Niantic Launches Programme Supporting Black AR Developers

It’s currently Black History Month in the US and Niantic Labs is showing its support by announcing a new programme. Called the Black Developers Initiative (BDI), Niantic will provide access, resources and mentorship to Black augmented reality (AR) creators.

Niantic - BDI

The initiative is about funding new projects from Black videogame development teams both indie and veteran alike, helping them build prototypes which could then be released via Niantic’s platform. Teams can apply now and if selected they’ll be provided with five months of development funding, executive mentorship, and development support.

With the aim to create a real-world AR prototype in that time frame, once those five months are up they’ll still be supported, joining: “a growing community of peers and program alumni who they can continue to build relationships with beyond the duration of the program,” states Niantic.

An extension of the company’s Beyond Reality Initiative, BDI has already signed its first team, W!CKED SAiNTS Studio, a Black and Women-led studio currently developing World Reborn. Utilising graphic-novel style storytelling, World Reborn is a mobile title “where players practice becoming a hero (dealing with bullying, prejudice, etc.).”

Niantic - BDI Program

On the initiative Niantic Labs Founder and CEO, John Hanke said in a blog post: “Increasing content that represents a more diverse view of the world is critical and central to Niantic’s mission to inspire people to explore the world together.”

Applications for the Niantic Beyond Reality: Black Developers Initiative are open until Sunday, 14th March 2021. Apply after that date and you might be considered for the next programme.

Over the past few years, Niantic Labs has made a big name for itself with titles like Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The next AR videogame VRFocus is awaiting news on is Catan: World Explorers revealed back in 2019. There have been no further updates since then so in the meantime Catan VR has just launched for Oculus Quest.

Also celebrating Black History Month is Bigscreen, creating a new ‘Black Cinema’ category featuring free (ad-supported) films. For further updates on the latest XR diversity initiatives, keep reading VRFocus.