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June 3, 2021 / KingsIsle Community

What Does Pride Mean To You?

KingsIsle takes great pride in our community supporting each other and making sure that everyone feels accepted for who they are. June is Pride Month where we celebrate the diversity of both our players and the KingsIsle team as one community.

We reached out to several of our team members and community leaders to share their stories of diversity and support. Here is what they had to say!


Renee Wooten, Producer (He/They) 

“Pride is much more than rainbow stickers, banners, and icons; It’s solidarity, comfort, and acceptance. People are meant to go through things together instead of alone. Celebrating Pride in who you are allows folks to know where the safe spaces are and encountering others that understand every journey is unique and challenging. It can also aid in someone’s self-discovery! 

I grew up thinking I was “broken” and there was no one else like me. Now I know that there is a spectrum of being Ace and that many folks do not even question their identity, so I’m finally embracing who I really am. By no means do labels need to control your journey, however, they can help understand how beautifully unique and yet still similar we all are.

I believe games and media in general are getting better at representation, but there is a LONG way to go with inclusion and diversity. I would love to see more authentic approaches like ‘Tell Me Why’ by DONTNOD Entertainment. They consulted folks with certain experiences to make sure there is accurate representation and had a trans voice actor portray a trans character. 

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by friends and coworkers who support me for who I am as well. It’s important that representation is there for those that are loud and proud as well as those still discovering who they are or reserved. Your status is not all that you are, but it’s a pretty special part. 

Happy Pride everyone! ❤️” ~ Renee Wooten, Producer  


Mathew “Sparck” Anderson, Senior Community Manager (He/Him) 

“When I entered the game industry twenty years ago there were no LGBTQ+ friendly online games. Coming out to co-workers was practically unheard of and it was scary enough coming out to one’s own family and friends. Wizard101 and Pirate101 wouldn’t be made for another ten years, so I had no community to rely upon in a world I loved – games. I felt isolated and uncertain if this was the career path for me and if there would ever be a time when young folk like myself would find the support they needed. 

The game industry has changed since then for the better and I’m so glad to be where I landed. We’ve reached a point of immense support and respect for LGBTQ+ members both at companies and within our communities. Most importantly, we are seeing communities like for Wizard101 and Pirate101 that are built with inclusivity in mind, where players can come to escape the uncertainties of life and be with friends and supportive developers.

I’m proud of our players for seeing our games as a safe place to simply be themselves, and in seeing the KingsIsle team as a beacon of support. We have an incredible community that I am excited to help develop and grow, and that includes bringing the developers closer to the community in understanding. My personal mission is to ensure that everyone feels included, accepted, and respected. You can always reach out if you have questions about our community or need support in feeling welcome.

I am more comfortable being me at KingsIsle and in the Spiral than ever before in my career. Thank you all for making this community awesome!” – Mathew “Sparck” Anderson, Senior Community Manager 


TheArtOfWarlord, QA (Any) 

“I am happy that I work for a company where I can be open about who I am!” – TheArtOfWarlord, QA 


Kayly Ginsberg, Marketing Coordinator (She/Her) 

“When I look at the world today, it’s heartwarming to see how far we’ve come. Even just a few years ago we didn’t have a strong push for LGBTQ+ representation in media. While we still have a long way to go, I also think it’s important to recognize and appreciate that movies like “Love, Simon” even exist now. Representation is so important because it has the ability to resonate and inspire. It allows people who have felt broken their whole life to feel a little less alone.  

The world is changing and it’s been a long time coming. I want to see my friends and peers be able to be themselves without fear of being harassed or treated differently. So, what does Pride mean to me? 

Pride means progress. 

Pride means representation. 

Pride means acceptance.  

Pride means inclusion.  

Pride means being your true self and shining bright because of it.” – Kayly Ginsberg, Marketing Coordinator 


Amanda Rogers, Associate Producer (She/Her) 

“The story begins with the most marginalized members of our community pushing back against grave injustices and leads to visibility, marriage, and employment protections. While the crux of the celebration is a joining together as a community, and of course a parade, Pride is not about ignoring reality for parties. Pride at its core is a rebellion, an expression of love and openness in the face of hate. It is the time we take to remember our past and to look forward to our future.

Video games have often provided an outlet for its LGBTQ+ players. Whether you are coming to grasps with your own identity or have been out for ages, the ability to invent and reinvent yourself through video game narratives has been a key form of exploration for nonconformers for decades. While video games have not always been a willing participant in this, it is the reason so many of us have flocked to the industry either for our hobbies or our careers, and why there has been such a recent turnaround for genuine attempts at connecting with previously neglected groups.

Always remember, you do not have to identify as LGBTQ+ to support Pride! It is so important to just show up in support for the causes of others. We can always achieve more together than apart.” – Amanda Rogers, Associate Producer


Leah Ruben, Game Director 

“I’m proud to be part of a diverse and strong KingsIsle community that supports each other. Proudly be who you are and accept others as they are. We care for everyone in our community and want them to feel included, accepted, and part of something amazing!  

Let’s now talk about action. There are several ways we have planned to expand freedom of expression in Wizard101 over the next year and beyond.  

First of all, we’re evaluating chat and communications options. KingsIsle’s mission is to remain family friendly and a safe place for everyone to play, but we believe we can make some improvements in this regard and have some future plans to do so.  

Second, we are actively working on some new outfit options. Over the last two milestones, we’ve been developing behind-the-scenes tech to allow for a much larger color palette for NEW dyeable outfits (yes, this includes pink for boys, the burnt orange color for girls, and much more). These efforts have proven more complicated than expected but we are working on it! Sometime in the next year, we would like to roll out a few outfits as a test and then incorporate this new color wheel tech going forward. As we can allocate art and design time, we may retrofit some existing gear to use this as well.  

Speaking of art and design time, we are also looking to provide some of the early holiday gear (hello, Hallowe’en Robes!) as options for all wizards. There’s more in our long-term plans, but we want to take steps as we can to make sure that everyone feels as represented and included as possible in the Spiral!” – Leah Ruben, Game Director


Additional Team Support 

“Be proud of who you are and know there’s always those who will support and love you for it!” – Jason Brannon, QA Tester 

“A diverse workforce is an asset to any company.  Everyone should feel welcome and accepted and part of the KingsIsle family.” – Game Programmer 


COMMUNITY LEADER STORIES 


Mysteries of Ravenwood 

“Pride Month is a time where can show our true colors and be who we truly are, be defined by the things you love and not the things that you hate.” – Mysteries of Ravenwood 

“All humans are beautiful, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, disabilities, religious beliefs, etc. If you’re struggling with your identity, know that you are valid and beautiful, and you’re always allowed (and encouraged) to be yourself.” – Ambermeow 

Ambermeow is hosting a Pride Party this Saturday at 11am CST in the Commons, Realm Unicorn. Also mark your calendars for Visions of the Spiral’s Pride Run Event on June 26! 


Ravenwood Academy 

“We are proud of the diverse group of people that make Ravenwood Community one of the kindest, most supportive communities around. 

Ravenwood vows always to be a safe place, an ally, and a home away from home for all of our Wiz-fam. When you need a friend or a soft place to land, we are here, wands ready, Feints in hand.” – Ravenwood Academy 
 

Legends of the Spiral 

“Pride month is a time of celebration and reflection of the strengths and bravery of those in the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. We’ve come so far and faced cruelties beyond imagination. Every time someone strikes us down, we get up and dust ourselves off and ready ourselves for the next battle ahead. Pride is all about acceptance and understanding that love is love and that’s all that really matters.” – RyleeRoseThorn 
 
“Even with the world changing around us, don’t be afraid to always be yourself. Let everyone love you for you and not someone who everyone wants you to be.” – MichaelWildflame 


Wizard101 Folio 

“This world would be a lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.” 

“Never be afraid to be the best you that you can be! Happy Pride Month!” – Kyle IceWielder 

The Trevor Project is an important lifeline for the LGBTQ+ community in times of need. If you are a KingsIsle community member or just happening across this blog post from us and are struggling with your own identity, please don’t hesitate to seek out support like through The Trevor Project. 

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