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Game Changers | Dhayana Sena

We talk to the founder of Women of Xbox about her work to uplift overlooked communities in games and content creation Game Changers is a series of profiles on the groups and individuals going the extra mile to make the games industry a better place. These interviews encompass folks from around the world helping to improve conditions and attitudes towards diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, mental health and more. You can read more Game Changers interviews here.

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Dhayana "MissDeusGeek" Sena describes herself as a multimedia content creator, pop culture enthusiast, and diversity advocate.

Based out of Australia, Sena explains to that her work to uplift women and overlooked communities grew from her interests in gaming and technology.

In 2018, Sena established Women of Xbox, an unofficial global community of female game fans and professionals. It began as a Twitter account supporting and highlighting female gaming fans.

It has since expanded to multiple social media accounts and a Discord server, with the organization boasting more than a thousand members. There's also a Women of Xbox website featuring interviews with women who work in games and gaming content creation work.

The more time Sena spent as a game content creator in Australia and New Zealand, the more she saw the representational disparities.

The space, she says, is a very white and male-dominated field and spurred her to expand the nature of her work.

"I work a lot with young girls to show them that a career in games is viable"

"A lot of the work I do now has shifted to being more about bringing underrepresented voices together, amplifying them, and helping them realize that they too can be in this space," Sena explains.

"I work a lot with young girls to show them that a career in games is viable. So they can pursue career paths in games."

In fact, Sena explains that the proudest work she's done in this field was a girls' gaming event in 2018.

"They were school-aged girls, and [you would] see them light up and get super excited that they found another girl playing video games. [Then] they spent the whole two hours playing games together, laughing, and having a good time."

The evening was impactful because it helped young women see that they had peers and could enjoy hobbies.

She adds, "The younger generation felt like themselves and felt empowered to do what they love doing."

For young women, she notes, "Sometimes it's as simple as just letting young girls know that it's okay to play video games."

With that in mind, Sena works with companies and brands to help them showcase different individuals, which results in having a roster of talent that is more inclusive across the board.

"I have noticed that trying to get brands to work with people of color was challenging"

She notes that Australia's gaming space is small compared to the US or UK due to its population size, and DEI work for gaming can be a more significant challenge because fewer people are involved.

"For a long time up until this year, I have noticed that trying to get brands to work with people of color was challenging. You barely see people of color in any advertising or marketing," she explains.

"Obviously, in North America, there's a big push to see more of that, so [you've seen] more people of color in advertising and marketing in any major campaigns [than here] for a very long time."

Sena expounds, "That's the challenge that we have here; while there's a lot more focus on being more diverse, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. [Most] of time people look at diversity, as, 'Oh we just need more women.'

"However, [companies and brands] forget that people from different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities exist. They even forget that people who game are disabled, and you know there needs to be that push for accessibility."

She adds, "It makes my work a lot more important because [I can say], 'Hey, there's this whole group of people you can work with here.'"

Sena explains that when working with companies, it's also important that their values match those of her community.

"I don't like to align my community with any organization or brand that isn't open to being inclusive," she said.

"If we end up working with a beauty company that tests on animals, for example, to me, that doesn't fit with the values of trying to be good and [making] the world a better place. What that does is give validation to that brand to keep testing on animals."

Additionally, Sena notes that if a company is making active changes in response to past issues, she would be willing to work with them.

Sena has received recognition for her work in gaming, such as the role of Xbox Ambassador. While gaining accolades is nice, she has seen them primarily as paths to creating opportunities to help her community.

"Being a community champion means that I get to work very closely and directly with a very open and welcoming community. So it's nice to share those awards because it shows people they do it as well," she said.

"It opens doors not only with Xbox but other brands and proves to them that this work is obviously meaningful."

Gaining more credentials has also helped her work as a DEI advocate and content creator. After becoming an Xbox Ambassador, she now has a direct line of communication with people she didn't have access to years ago.

Looking ahead for the year, she plans to create a team to support the brand community since elevating and advocating for marginalized communities is a lot of work.

"It's important to have different voices in the decision-making team"

After taking a break, Sena also intends to revitalize and grow the Women of Xbox.

She notes, "There's no I in team, and whenever you have these [different] communities and organizations, it's important to have different voices in the decision-making team."

"I don't get everything right; I'm always aware that I make mistakes, too. I want to ensure that the team is diverse and has different voices to enable Women of Xbox to thrive."

Sena adds that she intends to do more panels for diversity advocacy, not just from gaming but for other career fields.

"Schools that are now open to listening to people talk about the importance of having diverse people in STEM. For example, women in STEM are such a big thing here. So [I'm] trying to work with schools and community colleges to help them [in those efforts to appeal to girls]."

She summarized the upcoming year: "I think giving back is what the main theme of 2023 is for me. I've been the kind of person who has been very lucky in the support I've gotten, so I'd like to pay that forward."

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Jeffrey Rousseau avatar
Jeffrey Rousseau: Jeffrey joined in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.
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