Jobhop Jobhop's blog : Women Can Make Games, Too!
When I was asked to write about this topic, the first thing that went through my head was, “I think I’m unqualified, based on the fact that I lack female organs.” But I do know a thing or two about video games and the gaming industry, and if my boss (who is, coincidently, a woman) trusted me with writing about women working in the video game industry, I should be able to tackle this! Regardless of the knowledge I already possess, I, admittedly, was ignorant on some of the finer points of women in gaming, the issues they’ve faced, and how the industry has viewed women in general.
One thing that I definitely didn’t know was that women have been involved in games since the beginning.
Carol Shaw, often credited as the first female game designer, worked with the Atari 2600 and programmed games such as 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe and River Raid. She’s also known for paving the way for women in the video game field. A few women that I had NO idea worked on games that I love are Amy Hennig (Legacy of Kain; Uncharted; Jak and Daxter,) Bonnie Ross (Halo,) and Jennifer Hale (BioShock Infinite, Metal Gear Solid.)
The list of women making video games goes on, as you may imagine, but it’s not as long as I expected it to be. Only 25% of all video game related jobs are held by women, which, considering that 50% of video game consumers are women, is a poor representation of who’s making the decisions on what to make for their consumers. I would have thought it would be natural for there to be an equal number of women in the industry by now; we’ve been console gaming for decades now, and there have been many social barriers that have been broken between the sexes in regards to accepting one’s love for video games publicly. So, why is it that we haven’t seen more jobs filled by women?
Well, the most obvious answer to me was this; regardless of the advances we’ve made socially, there are still men that discriminate against women. Last year showed us an ugly side of that with the Gamergate fiasco. The inclusiveness of the “core” gamers also try to debate that, if it’s not a mainstream FPS/RPG title that’s $60, it doesn’t count as a game. Which, as I found out, those aren’t as profitable as the mobile and casual games a lot of women gamers play. In addition, women in the field retell their stories of harassment, discrimination, and disbelief that they’re even remotely interested in a world that’s stereotypically male dominated. Thankfully, that has only strengthened their resolve to make waves and help change the industry for the better; diversity is a beautiful thing!
The one thing that was most surprising to me, though, was that a lot of women currently making video games have said there isn’t enough awareness that women can apply for these jobs, too!
Emily Taylor, a producer for EverQuest Next, says that it wasn’t until she was much older that she realised she could be working on video games instead of playing them. She goes on to say that, “I’m, not always, but usually, disappointed there aren’t more women applicants.” Knowing that this is an issue, she’s actively involved with G.I.R.L. (Gamers in Real Life,) which provides opportunities for women wanting to work in the field. I also found that Women in Game Jobs actively work with women to help them get into the job they’re applying to in the video game world. It was refreshing to find that there’s an active effort being made to create awareness!
And that’s where I want to come full circle; that women have been in the industry since the beginning, and have nothing to prove to their male counterparts. These jobs are just as much for women as they are for men, and its insanity to know that there aren’t more women in this field. To be brutally honest, the few, but very vocal, men that are stonewalling progress need to understand that they’ve been playing AAA titles made by women for years; Halo, Mass Effect, BioShock…just a few from a long list of games women have passionately worked with. Having an active and supportive community will be important in striking down the barriers that have hindered women advancing and getting the word out that these jobs are up for grabs, regardless of gender.
All of that said, I hope that, if you’re a woman with even the slightest bit of interest in working with video games, you pursue it. The video games we’re seeing still don’t quite hit the mark when it comes to appealing to women, in my opinion; look at the armor for most female characters in “pick a fantasy game,” or just the cover art for the top 5 best-selling video games this year. We need diversity, and in a bad way. I personally can only stand so much more of the same military shooter before I go crazy and play Super Smash Bros exclusively! Jokes aside, video games are still ripe for change, and, as far as I can tell, this is an area that needs the creativity, style, and originality that only women possess.
Daniel Benda is a blogger, his personal blog is Star Smasher's Lair, which has unique and insightful views in regards to the world of video gaming.
Main Pic credit WlodiIn: