In my consultancy work, I often hear from people who want to be more inclusive but don’t know what to do next. In fact, I hear it so often that I’ve already written a Game As You Are article about it that’s full of opinions and quotes from people developing games, planning events, and managing workplaces.
I recently chatted with Jackson Morphett, an event organiser working on a games event in Sydney 2019, about how he considers diversity and inclusion in his events.
Jackson holds a Bachelor of Entertainment Management from the Australian Institute of Music and has been working in bookings, venue management, and operations across music festivals, comedy festivals, theatre productions, and performances. Recently, he’s branched into even more creative fields—including games—through his work with 107 Projects. 107 Projects is a not-for-profit ‘with creativity and community at its core’.
In March 2019, Jackson and 107 Projects are launching an event that celebrates gaming, ‘from artwork to arcades, to indie devs, consoles, [and] board games’ as well as focusing on ‘educational workshops, competitions, and socialising’. He has focused on ‘community, creativity, and locality’ when designing the event, which partners well with the goal of 107 Presents (the events art of 107 Projects) to create experiences that are ‘innovative, experimental, enticing, and accessible’.
But what does it mean to be accessible? How do you do that well, and when do you think about it?
‘Almost immediately, and never just once,’ Jackson said. ‘Events evolve and rarely ever end up how you first imagined, for various reasons. So it is important to continually check in with your intentions at each stage of development.’
That’s sound advice, but it can be difficult to consider diversity immediately and frequently if you aren’t sure what is useful to incorporate into your event. Well, Jackson has some advice for that too. ‘[Be] active and honest with what you don’t know,’ he suggested. ‘I don’t assume to know what is best for a community nor do I try and speak for a community that has its own voice. Being active in seeking out those voices is key. Asking what they want to see at an event, how they would like to be involved, and then stepping aside and giving them the space to act seems to work.’
And he practises what he preaches. ‘At the first stage of this event, I have been attending the IGDA events to talk with a broad range of people within the gaming community,’ Jackson told me. Within my job, we undertake cultural competence training and often engage with community, partners and the public to gain feedback, insight or to seek out advice. Our venue is wheelchair accessible and with large-scale events we ensure our security share our values and we have a volunteer who can speak AUSLAN. We support and welcome the community to lead, be involved and ask questions of us.’
For Jackson, it all boils down to this: ‘Listen. Improve and take feedback and criticism. Listen. Do better next time. Listen. Listen. Listen.’
107 Projects will be working is working on all sorts of things, and Jackson is hoping to be involved in many inclusive and accessible events with them going into 2019. There are plenty already on their website. If you’re interested in attending an event that priorities inclusive practices, check them out!