To celebrate the month of Pride, Kindred Group have partnered with Relax Gaming once again, to create industry-first LGBTQ+ avatars, available exclusively for Kindred customers. We spoke to Katharine Arnsby, Poker and Bingo Team Lead in product marketing about this collaboration and what it means for the industry, as well as for Kindred.
Katharine, when did the idea of LGBTQ+ avatars come up?
The idea first came up in one of our LGBTQ+ Network meetings. It was clear to us that if avatars are a method of self-identification in the online world, then people who identify as LGBTQ+ should be able to use the avatars in the same way as everybody else.
Who designed the avatars?
When we presented our idea to our partners at Relax Gaming, they were thrilled to jump on board and created the two avatars by the end of the same day! We requested one masculine and one femme character, and they designed these in a similar way to the HexaBingo/HexaPro avatars. The LGBTQ+ avatars blend in with current avatar options but provide an alternative option for customers to present themselves online.
Why the need for these avatars?
From a customer perspective, it’s important because when you are part of a minority group, it can be harder to see yourself reflected in the world. In the LGBTQ+ Network, we understand this feeling. We recognise the sense of being ‘less’ or ‘other’. In simple terms, we do not want to contribute to that feeling for our customers, even if it makes us no extra money. Unibet Network Games is an inclusive place, and we’re just reflecting that in the front of house product our customers see.
“It’s amazing to work for a company that is open to suggestions like this. It’s a big world, and there are a lot of different people out there. The difference is vast from when I started in this industry 20 years ago, and it’s thanks to individuals and companies like Kindred driving change.” - Katharine Arnsby
What will the avatars mean for LGBTQ+ customers?
It is very hard to explain what this means to those who have not experienced a consistent sense of being a minority identity in a world that will always focus on the majority. Imagine you are walking around the office and no one can see you all day. You keep waving at people and saying “hello”, but it is literally like you have disappeared. Then one person just casually says “hi” to you at the end of the day. How does that feel? Take that sensation and extrapolate to a lifetime. It shows to LGBTQ+ customers that this is a place that actively includes them.
Is any other operator offering the same?
Not that we are aware of. There are many poker characters in different brands, and much of it is just a fun way to present yourself. Poker particularly leads the drive with gaming table avatars and is also traditionally very masculine space.
How much involvement did Kindred have in the process?
We requested the avatars to be made, provided a design brief, and then approved them. Heads of Product both approved the implementation of the games.
What does this mean for employees at Kindred?
It means they can be proud to work for an inclusive company, whatever their gender or sexual identity. Team members who identify as LGBTQ+ will have clear proof that Kindred is genuine about diversity and inclusion. It’s not a tick-box exercise for Kindred. It might be seen as a small thing for many but we know it brings reassurance that most LGBTQ+ people don’t often see.