Toronto, Ontario – Interactive Ontario launched ipprenticeship: Career Fair for Emerging Black Professionals and Students, in collaboration with Ubisoft Toronto and with the support of Ontario’s Black Youth Action Plan. This inaugural Career Fair was held on February 25 and 26, 2021 and connected companies looking to hire emerging Black professionals with those seeking employment and post-secondary internship opportunities.
Like many sectors, the Video Game/Interactive Digital Media (IDM) industry has more work to do when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion. According to the 2020 Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) Real Canadian Gamer study; 23 million Canadians play Video Games, but when it comes to the content, it does not always reflect the diverse country we live in.
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) found in the 2019 edition of its annual survey that among game developers worldwide; 81% identified as “white/Caucasian/European” and only 2% identified as Black/African-American/African/Afro-Caribbean.
When asked about the importance of representation, Fanshawe College student and Career Fair participant, Megan Evans, responded, “Representation in the industry means an end to oversexualized Black female characters and hurtful stereotypes. It also means an increase in the current 2% of all game industry employees being Black or more initiative to hire Black employees in the game industry as they offer a different view on Black culture. On a personal level, it means wanting to feel good about the industry I work in and buy from but currently don’t because of the racism and underrepresented and misrepresentation of the Black community.”
The two-day event aimed at increasing opportunities for career development and employment of Black professionals in the Video Game/Interactive Digital Media industry. “As a partner and host studio for the Interactive Ontario ipprenticeship since its inception, we have hired exceptional talent from underrepresented groups at Ubisoft Toronto through this important program. We were excited to work together again this year on more opportunities for emerging Black professionals in the Video Game industry through the ipprenticeship Career Fair, in particular, offering an internship for a Black student in Ontario, states Heather Steele, Communications Director, Ubisoft Toronto.
Interactive Ontario worked with an Advisory Board made up of Black educators, professionals, and entrepreneurs from the industry to create initiatives encouraging Black youth to embrace careers in the growing Video Game/Interactive Digital Media sector and help connect them to job and internship opportunities.
“We recognize the gap within the industry when it comes to lack of representation, limited access to opportunities and career growth and our advisory board wanted to change that. We focused our efforts on educating and inspiring our Black youth who want to create an impact within the gaming industry,” Sara Tekle, CEO of Upptack Studios and member of the Black Youth Action Plan Advisory Board at Interactive Ontario.
In addition to the fair, the event featured Carl-Edwin Michel, Founder and CEO of Northern Arena Productions, as moderator for the Keynote Panel: The KPI’s of DNI: Impactful Strategies for Investing in Diversity and Inclusion, supported by Ontario Creates, Ubisoft, Canada Media Fund, and Bell Fund.
He was joined by Leon Winkler, Director International Events at Ubisoft, Marsha Forde the Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity & Talent Development at WildBrain, and Naveen Mehta, Chief Legal Officer, MESH/diversity, and discussed initiatives and policies that support the creation of sustainable inclusive working environments.
“The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services with its Black Youth Action Plan has been instrumental in supporting the launch of this inaugural Career Fair for emerging Black talent. Over 35 Ontario Video Game and interactive digital media studios, including Career Fair partner Ubisoft Toronto, participated in this first ever initiative. Interactive Ontario is looking forward to building upon the success of this year’s event for the 2022 edition,” says Lucie Lalumière, President & CEO of Interactive Ontario.
About Interactive Ontario: Interactive Ontario (IO) is the not-for-profit trade organization committed to the economic growth of the Ontario video game/interactive digital media industry from SMEs to multinational corporations, who produce and export video games, extended reality applications (VR, AR, MR), eLearning content, and other innovative interactive digital entertainment and edutainment applications. Home of Ontario’s Interactive Digital Media Industry Directory.
About Ubisoft: Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry®, For Honor®, Just Dance®, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy’s video game series including Ghost Recon®, Rainbow Six® and The Division®. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2019-20 fiscal year, Ubisoft generated net bookings of €1,534 million. To learn more, please visit: www.ubisoftgroup.com.
About Ontario’s Black Youth Action Plan: The Black Youth Action Plan (BYAP) works toward eliminating systemic, race-based disparities by increasing opportunities for Black children, youth and families. Programs are delivered by over 70 community-based and culturally-focused community partners and currently support at least 10,800 Black children, youth and their families in Ottawa, Windsor and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Ontario government is doubling funding for the Black Youth Action Plan by investing an additional $60 million over the next three years.