BUILD A BETTER WORLD

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TAKE THE CHALLENGE: BUILD A BETTER WORLD

The Issue:

At Minecraft, we believe that we are better together. That means creating an inclusive environment designed to accommodate unique skill sets and backgrounds so we can appreciate and incorporate the wealth of diversity around us. We especially need to focus on uplifting and supporting marginalized voices so that we can truly build a better world together.

 

The Game Design Prompt:

Create a game that celebrates diversity and teaches people how to uplift marginalized voices. Work individually or in small teams to design and code a game in Minecraft: Education Edition.

KEY FACTS

The millennial and Gen Z generations are the most diverse in U.S. history [Source]

Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, diligent, and hard-working [Source]

Nearly 70% of the U.S.’ largest cities are more racially and ethnically diverse than they were 10 years ago [Source]

Inclusive people are happier and more creative [Source]

1 in 4 American Adults has a disability [Source]

STUDENT RESOURCES

  • Diversity: Any difference between individuals and groups. Diversity can refer to visible traits (age, race, gender, disability, etc.) or can refer to invisible traits (sexual orientation, marital status, etc.).
  • Inclusion: A culture that values the unique perspectives and contributions of all participants. When people with different identities are valued, feel welcome, and are encouraged to fully participate within a given setting. In other words, inclusion is about involvement.
  • Bias: An inclination/preference directed toward or against a particular group of people. Biases can be deliberate (explicit bias) or they can be unintentional (implicit bias).
  • Gender Pay Gap: The difference between the amounts of money paid to women and men, often for doing the same work. The size of the pay gap can be further influenced by race and ethnicity.
  • Accessibility: The design of products, services or environments to be usable by people with disabilities.
  • Universal Design: The design of products or environments to be usable by all people (aka: Designing for All)

Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades. Here are a few resources that break down what our country’s demographics look like now and in the future.

Diversity

Diversity has many benefits. It helps us understand people who are different from us, builds empathy, diminishes bias, and makes us more productive and successful at work and in school. Read on for more about why diversity matters and how it improves many aspects of our lives.

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Although diversity and inclusion are often linked, the presence of one does not guarantee that the other is also present. In other words, a setting may be diverse, while not necessarily being inclusive. People may feel excluded, uncomfortable, undervalued, and afraid to contribute or express themselves if their environment is not an inclusive one. This affects everyone, as we all benefit from each others’ input, skills, and points of view.

Why Inclusion Matters on the Playground

When general education students and students with special needs play together, it breaks down unconscious biases about disability and fosters relationships.

Inclusion is also created through accessibility, particularly for people who are living with disabilities. This involves more than just encouraging people; it means making sure that everyone has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life.  This includes utilizing universal design to make products, communications, and a physical setting more usable by as many people as possible and modifying ones that already exist.

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National Geographic: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resources: An online collection for learners to explore cultural identity and diversity; boundary crossings in science, immigration, genetics and more.

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National Museum of African American History and Culture: The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. Online resources include Community Building, guidance for Talking About Race, and Bias.

Here are seven strategies to become more aware about inclusivity in your daily life – starting today!  Dive into this article to learn more about each strategy.

  1. Listen more, talk carefully. Communication is the first aspect to work on; respect gender pronouns, don’t interrupt or overtalk, and avoid assertive language.
  2. Challenge stereotypes. When we meet a person, it is important to try to recognize the power and/or biases embedded within the first impression.
  3. Avoid assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about a person’s physical traits, gender, ability level, or socio-economic background or other traits. (Assumptions take for granted that our audience shares the same requirements and experiences as we do.)
  4. Ask yourself and others (the right) questions. How much do I know about someone else? Is my opinion required? Am I allowing everyone to talk? If you think that the questions to yourself do not lead to much, try to involve someone who, in your opinion, can help you.
  5. Be aware of your privileges. It’s important to acknowledge the advantages that are available to us, and the ones that are not available to others.
  6. Be proactive in educating yourself on the topic. Get the facts on diversity and inclusion from articles, essays, books, and blogs.
  7. Stay open, stay curious, and do not fear mistakes. Becoming and remaining inclusive is a process. Remain open, curious and continue looking for opportunities to learn and challenge our beliefs and personal patterns.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN VIDEO GAMES

Video games are one of the fastest growing entertainment mediums in the world, enjoyed by people of different races, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds. In fact, research shows that game players make-up a very diverse population. According to Entertainment Software Association’s 2020 Essential Facts about the Games Industry, video game players represent:

  • People of all ages
  • 41% of gamers are female (nearly 88 million women)
  • 46 million video game players have disabilities

Despite gamers being an exceptionally diverse population, diversity and inclusion have been long-standing, widely recognized issues within the games industry – in terms of the workforce and representation within games themselves! This section explores the current state of diversity and inclusion in games and highlights movements, organizations and resources that are helping to increase representation throughout the industry. Dive in!

Reports summarizing diversity in the games industry:

Report: IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey, 2019 (Source: IGDA)
Report: Essential Facts about Diversity in the Games Industry (Source: ESA)
Report: Diversity in Gaming – examines representation in the industry’s most popular games. (Source: Curry’s PC World)

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Great articles analyzing diversity trends and challenges:

Article: Gaming’s toxic men, explained – Experts tackle the phenomenon of angry men, trolls, racists and misogynists who hover around the video game industry. (Source: Polygon)
Article: Fear, Anxiety and Hope: What It Means to be a Minority in Gaming (Source: New York Times)
Article: The Gray Area of Casting for Characters of Color in Games (Source: The Verge)

There are many organizations and initiatives dedicated to promoting an environment of inclusion and elevating marginalized voices within the games industry. Explore these organizations, initiatives and resources to learn more.

Support

Organizations and movements that elevate minority voices

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RaiseTheGame is a movement to inspire diversity and inclusion in the games industry, creating cultures where everyone belongs, and ideas can thrive. The #RaiseTheGame Guidance is a fantastic resource to understand why improving diversity and inclusion is both good business and morally upright.

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POC In Play is the video games diversity organization and movement, designed to address the lack of representation and inclusion of People of Color in the videogames visibly and behind the scenes.

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Latinx in Gaming: A platform to connect and elevate Latinos across the gaming industry, promote cultural appreciation and representation in games.

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Ablegamers is an organization that utilizes fun to bring inclusion and improved quality of life for people with disabilities through the power of video games.

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GaymerX: celebrates and supports LGBTQIA people and culture in the games industry.

FeministFrequency

Feminist Frequency is a non-profit educational organization that analyzes modern media’s relationship to societal issues such as gender, race, and sexuality.

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I Need Diverse Gamers is an organization that brings projects, works and research by marginalized folks to light.

Video games are for everyone, but those with disabilities can be left out if developers don’t consider their needs. This section explores design features and new hardware that make games more accessible to all.

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Video Series: Designing for Disability

This series of videos shares guidelines and best practices for making games more accessible to a wide range of disabilities.

Game Accessibility Features

To foster inclusivity and ensure that video games can be enjoyed by all audiences (including people with different types of disabilities) game creators should consider implementing various ‘accessibility features’ during the design process. In fact, many ‘accessibility features’ are widely used by all gamers (such as subtitles or control mapping options).

The Game Accessibility Guidelines offer simple design features that can be included in games – and are easy to implement if considered early in the design process. 

Here is a list of common features that allow for greater accessibility:

  • Fonts: Larger, scalable font sizes and bold fonts, like Moving Out.
  • Zoom: Ability to increase the size of all objects on the screen such as in Untitled Goose Game’s zoom feature.
  • Contrast: Settings to adjust contrast and brightness, as well as distinct colors with good lighting, like Splatoon.
  • Non-Visual Cues: Sounds and haptic feedback that help direct the player, like Lego games.
  • Color Blind: Modes that invert colors or change colors to accommodate different types of color blindness, such as in Hue. 
  • Screen Readers: Functions that read text and menus as they are highlighted and appear on the screen, such as in Eagle Island.

Adaptive Hardware

Games are also made more inclusive by integrating adaptive technologies, which range from eye-tracking hardware to modified joysticks (such as the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Logitech’s Adaptive Gaming Kit). These hardware solutions are literal game changers for millions of people living with disabilities – who can now play and enjoy games.

• Xbox Adaptive Controller

• Logitech’s Adaptive Gaming Kit

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More Resources

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AbleGamers  Foundation dedicated to improving accessibility in the video game space, enabling more people with disabilities to be able to play video games. 

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Accessibility Games provides free tools and resources to help game developers design for accessibility and navigate barriers that frequently prevent players with disability from being able to play and enjoy games.

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Family Video Game Database – Library of games that enables players to discover and search for games that match their needs.

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Special Effects is a UK-based organization that puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games.

TEACHER RESOURCES & ACTIVITIES

Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom

Educators can help combat prejudice and racial discord by supporting positive behaviors among students, fostering a sense of belonging and instilling respect for all peoples. Resilient Educator offers a toolkit of resources to create an inclusive classroom, while encouraging students to spread the values of D&I in their everyday lives. 

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Resources about Bias

Bias in schools can have serious consequences such as inequitable punishments for students of color, lower student performance and microaggressions. Edutopia provides A Look at Implicit Bias and Microaggressions and tips for addressing this topic with students. Teaching Tolerance offers a robust guide on Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education, focusing on instruction, classroom culture, family and community engagement, teacher leadership, and social justice. Also, check-out their Identity Chart Exercises.

Facilitating Conversations About Race

It’s important to talk about race with students in ways that affirm students’ identities while helping them celebrate and negotiate differences, as explained in Harvard’s article: Talking Race and Ethnicity. For further exploration, The New York Times: A Conversation on Race provides bite-sized documentaries highlighting individuals’ experiences with race, bias, and identity and this guide for discussion. 

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Identity & Diversity in My Generation

Source: Anti-defamation League

Time: 15-minutes

Summary: Short lesson through which students learn more about Gen Z, reflect on their identities, create self-portraits/quotes that represent themselves and reflect on images and quotes by a wide diversity of this generation.

Cultural Diversity in the United States

Source: National Geographic

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Summary: Students learn about several different metaphors that have been used to describe cultural diversity in the United States – and then choose a metaphor that represents today’s diverse cultural landscape.

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GET STARTED WITH MINECRAFT: EDUCATION EDITION

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