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Why does gender balance matter in the games industry?

Ella Romanos makes the business case for more women in games

'Women in games' is an issue that is debated frequently, with passions running high. This is understandable, considering some of the stories that have come to light of women working in the industry as developers, designers, entrepreneurs or journalists, who have experienced gender-driven criticism in the context of their work in an industry where they remain a small minority. According to the Creative Skillset Census in 2012, only 14 per cent of people working in games in the UK are women, while women make up 40 per cent of the UK workforce overall.

This is not a new discussion, and it is not one that is isolated to our country or our industry. The problem is that very few of us can say with certainty what the issues are, what causes them and what can be done to resolve them, in spite of very heated debates and strong opinions being expressed on the topic.

In order to tackle the issues with objectivity and in a way that is positive and productive, we need to ask ourselves a number of important questions. Why are there so few women in the industry? Does this really matter, and if so, why? What can we do about it? Is the industry sexist? Is it a perception issue based on isolated incidents, or is the debate truly reflective of reality for most women working in games? Men face challenges and discrimination too, why is it different for women?

"it's clear that no one single thing is causing the lack of women in the industry, the situation is layered and complex, with each incident touching on a number of factors"

Because we have so few answers and little evidence-based research, it's difficult to engage in the debate without things getting emotional. I have always avoided talking about the issue publicly for two reasons. First, the debate is circuitous - most of the main arguments have been expressed and hashed out, and I didn't feel I had a new or a different point of view to contribute. Secondly, we don't actually know what the causes of the problems associated with gender balance in games are, so how can we be sure about any proposed solution?

What I do know is that it's clear that no one single thing is causing the lack of women in the industry, the situation is layered and complex, with each incident touching on a number of factors - gender equality, gender discrimination, working culture, demographics of games makers and consumers and so on. It 's also clear that we're not just talking about a games industry problem; the working roles of men and women is a cultural and societal issue. I also do believe that we should be striving for a more balanced workforce, because more variety in the type of people in a team, the more variety in the products that we can create, and the wider the audience we can cater for. Different views, backgrounds and experiences are valuable for any team, but particularly creative ones. The issue of gender balance in the industry is not just about women, it is a business issue - the more balanced the industry's workforce, the more relevant and impactful our industry can be.

The reason I'm talking about this now is that I've started working with the new Next Gen Skills Academy, and one of its first projects is to look at the gender balance issues in the games industry. I believe this is the first project to actually attempt to gather data on the challenges women face in industry, with the aim of using the results to undertake real action to address the challenges identified.

"The project can only achieve anything if we get lots of responses from women in the industry, whatever area they are working in"

The data will be gathered in a survey, followed by in depth phone interviews for companies to understand the issues they face. I often hear of companies saying they wish they had more women but none ever apply for their position. This research will cover the issues and challenges companies face too. A working group will collate and analyse the data, and organise workshops for women and companies in the industry in February to address the key issues raised in the surveys. We will also be looking at what long term actions can be taken, and make the research publicly available for others to use and build on. Finally, we will be developing a women's mentoring programme framework learning from the experience and expertise of successful women in film and TV

This project is just a first step. We are not expecting to 'solve' the problem in one fell swoop. But we are trying to gather real data on the issue, and provide a starting point to work from as an industry.

The project can only achieve anything if we get lots of responses from women in the industry, whatever area they are working in, whether it's development, publishing, services, journalism or education. So if you are working in games, please take some time to let us know about your experiences. The survey is available online here, and will stay open until Wednesday 24 December. Men and companies wanting to share their experiences can also email info@nextgenskillsacademy.com

The Gender Balance Workshop Programme is a project run by Next Gen Skills Academy and co-funded by Creative Skillset. To contribute, fill in the survey here by Tuesday 24 December. If you're not a women working in games, but still want to share your views and contribute, please email info@nextgenskillsacademy.com

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Latest comments (73)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development6 years ago
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll add to your research. There are no women employed at my company because in the two times we advertised publicly with a programming position, no women turned up trying to fill it. I suspect that is the dominant reason for lack of representation right across the board.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
I have employed female staff in the past, but as Paul mentioned they are very thin on the ground. I would say to any budding female game developers to group up with like minded friends, start a studio and make games.

Take the power in your own hands, don't wait for situation to change, change it yourself. You don't need an invitation to do so and nobody is going to do it for you.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 9:09am

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Alex Lemco Writer 6 years ago
The survey page doesn't open up for some reason, just getting a 'page not found'. Will share among contacts when it's fixed.
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Show all comments (73)
Dan Pearson Product Marketing Manager, Genvid6 years ago
Sorry, link is fixed now!
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Why does gender balance matter in the sewage cleaning industry? :-)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tomas Matousek on 10th December 2014 11:11am

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Lawrence Newman Studying BSc Brewing & Distilling, Heriot-Watt University6 years ago
Why does gender balance matter in the refuse collection industry?

It's weird how you never hear that, isn't it.

I think everyone knows what's going on here really, even if they won't admit it.
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We employ women, but dont go making a song/dance about it. Best talent for the best job. Help, help yourself. NO need to keep banging on the same song/dance.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up6 years ago
Why are these arguments always pitched as if there is an underlying problem? My son is 3 and as any parent will tell you boys and girls play differently. Why should that not persist into later working life, and why is it a problem if it does? When you find your purpose in life (the thing you love doing) then you are home. Is it possible that this just isn't home for as many women?

In my experience (17 years) I've never seen a gender based argument being made once in the games industry. It's always been about the ability of the individual. To me, this is more about cultivating a problem for everyone to gather round, as opposed to making an actual business argument about getting the best people for the job, regardless of sex. If the best person available at the time happens to be woman then great, they get the job, as pointed out already.

All the women I have worked with have been really interested in making games, like everyone else on the team. That doesnt mean everyone should be interested in making games. In a democracy, you get to choose.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 10th December 2014 12:25pm

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
Strange comments above. Not sure where people are going with sewage and refuse...

Women in *insert industry* isn't and shouldn't be seen as some sort of policy, they're 50% of the productive, educated population and more than that at certain ages if you look at the statistics.

As Ella mentioned, there are complex layers to the reasons surrounding a lack of women in the industry, but its important to consider why so many highly skilled workers are perhaps ignoring it or put off when we're always going on about skills shortages and incredible growth. The best talent isn't necessarily available for potentially uneccesary reasons.

I support greater gender balance in industries like games (and science, and agriculture and construction and more). Going forward if there's anything I can do to help change perceptions or influence processes or policies which could impact lifestyle at work or home or other areas such as education and exposure I will.

Would be great to help break down any potential barriers or at least listen rather than putting a wall up every time the subject is discussed.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th December 2014 12:29pm

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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop6 years ago
Why does gender balance matter in the refuse collection industry?

It's weird how you never hear that, isn't it.
It's not really that weird - I don't go on websites specifically for people in the refuse collection industry. For all I know they find it a worrying issue.
I think everyone knows what's going on here really, even if they won't admit it.
Please enlighten us.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios6 years ago
I've shared the link at work. Anyone claiming "oh, it's obvious" is just dismissing a genuine problem. If women aren't applying for these jobs, we need to ask WHY rather than assuming that women just aren't interested. Which is exactly what this project is doing.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
If women aren't applying for these jobs, we need to ask WHY rather than assuming that women just aren't interested.
But why Chris? Why should we ask this question? Why is it a problem?

What is the problem with having a sector that happens to employ more males than females? What does this solve if we do find out why there aren't more women in gaming? Why aren't women just making their own games on their own terms (it is really easy to make and release games these days)? What the hell is the end goal here?

These are the questions I want answered but nobody ever comes back with a good answer that isn't just "Its for equality dude!". Really?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 12:53pm

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Kenny Lynch Community Rep/Moderator 6 years ago
It is about finding out why the imbalance exists. It is a bit lazy to say "probably genetic" and leave it at that. If there are barriers to women joining the industry it would be nice to know what they are so that they can be removed. Because also those barriers will also affect those that do make it into the industry.

So that everyone who wants to join the industry can, regardless of gender. So that 50% of the potential player base, women, can better connect to the industry and vice versa.

If there really are no barriers and it is simply the result of cultural inertia and innate gender choices, then would that not be good to know?

Edit: random words appeared in my browser! me be scared...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kenny Lynch on 10th December 2014 1:07pm

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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios6 years ago
Because if 50% of the population don't want to work with us, we are potentially missing out on their creativity. More worryingly, perhaps some of them DO want to work in games, but something we're doing (or not doing) is keeping them away. I dunno...if we put our heads together and think REALLY HARD, maybe we can think of some recent example of gaming culture being hostile to women?
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios6 years ago
There are lots of sectors, where males are employed more than females. That's life, isn't it?

I don't see what the problem is? If 2 people come to an interview, 1 is a man, 1 is a woman. Who gets the job?

The one with the best talent, work ethic, attitude. Who cares about gender?

If you have a specific case of discrimination, report it to human rights or something. Get together, with some other girls, and just make a game! Do it today! Stop complaining, make a cool game, and show all the stupid males how it's done. Go for it. We are all waiting, and watching, and anticipate your game. There's no excuse, for not making a game, anyone can do it, there are so many avenues.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Howe on 10th December 2014 1:20pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
More worryingly, perhaps some of them DO want to work in games, but something we're doing (or not doing) is keeping them away.

And this is the rub.

This is not about getting women in the games industry, its about saying men are to blame for women NOT being in the games industry. I have not met anyone in the games industry who has said "bloody women trying to get into the games industry, stop them at all costs!!" It just doesn't happen as far as I know. There is nothing stopping women making games and if they are uncomfortable with company A then go to company B or do it yourself.

[Note the following are observations, not opinions]

Take a look at this from a pure pragmatic business perspective; men don't physically have babies and therefore it could be argued they are more likely to focus on their career than children. I have a wife, kids and grand-kids. I have seen the change in priority of women first hand when they have kids and there is nothing at all wrong with that. It is healthy and good for all involved.

Now for some more unscrupulous employers that may well be an excuse to choose a male over a female, which I don't personally agree with but I do understand why they may do it. In that respect then yes I agree, it is wrong and should be sorted out.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 1:39pm

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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up6 years ago
Is this industry tolerant of people that are different to one and other in terms of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and do they embrace it to create quality entertainment? In my experience, yes. I simply don't see why this is a special case argument. If you go and find out how many girls are taking STEM subjects at school then you can probably extrapolate some kind of answer, but it wont be specific to the games industry. It might give you a clue as to why its more polarised in areas like programming however. My conclusion on that would be that women are generally more social than men.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 10th December 2014 1:39pm

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
Why ask? Some people like to identify why there are differences. It's that simple. Some people don't ask questions about why things are the way they are. That's why some people are philosophers, psychologists and scientists, and others are not because they lack curiosity.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 10th December 2014 1:39pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
Why is the reason for existence and is a question we should always ask, but understand the why before you ask the question.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 1:41pm

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Paolo Giunti Narrative Designer 6 years ago
If women aren't applying for these jobs, we need to ask WHY rather than assuming that women just aren't interested.
There are other factors involved but the main reason is that since young age, boys and girls are encouraged towards some things and discouraged from others depending on their gender.
Just to give an example: a young boy who likes to play playing with dolls is bound to be flagged as ridiculous and become the mockery of every other kid in school. A girl who enjoys going to battle with a toy gun is likely to be labeled as rude and gross.
All this heavily influences the interests the kid will grow up with and it's the reason why most women between 20-30 today are either not interested in games or didn't follow a study path that would help them qualify for a job in games.
I guess that should answer your question.
Why is it a problem?
It is a problem because the more a society accepts and even encourages diversity the healthier it is. As people grow used to the "different", they are also more welcoming towards new ideas, innovation and progress. So, in a way, a very one-gender environment acts as a hindrance to progress, while having a work environment with an even gender balance (and, why not?, an even mix of races) would be a significant contribute to it. Especially if you consider that what we create is widely used by young people and likely to influence them as they grow.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
So really we should be focusing on educating kids about the differences/similarities between male/female and giving a good grounding for experimental behavior which does not need to conform to societal tendencies pushed forward hundreds of years ago by some random dudes. And yes they were probably dudes...

What can we as developers do about this? Unless we are making games for kids then we will have little impact on early development. As kids get older then we can influence them more, but I do fear it will be too late by the time our media can take effect.

Just as long as we collectively don't reinforce these detrimental perspectives and behaviors then I think we are helping improve things.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 1:57pm

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Paolo Giunti Narrative Designer 6 years ago
So really we should be focusing on educating kids about the differences/similarities between male/female and giving a good grounding for experimental behavior which does not need to conform to societal tenancies pushed forward hundreds of years ago by some random dudes.
Immensely agree with that. Education is the key to solve nearly all these issues.
What can we as developers do about this? Unless we are making games for kids then we will have little impact on early development.
Well, kids are not the only ones you can affect. Even adults can be reached: they're not immune from growing up.
I'm pretty sure that a lot of people, even of a certain age, have learned a lot from games. Any for of entertainment, actually, has some educational power, be it more or less obvious.
Just giving an example: writing any story with a good guy and bad guy, you're already telling your audience what you consider good and what you consider bad. Some people from the audience may completely disagree, some others may take that into consideration and eventually adjust their views accordingly.
Of course, a game like Tetris teaches you something completely different that doesn't help on affecting one's view on the subject of equality, society and morality... but games, in general, can really do a lot.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up6 years ago
Ten years ago, most women (another statistical group) had never played games and pretty much labelled them as something for geeks, didn't they? I always found that a fairly narrow view to uphold. I dont think people working in the industry ever carried much baggage with those comments though, and they went and made/played games anyway. I think an apology to the industry would be a good first step in their healing process ;)

The moral of this story: The industry didnt set out to make it the way it is, and everyone was always welcome, as they are now.
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Jason Avent Studio Head / Creative Director, TT Games Publishing6 years ago
We hire women. We don't positively discriminate towards them but the few we do have are ace. In twenty years, I've only met a handful of female programmers. I did a degree in Civil Engineering and 99% of my class were male. I bet computer science, engineering and other technical courses are much the same. A lot of art and design is really technical. So probably 70-80% of the jobs on a game team tend to recruit from more masculine areas of study. It's just the way it is. It's a shame.

I met a guy on holiday last year who works in fashion. He told me about how he's been surrounded his entire career by women. Smart, well dressed women who don't have very many (straight) male friends. How does that make you feel? I was pretty envious. :)

We'd be different people if we worked with more women. We'd probably be better balanced and make different, potentially better games. I just can't see it happening.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Avent on 10th December 2014 2:23pm

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
@Marty & Others

There's a wider question of why mathmeticians, designers, managers, engineers et cetera who are women may be avoiding the industry, when it could potentially be an equally good career choice. Or is it?

Not everyone who works in games necessarily works in games because they aspired to it as a child or because its their favourite hobby (We know 40-50% of gamers are women depending on the market). If you listed out many fields i.e. Gambling & Casino, Advertising, Web Design (non game), IT Consulantancy or whatever, it is curious perhaps why the games industry loses out to a lot of talent that may choose the industry otherwise.

The debate doesn't need to be about how men are treating women or discrimination. There are other factors at play when it comes to gender gaps in jobs, and we're not just talking about games. There are fewer women in the private sector than men, fewer in tech then men and fewer in games than other tech and internet companies. Bear in mind, plenty of girls and women come out of education with professional level computing, creative, mathematical, scientific or management skills to name a few.

These questions may not matter or be of interest to everyone but it is a worthwhile discussion for those who do care and who see it as a potential issue when it comes to skills shortage in games, tech or the wider context of employement in the UK and other countries.

In danger of going on too much, I'll give an example an the implication. With public sector cuts in the UK, which will disproportionately affect women, why is it that the £1.7 Billion games industry in the UK is not a more viable career path for thousands of these workers? (or further, tech in general). Even if the skills are a good match and even if salaries and benefits may be a match too?

I just feel some of the views posted in every one of these articles are one dimensional. The discussion about gender balance is more than an individual's experience at their company and whether you treat women equally or not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th December 2014 2:52pm

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
I am all for gender balance as im sure everyone here is. The game industry itself isn't against gender balance. The issue is actually getting that balance. If you are looking to hire females, and no females show, there isn't much one can do.

With that said, i think it's great to look into why it's happening, but I don't think the end result is going to really help. There isn't anything preventing females from coming into the industry as far as I am aware.

I do hate though when some people try and pin this on males.

I think the cause of the gap is due to females, and just not being all that interested in game development. Sure .. in more recent years there have been more females come into the gaming space. But liking to play games, does not equal liking to create games.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
@Darren Adams - Discrimination isn't always intentional or explicitly stated. All that "There is nothing stopping women making games" tells me is that YOU haven't encountered any barriers based on your gender.

I did a computer science degree (a 90%+ male course) at one of the top universities for engineering subjects in the country, and at that time I felt like the games industry was a closed community that only programming geniuses had any chance of breaking into. I can't even begin to imagine what the barriers must seem like for women coming through our education system that's not actively pushing them towards STEM subjects. I'm sure things have improved in the intervening years but we still have a long way to go.

@Brook Davidson - So you're saying people in the industry are powerless to change anything, wow that's amazingly convenient.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robin Clarke on 10th December 2014 3:33pm

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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
@John Owen - Read my comment again. Cheers.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
I just feel some of the views posted in every one of these articles are one dimensional
Often the case, sadly.
What can we as developers do about this? Unless we are making games for kids then we will have little impact on early development. As kids get older then we can influence them more, but I do fear it will be too late by the time our media can take effect.

Just as long as we collectively don't reinforce these detrimental perspectives and behaviors then I think we are helping improve things.
And this is why it's important to raise questions about the gender balance. What if we were contributing in a way we were just unaware of? If you study the history of modern psychology you will find that often behaviour is influenced by factors that you wouldn't normally take into consideration.

Bear in mind that when questioning why things are how they are we are also questioning whether what we currently accept as norms should be questioned, while also reigniting the nature versus nurture debate, a long running debate that thus far has no answer.

Do patients respond preferably to female nurses?

But going back to the article, why does gender balance matter? I think that's a pertinent question. Having worked with a mixed group at uni, I saw that girls tended to think about and manage problem solving much more differently to males. Granted there were only a handful of women on the course so it may not be representative, but nonetheless men and women do think differently. That fact alone should make us want to know how much those cognitive and psychological differences affect complex cognitive tasks such as software development.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
@Robin
Discrimination isn't always intentional or explicitly stated.
Sure, there is nothing wrong with that statement in principle.
All that "There is nothing stopping women making games" tells me is that YOU haven't encountered any barriers based on your gender.
That on the other hand is a baseless assumption however you paint it. I have come across barriers because of my gender and it happens to both men and women. My original statement that you quoted is factual. There is nothing stopping females making games.

It has never been easier for anyone to make games with all the tools that are available. Its not like there is someone refusing to provide 3rd party game development tools to women, which was my main point of that statement. Show me the barriers that exist for women in the games industry and will have more data to work with and will adjust my view accordingly.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 4:03pm

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Jordan Lund Columnist 6 years ago
I love how stories like this pitch it as though it's specifically a problem in the gaming industry. It's a problem in the IT industry as a whole and it always has been.

My department is about 30 people, out of them there are FOUR women. The first several rounds of hiring, no women applied.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
Apparently I am unclear. My point is that it isn't enough to say "nobody is actively stopping women getting into games" (or "well I didn't have any problems so I can't fathom anyone else's experiences being any different" or "why is it MY fault? Discrimination has been aimed at ME, in my bubble of privilege where it can't ever meaningfully affect me, too!").

The point is that not enough it being done to actively encourage women to pursue a career in games, or to inform them that (along with many other STEM careers) it's a realistic option. A lot of the industry doesn't look like a welcoming place. It wasn't anyone's intention for this to happen, but we have to acknowledge that it is a barrier and think about what can be done to change it, instead of just passing the buck.

Adam Saltsman had a go at this by advertising vacancies that explicitly asked for women to apply - I don't know if that's the best approach (or how well it worked out in the end), but at least it was trying something.
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Daniel Trezub QA Analyst, Ludia6 years ago
"If we hire a woman, she will not be able to do overtime because she has to pick up the kids at school everyday".
"If we hire a woman, she may get pregnant and we will have to grant a leave for X months, and hire another person to substitute her".
"If we hire a woman, she may be a mother to three kids, how will she conciliate life and work?"

This is not exclusive to the gaming industry. Women face this kind of judgement even before the job interview. For me, it's clearly discrimination. But again, it's not exclusive to the gaming industry. Maybe HR plays a role here?
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
@Robin
My point is that it isn't enough to say "nobody is actively stopping women getting into games" (or "well I didn't have any problems so I can't fathom anyone else's experiences being any different" or "why is it MY fault? Discrimination has been aimed at ME, in my bubble of privilege where it can't ever meaningfully affect me, too!").
I can't tell if you are serious or trolling with that statement??? It would appear to be a passive-aggressive swipe at me because I disagreed with what you said.
Adam Saltsman had a go at this by advertising vacancies that explicitly asked for women to apply - I don't know if that's the best approach (or how well it worked out in the end), but at least it was trying something.
Really? You see nothing wrong with that?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 5:21pm

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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
@Darren - 1. Mostly a flippant response to the same tired old arguments that always appear in these threads. 2. Actually I *do* think if the positions were only open to female applicants that would be a bit odd. I don't know if that was actually the case, or simply that the ads encouraged women to apply.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
@Robin

Ok, fair enough I accept your explanation.

Sure, I have nothing against encouraging women into game development roles and other traditionally male roles. I am sure that the industries would be a better place with a more diverse workforce.

I still maintain that the best way for women to make their stamp on the industry is go and make games. If there is a barrier in the industry then surely a powerful push from women (led by women) into games would be a great counter for that, making the barrier irrelevant in the process?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 10th December 2014 6:07pm

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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari6 years ago
I've had the pleasure of working with many talented women in my career. Women working in the games industry are usually in the minority but I've worked at some places where it was about 50/50. Back when I was in editorial we had two women editors on staff (out of five editors total). Both of our editors are still working as professional writers to this day although one of them has shifted gears into more mainstream editorial. I also worked at a small publisher that was about 50/50 split. I worked at a larger publisher that I would guess was about 25% women, most were in pretty high positions. And not to shill my own IP here but Centipede was programmed by a woman (Dona Bailey) and I don't think anyone really even thought that was strange back in the day. Although it is interesting the Centipede was designed from the ground up to appeal to women gamers. That was 1981... I like to think Dona Bailey was the inspiration for MacKenzie Davis' character in Halt and Catch Fire.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
I still maintain that the best way for women to make their stamp on the industry is go and make games. If there is a barrier in the industry then surely a powerful push from women (led by women) into games would be a great counter for that, making the barrier irrelevant in the process?
Yes, but that requires an existing interest from women. We're asking why it is that women aren't as interested. The first barrier is interest, so the only push needs to be directed at increasing levels of interest.

We can make comparisons with the mining industry and so on, but we're dealing with the games industry.

As I mention often, men prefer leaning through trial and error whilst women tend to prefer being given instructions, so the typical behaviour of men is well suited to picking up programming in the early stages, whilst the typical behaviour of women might fair better at the later stages of a coder's progression. Maybe there have been studies carried out already (and I did post a link to one in the last article about this).
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios6 years ago
Gender equality should be about equal opportunity not equal representation.

The headline for the article would lead you to believe that it answers the question 'Is there a problem?' and it does it by making a 'business case for more women in games'. As far as I can tell the only part of the article that seems to come close to those items is the paragraph that ends with:
it is a business issue - the more balanced the industry's workforce, the more relevant and impactful our industry can be.
Leaving aside that I don't see a direct correlation between a 'balanced workforce' and 'relevant and impactful industry' the real problem I have is that having a 'relevant and impactful industry' in any way leads to a higher profit margin.

We are in the business of making games. We are here to make money. I have yet to see any arguments, anecdotal or backed by data, that hiring more women will lead to higher profit.

The thing that really bothers me about this entire issue is that talking about the number of women working in the video game industry is putting the cart before the horse. As a lot of the comments above will bear out most of us go out of the way to hire women when the opportunity arises. Not because it makes us more money but because it makes our offices a better place to work. We can only hire those who apply. If women aren't applying because of something those of us in the industry are doing to discourage them then yeah, that is something we should address but I've not seen a single account to back up that argument. If the problem is that there aren't enough women in STEM or that society is propagating gender roles that discourage women in games then get off of the video game soap box and stop preaching to the choir.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Matthew Eakins on 10th December 2014 7:22pm

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"What is the problem with having a sector that happens to employ more males than females?"

When the sector in question is a creative and artistic medium it matters a lot, because it limits the experiences and stories that will be reflected in the product. That seems obvious to me. And that's why smug rhetorical questions about the gender balance of sewage and refuse collection workers is so bizarre. It doesn't matter who empties my bins. It DOES matter who creates the art I consume. Imagine if women only wrote 10% of the novels in the world, or if 85% of music was written and performed by men. It'd be weird, and we'd be missing out on huge swathes of human experience. It absolutely boggles my mind that people working in the games industry can not see how that weakens what we do.
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"I love how stories like this pitch it as though it's specifically a problem in the gaming industry. It's a problem in the IT industry as a whole and it always has been."

The name of this website may give you a clue as to why the article focuses on games.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
Gender equality should be about equal opportunity not equal representation
The article is speaking about gender balance, not equality.

Also from the article: "It 's also clear that we're not just talking about a games industry problem; the working roles of men and women is a cultural and societal issue"
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios6 years ago
The article is speaking about gender balance, not equality.
Gender balance for it's own sake is not a reasonable goal. We don't require ethnic balance. Left handed albino yodelers are certainly an underrepresented group in our industry. The industry is by and large a meritocracy by necessity.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games6 years ago
Does it really matter what the sex is of the person who is writing the code? When was the last time you played a game and thought to yourself: "Gee, whoever wrote the code for this game writes code like a girl?"

Whenever the topic comes up about "We need more women in the game industry", it really isn't about getting more women in the game industry. It's about getting more women PROGRAMMERS in the industry. There are already plenty of women working in gaming (and doing an outstanding job). Every studio that I have worked for has had women on the teams. They mainly worked on the visual aspects of the game but there have been women producers, designers and programmers as well. One of the most brilliant programmers I have had the pleasure of working with is a woman.

If you want to have women influencing the game industry, you're going to need more women game designers. Not programmers. And by telling a young woman that the only way to get into the game industry is by writing code is going to scare some of them off because they just do not want to write code. Let them know about all of the other skills needed to create a game and you'll probably get more young women interested in game development.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gary LaRochelle on 15th December 2014 2:44pm

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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer 6 years ago
Has anyone ever stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, it's partly because men and women are biologically different? Like in fundamental ways our brains are wired up making them gravitate towards certain things? I'm sure there's an evolutionary reason for it.

Just throwing that out there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Watson on 10th December 2014 10:55pm

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
The industry is by and large a meritocracy by necessity.
This article is not debating whether the best person is being picked for the job, just why particular groups are not applying for the roles. Why do we care? Because we're intelligent human beings who are curious about the reasons for things. Why does it matter to the Games Industry? Because diversity provides an operational advantage.
We are in the business of making games. We are here to make money. I have yet to see any arguments, anecdotal or backed by data, that hiring more women will lead to higher profit.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2014/01/14/reaping-the-benefits-of-diversity-for-modern-business-innovation/
http://www.barrettrose.com/diversity-competitive-advantage-2/

^^ For your perusal ^^
And by telling a young woman that the only way to get into the game industry is by writing code is going to scare some of them off because they just do not want to write code
Yes, but I think they're trying to answer the question of why, and how to appeal to them. Why? Who cares? Maybe that can form another study as to why people care about why other people care about things they don't care about - well actually the answer to that is already known, it's down to holes in a person's boundary.
Has anyone ever stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, it's partly because men and women are biologically different? Like in fundamental ways our brains are wired up making them gravitate towards certain things? I'm sure there's an evolutionary reason for it.

Just throwing that out there.
Perhaps, but it's worth exploring the reasons rather than just speculating. Read any book on the history of modern psychology for a thousand tales of our presumptions being proved wrong.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 10th December 2014 11:39pm

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
Left handed albino yodelers are certainly an underrepresented group in our industry
You miss the point completely! Obviously people with one hand will likely be less represented because there's a physical obstacle, but where there is no actual obstacle any difference comes to question. You are not interested in this subject clearly, but why then do you care so much about why others care to find out about it? What exactly are you adding?
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
@Robin
@Brook Davidson - So you're saying people in the industry are powerless to change anything, wow that's amazingly convenient.
I didn't say that. I was only suggesting what I personally think, which very well could be wrong. I am not saying I am correct in my thoughts. I am only pointing out, that I don't think there is an actual problem here. We see this this type of thing in many industries not just the game industry.

I have said it once, and I will say it again. I have no problems with trying to improve on this. If it turns out to be a legit problem, then I am all for fixing it obviously. So please try not to get so hot headed and condescending with your comments. It's extremely rude.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 11th December 2014 1:15am

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Pin Wang CEO & Co-Founder, Substantial Games6 years ago
Tech in general has very similar problems and the research/evidence is already extremely strong. Most women in the industry face some sort of harassment and critically, lack mentors and roadmaps for development. A huge amount of top-performing women in tech leave the tech industry after 10 years inside it, which is indicative of a poor working environment for women in tech.

That being said, I think the games industry can use a lot of what tech has already learned and start applying solutions today. We need to know what works, and then just do it. Maybe we can skip the first step and have less of these conversations where naturally you are going to have heavy resistance from people who don't think anything is wrong (see every other civil rights movement in history).

Many of us are ready to make changes happen today, we just need the tools to do it. So let's start talking about what we can actually do.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
If women aren't applying because of something those of us in the industry are doing to discourage them then yeah, that is something we should address but I've not seen a single account to back up that argument.
How often do we see the staff pages of game studio websites present a wall of homogenous faces? How often do we see games companies describe themselves and their products in language that assumes the audience is versed in their (historically male-dominated) brand of 'gamer' culture? These things are discouraging to new applicants even if that's not the intention.

I wish people would read the preceding comments before repeating arguments that have been addressed over and over.
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@ Marty Howe "There's no excuse"

Was struck by your passion and certainty on the subject. So, seeing as everything is so easy I checked out your game to see how much heavy lifting you're doing.

http://www.figureheadstudios.com.au/page1.html

Lessee. Two screenies of a generic map for a generic shooter, running on a generic engine for shooters. Not much there on the rest of the tasks involved in a game. You know, the hard parts.

Far as I can see you've achieved about as much as every 1st year college student ever.

"Anyone can do it"

Don't think 'anyone' should take advice from you on the difficulty of the task quite yet sir.
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Lets hire every humanoid who can and want to make games, with opposable thumbs, be it Wo-Man, hemaphrodite or non terrestrial.
No balancing is necessary, just opportunity and availability.
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Andre Kling David 3D Artist, Social Point SL6 years ago
@Robin Clarke
Maybe you should start looking at companies that are not making games for "gamers", most of the websites i have seen for mobile games are exactly like you describe.

I wish there was in this website from time to time, interviews with woman (that is working at the industry) so they share their experience. i would love to hear how many of then had a problem just because of their sex, their perspective at the enviroment, their work with collegues how did they overcome, and what they are looking forward of the industry...
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios6 years ago
@Keldon
This article is not about workplace diversity, it's about gender balance, it's right in the title. The first article you linked listed 18 different facets of diversity of which gender is only one. I completely agree that diversity is a good thing. I agree that having women in the industry is a good thing. I firmly believe that discrimination based on any attribute is a bad thing (even on intellectual capacity or skill set but those are necessary evils).

The crux of this article, and of many others of late, is that women are an underrepresented class of people in the industry and that is what I take issue with. There are women who work in the industry. There are women who play games. My point of contention is the idea that there are not enough women in the industry. Frankly, there is no meter stick by which to gauge that. Just because the gender ratio in *any* industry does not match the ratio of the population as a whole does not in itself indicate a problem.

I firmly believe that everyone should strive to fulfill their own desires. Whether by nature or nurture people have their own preferences. Our responsibility is to support those who want to work in our industry. We do not have a responsibility, nor do I believe we have the right, to try to alter peoples preferences in order to fulfill what I feel is best described as a ‘perceived gender quota’.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
You asked for at least anecdotal evidence, and gender balance fits under the subject of diversity, which we know has a positive effect on innovation (and potentially other areas too). That's why it was brought up.
I firmly believe that everyone should strive to fulfill their own desires. Whether by nature or nurture people have their own preferences. Our responsibility is to support those who want to work in our industry. We do not have a responsibility, nor do I believe we have the right, to try to alter peoples preferences in order to fulfill what I feel is best described as a ‘perceived gender quota’.
But somewhere down the line something is nurturing people in a particular way. There's nothing wrong in someone taking the responsibility of studying how society has deterred women from the games industry. It's nothing to do with quotas, it's just something that is rather odd, and curious people like to identify why there are differences in career and educational choices.

Obviously you don't care about it, but again, why is it of such a concern to you that others also not care about it? It's like you're basically saying, "I'm not interested in psychology or sociology, so nobody else should either."

You say we should not try to alter people's preferences, so you suggest we let the fate of our society be determined by the ebb and flow of the winds and never build sail boats.
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios6 years ago
why is it of such a concern to you
A little bit of introspection here but I think that the reason this concerns me is that I, like a lot of people who frequent this site, tend to perceive articles like this in from a problem solver point of view. The implication of this article is that there is a gender imbalance in the industry and that that is a problem. That further implies that we as an industry are doing something wrong which in turn I perceive as an attack against myself and the industry so my natural instinct is to be defensive and say, 'Nope, we’re not doing anything wrong'.

This is not a psychological or sociological website, this is a video game business website. Posting this article here, while peripherally related to video games, is like waving a red flag in the face of a bull. Add to that that we have a clear history of persecution and demonization of the video game industry I can’t help but see this as yet another attack. I have to admit that there is a small part of me that just wants to yell, ‘Leave us alone’.

That being said, I’ve tried very hard to keep my posts as rational as possible and leave the emotional arguments out. My original point is that the article itself failed to live up to its own title and subtitle. It did not answer the question, “Why does gender balance matter in the games industry?”, nor did it make a “business case for more women in games”. Beyond that I am expressing my opinion on one of the questions posed in the article, “Does this really matter?”. Or rather, as my problem solver brain couches it, “Is this a problem?”, and my answer to that question (in my opinion) is ‘No’.
You say we should not try to alter people's preferences, so you suggest we let the fate of our society be determined by the ebb and flow of the winds and never build sail boats.
The question itself is a bit loaded in the way it is phrased but my answer is that, except for cases where not intervening can cause harm (e.g. prejudice, censorship, and abuse), we do not have the right to interfere. One of my favorite phrases growing up was ‘The rights of your fist end at my nose’. Societal engineering is a very slippery slope. Feel free to remove barriers but self-determination is paramount.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
@Matthew: our education system is designed to provide us with specific information and skills that are beyond our control. So to suggest "we do not have a right to interfere" ignores the fact that we actually do. The 'we' that we refer to depends on scope. For example, 'we' at GamesIndustry.biz aren't having a direct impact on say, people's interest in sports, but 'we' as in the nation of the United Kingdom as represented by our parliamentary regulations that dictate the curriculum for the majority of the population do. The main point is that social engineering is taking place, and it is better that we do so with a little prudence, particularly when we are unaware of how our many assumptions may be driving people.

Personally I don't think women entering the games industry is a big issue for girls as there are better roles out there, unless it is the case that many do have deep aspirations but are deterred due to false assumptions they carry that are set for them by the societal influence they did not choose for themselves. On the other hand if girls are predisposed to on average, lower income roles in lower paying industries, and this study on girl's lack of interest in Computer Science and video games development is just one facet of that preference, then it is something that ought to be addressed; or more so, if it predisposes girls to making decisions that yield lower happiness in life and career.

So going back to your opening statements about how you see it as an attack, we human beings have a terrible tendency to see the world through tinted lenses, causing us to conclude falsely the message and even the intents of the other. There really is no legitimate reason to see this as an attack on the industry, even if there have been a succession of what one might consider an attack. And in any case, to paint every occurrence of discussion on related topics, does that not polarise thought on what could quite happily be a very relevant and pertinent query?
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
*beats head on desk*

Reading through these comments, it's frankly astonishing that the 6% of the industry that are women stay on.

Seriously, there is gigantic vibe of EHRAMGHERD MOAR ABOUT WIMMENZ! WEN DEY SHUT UP? No-one's actually said "Some of my best friends are women!" but it's getting close.

If you see things like this study, recent news articles on the underemployment of women in the industry as an attack on you, think how we feel when after decades scratching and biting and kicking just to get past the gatekeepers and peer pressures that say we shouldn't play games, to get on to the courses, to get through the classes, to navigate the life choices where it's career OR family, all just to get here and read... all that.

If articles like this are really "preaching to the choir" and you're actually interested in presenting games development as an end goal to help address the push away from anything "brainy" that a lot of women experience in school, then please stop sounding like you'd rather be dragged tackle-out over broken glass than actually do that.

Why is the gender ratio in any industry important? Because when human beings with equal intellectual capabilities aren't just naturally cropping up in their local ratios, it DOES point to a problem. Something or things is either repelling them from that field or is favouring others.

Now the games industry is a multi-billion dollar sector and in the UK, it's one of the largest employers that doesn't require physical strength, and that makes it an important focus for addressing the economic imbalance produced by the disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment affecting women - but it is hardly the only industry where these discussions are happening, it's just the one we hear about because that's where we're listening.

Employment of women is something governments worldwide are looking at because it carries massive economic benefits: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-figures Add in the side-benefits of such things as women in work having fewer children (a boon in an overpopulated world) and those children they do have not being born into poverty (yes, this is relevant in the West as well as developing countries), getting better educations and being more likely to move into work themselves as adults. Then tack on the humanitarian benefits like the mitigating effect financial independence has on domestic abuse (being able to afford to leave tends to shorten the duration of abusive relationships and therefore the severity of injuries inflicted), and all in all you have a Good Thing™.

From an industry standpoint, a more diverse workforce leads to more diverse product, which leads to a larger audience and more money. Diversity is also resilience. "Over-specialize and you breed in weakness."
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
@Andrew Watson
Has anyone ever stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, it's partly because men and women are biologically different? Like in fundamental ways our brains are wired up making them gravitate towards certain things? I'm sure there's an evolutionary reason for it.

Just throwing that out there.
It's been known for a quite a long time now that men aren't biologically smarter than women. There isn't a gene for interest in games development. There's not a single physiological factor that causes "broodiness". Logical patterns appeal to both genders equally in play. It's all been checked out and it's peer pressures that make the difference - not brain wiring, not hormones. not genetics.

In other news, black people aren't underemployed in the industry for "biological" reasons either.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
@Bonnie
"It's been known for a quite a long time now that men aren't biologically smarter than women. There isn't a gene for interest in games development. There's not a single physiological factor that causes "broodiness". Logical patterns appeal to both genders equally in play. It's all been checked out and it's peer pressures that make the difference - not brain wiring, not hormones. not genetics.

In other news, black people aren't underemployed in the industry for "biological" reasons either."

He didn't say any of that. He didn't say men are smarter. He said the way our brains are wired we gravitate toward certain things.
There are differences in the way a female mind works compared to a male mind. Trust me, I know this very well because I am transgender. If we where 100% the same, being transgender would be impossible.

All he is saying is women and men are going to be attracted to different types of jobs. He isn't saying ALL women. Of course there will be deviations away from that because not everyone is the same.

If it was all peer pressure then how come when I was growing up, even though I was taught to play baseball, and sports. I had no interest in those things? I rather role play sailor moon or play with cars and dolls with my sisters. No one told me I had to, it's just what I found fun. I was born male so I was expected to act a certain way.

I very well understand the peer pressure, but I can assure you, it has nothing to do with the way I am today. I have always been this way as far back as I can remember. The fact transgender people even exist is proof that there are differences. Bioloigical, hard wired differences. Or are you going to claim transgender people are delusional and there is actually no difference at all? We just are crazy?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 12th December 2014 3:04am

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David Costello Founder & Director, Pixel Blast Ltd6 years ago
My daughter is 6. She loves games. I already fight to keep her motivated and engaged with what she enjoys because boys tell her in the playground she's just a girl she can't enjoy games. She sometimes gets put down by boys in talking about games because they won't always accept a girl engaging in their dominant playground engagement.

I am in no doubt my daughter will always have to be more motivated, more self-contained, more driven to justify her enjoyment in games and get acknowledged for being a gamer than a boy will. Of the many parental responsibilities this is one I hope I can always support.

When her brother's friends come round to our house we've tried to naturally create an environment where she can engage in the boys games, and that's respected and she's seen as quite cool. But in the playground this is hard to maintain and boys and girls do fulfil and play out gender stereotypes. I'm no doubt this carries through to life and other areas.

This isn't to criticise schools or children. My main point is that I can see gender stereotyping much more since I had a daughter. In our playgrounds, with other parents, and I no doubt apply them sometimes as well. This does sometimes go against what a girl would like to engage with or want to engage with and what they feel they can engage in.

It doesn't take a leap to see that this carries through society and how this may be part of a reason why there are less women in games. No one should feel threatened or angered by this, men or women. If I can live my life not aware until now of the ebbs and flows of the playground for a girl, then I'm pretty sure there's other undercurrents that can negatively effect women or indeed men. It's healthy for an industry, to try and look into this and understand.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by David Costello on 12th December 2014 8:58am

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
@David
I can certainly agree with you in this area. I do have to mention though, I don't think the activity really matters. If a bunch of boys are playing anything, be it video games, legos, sports, ect. You usually end up with the same circumstances.

I don't even think it's a stereotype. It's more along the lines of boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Young boys feel certain past times or activities is just for themselves. The same goes with young girls. There are certain things boys can't join in when it comes to girls. In fact, girls are very likely to pick on a guy if he wants to play dolls with them. The thing is, it just happens far less because if boys do it, they get far more backlash from both girls and boys.

Trust me. I know .. I went through it. I had a front row seat. Girls can get away with being tom boyish. Sure they may get picked on from time to time. However, it's nothing compared to if a male is feminine. Not only will girls pick on you and call you a loser. But you tend to even get beat up by guys.

You see it less because of that very reason. Most feminine guys will choose just to hide or try to act more "masculine".

Course, I am in no way condoning such behavior obviously or saying nothing can be done about it. However, how on earth do you stop it? Teaching kids wrong from right we technically already do. Maybe we could crack down more on it, but would it actually stop it? I am not so sure. I mean, it's not like they are taught to act like that. No one literally tells them not to allow girls to play with you. It just sort of happens.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 12th December 2014 9:12am

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Kenny Lynch Community Rep/Moderator 6 years ago
I think it is important to realise that you can only conclude that women being under-represented in the games industry is not a problem and not a result of something going wrong somewhere (education system, public image, experience of those already in the industry, etc,.) is if you assume that in the first place. It is a circular argument.

A) Women are naturally biologically inclined not to be gravitated towards games
B) Women are under-represented in the games industry

C) There is not a problem, given A and B

If you start with the assumptions,
A) Women are under-represented in the games industry
B) There are possibly reasons for this that can be corrected

Then C) There is not a problem, is not a valid argument.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kenny Lynch on 12th December 2014 11:35am

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
@Kenny

Well that is pretty much the issue. It's actually a pretty complicated subject. There could actually be something going wrong somewhere. Then again, there might not be.

I personally don't think it's an actual issue. Though I am not sure enough to say that I am right. The only thing I can rely on at this point is evidence.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
It could just be that the games industry is a bad career choice in itself and we've all been duped by our love for gaming. But if it is actually a good career choice for a particular demographic, one might philosophise as to why that value is not being accurately communicated to them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 12th December 2014 1:16pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
@Brook Davidson

No, I'm not by any means saying that men and women are identical in mindset, but we may be using terms at cross-purposes.

My point is that the connective differences between male and female brains aren't ones that should affect interest in game design or not.

The main biological differences between men and women are:

1) Testosterone levels - more testosters brains tend to evolve more front-to-back connections, while women's have more cross-hemisphere connections. Front-to-back connections favour spatial reasoning as it relates to muscle control while cross-hemispheric connections favour logic and reasoning skills.
3) Physical size - men tend to be larger in terms of bone and muscle mass.
4) Uterus - the male sex lacks one (though not all members of the male gender)
5) Hormonal cycles - most of a woman's hormones are on a 28-day cycle, most (not all) of a man's are on a 4-month cycle (men do have a small subcycle based on hormonal esters on a 28-day cycle, hence "manstruation")

But the thing is, even with these biological tendencies in the way the brain grows, the brain is also constantly growing its own connections based on the inputs it receives in daily life and this growth is so much more rapid and pervasive than these inbuilt factors.

The predilection for spatial reasoning/ muscle-control certainly has an impact in the hand-eye coordination aspect of gaming and may have been the original root of the "games are for boys" paradigm, but games are so much more than that these days. But perhaps because of that historical perception of games, we also have a number of peer pressures:

12-year-old girls tell each other that they should be "too mature" for play
There are few "playful" media role-models for girls
"Games are for boys"

Those are pretty powerful. I'd be willing to bet that you know more about cars than I do, and that part of that is rooted in the fact that you and your sisters played with cars while I was told girls don't play with cars. (To this day, I am of the "It's a red one" brand of car recognition... yet I can build motors for robots. "Engine on fire... car not go now?")

But that relates only to an initial interest in games. When you come to design and development itself, women should be kicking ass when it comes to biological influence - it's highly cooperative, involves logic, reasoning, comprehension and communication, it's indoor work with no heavy lifting and there's minimal need for spatial coordination to catch flying design specs. At a biological level, men should suck at it - they should all be out in a field playing sports, throwing things very precisely and looking smug about it, then biting each other.

But we have intelligence. Our brains take every input and grow their connections, change the likelihood of neurons firing and continuously rewrite themselves. And peer pressures - not just people pushing us to do certain things, but also the presence/absence of role-models acting in a certain way - are a huge factor in determining which experiences we have that then shape those connections. Hence, men can get bloody good at team work, communication. logic and so forth - the grunting and biting hardly gets a look-in any more.

While for girls, there are a lot of peer-pressures coming into play that urge us and others to downplay and neglect our intelligence in favour of popularity and relationships.

Biologically, we have the package - it's social factors that tell us not to use it.


Edit: a big chunk of text between points 1 and 2 of the differences went missing and resulted in something horribly garbled.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 12th December 2014 3:38pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
@Brook Davidson

Also, to address the part where you asked if I felt all transpeople were delusional, hell no.

You said you were pushed to play sports but you wanted to play the same as the other little girls around you - that's what I would describe as a peer pressure. Would you have yearned for dolls and cars if all the other girls around you were playing baseball? If it was biological boys would want sports and girls would want dolls. If it's social pressure then boys want what other boys do and girls want what other girls do, no matter what that is.

But that there are biological factors that tell us what gender we are (as opposed to our physical sex), I do not dispute - you can see it right there in the methylation of certain groups on the human genome. Being trans is indisputably scientifically real.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
@Bonnie
If girls had played baseball, I still doubt I would have played it lol. I didn't play the game I played specifically because girls where playing them. I just found them a whole lot more fun.

Well .. who knows though really. You could be right. I can only make guesses of what I would have done in such a situation where girls where playing baseball. Maybe I would have found an interest in it. The question is, do gender roles really effect us THAT much.

If it does, then maybe I am on the wrong side of the fence XD.I think the largest issue is .. I have not seen much proof based on it. I have always felt the most gender rolls came about more because of the difference between genders on a biological level. Not all gender rolls, but a lot of them. As an example, I figured girls just didn't play or get into sports as much because they have less of a competitive nature in that aspect.

Now don't get me wrong. I really wish gender rolls where not as bad as they are. I went through a lot because of it. I just wonder how much are just made up and how much are due to biology.
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Rashad Foux Character Artist, Hi-Rez Studios, Inc.6 years ago
@Darren Adams
But why Chris? Why should we ask this question? Why is it a problem?

What is the problem with having a sector that happens to employ more males than females? What does this solve if we do find out why there aren't more women in gaming? Why aren't women just making their own games on their own terms (it is really easy to make and release games these days)? What the hell is the end goal here?
Well, this is the same basic premise of any question about equality and representation in any professional or cultural area. We need more women represented in video game development, because women play games.
We can't just market our self as an industry to the same demographic of 15-35 year old males because that is not the only demographic that exists any longer. It's no longer even exceedingly predominant.

One of the easiest places to point out where better representation is needed is character design (both visually, and from a narrative perspective).

I love games. I've played them all my life. I have often looked past sexist, racist, or homophobic stereotype's and portrayals because the gameplay itself was fun, or different. But as I've aged, and as the industry has aged, fun gameplay can't be the only thing that we shoot for, or that I look for in a video game. Because gameplay does not exist in a bubble separate from visuals and dialogue. It co-exists with them.

I want to share the joy that I get from games on a daily basis with as many people as possible. I want to share that with my fiance, and our future daughters.
But as it stands, that's not really possible. To share games with the women in my life too often means they have to ignore that the female characters they play or npc's they see in the games are ridiculously sexualized.
And while it's something that may on some base level be designed to appeal to me, (or be something that I can ignore because of it's ubiquity throughout the years) it's glaringly apparent and alienating to them. Such designs and portrayal's make it extremely clear to them that "this game is not for you", in the same way that Barbie's Horse adventures do to me.


We need more diversity, because for every woman that's willing to put up with or thrive or who doesn't care about the hostile culture and sexualization to support themselves doing what they love, there's a about a dozen other's who don't have the time or patience to deal with something that they shouldn't have to deal with. And that stunts us as an industry creatively. And it stunts us as an industry financially.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
Bonnie, isn't it that cross hemisphere connexions increase intuition, not necessarily logical reasoning?

That being said there is more to the equation than just skill applicability, such as attitudes towards careers and paths of education and non curricular activities.

There are also various gender instincts at play combined with deep rooted archetypes and socially imposed role expectations. It's been demonstrated, for example, that people have specific expectations of a person based on facial features alone. A fact that Hollywood plays on in all casting decisions and may actually be responsible for much of it today.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 12th December 2014 6:02pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
@Keldon

Intuition is just coming to a conclusion with less data than one was expected to require; it's not really a separate thing to other kinds of reasoning. Cross-hemispheric connections deal with a lot of your basic IQ test stuff and are essential in comprehension and conclusion.

But like I said, the basic starting gender template brain is the least deterministic thing about a person because the one thing that is guaranteed to happen in your life is that your brain will grow a whole mess of connections. Whether you're a man or a woman you will wind up with front to back connections and cross-hemispheric. All it means is that you start with more of one or the other during adolescence - where your XP gets spent after that is very much down to where events and people take you.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development6 years ago
Oh yes I know what intuition is and how the brain develops. But there are behavioural differences between males and females that stem from instinctive differences. There are clear differences in male and female behaviour that is influenced by hormones. It's not about one sex being better, just the fact that these hormonal differences do result in behavioural differences which will be reflected in our attitudes.

This isn't me saying there's no need to care about gender balance either, or suggesting women have no place in the industry as that is the opposite of what I'm saying. But by ignoring our differences and the instinctive gender drives we are pretty much tying our hands behind our back in this debate.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
@Keldon Alleyne

Apologies for not replying for a couple of days; I managed to catch pneumonia and am having all of the fun with that.

You're right about there being really important differences and we ignore them to our cost; as I said earlier, I'm not saying that men and women are the same, nor that one is better than the other. Some differences are hard-coded and unavoidable, some are societal and overcome-able with time and education. But the important part is that they are here and to be fair to those who live in this world, rather than the perfect egalitarian society of the future, we have to understand and deal with them.

Flexitime and/or the availability/affordability of child care are helpful to women (and some men) if they are the primary caregiver of their family.

EU law already enshrines both maternity and paternity leave but some men report concerns about taking Paternity leave in case they are seen as "freeloaders". (increasing understanding throughout the working world of how pivotal Paternity leave can be for reducing stress in all family members, extending the longevity and success of a family relationship, child well-being and higher performance upon return to work would help leaven that, I think)

Schools have a long history of pushing girls away from science and maths - I remember my 4th year Chemistry teacher and my parents having to fight with the school to let me take 3 sciences at A Level and they absolutely put their foot down over me taking Maths as a fourth. That kind of push has lessened dramatically in recent years, and the availability of earmarked training programmes for women like the Pixelles Incubator and more free online educational resources address it further.

What also needs to change, however, are the career options that are presented as possible futures to girls - a lot of the #1reasontobe crowd have taken steps to increase the visibility of game development as a potential future for girls. A number of professional organizations for Women in STEM fields are doing the same thing - and helping further by explaining to folks at the EU - using small words - why dumbing down the presentation of the industry is not the correct way to attract more girls.

Another important factor is the games themselves - having more diverse games out there will attract more diverse future developers. There's still a rather high percentage that present women in such a way that playing them feels like interrupting someone else's private time with a crusty sock, and the reliance on proven IP during the recession produced a high preponderance of soldier games, but the new Indie rush (and the futility of trying to be a third party in the CoD/Battlefield war) looks hopeful for diversing things up again.

Another thing that's going to cause problems are the likes of gamergate and the very visible public harassment of Jade Raymond, Jennifer Hepler, Laurie Penny et al - people scared of the fans won't want to work for them. But right now gaming and its "nerd"-media brethren have some very powerful pop culture icons on their side: Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Joss Whedon, and Sir Patrick Stewart, to name a few. Such powerful benevolence surely has to have a rebalancing effect.

I don't know why it's so important to humans that we mirror others of our gender, but we can see time and again that we do, so every woman in STEM or the games industry who becomes visible to the kids out there has to be a good thing.
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