Welcome to “From our Team,” where different employees of Ubisoft Toronto share a little behind the scenes of the community, culture, and values of our studio. Today we’re excited to hear from Gav Sarafian, Developer on Far Cry 6, and co-organizer of Rainbow 6ix, the LGBTQ2S+ Employee Resource Group at Ubisoft.
Pride @ home
It’s Pride season in Toronto! Get out your rainbow flags, slather on some sunscreen, and… stay indoors? Again?
Hi! I’m Gav, one of the co-organizers of Rainbow 6ix (the ERG, not the game), Ubisoft Toronto’s most fabulous 2SLGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group. Our mission is to advocate for equality, representation, and opportunities within our studio, and the greater industry at large. We’ve existed for two years (Pride just so happens to be our anniversary!) and have worked towards making our studio a better place for everyone. Some of our initiatives have included successfully petitioning for the addition of all-gender washrooms at the studio, updating our orientation materials to be more inclusive, working with the studio to participate in the 2019 Toronto Pride Parade, fundraising, and more.
It’s especially easy these days to feel isolated as a Queer person – it’s harder to be visible and to see other visible 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. There are no in-person community meetups. This year, we won’t have a Pride parade or street festival. No Trans or Dyke Marches, either. It’s our second year without being able to get together in person for Pride – but that doesn’t mean it’s any less special.
This year, I’m delighted to announce our Pride @ Home Game Maker Series. We have coordinated with some fantastic 2SLGBTQIA+ folks from around the games industry to speak at our studio on subjects like Designing While Queer, Building a Studio from the Ground Up, and more.
What about Pride?
Forget big street parties and corporatized parades for a moment and remember Pride, at its core, is a protest – to exist in spite of people and governments that would rather we cease doing so. The movement we now know as Pride was born out of the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco, the Stonewall riots in New York, and the Bathhouse Riots here in Toronto, when our community banded together to fight back against systemic discrimination and abuse by police forces – injustices that continue to this day.
Pride is a time of reflection – our parades are also funeral processions. However, we get to decide how we remember and celebrate the lives of our friends, families, and loved ones lost to hatred and negligence. While we await better times to get together in person, it’s important to remember the core ideas behind Pride. For the 2SLGBTQIA+ folk reading this: you exist and persist – and that, in and of itself, is something to celebrate.
The struggles 2SLGBTQIA+ people face are not isolated – especially for our Two Spirit siblings. June is also Indigenous History Month. It’s important that we hold space to recognize the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples, and remember that Pride is political – and our fight is intersectional. We have seen an increase in violent hate crimes across the province and city – from the terror attack in London which took the lives of three generations of a Muslim family, to our own city, where a gay man was recently brutally assaulted just outside of Hanlan’s Point, a beach with a long Queer history. It may be Pride Month, but hatred clearly does not take note of the occasion.
What can we do?
The actions we take as game makers have an impact on our culture. Games are played by everyone, across all ages, locations, and identities. By creating games with accurate representation for marginalized identities, especially when they are made by diverse people, we are directly contributing to cultural norms and attitudes of people everywhere.
Whether you’re out and proud, in the closet, or are quietly figuring things out – I see you. For those at our studio, your ERGs are here for you. For our players, your communities will still be here when the pandemic passes. Remember – Pride is every day!
Stonewall Uprising: Where Pride began – https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/stonewall-uprising-50-years-lgbt-history
Canadian Pride History – https://www.queerevents.ca/canada/pride/history
Toronto Pride History – https://www.pridetoronto.com/pride-toronto/history/