and covers the gaming industry as my job: I think this is a good move on Xbox’s part. While I was studying journalism in college, charting a career path within games journalism proved to nigh impossible for my college advisors to help guide me on considering the only recent success stories they could conjure were Alanah Pearce and Greg Miller, who, although great, ain ‘t Black. While it isn’t Xbox putting on its hotep hat and rationing bigots on social media, helping kinfolk get their foot in the door of this relatively young and insider-esque industry. The more the merrier. Good luck to all who apply.

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