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Media Molecule's Reddy: "It takes women working on games for games to change"

Media Molecule's Reddy: "It takes women working on games for games to change"

Wed 17 Jul 2013 9:31am GMT / 5:31am EDT / 2:31am PDT
PeopleDevelopment

Studio director Siobhan Reddy wants more female creative directors

Media Molecule

Media Molecule was founded by a small troupe of Lionhead veterans who, bolstered by their work together...

mediamolecule.com

Media Molecule studio director Siobhan Reddy addressed the need for more women in the industry in a recent appearance on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

"It's shame that at the moment we have very few creative directors that are women," she told presenter Jenni Murray.

"We have a lot of women within the industry who run studios and pack a mean punch, the influence of women within the industry is pretty great, but we need to see that on the game design and programming side as well."

She argued that women enjoyed "visceral" games as much as anyone else, and explained she was working with BAFTA to help encourage young women to aim for a career in technology and games development. She also advised people who wanted to make games to start today, on an amateur level, to help find out what path they wanted to take.

"It takes women working on games for games to change. I know there are all sort of discussions about where it is now and where it has been but I'm interested in where it's going... particularly like the type of things we're making at Media Molecule and lots of other studios are making, games which are for both genders and all ages."

Earlier this year Reddy was named one of the UK's Most Powerful Women in a list published by the programme, a list that also included JK Rowling, Victoria Beckham and HM The Queen.

23 Comments

Agreed! I was casually browsing through the Team pages of a dozen or so game studios and was shocked at how almost no women were in design, art and code teams! Very few are in production teams, but that's about it!

As a female co-founder of a 9 year old game studio I am very proud that we outnumber the men on our team, and that our skills span the entire production pipeline of games. Unfortunately we still meet with a lot of resistance when pitching some of our game concepts to publishers and platform owners when the target audience is explicitly female.

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

533 220 0.4
Looking at game designers as things - just this time they are of a certain gender - is never good.

We need people - individuals... Not things. The game industry is too much about things. Adding more "thing-think" won't help.

Posted:8 months ago

#2

Renaud Charpentier
Lead Designer

60 125 2.1
Well, if you look at Hollywood directors, script righters and producers, you also find a very strong male dominance, something close to 90% probably. For one Kathryn Biglow, how many James Cameron? And that's a much older industry than we are, so I tend to think the reasons for that are not specific to our industry but more rooted in the "male tech" stereotype.

@Candide: Interestingly, the movie industry is very good at targeting female audiences, their producers clearly see them as a valid demographic to address, so I would bet it will come quite fast for us; especially in Mobile gaming. Still that will probably not change the dev gender balance a lot... sadly.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Renaud Charpentier on 17th July 2013 5:13pm

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
la la la la la la

Posted:8 months ago

#4

Jade Law
Senior concept artist

73 291 4.0
Popular Comment
Maybe alot of women just aren't competent enough to be creative directors? Or there are more suitable male candidates?
Should we hire people into these roles because they are women? Isnt that sexist and the opposite of equality?
Again.. why should gender make any difference in someones career goals?

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

193 424 2.2
Popular Comment
It takes women working on games for games to change.
It takes a person with genuine creative thought working on video games for games to change, be it a designer, programmer or shareholder. No gender involved.
Publisher doesn't care to risk? Need the funds? Go Indie and Kickstart your project. Why bring gender into this? I don't see newspaper articles every fortnight about not enough women driving/managing taxis or buses.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 17th July 2013 8:07pm

Posted:8 months ago

#6
@Renaud Exactly! Hollywood is a great example.... and for the most part the games industry recognizes that a lot of women are playing games on mobile (and before that on Facebook) - which I suppose would be the game equivalent to a date night chick flick - but there's still a lot of resistance accepting that women are also playing on Steam or console, etc...

Last year Zumba Fitness topped the UK charts and stayed there for over six weeks if I remember correctly... clearly that target demographic skewed to female, so we know that these women already own 'core' platforms and are playing games on them...

Posted:8 months ago

#7

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
I don't think that this headline could possibly be true.

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Stephen Richards
Game Deisgner

67 28 0.4
I don't think that this headline could possibly be true.
I think you have to assume some context. Women in games are very helpful in changing them away from being predominantly macho, testosterone-filled, nazi shooting... things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen Richards on 17th July 2013 9:30pm

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Jade Law
Senior concept artist

73 291 4.0
Making some assumptions there about female devs Stephen, personally I'd love to work on a macho, testosterone filled nazi shooting... thing. Infact im pretty sure one of the games I worked on counts as exactly that.

But yeah lets get more women and make a girl game...whatever the fuck that is.

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
It takes women working on games for games to change.
Honestly I feel creating a game has nothing to do with genders. Wether your a man or woman, Its all about design, objectives creativity and ideas. If woman arent competent enough or interested enough to make games thats just a reality. Why blame men for that. At the end of the day when I play a game i dont care if a man or woman made it. I just care if I like the game or not.

Posted:8 months ago

#11

Dan Wood
Visual Effects Artist

27 46 1.7
I find this whole gender debate recently, as commendable as it is for trying to shake out some real genuine sexism and stupidity, at least in the general gaming public, nevertheless feels like it's based on some flawed notions.
There seems to be a predominant perception that the single inescapable reason that so few women are involved in games development is that the industry is somehow at least passively hostile towards them, and that women are discouraged to get into it due to the current culture.

Everyone is so careful to tiptoe around and avoid implying anything other than complete and total equality between genders, that somehow the very notion that women and men, in broad, average terms, tend to have varying degrees of basic interest in certain subjects, seems to have become completely taboo.

As an example, quite simply, I've met a hell of a lot more men who are interested in programming than I have women who are. This isn't a case of opportunities or preconceptions - I've met a lot more men who have self-taught themselves, privately, simply out of personal interest, than women who have shown even passing interest.

There will of course be some women out there with some fantastic talent and creativity to bring to the industry, but this idea that simply because there are fewer of them than there are men can only mean that the industry is somehow hostile to their ambitions seems silly. I've yet to see any story claim that experienced, talented games industry women are being specifically discriminated against in favor of men. The only issue appears to be that there are statistically less women in the industry, and that's bad, because as we all know, anything besides an even 50/50 split in any industry is indicative of some major problem, rather than simply a statistical lack of interest on the part of one gender or the other.

Posted:8 months ago

#12
Personally I have nothing against more women being encouraged into games and I do agree that with the premise that more women as creative directors would help to change games although I would use the term grow rather than change.

The reason I would use grow is because when it's seen as a means to change current male dominated genres and companies that's when people have an issue.

Posted:8 months ago

#13

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
List of most powerful women? One is a symbolic head of state which has to read out any statement parliament gives her and one is famous for dancing half naked in the streets. Men worldwide tremble before those powers.

I also wager that games will tilt more towards gender specific stereotypes, the more the audience starts being composed of people who all too willingly reinforce stereotype about their gender. One would say a proposed game named "Call of Barbie - Modern Fashion" was sexist, but switch the gender and the same idea is suddenly rebranded as good business sense. No female, male or alien designer can change games, once the needs of an assumed target audience have creeped into the decision making process. Imo, that is holding back games far more than anything else, as proven to some degree by publisher independent games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 18th July 2013 6:59am

Posted:8 months ago

#14

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,116 888 0.8
I think anything that allows more talented people to be involved in the industry would be a positive thing. Women being in more leadership roles itself doesn't necessarily mean the games will be dramatically different or better, much like any other workplace.

However, it would probably signal a greater variety of people entering the industry and taking on the top jobs, which itself its necessary for the continual evolution of the industry. Yes, that will mean more women, they make up at least 50% of society.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 18th July 2013 12:05pm

Posted:8 months ago

#15

Darren Adams
Managing Director

188 331 1.8
Just an observation I feel I have to share;

I have read many of these 'We need more women in games, gender equality etc etc' and it has been very interesting to see how it has played out. We have had very little 'shut up and make me a sandwich' type replies from male posters and usually they are understanding and supportive of getting more women in the industry. Of course you get the odd idiot popping in now and again, but on the whole the debates have been intelligent and constructive.

I put this down to the fact that the games industry generally has very intelligent and progressive people in it; I don't think you can be a total fukwad and have a prosperous career in games.

I have also noted that quite a few women that are in the games industry comment on these articles, putting forward very valuable viewpoints that don't always agree with the raised issue. The interesting part to me is that most agree that it would be great to have more women in the industry, but don't see that it is a major failing of the industry that there are more men than women making games. Its just down to the different things that men and women find interesting.

Another interesting part is the 'we need games for girls' line that gets bandied around. Most of the women who comment on this pretty much say 'we don't want games for girls (whatever they may be), we like the games we make now'. Is it wrong for a woman to enjoy killing zombie Nazis with flamethrowers?? Most would argue 'of course not', but some think in order to appeal to the female market, games should have rainbows and unicorns instead of guns and zombies. This is just a stupid sexist stereotype.

IMO, the women that love games and pursue a career in the industry will get there and put their views forward on what content to put in games. I don't think its the total jock fest that some say it is and that women need to fill X or Y role in order to change the industry. I am sure that the women working in the games industry are doing a good job of putting their ideas into current games and have shaped many games they have worked on.

Posted:8 months ago

#16

Helen Merete Simm
Senior UI Artist

28 99 3.5
Personally I believe that the main reason we could use more women in games is so we can make the games we want! Im sorry but Barbie games and "pink and fluffy" really does not do it for me. Sure Im not really into Call of Duty, or Far Cry, but the kind of games I want to make are story driven and immersive, with amazing worlds, awesome monsters and engaging gameplay.
That's not really something I see as being "girly".
I'd like people to stop talking about women wanting "girly fluff" and start embracing it like @Adam Campbell:
"Women being in more leadership roles itself doesn't necessarily mean the games will be dramatically different or better, much like any other workplace, it would probably signal a greater variety of people entering the industry and taking on the top jobs, which itself its necessary for the continual evolution of the industry. Yes, that will mean more women, they make up at least 50% of society. "

Recently I had an interview where I was asked to work on a mobile game for girls about fashion and dressing up. When I asked what the end goal of the game was, they answered "Because girls like to dress up". They could have answered "To be a successful fashion designer" or "To win all the things" but no it was "because girls like to dress up". Im into my fashion, but sweet jebus that there annoyed me. Add to that they seemed all excited about the fact that they might be able to get a "GIRL" working on the game and I found it hard to contain my disdain. I had a feeling had I taken the role they would have pushed the whole "Its not sexist, because look we even have a girl working on it" angle.

Needless to say, I didn't progress with that one.

I want to be in games because I want to create new and different games. I want more women in games, so that people stop assuming we want pink and fluffy, so that are enough of us in here to just push the gender issue aside altogether, and just make GOOD games, of all kinds. Hello game developers, it does NOT have to be pink and fluffy to sell to women.

And I think many muggles don't realise that you don't have to be a programmer to work in games. There are SO many other job paths.

Posted:8 months ago

#17

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

163 185 1.1
I think Renaud’s point is worth ruminating on.

Movies are similarly dominated by men at the top end, yet movies seem to have no difficulty attracting female audiences. I think there’s loads of reasons for wanting to attract a more diverse workforce (my own bias is that I think more women would lead to more family-friendly, sane, working practices), but I don’t actually think that the idea that ‘more women would lead to more success with female audiences’ necessarily stands up to scrutiny.

Posted:8 months ago

#18

Helen Merete Simm
Senior UI Artist

28 99 3.5
‘more women would lead to more success with female audiences’ Its not about this.

Its about more diversity creating more diverse games. Many publishers are scared of straying outside the FPS genre because its an unknown market.
Having more women in games would give a more informed pool of resources to develop from.
And it would also stop the whole "women all want unicorns" thing, because instead of there being ONE token woman in a company with 50 guys, there would more who could then show that we don't all like the same thing.
We don't all want fluffy unicorn games, or exercise games, some of us want to kill necromorphs, but with a cool story behind it.

Posted:8 months ago

#19

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

163 185 1.1
Popular Comment
Sadly, I think the commercial imperatives acting on publishers would ensure their continued monotonous output, even if the gender balance was evened up.

Posted:8 months ago

#20

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

631 223 0.4
Personally I believe that the main reason we could use more women in games is so we can make the games we want!
Nothing stopping from you from starting a business and/or making a game.

Posted:8 months ago

#21

David Serrano
Freelancer

278 241 0.9
I don't think this is about gender equality, per se. I think it's actually about proactively working to ensure different demographic segments of the audience are better represented in development processes. So it's not only about better serving women, it's about better serving the overall audience.

I support the goal because when a diverse range of views, opinions and experiences are represented in a process, nothing is sacrosanct. In diverse environments orthodoxy is challenged, not blindly adhered to. This expedites the process of flawed or outdated concepts and ideas being tempered by; or replaced with new, original and far more relevant concepts and ideas. Which in turn creates the conditions for a term many people in the industry love to toss but wouldn't recognize if they tripped over it: innovation.

Posted:8 months ago

#22
You know what it'll take to change games? Aliens from outer space. Female ones. That are also hemaphrodites.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dennis Wan Han Boon on 22nd July 2013 5:51am

Posted:8 months ago

#23

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