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Bronx Gaming Center Offers Opportunities In Booming Industry To Young People Of Color, Women

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new gaming center where kids can do more than play video games has hit the Bronx.

They can actually make them.

Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry that is rapidly growing and pushing boundaries each year. But it remains predominantly white and male. Research shows that nearly 70 percent of people working in the industry are white, nearly 75 percent men, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Wednesday.

"We want to diversify because our young people are consuming this type of content in the droves, like by the dozens. But what's happening is they're not seeing narratives like theirs. They're not seeing stories like theirs," said Rudy Blanco of the DreamYard Project.

That's something DreamYard Projects' "Bx Start" aims to change. The local organization launched a space that gives young people a chance to not only game, but to change how games are made.

"In the video games you play, it's very rare that you find characters that look like you, come from places like you do. So we want to shed some light on that and really provide a space for underrepresented gamers to see themselves in the industry," Blanco said.

This space offers a younger generation a safe place to come together, tap into their creativity, explore their passions with like-minded people, and, of course, challenge each other to a game or two.

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Here, teens can hop on an old-school arcade game or step back and discuss their ideas and network.

Bx Start will also host pop-up shops, as well as weekly and monthly tournaments.

Bronx native and game designer Kimari Rennis has been apart of the program's planning phase for years now. She said Bx Start is already helping her gain access to the competitive field.

"There's not a lot of opportunities to get into the gaming industry and with something so difficult we need a stepping stone," Rennis said.

The ultimate goal is to level the playing field and make the industry more equitable for young people of color and young women.

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