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A Black QA tester's perspective | Black Voices Progress Report

This interview is part of’s Black Voices Progress Report, offering insight into the different experiences Black professionals have in the games sector. You can read more about the project and check the other entries on this page.

Up until this point with the Black Voice Progress Report, we’ve spoken to people who have been established and successful in their field. However, an anonymous QA tester tells us what it’s like being Black in a role that frequently does not command proper respect, regardless of who’s filling it.

They say their emerging games industry career began because they enjoyed the hobby and entered the field to work on AAA titles when the opportunity presented itself.

However, they tell they were not aware of the representation disparities within their company until one in-person party where they noticed a lack of diversity.

“This prompted me to do a lot of research and just realize how bad of an issue [representation in the industry] was, and I knew I needed to at least do something while I’m still in the gaming industry,” they say.

Their concerns about a lack of diversity expanded as time went on, aggravated by a schedule and remote-working set-up that increased the sense of isolation.

“Everyone who is Black does not work on my shift. Every time I want to say ‘hi’ or ‘what’s up,’ I can’t,” they say.

“We have a Black network within our company. However, there’s not a lot of people in the area that I can talk to; [some are] states or even continents away.”

The anonymous tester explains that leadership has not addressed this isolating environment, and expressing those concerns about having more interactions with a more diverse employee pool would be difficult to navigate.

“All of my higher-ups, except for one person, are not people of color. It is extremely difficult to convey this to potentially not caring ears,” they say.

Additionally, the employee says their frustrations include the lack of career advancement opportunities. Being promoted relies, in part, on visibility to management, which is a problem if one’s shift does not overlap much with the hours the decision-makers put in.

“Years ago, everyone applied for a certain position, and no one on my shift got it. It is very frustrating,” they say.

As a result of these circumstances, they said that their work within the games industry currently does not feel fulfilling. However, they have gotten a renewed and more passionate outlook on their games career thanks to a gaming convention they attended last year.

“I was able to network with a bunch of other people in the gaming industry,” they explain.

Seeing a gaming event with a large number of attendees from marginalized communities proved to be a turning point for them.

They explain, “I found out about the Black in Gaming Foundation and [discovered] that there are other people around me. Not just close to me, [but people] I can actually interact with and talk to.”

These new connections also provided them with new tools and career considerations within the games sector.

“As long as I have [these] outside sources and try to research, I’m fine. But within my own company itself, in order for me to feel less isolated, at some point, I would have to leave unless I move up in a higher position.”

The tester explains that being involved in an organization that focuses on Black talent has been worthwhile professionally and has improved their mental well-being.

“I’m involved in my city chapter of the Black in Gaming Foundation. I was able to network with different people to actually create a panel regarding Black people in the gaming industry and so on. I’m [also] able to talk to potential mentors. Whereas with my job, they have mentorship programs, but even the people that are near me or that are picked out to me aren’t people that I’m necessarily looking for,” they say.

As the only Black person within a division, their experiences, unfortunately, are not unique. Marginalized communities still have to navigate these realities despite the games industry being more diverse than before.

Still, the QA tester expressed hope for a better industry in the future.

“Knowing there are other people that are also dealing with this, I think that put a lot more pep in my step than I thought when it comes to being in the industry.”

Regarding their career and time so far within the industry, the QA tester shared that they believe progress has felt “very limited” personally, but they still have had invaluable experience in their current position.

“I specifically work in QA, and I mostly talk directly to developers…[But] one of the main things I wanted to see as progress is seeing black characters as a non-fighting character. 97% of Black characters that I can think of off the top of my head are either in a scenario where they have to fight or a scenario where they have to survive in some form. And that’s not all that we are.”

They explain that moving the representation needle would mean having more Black characters in roles and experiences that are not stereotypical. This would mean having more Black professionals in the field and in charge of making these decisions.

“I do wish for more progress in realistic portrayals of black characters in the field of games,” they explain. “I just don’t want to read; oh, this dude played basketball and, because he was strong, decided to go to the military. Or even [for] facial characteristics, things where we don’t always have to look so Eurocentric.”

By the end of our conversation, the QA tester expressed that they have a drive to help improve the numbers for people of color, particularly Black professionals in the games sector.

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