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INTERVIEW: JAY

‘Inclusivity in gaming is taking time, it needs a little bit of work to push forward but it is happening.’

[Interviewer] Good afternoon, please could you introduce yourself?

[Jay] My name is Jay. I run Black Girl Gamers, which is a safe space/progressive community that I founded in 2015. At first it started as a safe space for me personally, because I was experiencing racism and sexism whilst gaming online and it caused me to stop gaming for a little while. I created a space just for people who had me on social media, and now four years down the line we have 4,000 black women in the community.

We write articles, we create content and we’re one of the most - and I’m going to claim it - the most progressive platforms in gaming on social media.

Can you tell us about your relationship with gaming? How did you first get into it?

I got my first console when I was six to eight years old from my uncles. I was playing Mario Kart, all the games that you had on that. I progressed throughout the consoles from PlayStation 1 to PlayStation 2, skipped 3, went on to Xbox, Xbox 360 then got a PlayStation 4 and a PC.

I love to game. For me gaming is how I destress, it’s how I escape. I’m a Pisces and we like alternative reality. Any game with an alternative reality or a story is so interesting to me. Gaming is part of who I am, there’s been no part of my life where I haven’t been gaming.

Space Invaders has an alternative reality, right. Have you ever played that?

Space Invaders was one of the first games I ever played. That game has been transitioning throughout time, it was on a website where there were popular games, or you could go and play retro games as well. Space Invaders was one of the first games I played, and it’s always been timeless, a classic retro game that’s always been relevant.

And what is AR like?

AR is augmented reality, so it’s kind of like a step towards VR but in the middle. VR is virtual reality, this is augmented reality. You can take your phone out and you can look through it and see something that’s not real, but plays into the real world via your camera. Pokémon GO is an example - that was a popular game.

So, what’s inclusivity in gaming in a few sentences?

Inclusivity in gaming is taking time, it needs a little bit of work to push forward but it is happening. You have brands that are hiring chief development officers and they’re trying to make more steps towards making the workforce and their games more inclusive. It’s a work in progress.

In your opinion, what are some positive elements of the gaming world?

Gaming bring people together from different walks of life who love the same thing. Those who can work together to achieve amazing things in games, defeat high-level bosses, and create things as well. You can create new worlds in games - you can do so much and it’s so diverse in terms of the content you can create. It’s a great way to escape. It helps your stress. Therapists are even recommending it as a way to destress clients.

I think gaming is such a great tool. It’s also at the forefront of tech, it has a lot of possibility for other aspects of life, such as med tech or tech in general. Gaming is promising, and a lot of people in the mainstream audience, don’t understand the actual power that gaming has. As an entertainment industry it’s one of the most powerful. I think it is the most powerful thus far.

Finally, where do you want the Black Girl Gamers collective to go?

My collective is going to be influential in the gaming industry for a very long time. I’m not revealing too much, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

NIALL UNDERWOOD, EDITOR, COLLUSION