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Niantic announces the Black Developers Initiative

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In a blog posted this week, Niantic CEO John Hanke has announced the launch of the Black Developers Initiative (BDI), as an extension of their existing Beyond Reality Initiative. The Black Developers Initiative will provide special funding for new projects from Black game development teams for the Niantic platform. Teams who are approved for BDI will receive five months of funding to develop a real-world augmented reality game, as well as direct mentorship and development support from the Niantic team themselves.

To be eligible for the BDI, teams must already be established legal entities with experience in shipping mobile games. Teams must have at least three members at minimum, with at least one member working full time, as well as having plans to bring more people on as needed. The team is also expected to have development experience with the Unity engine.
In addition, teams must also satisfy at least one of the following criteria.
  • Black team member(s) have a direct line to the profits of the game.
  • The company/studio is at least 51% Black-owned operated and controlled as based on the NMSDC requirements defined here under “Certification Criteria” used by the Small Business Administration.
  • Black people driving game vision via a leadership position. Leadership is defined as: Founder; Creative Director/Lead Designer; Technical Director/Lead Programmer; Art Director/Lead Artist; Producer
  • The studio team is at least 50 percent Black.
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Applications for the Spring 2021 cohort for the BDI are open on the NianticLabs website until Sunday, March 14th at 11:59 PM PT.

This announcement follows from a blog Hanke posted last year talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, where he made a commitment to fund projects from Black creators and bring these to a mass audience.

Alongside this announcement, CEO Hanke also revealed that W!CKED SAiNTS Studio, a Black and Women-led game studio as part of BDI, would be the first team to participate in the BDI. A video released to Youtube at the same time showcases the team and their plans.
 
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