#1ReasonWhy: Truths from Women in the Gaming World

by | December 2, 2012
filed under Feminism, Pop Culture

by E. Cain

#1reasonwhy exploded on twitter late last month in response to a question tweeted by videogame designer, Luke Crane, who asked:  “Why are there so few lady game creators?” Using the hashtag, female game developers, writers, critics, and journalists have been sharing their stories of sexism and exclusion in and by the video game industry.

I was put onto this by a friend who promised it would blow my mind. And yes, mind blown.

Once you weed through the trolls (and there are many, unfortunately) you will find stories of senior female game developers being paid less than their male colleagues and passed over for key positions; women at game conferences/conventions being mistaken for a “real” developer’s girlfriend; and no shortage of women who are tired of making games about war, cars, and football.  For highlights, see this link here.

And, if you find yourself needing a pick-me-up after perusing these posts, check out a complimentary tag created by author Rhianna Pratchett:  #1reasontobe. It collects reasons women have for working in the games industry. For highlights, please see this link.

This isn’t the first time misogyny in the video gaming industry has been making headlines, just google the name Anita Sarkeesian. A feminist journalist originally from Toronto and an avid video gamer, Anita launched a fundraising campaign last year to produce a series of free online videos on female stereotypes in video games. In response, she faced horrific cyber-bullying from gamers online, including the creation of a disgusting game called – if you can believe it – “Beat up Anita Sarkeesian.” At the time, much attention was focused on misogyny as a troubling theme within gaming culture, and Anita did raise the money from her videos (can view here), but otherwise little changed.

According to Mother Jones, 88% of employees in the gaming industry are men and that the perceived core audience is young men aged 18-25. But here’s what some may find surprising – according to a study by the Entertainment Software Association, young men make up only 18% of actual game players. In reality, 47% of game players are adult women and they represent industry’s fastest-growing demographic.

In this light, not only is it unjust that there are so few “lady game creators” – as Luke Crane put it. But it’s also bad from a business perspective given that women are the actual target audience. Now that we have thousands of women coming forward and sharing their experiences, it’s time for the industry to take steps to rectify the problem.

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)

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