Facebook has launched its biggest initiative yet to encourage more women to join the video games industry.
The firm has been an active player in this area in recent years, sponsoring various women in games events and conducting its own projects.
Today, it launches Women In Gaming Stories, with the hashtag #SheTalksGames. This will include a website featuring 20 videos of women across the games business in various disciplines, including Marketing & Sales, Development & Engineering, Hosts, Producers and Writers, Editorial & Design and HR & Culture. The videos will feature stories from women of their experiences in the games business.
"The response we're getting is that it's great to have a home for a lot of these interviews, and to provide role models for young women," Aofie Brodigan, head of EMEA Gaming marketing at Facebook, tells GamesIndustry.biz.
"That's what has been missing, maybe. A place where you can go and watch real stories of women working in the industry, through the different careers. And then connect with these women, which can help spark new ideas on how we shape the industry together. So the response has been very positive, and they're really excited to see where this can go.
"Right now we have recorded 20 interviews. Our goal for 2018 is to get to 100, and to show the diversity of careers that is open in the industry. So we're looking for exciting and engaging stories, and we'll be going out into the industry to look at other disciplines that we can cover as part of this programme."
Facebook is also sponsoring this year's European Women In Games Conference, championing women at events such as Gamescom, and teaming up with Women In Games Jobs on new research projects. It's a positive thing in an area where the games business needs some help, but why did Facebook feel the need to get involved?
"It is rooted in our DNA at Facebook," Brodigan explains. "If you look at the Facebook web games platform, which has been going for over ten years, it has been a really strong part of our DNA to help build and expand the communities that are interested in gaming. And if you look at some of the top games on that platform, you can see that female gamers were a significant portion of that.
"So it has always been in our heritage, if you like. What we are trying to do with this new initiative is find ways to expand that further, and look at who we can partner with to help move the conversation on.
"I think there is a lack of awareness about all the different careers that are open to these women"
"We felt that we have a real opportunity to personalise the stories of women in the gaming industry. And for us, Stories is key to inspiring young women to enter into the industry. What we are really looking to do is show the diversity of careers, and the opportunities that are open to people in the industry today. We have been working with some really incredible women, right across the gaming industry, and we really know there are some powerful stories that we can help share.
"Our goal is to promote diversity within the industry, encourage more women into the industry and into leadership positions, and really look at how we can encourage partnerships in this space to move the conversation forward."
She continues: "If you look at the really interesting report from Newzoo, we know that nearly half of gamers today are female. And yet when you look at other workforce statistics, like the IGDA survey, you can see that only about 23 per cent of the workforce is female.
"So for us, we are looking at how we can help elevate the stories of women in gaming so that we can drive that number forward."
Brodigan has also targeted specific areas of the games business where the representation is even lower than 23 per cent. And that it will be teaming up with other games businesses in the future to help educate and improve the diversity situation within the business.
"I think there is a lack of awareness about all the different careers that are open to these women," She continues. "That was one of the things that really motivated us from the start. Even if you look at that figure of 23 per cent of an overall number, if you then look at some of the statistics beneath that - whether it's engineering, design roles, creative direction - you see a lack of women getting into those roles. We're looking at how we showcase the diversity of career options available.
"But we also want to highlight some of the positive aspects, because there has been a lot of negativity in the press headlines in recent years, and that negativity can put a lot of young women off from entering the industry. What we want to do is showcase the opportunities that are open today, and also give women the chance to voice their real experiences. Some of their challenges, but also their aspirations on how we can work together to change the industry for the better."