New game studio Racoon Logic faces backlash for lack of diversity in staff photo

·2 min read

One of the most notorious images in games right now is a photo of 20 mostly white male staffers that was included as part of the announcement of a new Montreal game studio called Raccoon Logic.

Why it matters: The photo has become central in the discussion of diversity in game studios and who gets a seat at the table.

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  • It first started drawing attention yesterday when Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier tweeted it and noted, "It's pretty wild that in 2021 a new game studio still looks like this."

  • The studio currently employs one woman, who co-founder Alex Hutchison said "unfortunately couldn't make that photo call."

  • It's not quite a grassroots start-up. Studio leadership has worked at Ubisoft, EA and Google. The new group is partially funded by Chinese gaming giant Tencent.

What they're saying: "I can see why people reacted to the picture of the studio the way they did," Hutchinson told Axios.

  • There are "two important caveats," he added, "one being that diversity extends beyond gender, and I'm proud that we have LGBTQ members on our team, but also that this is just Raccoon Logic's starting point, not the endgame."

Between the lines: Hutchinson initially responded to criticism with snark, yesterday calling the initial Schreier tweet "trolling."

  • But the photo elicited sharp reaction on Twitter, where women in the industry shared anecdotes of being a distinct minority in studios where they worked.

  • Hutchinson's critics said the photo sends a message about who Raccoon Logic values having on the team.

  • He says the initial hiring was done prior to outside investment and that the "initial reach-out before the money came in" involved "talking to people we already knew" about jobs.

What's next: Hutchinson says Raccoon Logic has "made a point to interview BIPOC candidates for other positions" and will continue to hire.

  • "It's not hard to grasp that a diversity of opinion and expression — as well as people who have just led different lives and have different life experience — just leads to better games," he said.

Meanwhile, other game studios keep getting announced with limited obvious signs of diversity.

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