Since its inception, African Americans have been pioneers in the video game industry. We recognize the contributions of Gerald Lawson, Ron Jones Tony Barnes, Gordon Bellamy, J Patton, Mike Pondsmith and Nicole Bradford, who have had a major effect on the way the industry has innovated its products over the years. These contributors have shown excellence in this field, helping to create the billion dollar industry it is. Their achievements deserve to be recognized which we try to do every year at our Blacks in Games Award show.
We recognize the current leadership in the industry, from Laura Teclemariam, Cierra McDonald, Bim Majekodunmi Ali, Sarah Bond, Davina Mackey, Pamela Illuore, and Kimberly Bryant who are breaking barriers in the industry pioneering the games we make to new heights of success. We support them in their efforts and stand with them in these moments off difficulty and crisis.
But make no mistake, we are in a crisis. We are in a crisis not only with the country and its current leadership, with police behavior, with the economy and a deadly worldwide pandemic. Our industry, the video game industry is in a crisis. At a time where our profits will soar, where the engagement is more involved, we have reached a point beyond what has existed before.
In 1945, there were no black players in Major League Baseball. In 1946, there was one. His name was Jackie Robinson. In 1956, 10 years later, black players were 10% of the entire baseball league. In 1958, that number hit 20%, and in 1986, that number hit 28%. in 43 years, Major League Baseball went from having 1 player to being 28% black. Some would argue that even that process was slowed by entrenched interests who were not excited to integrate the league.
Gerald Lawson led the development of the Fairchild Channel F console which was released in 1976. He and Ron Jones were in the home-brew group with Steve Jobs. Gerald Lawson interviewed Steve Wozniak and passed on hiring him. His team basically invented swappable game cartridges. He was there at the beginning of the industry. He in some ways, was the industry’s Jackie Robinson way back in 1976.
In 2020, African Americans are 1% of the video game development community. in 44 years, the number of black people grew from 1 person to 1%. In comparison to Major League Baseball, this number is atrocious. It is also embarrassing. We can do better, we must do better. We want an industry that we can be proud of, in every way. To help this process, Blacks in Games is partnering with the IGDA and the IGDA foundation in creating a fund that places a priority on increasing the number of African American participation in the Game Industry.