Cloud Chamber is a new studio at 2K working on the next game set in the BioShock universe. While it's a fresh group, it's not ignoring the systemic issues of development, namely diversity in hiring.
Studio head Kelley Gilmore joined USgamer's Branching Narratives podcast recently to discuss how Cloud Chamber is working toward diversity efforts. A longtime alum of Firaxis, Gilmore reflects on how there were very few women in games "particularly in the early days."
At Cloud Chamber, she says the studio is working hard to increase its diversity numbers in every way. It's been "eye-opening" for her to see the allegations of recent months come to light, especially from women in the industry, and that discussions about diversity are still having to be had in 2020.
"I think what it has helped me to realize is, we can't just have good intentions," Gilmore says. "We have to be intentional about changing the way we do business."
Recent allegations against a number of industry members have reverberated across the industry, especially around Ubisoft, which addressed the ongoing fallout in its earnings call today. CEO Yves Guillemot has pledged "profound changes" at the company, as several employees and executives including former Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët have left the company. Recent reports have indicated the rippling effects of the culture at the company, stifling ideas like featuring lead female protagonists in major games.
For Cloud Chamber, Gilmore says the studio has a number of women working positions throughout the company in engineering, creative, and design. It's partnered with diversity experts to help the studio "deeply figure out" how it can improve its own workplace environment. This ranges from scouting talent to the interview process, as well as its own culture.
"Figuring out how we as an organization can change, that is what we are doing," Gilmore describes it. "It's what we all want to do, but it doesn't happen by accident. It happens by putting plans into action."
Alongside these topics, Branching Narratives host Jeff Green speaks with Gilmore about her early career and years at Firaxis, working with Sid Meier, and even the difficulties of motion capture in the age of COVID-19. You can listen to the whole episode with Gilmore here, and find more episodes of Branching Narratives here.