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Courtesy: Aerial_Knight

Independent game developer Neil Jones is on the verge of launching "Aerial_Knight's Never Yield," and he's sizing up what it means to be a Black developer in an industry where few get good breaks.

Jones wanted to take a classic genre — endless runners — and add his own spin with a futuristic take on Detroit, including a hip hop soundtrack, cut scenes, and motion triggers, set in a stylish 3D world.

  • The game is coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S and X May 19.

The big picture: "Never Yield" is a passion project born out of Jones' frustration. “Like any Black person would tell you, you've got to be five times better to get just the entry level [job].”

  • Despite years spent building a portfolio and polishing his work, the jobs never came. "It was always some kind of excuse, you don't fit the culture. We're looking for somebody more locally."

He grew tired of being left out. "If they're not going to give me an opportunity, I'm just gonna make my own type of space where I can do whatever I want."

Between the lines: The industry, however slowly, is changing.

  • Reflecting on George Floyd's murder and a summer of worldwide protests in 2020, Jones noticed a change in the video game industry: "It was the first time a lot of studios said 'Black Lives Matter.'"
  • "I think that saying that you're going to do something or just saying that there's a problem, that's like the first step.”

Companies like Nintendo have allowed him to speak his mind when he announced the game for Switch, and he says Microsoft has quietly given him development support — a sign he sees as encouraging. "If you're just doing it for the credit or you know, the marketing, then it's not genuine."

Still, Jones says he struggles with the idea of being a role model, rather than an individual, and feels that he's found himself in a right time, right place situation, brought on by heartbreaking events.

  • "I don't speak for all Black people. I say that every time I make any kind of statement or something like, address some Black stuff ... I'm just trying to make my smaller games and exist."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Exclusive: Meta's civil rights chief aims to "turn the knob" for good

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Meta

A year ago, Facebook brought in Roy Austin, Jr. to lead a new team focused on civil rights. Since then, he has assembled a squad of experts advising parent company Meta on everything from voting rights to hate speech to ensuring new products don't have discriminatory impact.

The big picture: Austin's team of nine must tackle those tough issues inside a company of nearly 70,000 employees serving more than 3 billion users around the world.

Momentum builds for salary transparency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York City will soon require employers to supply a salary range when they're advertising a position — the biggest step yet in the growing but controversial movement for pay transparency.

Why it matters: Laws like New York's aim to give workers, particularly women and people of color, more power in job negotiations. But the rise in remote work is throwing a wrench into the effort.

2 hours ago - Health

Contact tracing fizzles across America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

States across the country are scaling back their contact tracing efforts, often focusing on vulnerable communities and relying more on Americans to alert close contacts themselves after testing positive for COVID.

Why it matters: As vaccines have become available, the virus has become more infectious and life has slowly headed more toward normal, health officials have come to view contact tracing as a relatively inefficient use of resources.