Rami Ismail has traveled the world as an ambassador for indie game developers. He has seen the places that need more capital and experience as well as the surprisingly strong places where creativity is coming into its own.
And so his view of diversity is far different than what you might hear in a conversation in Silicon Valley.
That’s one reason why Ismail started a new online-only global game developer event, dubbed GameDev.World. As cofounder of Vlambeer, Ismail has been extremely successful, publishing games from Ridiculous Fishing to Nuclear Throne. And he wants to see the diversity of game development highlighted in a conference, even if the speakers can’t speak English. GameDev.World will be translated in real time into eight languages as it airs on June 21 to June 23. And it will be free.
Ismail spoke about the event in a fireside chat with Gamelab founder Ivan Fernandez Lobo at GamesBeat Summit 2019, April 23-24 in Los Angeles (the video at the top). I’ll be heading out to speak and listen at Lobo’s Gamelab in Barcelona on June 26 to June 28.
Ismail started GameDev.World because he was frustrated trying to get visas approved for developers to come to the U.S. for his #1ReasonToBe diversity panel at the Game Developers Conference. Each year, applicants would get rejected. On top of that, one of the French-speaking speakers from Madagascar got low ratings because he spoke with a French accent.
“That the final, invisible obstacle that a lot of people forget about,” Ismail said. “A lot of our knowledge, a lot of our information, a lot of our structures are so steeped in English.”
So Ismail, who won a Special Ambassador award at the GDC last year for his efforts to promote diversity and indie game developers, rallied his friends and created his online-only event.
Ismail said that traveling the world has put him in touch with so many great minds and talented game developers, like Lual Mayen, who grew up in a refugee camp and is now making games for peace.
“When I grew up, I never had to worry about things like [electrical] power,” Ismail said. “These people developing around the world are developing under very different circumstances.”
He added, “It’s imperative for us as an industry to be as diverse as possible. It’s the right thing. … If we, as an industry, hold this torch. Then we should use it.”