Neurodiverse people can offer creative, innovative ideas with minds that are adept at abstract problem-solving.
Ubisoft, the French gaming giant, has been at the forefront of an industry-wide push to embrace neurodiversity. It has instituted policies and initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining neurodiverse talent, while also promoting a culture of inclusivity within its workforce.
Neurodiversity refers to natural variations in the human brain which manifests as differences in a way an individual’s brain processes information, thinks, perceives their environment, and engages in social interaction. These variations are not to be seen as bad, problematic or as an illness, but rather should be viewed simply as differences in the ways the human brain works.
Neurodivergent individuals exhibit behaviors that are considered atypical. The spectrum can go from mild differences to marked differences in cognitive functioning. It covers a number of conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, trauma-based conditions,, and a number of others.
Many times, neurodivergent people have high intelligence, are innovative and are adept at abstract problem-solving. According to a census held by United Kingdom trade group, UKIE, about 18% of game developers are neurodivergent, for example.
At a session at the Game Developers Conference, Ubisoft held a session where employees spoke on the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace. Ubisoft recognizes that neurodiverse individuals can bring unique strengths and perspectives to the table, especially in creative fields like game development. Neurodivergent individuals usually have an above average characteristics of creativity, better awareness, hyperfocus, and a number of skills making them well-suited for the gaming industry.
This special ability can be seen for example in individuals with ADHD who possess skills such as hyperfocus, a characteristic seen in intense gaming, noted Esciach, Ubisoft’s Pierre Escaich, director of the neurodiversity talent program.
Ubisoft embraces neurodiversity through its dedicated Neurodiversity Initiative. The initiative which was first launched in 2021, and includes a Diversity and Inclusion department as well as a. Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group (ERG). The ERG identifies and supports neurodiverse employees, while also raising awareness around neurodiversity in the gaming sector and reducing stigma in the workplace.
The initiative includes a number of factors, such as targeted recruitment efforts, accommodations for neurodiverse employees, and training programs for managers and co-workers. The ERG now has over 400 members spanning about 20 countries.
But perhaps the most innovative aspect of Ubisoft’s Neurodiversity Initiative is its use of special development teams made up entirely of neurodiverse employees. These teams, which operate under the company’s Strategic Innovation Lab, are tasked with developing new game concepts and prototypes that draw on the unique strengths of neurodiverse individuals. These strengths can include a high attention to detail, a talent for pattern recognition, and a unique perspective on narrative and storytelling.
Esciach calls for more advocacy that would see a number of neurodivergent talent harnessed leading to widespread innovation that is driven by a pool of unmined skills and talent.
As the world continues to recognize the unique strengths and perspectives of neurodiverse individuals, we can expect to see more companies following in Ubisoft’s footsteps and embracing neurodiversity as a key driver of success.