Thursday, April 18, 2024
Gayming AwardsNews

Gayming Awards 2022: Tanya DePass wins Gayming Icon

The Gayming Awards 2022 has found its winner for the prestigious category of Gayming Icon: the one and only Tanya DePass.

The Gayming Icon award, sponsored by Facebook Gaming, is given to an individual that has significantly contributed to furthering the status and increasing the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in the gaming industry, something which Tanya has not only done with their non-profit organization I Need Diverse Games, but through her work as CypherofTyr on Twitch, where she often streams Dungeons and Dragons and has gained a considerable audience. She is currently working on her own tabletop role-playing game, an afro-futurist work called Into The Mother Lands alongside a varied and diverse team of POC designers.

Speaking with Keza MacDonald of The Guardian, Tanya reveals all about her fantastic journey into changing how we see diversity within video games.

As The Guardian writes, Tanya’s ascent into gaming started in 2014, but as a queer black woman she had noticed the problem with games and gaming as far back as 1987 – there were zero people that looked like her. Fast forward to 2014 and that had barely changed, with cis, white men taking up the spotlight for most games and any female protagonists being white, skinny and clearly designed to appeal to men. Black and queer characters – never mind protagonists – were non-existent.

“Where are the people who look like me? They’re the hookers in a Grand Theft Auto game,” Tanya tells The Guardian says. “As I got older I realised that there were people who actually didn’t want people like me in games. And if you do get a black character, if you get a gay character, they don’t live very long, or they’d be there for set-dressing – they’re not a full character. They’re not the people who get to save the world every single time.”

Tanya wanted the gaming space to change, and so, upset after a Kotaku article on Ubisoft’s response to female protagonists being “double the work”, Tanya took to Twitter. She tweeted about needing to see more representation in games and used the hashtag #ineeddiversegames. Her response led to people within and outside of games sharing their own reasons why they needed more games where they could see themselves.

Eventually the tweet grew into a Twitter account, then a website, and then a non-profit organization with a space on Tumblr, Instagram, and Tumblr. I Need Diverse Games even has its own scholarship programme for the Games Developers Conference, where they award passes to upcoming developers who are trying to make their mark on gaming.

“I’ve had so many people say to me: seeing you do this makes me realise I have a place in the industry,” Tanya says. “Because there’s so many people who never see folks like us around. They don’t see us on stage at E3. Simply by being visible, it’s giving other people the idea that they have a place here, too.”

Tanya’s work still isn’t done, and she and I Need Diverse Games continue to grow even now, but it cannot be understated just how pivotal she has been in changing the games industry for the better.

Come see Tanya DePass take home the Gayming Icon award at The Gayming Awards, taking place on Monday, April 25th at the Troxy in London. It will also be livestreamed on Twitch.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.