'Pokemon Go' Creator Unveils Initiative to Fund Projects From Black Game Developers

John Hanke - Getty - H 2019
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Niantic CEO John Hanke

Teams selected by Niantic will receive five months of funding along with development and mentorship support as they build a playable prototype.

Pokemon Go developer Niantic has created a program to fund projects from Black game developers.

Teams selected for the Black Developers Initiative (BDI) will be provided with five months of funding, along with development and mentorship support as they build projects for the Niantic platform.

"Increasing content that represents a more diverse view of the world is critical and central to Niantic’s mission to inspire people to explore the world together," Niantic CEO John Hanke said in a blog post.

The initiative has already signed W!CKED SAinTS Studio, a female-led company that makes interactive story-based games such Pitfall and the upcoming World Reborn.

At the end of the period, each development team will have created a playable prototype and a pitch deck for their real-world augmented reality game.

During the Black Lives Matter protests last year, Niantic vocalized its commitment to change in an internal memo that referenced the "unease and unrest" since the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others.

"The occasion demands that we rise up as an organization and marshall the power and resources that we have to be part of the solution," Hanke wrote at the time. He introduced, among other plans, diversity and inclusion training for Black allies to educate themselves.

The BDI is an extension of of Niantic's Beyond Reality Initiative that recruits AR game developers to access Niantic's development platform.

In addition to the popular game Pokemon Go, Niantic is known for Ingress Prime. The company also recently released augmented reality mobile game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, co-developed with Warner Bros. Games under its Portkey Games label.