Tanya DePass did not know that a tweet would eventually lead to a career based around making a difference for underrepresented people in games
One day in 2014, Tanya DePass was feeling the rage. She had been playing games for most of her life, since the time of Pong, ColecoVision, and the glory days of the arcade. And yet she still saw very few people like her in the games she played. A queer black woman, DePass started becoming aware of video games’ diversity problem as far back as 1987’s Street Fighter. Outside of sports and fighting, there were hardly any black characters around; queer characters were nearly nonexistent; and women characters made up a tiny percentage of gaming’s lead stars. That year at E3, game publisher Ubisoft had come out with a now infamous response to a journalist’s question about why all four of the playable characters in its latest Assassin’s Creed game were male: women were too much extra work to animate.
So she tweeted about it, using the hashtag #ineeddiversegames. And it exploded. People from within and outside the games industry started sharing their own reasons why they, too, needed better representation in video games: because they needed to see themselves; because they wanted their daughters to be able to play as a character they identified with; because they wanted to be able to create a character with natural hair. The hashtag eventually became its own Twitter account and website, and a not-for-profit organisation that works to give marginalised people a leg-up in the video games industry through initiatives such as Game Developers Conference scholarships, panels and events, and consultancy.