Earlier this year, Lab42 Games made the pledge to #RaiseTheGame.
#RaiseTheGame is an industry-wide initiative facilitated and managed by Ukie, aimed at driving change and meaningful improvement through equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work within the games industry.
“We didn’t pledge to boast about the things we’re already doing, we joined the pledge because we want to be continuously improving.” says Kirsty K, Studio Engagement Manager, “and part of that is looking at our people, our studio, our culture and asking; ‘what can we do better?’”
For Lab42, the 2022 games industry census was an eye-opener, with 10% of people within our industry reporting having ADHD and 4% of people reporting having autism – this is higher than the national average of 4% and 1-2% respectively. People who reported that they are autistic also had the least positive overall attitudes towards the games industry in general, and the lowest opinion of how inappropriate behaviour is handled.
While the UK Games Industry Census is an important source of information, Ukie EDI Coordinator Dom Shaw encourages everyone to aim beyond what the data shows. He believes that there is more neurodiversity within the industry than the current data shows, largely due to barriers in understanding and acknowledgement on a wider level. Simply put; building neurodiversity-friendly practices into your workplace culture could benefit people who may not even know they are neurodiverse.
“This was important to us because it’s less visible,” says Kirsty, “we have a lot of focus on inclusivity when it comes to gender and race, which we’re proud of and it’s still very necessary – but you can’t look at a team picture and know if the studio supports their neurodiverse talent. I think that’s why a lot of games studios see neurodiversity as a less important facet of their EDI goals. It gets forgotten about. But it’s incredibly important, and especially relevant in our industry.”
Handbooks and policies are all very well and good, but how do we make sure we’re really supporting everyone in their day-to-day role?
The first step for Lab42 was partnering with SIC, who are experts when it comes to helping businesses improve their practices to become more inclusive.
“Training on the topic of neurodiversity within your organisation –to develop confidence on every side and best practice- is important in creating an inclusive working environment,” says Rachael Mole, Founder and Managing Director of SIC, “Knowing how to manage, lead, inspire and ultimately retain great talent is vital, even more so in the gaming industry, which hires proportionally more neurodiverse staff.” SIC helped us to deliver a Neurodiversity in the Workplace workshop to all our line managers and producers. The aims were to ensure that everyone in a leadership position would better understand the spectrum of neurodiversity, and learn what processes they could implement to better support their team. We explored case studies, as well as building a list of actionable changes we could make to our processes.
“One of the things that really stuck with me was that some people can be neurodiverse and not even know it themselves,” says Technical Director, Terry G, “so we need to build inclusive, neurodiversity-friendly practices into our everyday work and apply it to our interactions with every person we work with.”
“The important thing to remember is that it’s a journey,” says Kirsty, “you can’t just host one workshop and call it a day. We feel that with the help of SIC our understanding is increased, but we’re going to keep on working and make sure Lab42 is a place where everyone can feel comfortable, safe and supported.”