At the start of 2017, the Episode team sat down and looked at our app to decide what we wanted to focus on this year. As we evaluated the many important issues and priorities around Episode, one thing was especially clear: our stories and platform should reflect the amazing diversity of our players and the world around us. In regards to that, we’ve let you down and we’ve spent the past weeks reflecting on how to do better.
When we use the term “diversity”, this includes but is not limited to age, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture, socioeconomics, gender identity and expression, sexuality, mental health, and physical disability / chronic ailment.
We want to share with you some new things we are striving for as a team for the remainder of 2017:
- We will focus on developing stories at Pocket Gems that better reflect the diverse voices, identities, and experiences within our community. Starting in April, internally developed stories will incorporate characters with and experiences from a wider range of perspectives.
- We will look for community stories with diverse casts, leading characters, and perspectives to feature in weekly shelves. We will spend more time curating themes to ensure a variety of perspectives are meaningfully represented, taking your feedback on each in an effort to make the next one better.
- We are partnering with more creators from the community - including many you’ve suggested to us - to bring a wider range of voices to our featured stories. We will continue to expand this outreach as we grow.
- We will increase the diversity of clothing, hair styles, character features, and backgrounds to empower everyone to tell THEIR story. Moving forward, we will put assets into production each month that expand the diversity of our art catalog, representing more religions, ethnicities, cultures, and genres. We have a lot of work to do here, so this will be an ongoing effort. We’ll aim to get the first set of these released before summer.
- As we explore more diverse issues and identities, we will set aside pre-production time that may include additional research, interviews, characters studies, and visual development to ensure we bring better context to the story.
While these changes won’t happen overnight, we want to let you know about some of the stories we have in development to help reflect our dedication to representing our diverse community:
We recently re-launched Venomous, the story of a Latina police officer driven to prove herself in a cutthroat New York City environment. We loved working with the creator, Hannah, on this and are excited to launch more community stories.
- We have begun work on a new story with a popular recording artist. In this story, you will be able to select the gender of both your character and your love interest.
In partnership with a major Hollywood studio, we are developing a story based on a hit movie that will feature a Korean-American fashion designer and business owner.
- We are working with an active member of the community on a new game-show-like story with a hugely diverse cast, where characters’ ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds will be a part of the story and the roles they play on the show.
- We’ve got a new story in development that focuses on the fluidity of gender identity and the gender-based standards that surround our society.
We hope that in being more transparent about our diversity goals for 2017 you can continue to help hold us accountable to them. Thank you again for your feedback and dialogue with us. We will work to learn from our mistakes, and are excited to create a space where all people have a voice.