Black Game Developers Fund on rebranding, evolving, and expanding


In 2020, Humble Bundle announced that it would be donating $ 1 million annually to the Black Game Developer Fund, a tool set up to help independent black developers create and publish their games.

Sithe Ncube and Justin Woodward were was appointed as assistant counselors to the Black Game Developer’s Fund in October 2020. Since then, the fund has signed and funded more than 20 developers, all in various stages of their projects.

In the next step, BGDF has just signed eight new developers to receive support from the fund, and is also planning to stand on its own two feet away from Humble.

Talking to GamesIndustry.biz, Woodward argues that Humble has given the BGDF the necessary freedoms to truly engage with the community who want to contribute, cutting back on what Black founders in various parts of the world need to do, which often goes a long way. beyond financial support.

“Humility has allowed Sithe and me to jump in and make the necessary changes as black people in the industry, to lead the dialogue with developers and ask what they need, depending on the situation in the companies,” he said. Woodward says.

Justin Woodward

“We know it can be very difficult, but you don’t really know until you start taking action. There is no rubric you can make that will be the same for everyone,” he adds.

“If they are a small group for example, they are probably better off with development because they came from the AAA studio and need guidance on marketing or construction. Then some people have five to ten people, and they are having a hard time. .So, being able to establish relationships with the builders and their needs, we are able to focus and work with them in a way that suits them and theirs, not just for financial reasons.

He also points out that over the past year, the group has worked with a small number of people working in and out of the fund to go to the media, either by Humble or another company, or to receive additional funding for ongoing activities. They also claim that some developers have changed their practices or changed their work based on feedback and guidance received from the BGDF team.

“We’ve talked to a lot of builders, and some of us never finish progress, but the door is always open,” he adds.

“We’ve talked to a lot of developers, and some of us do not end up moving forward, but the door is always open.”

Justin Woodward

Accessibility is also a constant barrier on the board, Woodward notes. One thing BGDF has noticed is the manufacturers who have no way of contacting the printers and all the money.

“You have to have a history of this development, as well as a history of the sport to reach that goal,” Woodward said. “Some manufacturers simply need a bridge to get them to the point where they are ready to talk to the publishers.

“This is one of the teachings I believe I had as we progressed – how we can integrate our communication as the developers go up, and then get into the program or not, how they can communicate with them to achieve their goals. “

Ncube said developers need a variety of support depending on their location in the country. Some of the experiences that manufacturers face in non-Western countries are often overlooked even when money comes from the West.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t show up [the fund] not only for black Americans, because people are often used to this opportunity simply because they live in the West, ”says Ncube. place and what we have learned. ”

Sithe_Hi_Res

Sithe Ncube

Ncube uses the example of one of BGDF’s first signers, a program developer based in Cameroon. In order for the studio to operate, the team had to pay a generator to solve some electrical problems. Facing such challenges would not even be considered in the West.

“If you’re from another country, you probably haven’t thought about the studio elsewhere,” he says. “So I’m thinking of how we can make the project better for people from different backgrounds and work directly with people there, and have mentors and have mentors from different areas within your programs.”

The BGDF has just revealed a new page which includes updates from affiliated manufacturers. As mentioned earlier, it has just re-signed eight small studios each with its own projects, and the package has explained how its support benefits every individual producer. These changes were designed to help the BGDF differentiate itself from the Humble brand to grow and become a strong guide for black manufacturers.

“Having developers at different levels and at different stages of development is not only helpful and encouraging, but also able to connect with developers,” Ncube tells us.

“You can see projects going through various sections of the portal on this website.

The outfit also seeks to do well in looking at the work that promotes it, and shows exactly who is supporting it, and I hope that manufacturers with similar responsibilities will consider reaching out.

“Half the battle is that people don’t know that money exists,” Woodward says. “This, and some people don’t know how to get the money, and they feel like they can’t break. We’ll work with you.”

Breeze in the Clouds for Stormy Nights Interactive is one of the fund-supported games

Breeze in the Clouds for Stormy Nights Interactive is one of the fund-supported games

BGDF is still growing and looking for subscribers, and both Woodward and Sithe are encouraged to take a look at the site, which is made from the template that Humble himself uses for printing, a very important feature in itself.

Woodward adds that people interested in BGDF can benefit from reaching out to the manufacturers who have gone through it. He added that the team is happy to discuss with developers looking to use and answer any questions they may have about what the fund offers and how it can benefit the small studio.

“There are not millions of Black game developers, so our door is open to communicate with people out there, we want to learn about you. We want to hear what you are going through,” he says.

Looking at the many gaming companies and the promises that they have made to welcome the few in the last few years, Ncube and Woodward seem to have a long way to go, but they are doing well.

“I think people’s hearts are in the right place, but it takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of people to report what went well, what went wrong, to move forward,” Woodward said.

“There’s a lot going on on Twitter and on social media about change. But then you have people like Humble, who really put their money in their mouths, listen, and hire people in the community.”

Ncube adds that there are areas and resources that are neglected, which means that some developed and regional groups are not getting the support they need.

“Games require a lot of things, and some people don’t even have the resources to get to a point where they can show off a good game, even if they have the skills to make the game,” he said. “I think that being able to give people the opportunity to earn a living, especially in the early stages of development, as well as a variety of training methods – would be very useful.”

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