Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé has shared a damning verdict of the games industry’s lack of progress in diversity.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz as part of his book tour, Fils-Aimé argues that the games industry is “woefully behind” in embracing diversity.
“You don’t see it in the executive ranks, you don’t see it in the leadership ranks of key developers. It’s incredibly difficult to find it in various games,” he points out.
“For me as a Black man with my particular skin tone, hair, curls and everything else, it’s difficult to make a character look like me, and it shouldn’t be.”
Fils-Aimé went on to confess he was occasionally conscious of being the only Black man at senior industry gatherings and the first Black American to lead Nintendo of America.
He used an annecdote of his first E3 debut for Nintendo, where he was mistaken for security because he was a tall Black man in a suit.
“That’s disappointing, and it certainly stuck with me and continues to stick with me.”
Fils-Aimé took the incident as a teachable moment: “You need to see [diversity] in the levels below president or chief executive in order to see the pipeline of people who could step into that top leadership role at some point in time. So I do fear it’s going to take us quite some time because I don’t see that level of diversity one, two or three levels down. It isn’t there yet, and that’s a disappointing statement to make.”
When asked to speak of the broader workplace issues that have plagued a growing number of games companies, Fils-Aimé believes the responsibility falls squarely on the leadership: “Leaders need to be very thoughtful about the culture they are creating and perpetuating in order for employees to do their very best work.”
“I can say with pride and confidence that as I led Nintendo of America, we shaped the culture in a very positive way. There are unfortunately too many examples of companies that have not created an effective culture. And I don’t believe this is unique to the games industry, but I do believe we have too many examples of this type of perpetuation of bad cultures.”