Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Queerly Represent Me
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Alayna Cole - Founding director
Jess Zammit - Director
Dakoda Barker - Director
Ash McAllan - Director
Charlie Francis Cassidy - Consultant
Jess Gates - Consultant
Annie Partick - Assistant
Pontus Horn - Programmer
Erika Verkaaik - Zine designer
Saf Wander - Podcaster
Queerly Represent Me board of directors (Alayna, Jess, Dakoda, Ash)
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Queerly Represent Me is a consultation and research organisation. We work with companies to consult on their games, events, and studio culture, and use proceeds from these contracts to provide free resources and services to the wider community, particularly to give a voice to queer developers and support the creation of queer content.
We provide individualised consultations and freely available public resources, we maintain a database of games that represent queer perspectives and feature queer content, and provide links to further resources and research. We travel to conferences and conventions to spread our research widely, and make as many of our talks available online as possible.
We aim to help individuals familarise themselves with and access more texts that represent them, and to help aspiring marginalised developers find the confidence to pursue their careers. We also hope to provide allies with resources and support to make the world a better place for marginalised people. Ongoing discussion around representation and diversity is inevitable—and vital—and Queerly Represent Me seeks to be a key voice within this conversation.
How would you say diversity is embraced within your organisation or sector? Are there diversity initiatives in place or are diversity approaches new to your sector?
Within the games industry, diversity is lacking. Of the 928 full-time employees in the Australian games industry at this time, 81% identify as male (IGEA 2018). This leaves 19% identifying as female or nonbinary, and doesn't begin to touch on the lack of other diverse perspectives (non-white, non-straight, non-cis, non-ablebodied, to name a few). While improving, the games industry is incredibly homogeneous, and this is reflected in the similar homogeneity of game characters in AAA titles. There are some initiatives being created to support marginalised folks in the industry (such as WiDGET for women, or I Need Diverse Games for people of colour), and Queerly Represent Me was designed to fill the gap needed for non-cis, non-straight, asexual / aromantic, and polyamorous developers and game audiences.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
At first, we did not intend for Queerly Represent Me to become the movement that it is today. It was only once the initial collection of resources and games became available, and we saw the community need for such an initiative, that we expanded as a team and established our aims with more clarity.
We now have several separate but interrelated goals:
- Document queer content in games so that queer and non-queer audiences can be exposed to characters and themes.
- Support queer developers in finding their voice and confidence in the games industry by providing access to networks, communities, and game-making tools.
- Provide resources for and consult with allies to assist with improving representation in games, accessibility at events, and studio culture.
We quickly realised that we wanted our first two aims to be achieved with free resources, so that those who are marginalised do not need to pay to seek assistance; as a result, we needed to charge for the third aim, and use the profits of this to support the first and second. That said, we didn't want consultation to be inaccessible to those without money, so we supplement paid consultation with free publicly accessible information and resources. We also decided that we also needed to include other ways of connecting to the community (such as the sale of merchandise or online streams) to encourage fundraising and to build our profile.
To achieve these aims, we have created partnerships with PR companies to establish ourselves as diversity consultants, and we attend events to sell merchandise and spread our message (as well as selling this merchandise and accepting donations online). We use these funds to support key research including the establishment and maintenance of our online database of queer games, our interview series with queer developers (which helps to get their voices heard and allows developers to teach each other), our annual surveys to study the perspectives of game audiences and developers, our game jams (which are used to help developers interested in queer perspectives to meet and form a supportive, moderated community), our annual zines (which pay marginalised creators to make works exploring their stories and identities), and more.
We have now existed for almost two years, and have applied for charity status in Australia, in the hopes of being established as a not-for-profit and charity by July 2018. This will allow us to apply for larger donations and grants, and to use this funding to further support our free resources and support.
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
As the founding director of Queerly Represent Me, leadership and project management within the organisation is my primary role. This role requires me to work when possible and delegate when necessary, and understand which is the best decision at any given time. I always do the following:
- Remunerate my team for every job that we are paid for, and pay a fair hourly rate
- Delegate tasks based on the skillset of my individual team members
- Ensure that I am not the only public face of the organisation, so that others can see themselves represented in our diverse team of directors, consultants, and other employees
- Encourage open communication between team members and each other, as well as myself, to ensure any issues are openly discussed and handled
It is only when our organisation is diverse internally and feels supported as individuals that we can conduct our work with other companies and consult with them on their studio culture, as well as character representation and event accessibility. I would not feel comfortable conducting these consultations or creating public resources for these companies if I did not feel that I lived by the advice that I give.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
There is resistance to the initiative by some members of the industry, and also some members of game audiences. This ranges from disbelief that such an initiative is necessary to blatant harassment, abuse, and threats (often sent anonymously via email, Twitter, or in response to surveys and research requests). Despite this resistance, many companies support the work that we do by hiring us, using our resources, or donating to us, and many individuals encourage our work by telling us that we are making a difference in their lives; this is all we need to continue our work.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initiative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
We have been supported by our industry—companies and individuals have hired us for our services, supported us financially with donations, and used our free resources. We have received praise via email, social media, and in person when we attend events, conferences, and conventions. As a result, we have been able to commence additional work, and have expanded from our original team (one) to our current team (ten). We have also been able to apply for not-for-profit and charity status in Australia and will be expanding our organisation further with additional community outreach opportunities and research outputs.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
- Name: Chris Gardner
- Organisation: Failbetter Games
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone number: N/A
- Role: Narrative director
- Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
‘I'd strongly encourage other studios to engage QRM for consultations. Our experience was professional, warm, intensely useful, and intellectually invigorating. QRM went to great lengths to understand the specific context of our game and audience, and tailor their advice accordingly.’
‘I was very nervous about presenting my work at the consultation. I was worried I might have written something offensive and ignorant, and would be judged for it. Especially since some of the outlines intentionally leaned into areas I suspected would be problematic, because I wanted to ensure we could benefit from QRM's expertise on those topics. I needn't have been concerned. The atmosphere was open, supportive, collaborative and friendly. The emphasis was never on saying 'you can't do this,' but always 'how can we make this work?' and 'how can we make this better?' The consultation was both enjoyable and rewarding.’
‘One of the consultants present had such impressive ideas on one character’s story that we’ve hired her to be co-writer on that content.’
- Name: Jamie Marriage
- Organisation: Checkpoint
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone number: 0421759985
- Role: Moderator, Volunteer Lead, Fundraiser
- Short description:
'Queerly Represent Me has had a profoundly positive impact on my life by providing open discussion and support of the LGBTQ+ community, and gaming's role in representing that community. Their work has contributed to my efforts in creating a safe streaming space focused on queer and mental health support with contacts, online resources, titles focused on positive representation, and interviews with game developers, which I have been able to share freely. I have also attended gaming conferences they have presented at and found their focus on diverse representation to be both inclusive and educational, helping me to further understand issues within the community as a whole. The QRM game jam has brought together people from all over the world and game development in a spirit of positive collaboration I haven’t seen before, and am proud to take part of in some small way.'
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
Since we were founded in 2016, we have:
- Conducted surveys with greater than 6,500 participants
- Spoken at seven conventions and conferences
- Had two academic papers published, with several being considered in peer review currently
- Been nominated for several awards, as individuals and a company, including the Australian LGBTI Awards in 2017 and 2018
- Had 26 interviews / articles published about us, in three different languages
- Increased our team from one member to 10 members
- More than quadrupled our financial intake from 2016-17 financial year to 2017-18 financial year
- Made a difference in the lives of countless individuals
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
The interconnectedness of our individual projects and initiatives within Queerly Represent Me makes it difficult to narrow it to one achievement; however, one of our most recent major successes was the creation of a community for independent developers as part of the Queerly Representing the Underrepresented game jam. Our game jam (https://itch.io/jam/queerly-representing) has brought together greater than 100 independent developers, encouraging them to create diverse games and work with others in a safe space we created, which follows a supportive, inclusive code of conduct and values diversity. We have also partnered with the Freeplay Independent Game Festival to show the resulting jam games to 400 attendees, giving developers an opportunity they otherwise would not have to have their games seen by important people in the Melbourne, Australia game scene.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
I am most inspired by the individuals that I work with every day in the games industry, who are fighting for themselves and people like them and who will not fold to the harassment, abuse, and systematic marginalisation that they are facing as they try to make it in their chosen career. These are the people who keep me fighting, and who lead me in my decision making, more than the people whose names are known.