The Chinese Room Entry Scheme: Creating Opportunity To Welcome More Diverse Talent

By The Chinese Room Communications Team on 21/03/2022

The statistics that Ukie helpfully provided the games industry with through the first UK Games Industry Census told a clear story – women made up only 28% of the workforce in games, two thirds of people working in the sector are aged 35 or under and only 10% of people working in games are Black, Asian or minority ethnic. People working in the games industry are twice as likely to have gone to private school, or to have come from a family of managerial class.

Whilst we can hope that more individuals from marginalised backgrounds will choose to apply for games industry jobs, we as game companies must also engage in active outreach to find that talent. Since joining Sumo Group, The Chinese Room have found themselves in a privileged position to be able to offer accessible opportunities for people that are wishing to join the games industry, but just need that extra break. With that support in place, we’ve been able to take action.

Our team is constantly expanding as we are crafting new, brilliant titles, and we certainly needed a few new pairs of helping hands back in August 2020. Studio members agreed to be mentors to new talent that we wanted to source in a less conventional manner, this way led to launch the first TCR Entry Scheme – a six-month contract to newcomers in Production or Design, with the possibility to being employed full-time at the end of the period. No previous game making experience was necessary, and crucially, we committed to paying full salaries to the successful applicants.

Our Creative Director Dan Pinchbeck made a personal call inviting all people that need that extra help to consider applying. The video specifically encouraged applications from women, people from BAME background and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We were overwhelmed by the response and were humbled by receiving hundreds of applications. Sadly, those numbers only underlined the necessity for such schemes, but we’ve been delighted to see a few of them crop up since, spearheaded by other games companies!

The Chinese Room has been massively enriched by the presence of Georgia and Saskia – the two women who eventually joined us as part of the Entry Scheme. We were thrilled when they accepted full-time contracts with us at the end of the six months. 

Inspired by the brilliant success of the first Entry Scheme, we decided to do it all again and in August 2021 we launched another round of applications.

This time, with a slightly different, but equally important focus. How often do people have to leave the industry due to various reasons, and find it difficult to re-enter due to the technological barrier that suddenly appeared in their absence? How ungenerous our industry can be to talent who have entered the industry slightly later in life, or are engaged in parenting or other care duties? Finally, when will the industry be more welcoming to individuals that come from lower-socio economic background? It’s with those questions in mind that we ran this second round of Entry Scheme applications and were so happy to find two brilliant new individuals to join us in QA and Production.

We encourage other studios, if they can, to adopt similar techniques of sourcing staff. There are pools of incredibly creative and hard-working people to whom the usual routes of joining the industry are simply blocked off. If we want to create more expansive, universal games, we have to do the work of expanding the range of workers’ experiences in our studios. The more voices, the richer our in-game worlds. We thank #RaiseTheGame for publicising this agenda and for doing the heavy lifting of exposing the gaps in our industry’s demographics. We have come so far already, but there is still a long way to go. We are excited to be part of this journey.

Further reading