Developer funds – Humble Bundle interview

The summer of 2020 will forever be viewed though a lens of disquiet and discontent. However, amongst the tribulations faced by many arose a slew of funds and financial subsidies aimed at redressing the social and financial imbalance within the gaming community. I had a brief chat with John Polson from Humble Bundle about their Black Game Developer Fund.

Was there any discourse with members of the black gaming community before the fund was founded and are those voices part of the decision making process at Humble Bundle?

We’ve been in regular communication with Black game developers from many communities to discuss how we can best leverage the Humble Games platform and elevate creators of color, albeit with smaller scoped goals, even before this fund was put into place. For instance, we created a $15K award in partnership with Shawn Alexander Allen and the Game Devs of Color Expo last year and are doing so again this year. 

When putting this fund together, it was important to us that we involve and consult Black game developers in the West and in Africa for each step in the process. We’ve asked for guidance on how best to structure the fund and how best to include Black developers in the decision making process. We’re in regular discussion with many individuals and organizations about how to make our fund as impactful as it can be.

What inspired the decision to start the fund and why now?

Part of Humble’s mission has always been to be a force for good. The recent opening of this fund only furthers our commitment to utilize our platform for racial equity. Our $1M commitment is a target that we want to get into the hands of individual Black game developers, Black-led studios or majority Black development teams. Black lives, including their creative viewpoints and their audiences, matter, and we feel this is just the start of what we can do for those under-represented in our industry.  

Apart from the financial support offered to gaming projects, are there any plans to expand the scope of what the fund currently provides?

Yes, we are working to expand our scope, but are not quite ready to discuss all our plans in detail right now. We recognize the unique perspectives that Black gamedev professionals can and must bring to our fund, to give applicants feedback and to provide Humble insights into what would be a good fit for a diverse consumer market. We also want to provide a portion of the fund to Black-led studios or Black solo developers for startup costs and prototypes, so they have resources to work on a pitch and playable build – which are essential tools for securing full development funding, whether from Humble or another publisher. We are excited to share more details and methods of support in the coming months!

Finally, what has feedback to the fund been like from the community?

Since we announced this fund, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The program has not only seen great support across the industry, but it has enabled us to create an informative dialogue about the many challenges that Black developers face. These learnings have continued to further our commitment to achieving racial equity in the games industry. 

As with all forms of media and entertainment, it is imperative to have diversity at every step in the game development process. With this fund, we hope that we’ll enable Black game developers to create amazing games with Black lead characters and inspire the next generation of Black developers.

Funds for black and African creators

Humble Bundle Black Developer Fund

The Fairchild Initiative

Wings Fund

Epic Mega Grants

Whilst funds such as the above go a long way to helping a lot of developers realize their ambitions in the traditional sense, those aimed at the African development scene may fail to acknowledge the disparity between regions.

For example in the sub-saharan regions, funding for prototyping is virtually non existent whilst the perception of gaming as simply a past time for kids still persists. A long term goal would be the formation and existence of funds catering to projects outside the traditional game development cycle. For an entire community and eco-system to thrive funds made available need to acknowledge the importance of those other roles.