United For Change
My role at Iron Galaxy has constantly evolved. Nowadays, I do much less hands-on development. My primary remit involves our People, Culture, and Values. I have a unique opportunity to help foster a culture that is welcoming to anyone with the skills we need on our teams. One of my passions is creating space for people who want to work with us and encouraging them to bring as much of their authentic selves to work as they want. I also care about striving to make some small positive impact on the world. From time to time, this brings me into contact with peers from our industry who have similar goals. Recently, it united me with people from all around the world.
This summer, I had the honor to attend the Games For Change and SDG Summit at the United Nations in New York City. Games for Change is described by their President, Susanna Pollock, as a non-profit organization that aims to "address real-world challenges, create empathy, and drive social change." Their mission is “to foster collaboration between content creators, industry, and cause-based organizations, advance equity and inclusion, and inspire creative use of emerging technologies for social impact."
In previous years, Games For Change has hosted an annual convention somewhere in New York City. This year marked their 20th anniversary. To observe their incredibly special milestone, a powerful ally hosted the invite-only gathering. For the first time in UN history, members of the video games industry and player community were invited to share ideas and hear about the initiatives the UN has in place to promote prosperity, address inequalities, and protect the environment.
As part of the experience, I received a tour of the UN and even got to sit in briefly on a proceeding. It was amazing to step foot in this place that tries to solve the world’s problems. In the afternoon, we were escorted to the Delegates Lunchroom where the SDG Conference was held. Invitees were seated together to bring innovative ideas and connections to light.
It was amazing to learn more about the partnerships and pledges the UN has for reaching its seventeen sustainable development goals. I was able to listen to talks as well as network with members of the UN, other games industry professionals, and people in both academia and the non-profit sector.
As the festival continued, I had the privilege of facilitating a round table conversation about how we can all improve the diversity of our organizations with how we hire new talent. It was a powerful feeling to connect people struggling to include diverse candidates in their recruitment pipelines with fresh solutions to the problem (especially amidst the confusion caused by the recent Supreme Court decision). It also made me realize how much we need to look beyond our own industries and embrace new partnerships to continuously improve
Sometimes, as developers, we can be trapped in our silo - unaware of the work other organizations are doing. After meeting in the UN, the festival venue changed to accommodate even more people aiming to make a positive difference in the world. This was a unique experience that purposefully brought together people from the traditional Games Industry, academia, non-profits, politics, mental health, medical, and other sectors to solve problems together. These people came with the humility that promising ideas and a path forward to create a better world can come from anywhere.