Joseph Saulter, chairman of game design and development at American Intercontinental University, has been a vocal advocate about the role of minorities within the industry.
Speaking about Microsoft's Blacks in Gaming gathering last night he says, "It's great to see that things are happening and we are getting toward the vision, but it's still not the reality." He says the potential influence that diversity would bring to the industry isn't being recognized. Explaining he's spent his life as a black man, he half-jokingly says when he looks around the game industry he feels himself asking the question, "Why should I have to be a white man? ... Meaning I bring a unique characteristic in my African-American culture. It would be nice to bring my cultural expertice into an arena. We go into this white business -- and it's not that the business is white. It's that the culture in the business is white. I'd like to see people create what I am in games and be accepted for what I do."
Saulter says the industry is like a "horse with blinders" on when it comes to issues of diversity. It's not that they are outright ignoring minorities, it's just that the focus is so straight ahead and narrow, companies don't take the time to reach out. He says there are programs like the Urban Video Game Academy based in Atlanta, Maryland and Washington D.C., which attempt to get kids into game design and should be looked at as an opportunity by developers to find potential talent. He compared getting a job in the industry like riding a horse. He believes that minorities don't care if they get knocked off the horse, that's only fair -- but they'd still like a chance to ride.