When Kai Nyame was in high school, her mother hoped she’d pursue a career in STEM — something likely to provide long-term financial stability, like engineering. Though Nyame had the technical know-how for such a path, she also had a love for all things creative.
So when a friend introduced Nyame to Gameheads, an Oakland, California-based program that provides video game design and development education to youth from low-income communities, she knew she’d found the perfect intersection of tech and creativity — as well as the ideal launchpad for a career.
Two years after completing the Gameheads program, Nyame is not only studying interactive entertainment at the University of Southern California, she has also launched a game development studio, Studio Hitsuji, where she works as a producer and creative director. “There’s something really important to me about telling stories,” she says. “Working in video games, you can do really amazing things and push the boundaries.”
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The gaming industry offers myriad opportunities to pursue niche (and often lucrative) career lanes, from creative direction and production like Nyame to graphic design to esports team management. For those who want to make an impact with their careers, there’s also a growing emphasis on gaming for social good. Philanthropic organizations and nonprofits are increasingly looking to gamers to boost engagement and raise awareness about their causes. There’s also a mounting movement to ensure people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives are able to break in — and create meaningful social change while they’re at it.
Here are four organizations leading the way toward a more diverse, inclusive, accessible, and safe world of gaming.