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"I want people in my age range to realize they can jump into the industry" | 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.

Our Black Voices Progress Report interviews have shown that people in the games sector are multitalented, and our final featured developer of the month is a perfect example of that. While people move between disciplines in the industry, not many have crossed over from journalism to marketing and then to development, such as Focus Entertainment’s Funké Joseph.

Having studied multimedia journalism at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University), they’ve had multiple bylines and featured in IGN, Vice, and GameSpot, to name a few. However, their stint as journalist eventually led them to work in the games industry as a marketing editor and creative producer. asked Joseph how they assess working in the games industry as a young professional.

“Being in an industry where you can create the coolest form of art, in my opinion, is awesome. [But] it’s also very sad to see the state of it. We’ve seen it actively fumbled over the past year. This year, it’s atrocious; minutes before I got on this call, I saw Embracer laid off a whole division of Eidos Montreal.”

Joseph explains that they got into the games sector and were fully aware of the possibility of being laid off.

“Growing up, I was listening to podcasts about the games industry. I would hear people say, ‘oh, I just got laid off’ and I freaked out about that,” they say. “I knew this was something I wanted to do. So I saved up and was a bit cautious. I didn’t want to move anywhere for my job.”

Joseph says that becoming a games journalist was a passion they had since their formative years.

“I started freelancing through journalism school. It was OK, but some places just don’t pay enough like some notable [websites]. It helped me get other jobs by putting their byline there. But [few sites] pay a reasonable amount or a livable wage, and very few staff positions [that do].”

They previously worked as a featured contributor with the publication Fanbyte, which experienced layoffs implemented by its parent company Tencent.

“I found one, and it was my dream job at Fanbyte. Through working in media, I got to do what I wanted to do, test things out, and learn from knowledgeable people from all facets of business, such as zines and game design.”

Joseph explains that working and then getting laid off at the publication proved to be beneficial for the next phase of their professional career.

“I was getting burnt out, and Fanbyte had a Discord of job postings in the industry. Someone sent a link to this one job at Focus Entertainment, which was a marketing editor. I was [thinking] ‘Okay, it’s words, I know words,” they say. “[This job] is dealing with so many different games across different genres and doing the communications. I really wanted a chance to get in the backend and see how things are run.”

They continue, “I started to see what I really loved about games again, such as forging different worlds, and then people just get lost in them. It’s so many different art forms into one [and] that just got me excited.”

Regarding their job at Focus, Joseph explains that seeing the sheer amount of work that goes into a project continues to be a learning experience.

“The thing that is most surprising to me is how much goes into making one game, like literally how much is going on, and you need all of it to make a game,” they explain. “Everything I’ve learned from my coworkers and management has been great. And it’s made me even more excited to build my own worlds in my free time as well.”

Joseph explains that it was never their plan at the start to leave games journalism for a career as a game developer.

They say, “I think there was always a barrier in my head. When I thought about game design, I [thought] this is the coolest thing in the world that I couldn’t do. It’s weird to say that because I really don’t feel like that in any other aspect of my life. That was the one thing where [I said that] I’ll leave it to the professionals.”

Joseph explains that they began learning game design during their free time.

“I started messing around in Twine. I started reading more books and just watching 1,000 GDC Talks. I [said], ‘Okay, I want to do this’,” they said.

This led to the establishment of indie studio Play Underground Games in 2023, along with their friends.

“I had a call with my friends, and I [said] we should make a video game together. We’ve made music together, we’ve made art forms, we’ve made zines. We’re a good team; let’s make a game.”

Still, Joseph remains positive about their time within the games industry.

“It’s incredible that this is an industry with opportunity. Yes, layoffs are happening, and businesses are not treating people correctly. But people aren’t playing games less. More people are always exposed to games in so many ways,” they say.

Joseph tells that they stay motivated by the wave of layoffs by their work and the learning opportunities they are amassing.

“I know that video games are some of the coolest things in the world, and that’s never changing. So that has comforted me a lot,” they say. “I want people in my age range to realize that they can jump into the industry. Yes, there’s a mountain of sadness and poor management, but we can pierce through that. There’s no way they could snuff out the fire of video games.”

Joseph admits they try not to think about the wave of layoffs often, as they’ve wrestled with those feelings years ago.

They say, “When I see these layoffs, I think these people are going to go through the same journey that I did. Realizing, ‘oh, it’s really not sustainable like this.’ It isn’t working, and we need to organize and unionize it so that people can feel safer. So they feel safer working and creating in the games industry, and people also need to create things on their own.”

Joseph attributes their career opportunities in the industry to the professional relationships they’ve built and maintained.

“If they see that you care as well, they’re going to want to support that [work],” they said. I think it’s just being genuine, wanting it, and finding other people who also want that or appreciate your vision,” they explain.

Additionally, they’ve been motivated by seeing the work of other Black game developers and talking to mentors in spaces such as Black Voices in Gaming.

Joseph says, “When I see Dani Lalonders talk about Validate or Xalavier Nelson Jr., talk about Strange Scaffold and all those games, that really pushed me to [think] it’s possible.”

Being more knowledgeable about the business and how many more games are being made, they believe that the future of the industry is a positive one.

They explain, “But then you look at the business side of things. There’s so many games that I’ve never heard of that are full studios are running and there’s people who are working there full time.

“So that means there is an audience, and I’m confident in what we can do to build that, and that’s something that I think could be sustainable.”

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