How the Game Industry is Responding to Black Lives Matter

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The Black Lives Matter movement began back in 2012 following the highly publicized death of Trayvon Martin, and subsequent acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman. The movement campaigns against systemic racism and violence towards black people, focusing particularly on police brutality.

The civil rights movement has recently reached global popularity in the wake of another murdered unarmed black man by police, George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

As protests continue to surge across the US and the rest of the world, major companies are releasing statements in support of the protests and civil rights. The game industry is no exception.

Sony released a statement on June 1 denouncing racism and racist-motivated violence. They also postponed a major PS5 digital event that was previously scheduled to air today, and showcase many upcoming PlayStation 5 games.

Beginning June 1, Microsoft has been releasing statements via quoting black employees in a series of tweets.

The official Nintendo of America account released a statement on June 3.

Many publishers and developers have gone even further, making substantial donations to charity organizations and encouraging others to do the same.

Square Enix is pledging $250,000 to Black Lives Matter “and other charities to help combat racial injustice and positively affect change in the world.”

Double Fine Productions, which was recently purchased by Microsoft, donated $12,000 to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Color of Change.

Humble, which has been working directly with charity organizations for the last ten years, release a statement along with a $1 million fund “dedicated to helping publish games by black developers.”

Like Sony, EA originally had a digital event planned this week, for Madden NFL 21. They released a statement postponing the event, followed by a lengthy note by CEO Andrew Wilson that includes pledging $1 million “to organizations dedicated to the fight for racial justice in the US and against discrimination around the world,” including the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

EA is also double matching any donations made by employees, an additional paid day for community volunteer work, and holding an open forum for the entire company on June 9.

“Black Lives Matter. Racial justice matters. We’ve long held equality, inclusion and diversity at the center of our beliefs at Electronic Arts.  Let’s stand together, act together, and drive change together.”

Sony Delays PlayStation 5 Digital Showcase

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With E3 canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sony recently announced their own event. The all-digital virtual event was to showcase all the new and upcoming games coming to PlayStation 5. The event was scheduled for later this week, on June 4.

This week Sony released a statement about postponing the event due to mass protests around the US fueled by police brutality and racial justice. A new date has not been announced.

E3 normally takes place in June. With major new consoles releasing this holiday season, both Microsoft and Sony would use their press conferences to announce prices, detail hardware, and show off games.

Without E3, most game companies and console publishers are hosting their own virtual events to fill the gap this year.

Here is the official description of the PlayStation 5 event by Sony President and CEO Jim Ryan:

We will soon give you a first look at the games you’ll be playing after PlayStation 5 launches this holiday. The games coming to PS5 represent the best in the industry from innovative studios that span the globe. Studios, both larger and smaller, those newer and those more established, all have been hard at work developing games that will showcase the potential of the hardware.

This digital showcase will run for a bit more than an hour and, for the first time, we will all be together virtually experiencing the excitement together. A lack of physical events has given us an amazing opportunity to think differently and bring you on this journey with us, and hopefully, closer than ever before. This is part of our series of PS5 updates and, rest assured, after next week’s showcase, we will still have much to share with you.