Before I worked at Mediatonic I didn’t really celebrate Pride Month. Being bisexual makes it easier to pass for straight, so I never really felt like I had a right to celebrate it. This didn't mean I wasn’t prideful—I would always be very open about my sexuality and how it had affected me coming from a small town and a narrow-minded family. But once the LGBTQ+ group was started here at Mediatonic and I was invited to join, a part of me I’d felt was missing was finally returned to me. The group has been vital to me for advice, emotional support and building friendships. My eagerness to arrange celebrations for Pride at Mediatonic is my way of giving back the love I have received from that group, and also to educate people within the company about issues they might not be aware of personally.
This year I really wanted to amplify our celebration. It needed to be flashy, bold and inviting - so that everyone in the studio felt they could participate. The suggested casino theme ticked all the boxes for the event and goals we had in mind. Plus, it’d be a perfect way for us to raise money for charity, too.
I roped in Fabio, one of our assistant producers, who had helped with arrangements and also gave a talk during last year’s Pride event, and Anna, our office manager, to start organising. Shopping lists were made, a chip economy was created, prizes were generated, dealers Alex and Luke, both client engineers, had been roped in. Dan Ocean, one of our tech artists, had also approached us with an idea to set up horse race betting, using Unity to shuffle videos of the Japan World Cup 3 series, which ended up being wildly successful, and far too hilarious, on the night!
Meanwhile, Anna and our art director Phil had put together this amazing pin design and ordered enough for everyone at MT, including our Brighton and Madrid studios. This was honestly such a lovely idea, and now I can wear my #TONICPRIDE pin regardless of what day or month it is.
As for our charity donations, the suggestion of supporting the Mermaids UK charity came from Fabio, and the LGBTQ+ group all agreed it was a fantastic cause to support. We chose this charity because to this day transgender people are one of the most vulnerable groups under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, with 41% of trans people in in the UK having been attacked or threatened with violence in the last five years. One in four trans people have been actively discriminated against in their recent work experience, and 44% of all trans people decide not to disclose it at work due to fear of discrimination. Mermaids UK supports children, young people, and their families to achieve happier lives in the face of great adversity, and we all felt it was a great cause to help this year.
The night went better than I could have hoped for, the turnout was fantastic and so many people showed up dressed in their finest and brightest. Two of the most memorable moments landed people in the top two chip earners.
Panos, one of our senior client engineers, was on a losing streak and had bought back in on poker three times, it was then that he ended up winning six times his original stake. He didn’t stop there though, he gambled it all on roulette on a 2:1 chance and ended up winning - taking the top prize for the night!
Meanwhile, Sarah, lead QA for Gears POP!, claimed the second highest earner prize - again on roulette. She bet it all on the elusive number 23, a number our build master, Liz had been chasing all night, and on the second to last spin of the night it came out.
Prizes were also awarded for excellent ensembles - ‘Most Fashionable’ went to Laura, a designer, ‘Most Camp’ went to Jing, one of our tech artists, and ‘Most on Brand’ went to Louis, a client engineer.
The icing on the rainbow cake for me was that we have managed to raise over £500 for Mermaids UK. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Mediatonic, I don’t know many companies that would trust—let alone provide—their employees with 200 jelly shots and fake gambling.