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Xbox recently announced a new project dedicated to helping provide support to young Black students who are looking to pursue a career in the gaming world.
Known as “Project Amplify,” the initiative creates a series of videos sharing the experiences of Black employees in the company. Through the fourteen videos that are now available on the company’s YouTube, Xbox aims to uplift Black voices to help the youth join in on opportunities in the gaming world. The professionals offer advice, detail high points in their careers and explain what kind of role they play in their positions at the company.
James Lewis, the Senior Business Development Manager at Xbox, is one of the 14 employees featured in the initiative. With “Project Amplify,” Lewis said that he hopes that the videos can help the youth tap into their full potential at an early age.
“It wasn’t until my adult years that I learned to leverage my passion for games into a career,” said Lewis in an official statement. :I am now incredibly thankful to be celebrating 10+ years in my dream career and I hope Project Amplify inspires people to dream and take action toward their own goals.”
“As my coaches & mentors would say, ‘play to win instead of playing to not lose,’” he added.
The idea behind the initiative came from a survey by HBCU Connect, a media outlet that reports on HBCU students. Speaking to 200 students who served as respondents, they found that interest in gaming careers has increased with 95% of HBCU students reporting that they would like a job opportunity in the field.
More of the respondents, however, admitted they would like a career in program management over gaming development; only 18% of the students said they would like to be involved in creating the games.
Through the years, the game developing world has remained largely white. According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit International Game Developers, in 2021, only 4% of all game developers working in the U.S. were Black; the rate increased by just 2% from the previous year despite increased efforts to diversify the tech career fields.
HBCUs, specifically, are working on opening up pathways into the video game world for the younger generation by cultivating more interest in the topic. In August, Benedict College became the first HBCU to offer students a degree in esports, announcing the option around the same time they opened up their esports gaming room. Overall, according to Insight to Diversity, 67 out of the 107 HBCUs in the U.S. offer esports programs to their students.
“Throughout my college experience and with internships, I learned more about how big the world is – how many companies, careers, and pathways exist for you to find or create a job that you love,” said Q Muhaimin, a project manager, involved in the Project Amplify program. “I want more people to know that they have options, nothing is impossible or out of reach for them and encourage those to start chasing their passions early.”