How Jay-Ann Lopez Makes Gaming Inclusive

Time to change the status quo

Key Takeaways

  • The women in the gaming industry are doing big things to make gaming inclusive for everyone.
  • Jay-Ann Lopez is best known for founding Black Girl Gamers and advocating for diversity and inclusiveness in gaming. 
  • Lopez wants to see more Black women represented in the development and content creation side of gaming.
Jay-Ann Lopez holding an Xbox.
Jay-Ann Lopez

Women are leveling the playing field in the gaming industry. The key players who make up women in gaming are shaking up the status quo virtually in all areas. 

Jay-Ann Lopez, the creator of Black Girl Gamers (BGG), isn't just advocating for more women in gaming, but more women of color in gaming and a more inclusive and diverse atmosphere for all gamers. In an industry that's largely dominated by white males, BGG is here to change that.

"I want my legacy to be known as one of the people who diversified gaming in general and changed the landscape of gaming in different ways," Lopez told Lifewire in a phone interview. 

Level One

Long before she was diversifying the gaming industry, Lopez was just a little girl who liked to play Super Mario

"I bought my first console—Super Nintendo—when I was 6 or 7," she said. 

Although she loved gaming, she previously told BBC Radio 4 that she received racist and sexist comments from other players while playing her favorite games, and she got tired of it.

It wasn’t until 2015 that Lopez broke into the gaming industry to fundamentally change it. That’s when she created BGG as a Facebook group, and it has since grown to a multi-platform, online gaming community promoting inclusiveness of gaming. 

The community has grown to more than 80,000 followers across Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with over 7,000 official members worldwide. BGG hosts workshops and events that amplify Black women’s voices in gaming, as well as provide advice and mentoring for women looking to break into the field, whether that be on the gaming development side or as a content creator. 

The rules of BGG are simple: no racism, anti-LGBTQA, or ableism; no hate speech or sexism; no backseat gaming; and be respectful to others. It’s an inclusive community that hosts streamers like SheGamerxo, FindingKyKy, and KeekeexBabyy, who play daily. 

Level Two

Lopez said another important aspect of BGG is being vocal on social media and holding gaming companies accountable. 

"A lot of companies still haven’t addressed their internal diversity issues," she said. "Sometimes our struggle is deciphering what companies are actually doing the work as opposed to tokenizing BGG."

But meaningful partnerships with big companies like Facebook for BGG’s Gamer Girls Night In, Twitch for the Black Girl Gamers Online Summit, and Intel’s AnyKey organization have allowed BGG to reach more women gamers and get their voices out there.

The Black Girl Gamer Logo
Jay-Ann Lopez / Black Girl Gamer

Lopez said her biggest inspiration and role models have formed as a result of creating BGG.

"The women I always have sought feedback from were women in the [BGG] community," she said.

She said the structure of BGG—from the community management team to the official BGG streamers— keeps inspiring her to move forward, despite the struggles. 

"There have been attacks on me, and the platform and its purpose—not everyone within the Black community or outside it agrees with it," she said.

Level Three

Still, she and the BGG community continues to push on to make diversity and inclusion in gaming a real reality instead of just a one-day ideal world. 

"I’d like to see more diversity in organizations—women in general at the helm of gaming companies," she said.

As far as actual games, Lopez said there is an obvious need for more female characters, especially in big-name franchises. 

"There are so many different male representations of franchise games, and we don't have enough women," she said. "And I mean not just sexualized representations and not just white representations." 

For those girls thinking they don’t belong in the gaming industry, Lopez has some advice. 

"Seek out the women who already work [in the industry] and find a mentor," she said. "Use social media to connect, and don’t be afraid to reach out." 

Above all, Lopez said the best tool to have when breaking into the gaming industry is to be yourself. 

"Stand out in your uniqueness," Lopez said. 

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