Boston Globe Reports on Sexism in Gaming Development
“If you are a woman in the industry, there are all these little signals that you are not part of the club, that this is not your tribe. After time, it wears you down.”
This was a disturbing quote in a interesting Boston Globe article yesterday, by a female game developer, who happens to also be the cofounder of a gaming studio called Green Door Labds. Marleigh Norton is her name, and she went on record with the Globe talking about some of her experiences as a female in the heart of the gaming community. And clearly, it’s not all pleasant.
The article went on to narrate the culture of the industry and how it seems to not only unfairly treat women as sex objects when it comes to their images in games, but also in the economics of gaming-development.
In the culture of development, women makeup only about 11 percent of game designers, and programmers are even a scarier number, which is about 3 percent. When you compare that to graphic design, as the Globe did, females make up 60 percent of the work force in that industry.
Today women make up about 47 percent of all gamers, but one can argue that stat was much lower in the 1990s and 80s. And because of that, many females who are the workforce today, might have not wanted to go into this industry. And as time goes on, more and more women will gradually become a higher demographic in the gaming workforce. Maybe that’s true, only time will tell.
However, there is still some shocking evidence that sexism exists in the culture of video-game development. The biggest incriminating stat of this assumption is the fact that female programmers earn on average $10,000 when compared to males. And it’s a tad higher for women designers, which is about $12,000.
As a blogger who has attended numerous video-game conventions and publisher parties, I can tell you first hand that women are not treated fairly in the industry. When I’ve had sit-downs with developers, or had interviews, it certainly feels like 99% of them are men. And it’s not a coincidence that the stats above are pretty close to my perception.
In fact, many times when I interact with a woman from a publisher, a majority of the time they’re in the PR department. And even scarier, they tend to be pretty by most guys’ standards. Is that really by chance? Probably not. But to be fair, many industries, especially in entertainment, that have a PR department, the females tend to be “eye candy.” Remember, the first face the press sees in a company is generally someone in PR. So it would be unfair to just alienate gaming publishers.
But imagine if the gaming industry would be the first to eliminate that judgement.