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Disabled, Not Disqualified: Ableism in Recruitment and Retention for Game Development

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Will Loxley

Game development careers are widely regarded as turbulent due in part to industry reliance on periods of compulsory overtime, otherwise known as crunch (Cote & Harris 2020). Game developers (GDs) who crunch are affected in quantifiably detrimental ways, including psychosomatic health issues and the degradation of work satisfaction (Niemelä 2021). And yet, the number of GDs reporting recent use of crunch has nearly doubled in just two years (IGDA 2021). Crunch has been a continuously popular topic of study in gaming circles for the 2000s (Dyer-Witheford & de Peuter 2006); however, despite disabled individuals being especially vulnerable to the harmful labor practice, the interactions between crunch and the 25% of professional GDs who self-report as having a disability (IGDA 2019) are explored significantly less. This paper documents how game companies publicly and actively recruit disabled people as candidates for the next generation of the games industry - if at all. By utilizing a personal perspective of a prospective disabled GD, this project conducts an institutional ethnography addressing game company recruitment efforts which operate under the incorrect assumption that recruitment is an inherently neutral or objective practice. The research centers disabled GDs through the analysis of game companies' public facing documentation via document analysis to determine if disabled people are excluded from being talent recruitment (Hoque & Bacon 2021). This paper reports on the results of said analysis and the related personal findings of the disabled GD and researcher. The results will suggest high-level improvements for online game company recruitment practices so as to better represent internal values and bolster the potential pool of applicants. The results will also inform future research on identifying industry norms which negatively affect recruitment and retention for disabled GDS.
University / Institution: University of Utah
Type: Oral
Format: Virtual
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Fernando Rodríguez