At the IGDA Foundation, our mission is to improve the lives of game developers through charitable and educational works, primarily by making game development a more inclusive, welcoming, and successful industry for our developers and players. As part of this goal, we support inclusivity through our flagship programs, IGDA Scholars and Women in Games Ambassadors, which provide unique experiences at game industry events for students and recent graduates. I’m proud to announce that we are partnering with Xbox to launch an innovative new program, IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders, that continues this initiative through supporting experienced game developers.
As the IGDA Foundation works to expand inclusivity in our industry, our IGDA Scholars and Women in Games Ambassadors programs have helped people who want to explore a career in game development; expanding the pool of potential developers is a key part of building a more inclusive industry and encouraging new perspectives and creativity. However, as an industry, we have a retention problem. According to the IGDA’s Developer Satisfaction and Diversity surveys, the industry frequently loses talent after ~5 years of experience. While there are many reasons people may choose to leave an industry, and some of those departures are involuntary, we also know that under-represented minorities leave tech fields at a significantly higher rate. Increasing the diversity of the talent entering the industry has a profoundly lower impact when we do not retain that talent.
The IGDA Foundation is launching the Next Gen Leaders program in partnership with Xbox to address these retention issues. The program, which is open to developers with 3-10 years of experience and who identify as an under-represented minority, is designed to provide a range of knowledge, experience, and tools to keep the participants in the industry.
The Next Gen Leaders program includes a GDC pass (generously donated by GDC) and travel stipend, two days of workshops and special events specifically designed to help the participants stay in the games industry, an individual mentor, post-GDC discussions, and ongoing networking. We’ve built the program to create ongoing change, starting with our first participants in 2017, that supports making gaming and game development available to everyone.
The IGDA Foundation Next Gen Leaders program would not be possible without the generous support of Xbox. Its focus on Gaming for Everyone–making Xbox a place everyone has fun–provides an outstanding example of how inclusivity helps build stronger teams and better gaming experiences. Xbox’s financial, logistical, and volunteer support has been truly invaluable.
–Jen MacLean, Managing Director, IGDA Foundation