In an earlier post, I examined the rising role of female gamers in the gaming community and the way women are portrayed. One of the comments to this post had an interesting point.
“The roles that women are portrayed in are definitely different within these games when compared to men, but at the same time, video game designers are both genders as well. The sexist portrayal of women is the result of men and women video game players, designers, and producers.” Kyle Kirby
This was a fair point and got me to thinking about the status of women in the gaming industry, not just the community. After looking into the matter more in-depth I found some shocking statistics. According to surveys women make up around 11% of all game designers, and a shocking 3% of all programmers. With such surprisingly low numbers it leaves you wondering why are women not more predominate in the gaming industry? Women love video games just as much as men, so why are there so few of them active in the developmental aspects of them? First and foremost I found that like many other industries today women make on average 10,000 dollars less than their male counterpart.
While this is an interesting statistic, I find it hard to believe pay alone has shunned women away from the gaming industy. After searching around somemore I found some interesting answers in the form of a popular twitter hash-tag (#1reasonswhy) that has been circling the internet since early November. Apparently the hash-tag started when Luke Crane, project manager for the popular website Kickstarter, asked, “Why are there so few lady game creators?” Since then countless female, and male, game developers have been posting various inequalities present in the gaming industry today. These post range from a wide variety including: harassment and even common stereotypes that explain why women shy away from the gaming Industry.
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of post that have been posted since its beginning. So it is clearly based off the statistics, and opinions of several female gamers, the gaming industry is a boy’s club. But with the rising role of women in video games why would this not just fade away? If you look at the history of the gaming industry its no secret that originally the it was a male dominated work field. However with the growing number of female gamers one would expect to see many more women entering the field. While we have seen a large increase over the last couple of decades many of the traditions and assumptions from the male dominated era are still present. One such example of his can be seen in the tradition of booth girls at gaming conventions. In the gaming industry, gaming conventions are a form of business convention where several developers get together to showcase new technologies and games, and exchange ideas and contacts. However one staple that has been present in many conventions in the past are the presence of what is known as booth babes. These are women who are solely there for eye candy to draw in and attract people to the various booths.This tradition has left many female developers uncomfortable seeing these women as an example of women’s place as eye candy and nothing more.
This leaves female developers in an uncomfortable position. Women are degraded, harassed, and under-appreciated in comparison to their male counterparts. Needless to say this has not exactly made the gaming industry to most attractive prospect for women when seeking out a career. However things have been improving. Movements such as the #1reasonswhy are raising awareness, and traditions such as booth babes are slowly falling out of practice. Additionally with the ever growing female demographic more and more games are beginning to cater to women more. As such developers are starting to look for more and more female input in-order to ensure these games will attract female demographic. “Having a female perspective on the team is invaluable” according to Dave Bisceglia, a gaming executive. “None of the outfits the guys created were very appealing.” Additionally he stated, “When you build games for a male and female audience, you need men and women working on the games.” Clearly the way women are treated in the gaming industry is on the rise. I can see these problems becoming almost non-existent in the next few years if things continue on as they are.
For an interesting article on women in the Video game industry click here.