"Eurogamer has a diversity issue, we're well aware of that," says Wesley Yin-Poole, editor of Eurogamer, a website reporting on the video games industry.
In recent years, Eurogamer's audience has been vocal about the lack of female writers on the site and in the video game industry more broadly. Research by the University of Sheffield found that only ten per cent of those working in the UK gaming sector are BAME and 30 per cent are women or non-binary.
In 2018, Brighton-based Eurogamer acknowledged its own lack of gender representation in an article, writing that just one per cent of bylines belonged to women in February that year, compared to a (still imbalanced) 25 per cent industry average. According to the author Keza MacDonald (a contributor to the website and video games editor at the Guardian), with the video games industry so male-dominated a 65-35 male-female split would be a realistic goal.
Eurogamer set out to fix that problem through its recruitment and internships. Although gender representation has improved lately - just under a third of its current staff are women - the same does not go for ethnic diversity. Only one of its 22 staff members is from an ethnic minority background.
"There is work to be done in terms of getting ethnic minority voices on the site and in the video game industry in general. It's not just the right thing to do, it's crucial for our content and our industry."
Hello. We've heard all the discussion today regarding the lack of diversity at Eurogamer and thank you for it. No excuses, we are not proud of it and will work harder to improve the range of voices on the site.— Oli Welsh (@oliwelsh) March 23, 2018
To tackle the issue, Eurogamer has launched a summer work experience programme that will take on board two writers from ethnic minority backgrounds living in the UK. They do not need any journalism qualifications; just be at least 18 years old and have a passion for the sector. The initiative is inspired by a similar scheme by Rock Paper Shotgun, a news website mainly covering PC gaming.
There is good precedent at Eurogamer for these types of initiatives. It has run internships annually for the last four years, skipping 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The internships have resulted in the interns - all women, by the way - landing jobs in the industry: Vic Hood is now the gaming editor for Tech Radar, Imogen Beckhelling is a reporter for Rock Paper Shotgun, and Emma Wood was kept on by Eurogamer.
"I'm extremely proud of our internship," Yin-Poole says. "Its something I worked hard to get off the ground and get funding for. I'm delighted with the people who have come through it and the work they've done.
"We're on the hunt for really good video game reporters and part of this programme is hoping to unearth those people, even if they don't go on to work for Eurogamer, I'm just happy if they go on to work in the video game media business - fingers crossed."
The work experience programme is a four-week placement paid at a rate of £100 a day. It is in line with its weekend staff cover rate.
"It's 2021 now, the idea of someone working for us for free is not right, even for work experience," he continued. "It's an archaic viewpoint to say you should have free labour."
The work experience will take place virtually and the writer will work on news, reviews and features for the website, and get the chance to do interviews too.
Yin-Poole advised potential applicants to write a cover letter that conveys their passion for video games journalism. He wants to see examples of writing, even just a blog.
"I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to give it a shot, we'll look at all the applications and if you have any sort of curiosity about video game journalism, then it could be for you."
To apply, email a CV plus a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is 30 April 2021.
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