'It's Trash': Glow Up Games CXO Latoya Peterson on the State of Diversity in Games

Latoya Peterson is tired of the games industry ignoring Black women, and now she's ready to do something about it.
Latoya Peterson is tired of the games industry ignoring Black women, and now she's ready to do something about it. / Photo courtesy of Glow Up Games

The video game industry is as prone to systemic oppression as any other. Developers of color, and perhaps particularly Black developers, face an uphill battle for employment, let alone creative expression. With this series of features, DBLTAP hopes to highlight the creations of Black developers working to tell their own stories through games in this monthly series. Check out our previous entries here.

Issa Dee in Insecure: The Come Up Game
Issa Dee in Insecure: The Come Up Game / Photo courtesy of Glow Up Games/HBO

Latoya Peterson has always looked at media differently than her peers. Starting with her blog Racialicious and continuing through her time at ESPN and Al Jazeera America, she's brought forward-thinking about media everywhere she went. Now, she and games industry veteran Mitu Khandaker have formed their own studio and market research company, Glow Up Games, to bring that perspective to the executive level. Glow Up's first game, Insecure: The Come Up Game, is based on HBO's "Insecure" and aims to speak to women, especially Black women, even as the rest of the industry seems happy to ignore them.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

DBLTAP: I noticed that you are chief experience officer and Mitu [Khandaker, studio co-founder] is chief executive officer. You're both CEOs, literally. So I wanted to ask if that was intentional, and if so why did you guys go that way?

Latoya Peterson: Yeah, that was intentional. One, because you don't see a lot of women of color in the C suite, period. Mitu, this is her third startup, her third company, so she's normally got a C suite title with that. I think her last one before this was she was COO of an AI tools company. And so, you know, her being CEO made the most sense, she was the person with the most game experience. And, you know, she had the 13 years in the game, she's won the BAFTA. She's done those things. I was coming from executive management level stuff in media. I had started working in newsrooms. Before that I was a writer, and a host, and different things like that. And then I transitioned over to newsrooms after I finished a fellowship at Stanford. So I was on senior leadership at Al Jazeera America for their show The Stream, senior leadership at Fusion, then when I was at ESPN I was kind of sub VP level.

So we were both used to management and showing these different things and building companies or building out different projects. And so yeah, it was intentional. It was fun, though, picking titles, because we were wishing — For my title it was weird, because I was like, "Well, I don't want to be COO." I'm not really a spreadsheets person. I was like, "So what is the title?" And she was like, "Chief experience officer is a new hot thing to do. And it's kinda like what you do? You like to figure out what players are doing, what's going on. So let's say CXO." So that's how I got that.

DBLTAP: Were you always interested in games? What made you decide to move into games?

LP: Yeah, so I've been playing since I was six. I was a huge, huge fan. Started on the gold cartridge Zelda and never went back. Mostly a console-er. But yes, I've been planning for many years. And back when I had the blogs, I used to run this blog called Racialicious back in like '07, '08. Like, a long time ago. But we talked about race and pop culture. And people would just go nuts whenever we would write about games. And it never occurred to me that'd be weird, right? Like I'm, you know, reading these comments, or playing these games, and watching these shows, and I want to write about all of it. But that was back in a time where there wasn't tons of critical work being done on video games. This was back when Roger Ebert was alive, and saying video games couldn't be art. [Laughs] So it's like a whole other era now. 

DBLTAP: [Shaking fist] Ebert!

LP: Yeah. He was a cool guy in general, and he was a really good friend of the blog. But that one, he was like, "I don't know what this whole video game thing is," so it was a very radical take at the time. And now it's been, you know, 13? Thirteen years or so. So the world's changed a little bit and seeing the potential of gaming in a different way. We were writing about it early and I was also writing about race and culture. Which is also how Mitu and I met. You know, there weren't that many women of color in the games space, period, kind of broadly. I think I still just kind of automatically follow [women in games] back on Twitter. 

I was like, Sure, I'll follow you back. No problem. What are you talking about? But back then it was only a few of us. And so one of the jokes we have is that we were talking about the same things at the same time in different places. So I had given a talk in like 2012 at South by Southwest ScreenBurn about social justice and video games, Mitu had given a rant at GDC in 2013 about race in video games and how we're talking about gender but not talking about race. So we were aware of each other and aware of each other's work all the way up until she moved to New York about five years ago to come teach at NYU. That's when we became friends in real life, started hanging out more, and I was also doing more stuff in terms of the future of broadcasts.

To me, the future of entertainment was always gaming. For me, it was always, "What could newsrooms learn from this? What can we do in terms of media, broadcasts, and entertainment?" When I was at ESPN, they were like, "Oh, you're a gamer, come do esports!" So it was like, you know, these things were always around. When I left ESPN, Mitu was kind of like, "Let's start a games studio!" I was like, "OK! Never done that before but I've heard you've got the experience so sure, let's do it."

DBLTAP: Something I ask people a lot about in this series is a sense of community in being marginalized and in games. Is that something that you've experienced? Do you feel like you're part of a community?

LP: Yeah, but I think that's a big question, right? Because one, we say games, and I say games but also, I'm old. Right? Born in '83. So when you used to say gamer, there weren't that many other people that would claim that as well. So everybody's like, "Oh, yeah, broadcast's great." Right? And it didn't really matter. So like, a lot of the close home girls that I can play with, we don't actually play the same games. We aren't even remotely interested in the same thing, it's just, you know, "Oh, you're another girl who plays. Hell yeah, we're going to be friends."

It's more sophisticated now. It's a different thing. A lot more is around these different subcultures. And like, people can be very big in different scenes, like visual novels, or big into, you know, the communities around Valorant, or around League, stuff like that, and not necessarily feel a connection to other types of players. I think from an affinity perspective, I tend to do a lot with like Game Devs of Color and the Blacks in Gaming group, BIG. That tends to be where my affinity falls the most — other people with shared experiences. But like I said, I'm still fairly new, so. The friends that I had when I was writing about games, on the other side of the wall, are the friends that I still have on this side for the most part. I meet new people, but, again, still fairly new. Like, a lot of the people in BIG have been like, here for 25 years, 30 years, like they've been in the game a long time. Whereas I'm just like, I'm still a newbie,

DBLTAP: What made you guys decide to focus on mobile games specifically?

LP: That's a really great question. Well, initially, we were going to do AR games. That was the first focus. We were talking about the company and we were like, "Let's make AR stuff! Let's figure some stuff out." Because we had both been working in the space. And then "Insecure" popped up, and we had some friends that worked for HBO on some other titles, and they knew the team at HBO was looking for another team to make this game. So they're like, "Oh, we recommend it."

And so we were talking about this game and we went, "Kind of makes sense to make this mobile free-to-play." In one case, it's just like, it eliminates any barrier to trying things out or entry. And, two, there was no data, really, about what women of color were playing, what systems they had. We just had no info to go on, in terms of like, do we develop this app for PlayStation? Like, what do we do? So we were like, "Everybody has a mobile phone." It's accessible. It's easier to publish, you can kind of self-publish on those things, you're not really negotiating too heavily with Apple or Google. And, you know, it was the greatest potential for crossover from the show. So that's how we ended up with mobile. And then once you kind of do one set, you're like, "Okay, well we got to kind of — let's sit in this world for a little while and figure out mobile free-to-play." So that's how we became a mobile free-to-play studio.

DBLTAP: I'm interested about the market research that you guys do. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

LP: Yeah, so right now, it's all focused on the game. Once the game ships, we'll start looking at kind of broader trends. But essentially, you know, this came out of me coming from television and film, and just kind of assuming the level of data the games industry would have. You know, the logic is, you know, television and film, their tracking outside of the big places like Nielsen isn't super sophisticated. So I was like, "Well, games has to have so much more data, so much more stuff available," and they do in some respects. But when I asked "Okay, what are the comps like? Okay, we're doing this 'Insecure' game. What else are Black women playing? What are the other big games in the space?" There's just no answer. Like, nobody knew.

We were like, "What do you mean nobody knows?" Then we found out that games actually doesn't track race data at all. For various reasons. There's sensitivity reasons — they call it sensitive data. There's what they think is important, which is, you know, frequently if the game is global, these explanations only really apply in certain areas, and not necessarily all of them.

But also, more to the point, were things that we've seen. You know, both Mitu and I've been playing for so long. Women are kind of routinely undercounted as players even though that data is available. And so even now, this idea of an ideal gamer — [laughs] no one's ever thinking about us when they're putting together personas for their big games, okay? We're not even in the math for these things.

And so we realized that if it's that bad for gender, race is going to be worse, and we would need to really start looking at data and play practices. Even just the initial stuff that we've done, on the very small scale that we've done it, our user base just behaves totally different. 

In terms of acquisitions, we're not going after the same types of players right? The way in which people can communicate with us is totally different. We had a lot of players kind of directly sign up, give us a phone number like "Here, you know, just let us know when the game is out." Which apparently is not normal! They were like "Normally, you'd have to pull teeth to get somebody's phone number, the best you can hope for is that they would download it." And this one, [players] were like, "Nope, let us know when it comes out. Give us a wave." It was just a very different approach to all these things.

We were thinking about our ad strategy. We're like, "Well, what else aren't these [games] people doing?" And there seems to be an assumption that like, everyone who likes one type of game is going to only play in that category. You see the assumption with women all the time, where they're like, "Oh, women like match three, let's sell them more match three, and more match three, and more match three!" And there's no like.... Like, women play other stuff, too. "No, they like match three. Do more match three." So when we started polling people like, "Hey, what do you guys play?" They're like, "Yeah, you know, looking forward to your game. Totally played Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto. I like Animal Crossing, I'm playing Forza." It was all over the map.

So the thing that we realized is that our player base likes strategy in games, and they're not necessarily wedded to any one genre, right, in terms of how you think about it. Which doesn't seem that radical especially when I think about my own play practices, they're all over the map, too. But you know, when you think about it from the way that games normally buckets different types of players, then you're like, "Wow, this is really different." Like, they're cutting across four or five categories at the same time. And they're playing when they find things that they find interesting, not necessarily because the release just dropped. And so it's just a really interesting approach. And we knew that we needed to invest more on the data side, to truly understand it, and to be able to actually build out essentially a profile of the players that we have. Just because no one else has that data.

DBLTAP: Beyond a marketing perspective, why do you think it's important for the industry to have that kind of data?

LP: Well, one, to prevent the problems we had trying to launch this game. [Laughs] We can't even imagine what it was like for a smaller developer. I mean, one of the big things too is that, how do you create a product for somebody you don't understand? That you don't know? And it's not like that research money isn't going into other things. They spend tons of money on like, focus panels and focus groups. Like, "Okay, what are young men interested in now? How are we doing on Twitch? What are the things you stream, what are the things you're watching?" We just think everybody should get that same treatment. "Are you playing? Maybe we should know who you are, too."

So there's that. But there's also, too, just kind of the broader trend in entertainment being so global. Gaming has really come up to the point where now I think, second to sports, it's outpacing films, outpacing television. And so you're just seeing this run for a dominant global art form, this new type of shared experience, that you haven't seen before. And it's amazing that it has such big gaps in understanding of who we play, why we play, what people love. Like that, to me, is just the thing that my inner researcher always wants to address. Like, why? Why is it? Are these things different? Are they the same? What makes you love something? What makes you want to keep going? And we just haven't asked those questions in gaming.

One of the things that was astounding to me that another friend that's a game developer pointed out — He was talking about Kingdom Hearts. He beat Kingdom Hearts Three and just tweeted, "This is how a 17-year journey has come to an end." And I went, "Wait a minute, what? Oh, my God, you're right." [Laughs] Like, the first Kingdom Hearts did come out in like 2002. Wait a minute. Have I been playing this game for 17 years, like some version? Yes, I have! I was like, wait a minute. I have played Zelda since I was six. Like this is 30 years I have been playing as Link. These are significant relationships. I can't think of another piece of media I have engaged with the lore for that long. Even now, it's like, my son's getting older. I'm like, "Oh, here's the books I used to read that you might read." You know, I read those when I was six. And then I stopped reading them. And then now I have a six-year-old, I'm like, "Oh, you might like this book." But it's not [the same].

I just finished Breath of the Wild, looking forward to whatever they do with Breath of the Wild 2. Like, just moving through. We just got Hyrule Warriors, he's playing the beat-'em-ups. And I'm just like, me and Link have been rolling for 30 years. Like, I can't think of anything that was more significant than that piece. And so yeah, I feel like there's a lot of this kind of untapped understanding about games, our relation to them, stuff like that. And that's why the data part really appeals. Like, what can you learn from these different types of groups? And what can you learn from the ways in which you will approach how they play?

DBLTAP: Was there anything that kind of shocked you about what you learned? Or was it all like, oh, of course?

LP: Kind of a little bit of both. So, you know, Mitu and I have both been players for a long time. So we knew we were under-counted. These things were happening. We definitely underestimated the breadth, and we underestimated how markets generally think about what women want, versus what women actually want. And so it's been cool to be watching this — you're now having a renaissance particularly of the last year, other women-owned studios popping up. Like our mentor, Emily Greer, she's got a new one, Double Loop Games. 

But you know, the immense-ness of what any given person is bringing to the entertainment environment, what they love, what they hate, where the crossovers are — That to me is fascinating, right? How many fighting games fans grew up playing, versus grew up watching somebody else play, versus what? We don't have those answers yet. But to me that's vital to start understanding what the environment is.

The fighting games community is one of the most diverse communities in esports. And so it's a particular passion of mine. You see it's generally male-dominated in play. But there's a lot of female players, there's a lot of female streamers, there's a lot of women that are coming through as competitors. And you're just like, "Okay, why in this segment do you see this type of representation, and not in other types of segments of esports?" So again, there's just so much in the data, there's so much hidden in terms of stories and knowledge, that once you start looking at it, they'll start to come out. Those stories will return, but I think we don't have them yet.

DBLTAP: What's it like for your first game as Glow Up to be tied to an IP that's as deeply, deeply beloved as "Insecure?"

LP: It's a lot of pressure. Me and Mitu are always talking about how we feel like we cannot fail. Like, this is the one. Games projects go all kinds of ways. We cannot let this one drop. Because it's like, one, there just aren't that many. There aren't that many that are tied to an IP like "Insecure," or something that's that special, that belongs to the fans in such a specific and intimate way. There aren't really that many games with Black female protagonists, playable ones at that. And though our player in our game — you can be whoever you are, you show up in the world — your best friends are going to be Issa, Lawrence, you know, Chad, Molly and Tiffany. It's gonna be the folks from the show.

And so, you know, from a representation standpoint, from a mechanics standpoint — We invented a new mechanic for the game. It's all about like rap and rhyme and using context to deliver the right types of words so it doesn't feel like Madlibs. We want it to feel more skillful. That was an entire endeavor just trying to get that done. We actually ended up enlisting very early on our good friend Sammus, who's a rapper in her own right and does all these other things. So she's been helping to design, like, how does the rapper's brain work for a game. I mean, it's just been really fascinating, this journey.

But definitely high pressure. Like, you could not have told me, one, for my first game I would be writing the damn thing or writing part of it. And then, two, the scripts would then need to be approved by Issa Rae. That was not how we felt like — Going into this project, that was not what I thought was gonna be happening. And here we are. So definitely much higher stakes than I think we had planned on for our first game, for our first launch as a studio. But, you know, definitely also kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime like, "If we're going to shoot the shot, we're going to shoot the shot, let's just do it." So that's how that happened.

DBLTAP: One thing that's, I think, special about both your game and about "Insecure," generally, is that it bucks this trend, particularly in US media, about media about Black people having to be about suffering and oppression, whereas "Insecure" and this game are just about living daily life, you know? I mean, it might be heightened in some ways, but it's just regular life mostly. Why do you feel like it's important to have that counterpoint to those heavier stories?

LP: Yeah, I think that there tends to be this idea that there can only be certain types of stories told about the Black experience, but also the minority experience more broadly. And that those things have to be heavy, and suffering, and have to be about uplift eventually. Like there's a prescribed way of telling the same story. And what we love especially about "Insecure" and what Issa's created in general, and her whole body of work, is that, you know, we can be just as irreverent, slice of life, weird, awkward as anyone else. And that kind of in-between stuff, the stuff that feels more frivolous, is actually kind of the foundation of understanding someone, right? It's a foundation of really great storytelling. And it's a humanization in a way that you don't normally get from those other types of portrayals. So, yes, there are definitely grand stories you might want to tell through a game. But, you know, to have a character that's so relatable, and to be able to bring that in?

So like Issa's awkwardness is definitely something we tried to capture through the game. And it's hard, because also she's known for "Awkward Black Girl." But Issa D in "Insecure" is a little bit different, right? Not quite as awkward as her first character. This one's a little bit different.

It's one of the reasons why "Insecure" has such a diverse audience base: Because a lot of [fans] can relate to those types of experiences. And so like, the grand narratives are amazing, but it's really great to just have somebody that's relatable, that feels just like you, dealing with the same stuff, that's making mistakes. And that was one of the key things that we want to get across in the game. A lot of times [in games], the protagonist is this perfect person, and you're making only good choices, and you're always doing the right thing in the service of the world and like, you're going to do this. Whereas we wanted this game about like adulting being messy, and you making choices that sometimes you can't come back from, where you messed up. Things that felt just like, again, very relatable, and understandable, which again, is the charm of the show.

DBLTAP: Why is it important to have women of color working on games in addition to appearing in them?

LP: Mitu has this thing she loves to say about going beyond diverse avatars. I guess, you know, again, she's coming from the games industry as a longtime fan. And a lot of [people] think the answer to issues of inclusion and diversity is, "Let's just make a brown avatar. And we'll stick it on and somebody can play if they want, and that's enough." But really, we've just cut ourselves off from so much storytelling, and so much understanding of the world that comes from different types of perspectives.

As a Black woman myself, one of the things that I used to talk about was how few opportunities I had to play as a black woman. I played as all kinds of white guys. I can't even count how many white guys I've been. You know, I've been spores, I have been lots of non-human objects. I've been bandicoots, I've been squirrels. I've been all kinds of things in my gaming journey. But if I want to play as a Black woman, you know, when I gave the talk in 2012, it was 12 opportunities. And I'm counting like, Fran the bunny Viera, who's at least brown skinned. Cus it's like, "You're not Black, but, you know, close enough." [Laughing] We don't have anything! Someone else from Gameheads just redid that study, and they were like, "Yeah, 19 [Black women]." Thousands of titles, and 40 years of video games, probably tens of thousands to this point, and 19. Nineteen options. Not even main characters, just playable.

So it's this idea of like, you know, whose skin do you want to be in? And it's very interesting to me that it's easier for a lot of people to conceptualize a non-human character or a white character than anyone else. And that, you know, it's fine for somebody to introduce me [to the fact that] I'm gonna play as the prince of the cosmos. It's fine for me to drop into a world and just kind of have to figure out who I am. I can be a dog, I can be this. But when you're like, "Oh, can we make a Black person lead?" They're like, "Hm, we don't know if that's relatable. We don't know if it's gonna sell. Is that playable? Yeah, it's safer to go with the dog. Safer to go with the dog."

And so, if no one else comes to challenge this? Because like, again, this is a pain point for us, not seeing our own stories represented. It's not that we didn't have fun playing as all these different people, it's just like, "Why never an avatar that looks like me?" So being able to start changing that narrative and then to use the leadership and the talent of the people who are here. The games industry numbers are abysmal, as you know. I think women are 22% of the developer pool and Blacks globally are less than 2% according to IGDA. It's awful. Awful. Right? The Blacks In Gaming program has an initiative that they're calling Five in Five. So in five years they want Black professionals to be 5% of the game industry. Think about how small that is. [Laughs] You have this global industry that is eating the world, and they're like, "Let's get to 5%. Like, that's our stretch goal here." Five percent.

So it's a really rough situation right now. But if there aren't more people stepping up? And look, games, it's just hard. It's a hard industry. It's a hard road to be walking. Most people don't make it past five years. But it's one of those things that is going to — If that leadership doesn't come from here, you get the same kind of weird, awkward portrayals [of Black people] that you're seeing now. It's very, very difficult, even for very skilled writers, to completely put yourself in someone else's shoes. To understand those things.

One of the things I talk about with Insecure is understanding the cultural nuance of the show. I got one of the scripts — They work with us very closely, they provide us with the scripts to understand kind of where the show's going so that we can make sure that the game aligns, more or less, with where the show's going. And they describe the characters. Not a main character, but they were casting and they were like, "30 years old, female, with the shits." And I was like, "Okay." [Laughs] There's no other explanation. If you don't know what the shits means, you're not gonna be able to cast this character. You're not going to be able to talk about it. It's just slang, right? There is this cultural assumption in "Insecure" that you will be in this culture, to know what those things mean and to be able to articulate that. And so, if you don't really have people who are representing that?

And that's for any given thing. Like, I love reading Sisi [Jiang's] pieces on Genshin Impact, because I'm playing as a Black player from America, right? I don't have any cultural context for what's going on except for what the game tells me. Listening to CC write, or reading CC's writing around what these different villages mean, how it feels to see Chinese food, like real Chinese food, represented in a game, and what that means to her, it's a really fascinating process. So games open up new worlds. The idea is not to have those worlds be limited.

DBLTAP: I've read about you saying that games as an industry lags behind other artistic mediums and forms of popular entertainment when it comes to representation. Why do you think that is?

LP: Again, it's the pool. It's the talent pool of who's there. It's interesting, because like, it's not that Hollywood is much better. [Laughs] We're having the same fights over there. It's just extreme here, in a way where they're still like, "Oh, Black people? Preposterous. As leadership? What? No. Like, we can't even find a writer. We're not doing it, it's not happening." And people are just like "Welp, this is what it is," and they move on. Whereas in film there's at least some guilt. They're like, "Ah, there's no real Black decision makers. We should really do better at some point." It doesn't happen, but they talk about it. And I think that's also why you haven't seen some of the big renaissance events that you see in my television and film. 

One of the things that we did early on was look at the success of "Black Panther," and "Crazy Rich Asians," and "Wonder Woman," and we're like "Diverse stories are driving the box office. Diverse stories are ruling television. Like I just saw an ad for [a show about] a Persian family, like it's an awkward teen drama, but it's got the Persian twist on it now. There are kids trying to explain their identity, they're bringing their food to school and nobody understands what it is. But a lot of what's happening now is that the streaming services of the world, the Netflixes of the world, broadcasters have all realized, "Wait, we need to reflect the world as it is, if not for ourselves behind the line, [then] at least for the audience base that's growing, and growing, and growing." To have these diverse stories, to have things that feel new and feel fresh. Look at what "Black Panther" did at the box office. That was a juggernaut that I think no one even expected. They expected it to do well, not that well. But again, it's like it's a fresh, different take on storytelling. It's a hero that we haven't seen 700 times. Let's try something new.

I think in games, it's just [that] there are so few people who can bring that perspective who are in gatekeeping or leadership positions. There are so few people who are available to fund these types of stories and to understand where it is. And there are so few people who are willing to take creative risks. I mean, like I said, it's the same in Hollywood. We have a joke where everybody wants to be first to be second. And then I realized games is worse [Laughs]. They're like, "Do you have a new mechanic? That's terrible! Terrible. Nobody's gonna play that! Why would you even try to make a new thing? You know that you are clone number 76 of this working thing."

So it was a really eye opening way of looking at how they have structured the world. And the way that you disrupt it is that you are coming from a completely different place. You're just like, "Look, I know that this is the way that you've always done it. But over here, it's different. This is what we're going to do."

DBLTAP: From what I've seen in mainstream games press, and in games in general, whatever discussion does happen about discrimination, it's usually about individual identities as opposed to intersectional understandings of oppression and discrimination. Has that been true to your experience as a Black woman? And then where do you see opportunities for the industry to improve on that?

LP: Yeah, I mean, it's always so difficult to talk about it. Because one, we all want to be known for our work at the end of the day. Like, "There's the black developer." No, no, no! [Laughs] This is the person who made that really cool mechanic, and then did all these great things. Like, yes, I'm Black, but I'd also like to be known for other things. And then, the intersectional stuff — Games and tech are in the same boat with this where I feel like they've just kind of given up, so a lot of times they're like "Diversity!" And it'll be like, all white women. And they're like, "We have a diverse crew. It's a diverse panel." I'm like, there is nobody else over here. [Laughs] Okay, sure. That's what you're defining it as.

Mitu is the same way. Mitu is South Asian, Bangladeshi-British, specifically. We talk a lot about these issues of representation, and people are like, "Oh, yeah, women in games," but that's not quite the wholeness of what we experience, right? They're like, "Race in games!" That's not quite the wholeness of what we experience. It's literally something else; other things that we think about, that we want to reflect, and we want to create experiences that allow other people to feel like they can also be themselves. I think that's the biggest part of it, really, being able to feel seen by your favorite media. That's really what it is. When we watch "Insecure," I'm coming from an African-American woman background, Mitu is South Asian, but we can watch. [So can] our friends or husbands, everyone from different backgrounds. Everyone's seeing a piece of themselves in that story, right? So that's what we aspire to create.

In terms of thinking about marginalization... If you think about it too long, you'll never do anything. It is trash. But it's also trash in artificial intelligence. It's trash in AR/VR, it's trash in broadcasting, it's trash at the top of media, it's just trash all the way around. [Laughs] So at some point, you're like, "Well, somebody has to do something." We'll get there eventually. It is what it is, right? First black woman in space was Mae Jemison, she made it look like that spaceship was a party. She was inspired by seeing Uhura on "Star Trek." These are the things that create ripple effects.

DBLTAP: It's like Terry Pratchett said: Trash all the way down.

LP: Yes! [Laughs] It's trash. There's also turtles, but yeah, trash all the way down. Like, gaming is extreme, but there's no industry that's really better per se. They're a little more polite about it.

But like I said, it just takes people to be in a position to start changing stuff, which is why we started the company. We were like, okay, we're veterans, we both have, you know, decade plus experience, we've both won a bunch of awards, people know our work, they know who we are. If we don't take the shot, who's going to?

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