Diversity in Gaming: Innovators and Trailblazers

In light of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, we thought it would be important to highlight the contributions and accomplishments of many perspectives and identities throughout the gaming and amusement industry. Gaming is about enjoyment with friends and family but there have often been barriers that prevented others from competing alongside each other. We’re all better for celebrating diverse voices and learning from each other. Here are a few people who have been firsts or crossed barriers based on race and gender through history to get us where we are today.

Trina Gulliver

Dubbed the “Golden Girl” of darts, Trina Gulliver has won a record of 10 World Championships in the British Darts Organization (BDO). She was considered the 2003 Sports Personality of the Year by the BBC. She’s been prolific, competing in the World Championships, Women’s Championships, and has won the British Pentathlon a total of eight times. One of her many notable achievements is in the Women’s World Championship she had the highest 3-dart average of 95 points.

an image of cisero murphy
Cisero Murphy

Cisero Murphy

Considered by some to be “the Jackie Robinson of pool,” Cisero is an excellent example of one person’s skill and determination breaking down barriers in sports. The name ‘hesitation stroke’ was given to his innovative way of stopping just short of his shot before committing to it. He described it as a “one to two-second hiccup” and would say he would take a mental picture of the shot. Cisero was the first African-American to win both National and World Championships in billiards.

On his first attempt he won the World Straight Pool Championship and was only one of two people who have ever accomplished the feat. He spent time in his later years teaching billiards at mental health centers, veteran’s hospitals, and youth community centers. The billiards community is better off with Cisero Murphy being a part of it.

Nicole Lazzaro

Whether you play them regularly or not, mobile gaming shifted the gaming landscape in a way that we’re still evolving and learning from. Nicole Lazzaro, Founder and CEO of XEOPlay and XEODesign has the distinction of designing the first game for iPhone. Her contributions to user experience has universal applications: by analyzing emotional responses and facial expressions she devised the “4 Keys 2 Fun” that boils down gaming enjoyment into four categories: challenge, amusement, excitement, and curiosity. This research helps gaming professionals design better games.

Alice ‘Wonderwoman’ Washington

Coin-operated games made arcades possible and are still a thriving industry. At KD Gameroom Supply, we work on coin-operated machines in local businesses throughout the Ames area. We have Alice Washington to thank for this innovation in the gaming industry. Alice developed printed circuit boards (or PCBs) for use in coin-operated arcade game cabinets to allow them to run efficiently and effectively. This innovation is still being used in games today.

an image of Jerry Lawson
Jerry Lawson

Gerald “Jerry” Lawson

Due to his technological innovations, Gerald Lawson could be considered the grandfather of all video games. Gerald Lawson developed the technology for video game cartridges to store date for games. This made it possible for games to be swapped out of consoles, something that hadn’t been possible before. Atari and Nintendo used his contributions in their own video game systems to bring us the classic games we all know and love today. After working with them, Jerry went on to found his own gaming studio, the first African American led one at the time.

Dr. Gladys West
Dr. Gladys West

Dr. Gladys Mae West

GPS technology has radically changed how we use our phones, how companies are able to market to us, how 911 can respond to emergencies, and even games that rely on us to go to certain locations (such as Pokemon Go and others). Dr. Gladys West is known for being a pioneer in GPS and geocaching technology and worked directly with the US Navy to develop this technology to be used with the data gathered from satellites in addition to algorithms that took into account every single variable imaginable to ocean tides, gravity, the Earth’s movement and many others that became the foundation for the GPS technology we know today. While not initially developed with gaming in mind, geocaching and GPS may become the next frontier of games, especially as we look to include more augmented reality or VR elements to gaming as we know it.

KD Gameroom Supply has its own long-standing history in the Ames amusement community. So much has changed since we started in 1959 from the technology that’s used to the diversity in people who have come to love and embrace games of all kinds. Did any of these stories surprise you? Share this on your social media and let your friends and family know about some of these trailblazers who helped to shape the games we enjoy to this day.


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