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Brendan Greene: "I [only] have one woman on my team, and I hate that"

At the View Conference, PUBG's creator discussed hiring for diversity, and why education will be the best long-term solution

PUBG Corporation's Brendan Greene has urged the game companies to target education in their push towards bringing more women into the industry.

Speaking at the View Conference recently, the creator of PUBG said that recruitment guidelines where he is based in Amsterdam have made it very difficult to improve the diversity of his team -- a 25-person unit, which he leads as director of Special Projects.

"It's really hard," he told the crowd at View last month. "We cannot tell a recruiter that we want a particular type of person. We will give them a job description, and we will tell them 'this is the kind of team we're building', but we can't tell them we want a diverse selection of people.

"It's really hard. We cannot tell a recruiter that we want a particular type of person"

Brendan Greene

"They will just give us stuff. And as a result I have one woman on my team, and I hate that. [My team has] people from all over the world, from Ukraine, Russia, America, Canada. It's an international crew, but all male."

Greene has worked with PUBG Corp's human resources team to make progress within the restrictions on what a job advert can explicitly say -- focusing on the presence of gendered language, or anything that might alienate female applicants.

"I've looked at my job descriptions, trying to figure out if we have a male-oriented job description. But no, [they had] heavily feminised wording, right?"

Greene added: "You try and try, but I'm reliant on the CVs that I get through the door... And the quality of the candidates we get is not at the stage we want. It sucks, but we are trying."

Greene was being interviewed by Jan-Bart van Beek, animation director at Guerrilla Games, which is also based in Amsterdam. He echoed the same concerns, and described the push for gender balance as "an interesting challenge" for the games industry.

"It's fine to want 50/50, but right now there isn't that diversity in the industry. We have to start earlier"

Brendan Greene

Van Beek attended an event for women in animation that took place earlier in the View conference, in which the group stated their goal of 50/50 gender representation "in a couple of years."

"And I was just thinking, looking through those numbers -- because they want to go from 5% to 50% -- to do that, you need to grow your whole industry two times over," Van Beek continued. "If we wanted to do that at Guerrilla, it would be ten years before we got to that point.

"It's interesting that they set themselves such harsh challenges, instead of letting it more naturally grow. We're hiring more women than men at the moment, and that's maybe because there are more women applying, and more women coming out of the schools."

Greene acknowledged the role that a game like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds might play in the diversity of applicants. While he leads a team that doesn't work on PUBG, he admitted that its audience is "mostly" male, estimating the proportion at between 70% and 80%.

"I think most shooter games are probably the same," he added.

However, both Greene and Van Beek maintained that the problem runs deeper than an individual game or specific job adverts, and the solution must be implemented at the same deep level.

"But that's the problem, I think," Greene said. "It's fine to want 50/50, but right now there isn't that diversity in the industry. We have to start earlier. We have to be going to the schools and say 'Listen, do you want a job in games? Then please come... There's something for you here within gaming. Come and be a part of the fun.'

"It's fine wanting these diverse standards now, but unfortunately there just isn't that diverse a work-pool to draw from. We have to start earlier. We have to start getting out there and contacting education, and changing it at that level.

"And then, hopefully, in a few years we'll start seeing the results from that. But it's a challenge."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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