EA Boss urges the gaming industry to create a more safe and diverse working environment

Laura Miele, the chief operating officer of mega-publisher Electronic Arts (EA), delivered a passionate address at DICE today in Las Vegas, urging the gaming industry to create safe spaces and do more to encourage diversity and inclusion.

Miele stated the game industry must develop “true accountability” for its leaders, speaking at DICE’s opening keynote, “Realizing Our Full Potential to Lead the Modern Entertainment Industry.” Anyone who falls short, according to Miele, must leave.

She claims that the gaming industry can achieve this accountability by forming new trade associations and using current ones to “guard, defend, and fight for everyone” in the business.

Without identifying any specific individuals, Miele stated that high-level gaming leaders have fallen short in the past year. Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, has been accused of knowing about and covering up instances of sexual harassment and abuse, as well as threatening to kill a female employee. He is now expected to walk away from Activision Blizzard with a large sum of money. High-ranking executives at businesses like Ubisoft and Riot have also been chastised recently.

“We’ve seen leaders at the highest level fall short of setting the right standards. I don’t care how successful the business is. Leaders who fall short of this must go,” Miele said. “With far higher standards of expectations and measures that come from everywhere–investors, boards of directors, leadership teams. And it can come from all of us from across the industry. We need a safe place for people of all races, gender, sexual orientation, and abilities. The teams making games must represent the world in which we are serving.”

Miele went on to argue that the video game industry needs to develop methods to track and report progress toward its diversity and inclusion goals to be held accountable.

“We’re not making games in our garage anymore. We have a tremendous amount of power and responsibility in this world,” Miele said, adding that the games that EA and others create help shape and inform culture at large.

“We must hold each other accountable. It matters a lot. People become game developers because they love making and playing games. But if we want to continue to attract the most creative and talented people we have to make our industry a great place to work for everyone,” she said. “When we acknowledge the diversity of the human experience, we put ourselves in a better position to create content and experiences that represent the world that we live in. The games we create, the people who create them, shape societies and cultures all over the world. Attention must be paid on all fronts of diversity and inclusion.”

EA has built a new diversity and inclusion program within the company, as well as new policies on zero-tolerance for poor behavior and channels for employees to safely report abuse and other issues, according to Miele. EA has also recently implemented an “inclusion framework” into its game development pipelines to assist its teams to be more deliberate about the diversity and inclusion of the content they create in games.

“How often do we seek to tell stories of underrepresented people? Are we portraying people of diverse backgrounds authentically? Are we imparting unconscious bias into our narrative? And how do diverse and inclusive are our stories? Our gameplay modes? Our settings?” Miele said, listing examples of what the diversity and inclusion framework at EA is meant to ask its developers to consider.


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