by Kim Parker Adcock, owner of One Player Mission
Neuro-divergency in games was discussed at length at the inaugural UK Games Mental Health Summit last month and One Player Mission’s Kim Parker Adcock was taking notes.
The games industry is a vibrant and forward-thinking sector that actively embraces diversity. As we strive to create more inclusive workplaces, it is essential to recognise the significant contributions neuro-divergent individuals bring to the industry.
Building upon insightful discussions at the Safe In Our World Mental Health Summit, we delve into the benefits and challenges of hiring neuro-divergent individuals in the games industry. Moreover, we offer insights on cultivating an inclusive environment that supports and amplifies the success of these talented individuals.
Neuro-divergence encompasses a range of neurological differences, including conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. While these conditions may present challenges in traditional settings, the games industry provides a unique platform for neuro-divergent talent to flourish. Their distinctive cognitive patterns often contribute to exceptional problem-solving abilities, heightened attention to detail, and exceptional creativity – all of which are highly valued in game development.
When considering potential hires, it is beneficial to view them as valuable “culture adds” rather than seeking strict “culture fits.” Expressing a vibrant and highly social company culture in job advertisements can put many people off applying for the role. Provide clear guidance to potential staff prior to an interview, particularly if they are visiting an unfamiliar location. Informing them about whether someone will meet them at the door and providing descriptions can eliminate anxious guesswork and establish clear expectations.
Additionally, well-defined job roles and responsibilities can help neuro-divergent individuals thrive in their respective areas of expertise. Clearly outlining expectations and providing structured frameworks for tasks can help them navigate their responsibilities with confidence and clarity.
NURTURING AN INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Creating an inclusive work environment is crucial for unlocking the full potential and success of neuro-divergent individuals in the games industry. Companies can take several important steps to foster inclusivity. First and foremost, implementing policies that provide reasonable accommodations is essential. This includes offering flexible work schedules that allow neuro-divergent individuals to optimise their productivity and well-being.
Clear communication channels are equally important. Providing multiple avenues for communication ensures that neuro-divergent employees can express their thoughts and ideas effectively, whether it be through written communication, face-to-face meetings, or other forms of communication that suit their individual preferences. Letting new members of staff know the unwritten rules of the office is recommended, as neuro-divergent individuals may not naturally pick up on them.
Avoid exerting pressure on staff to be sociable, drink alcohol, or participate in after-work activities. We’re not saying that your company shouldn’t be able to enjoy these things, but to be aware that not everyone is comfortable in such settings. Creating a culture of acceptance is paramount. Encouraging open dialogue, fostering respect, and promoting understanding among team members establishes a foundation of trust and psychological safety. This empowers neuro-divergent individuals to share their unique perspectives and ideas without fear of judgment or exclusion.
In conclusion, embracing neuro-diversity ensures the industry’s continued growth and success in creating games that captivate and resonate with diverse audiences. By recognising the immense value of neuro-divergent talent and creating an inclusive environment, the games industry can unlock its full potential and further increase innovation and creativity.