</How I got here – Matt Hardwick, co-founder of London Gaymers>
As part of our CTRL Your Future campaign, we collaborated with Matt Hardwick to create a short film exploring the barriers young people face when entering the industry.
Here Matt discusses the lack of diversity in gaming, the importance of community and the exciting career opportunities available to young people today.
by Matt Hardwick, co-founder of London Gaymers
Although I’d studied Computer Science at university, I didn’t think there was an opportunity for me to build a career from gaming. Like many young people in the LGBTQ+ community, I faced barriers to starting a career in the industry.
Nonetheless, my passion for gaming still continued. I could see that gamers from the LGBTQ+ community were gathering collectively online, but increasingly found that the spaces didn’t feel right for them or were subject to outside toxicity in the form of homophobia and misogyny.
Following these experiences, Curtis Free and I founded London Gaymers in 2012. We wanted to change attitudes in gaming and provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ video game enthusiasts to meet and play without fear of judgement or discrimination.
Since then, London Gaymers has grown into a 3,000-strong liberal community hosting weekly and monthly socials at pubs and gaming bars across the capital.
I’m proud that spaces like ours not only help to prevent toxicity, but also provide a safe space for people of all backgrounds to make new and lasting friendships with people that share their interests. London Gaymers has even led to marriages!
While the accessibility of the gaming industry is undeniably better than it was 10 or 15 years ago, we know that online gamers are still experiencing homophobic bullying on a regular basis – ranging from general derogatory comments to targeted and hurtful abuse.
Our fear is that it prevents a more diverse younger generation from pursuing careers in gaming, like it did for me.
With this in mind, we work extremely hard to engage with both gaming and LGBTQ+ industries, groups and charities on intersectional issues. We want to raise awareness of the need for diversity in the gaming industry, specifically in video games. Video games have featured plenty of LGBTQ+ characters over the years, but traditionally they’re vilified, the subject of distasteful jokes, or negative tropes, whereby the characters are dead, dying or killed within the story.
As more young writers, artists, and coders are being encouraged to enter the industry, they bring more diverse characters and storylines with them. Developers now recognise the need to include LGBTQ+ themes and characters in games.
If you’re interested in a career in gaming, but hesitant to enter the industry, remember that it’s easy to underestimate the importance of the smaller studios. They are the ones that are making the most ground-breaking steps when it comes to bringing the unheard minorities to the forefront of gaming.