Seraph 7 Studios
As a lifelong gamer who began playing Nintendo’s “Super Mario” games as a kid, Jules Porter saw that few characters that looked anything like her.
Years later, while attending the University of St. Thomas School of Law and pursuing a joint master’s of business degree, she saw how the country reacted to several shootings of young black men. Porter thought about what she might do to make a difference, and it came to her on a semester abroad in Rome when she found the city familiar because of the many hours she played a video game set there: “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.”
“A lightbulb went off,” she said. Porter left a promising law career and started a video gaming company, Seraph 7 Studios, to create positive images of people of color. If she could navigate Rome with knowledge gleaned from a video game, others could learn from seeing emphatic and heroic non-white characters.
“I believe we can loop people in with a game design that more authentically shows the black experience and black characters,” she said.
Only 3% of characters in video games are black, yet 80% of black kids play them, she said. Likewise, women represent 40% of video game players but only 25% of characters, usually depicted as sex objects. “I’m a Marine Corps veteran. I’ve never gone into combat half-naked; I would never dress like Wonder Woman,” Porter said.
Working out of the Finnovation Lab in Minneapolis, she will release her first video game next year. Her nonprofit “Center for Imaginative Technology” developed a three-year STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) course for K-12 students and an apprenticeship program, both focused on gaming. Porter’s goal is to make Minnesota a video gaming center.
Porter still does pro bono legal work. “I feel like the law is still part of my calling,” Porter said. “It’s just what I’m meant to do on this earth.”
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