5 African-Americans Making an Impact in The Video Game Industry

Morgan Gray

Morgan Gray is a veteran in the video game industry and has worked on many popular games, such as Tomb Raider, Star Wars and most recently The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Although Gray has worked on many mainstream games, he’s very ready to see a change in gaming when it comes to race. According to an interview he did with mtv.com, Gray stated:

“I am sick of playing the average white dude character. And I’m sick of playing a black stereotype. … As a player I want to have more experiences other than the futuristic super soldier white guy to the unlikely hero white guy. There’s that line where you’re playing you, and you’re playing the character. It’s sort of like, are you behind the character pushing? Are you holding hands with the character in your mind? And for me, I’d like to get more of relating to this character.”

Karisma Williams

Senior Experience Developer/Designer for Xbox Kinect

As a senior experience developer/designer, Karisma Williams designs and develops the various onscreen interfaces, which include menus, interaction models and onscreen elements. In addition to her work at Microsoft, Williams also serves as creative director of Matimeo.com, an independent UX development company.

Gordon Bellamy

Gordon Bellamy has spent the past 19 years producing and marketing interactive content and developing strategic business partnerships with video game publishers, social media developers and technology partners.

He has worked with major companies like MTV, EA Sports and Spike TV. He was named EA’s “rookie of the year” for his work on marketing the NFL Madden series and was instrumental in creating Spike TV’s Video Game Awards show.

A Look Back in History: Jerry Lawson — The First Black Game Designer

Engineer Jerry Lawson was born Dec. 1, 1940, and died April 9, 2011. He introduced home video gaming by creating the Fairchild Channel F in August 1976, the first game system with interchangeable games.

As a child, he was inspired by the work of scientist and inventor George Washington Carver. Lawson started repairing televisions to make a little money before enrolling at Queens College in New York City. In the 1970s, Lawson joined the Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club as the only Black member at the time.

The Fairchild Channel F was the predecessor to the Atari 2600 and only lasted a year. This console was designed for one of the first coin-operated arcade games, Demolition Derby. The console was the first cartridge-based gaming system that came to market that featured a pause button and featured eight colors in a single game.

After leaving Fairchild in 1978-79, Lawson started his own video game development company called Videosoft. The company was started to create games and tech tools for the Atari 2600 but fell short of that goal. Videosoft ended up creating only one cartridge, Color Bar Generator, which was made to fix your television’s color and adjust the vertical and horizontal picture.

Lawson may very well be the first Black video game designer, producer and engineer in the industry.