Women, Sexism, and the Gaming Industry
Nearly half the gaming population is women, so why aren’t there more women working in game studios? Some say it’s because the gaming industry is male dominated and also sexist. However, Gabrielle Toledano, the head of human resources for Electronic Arts, wrote an article on how she feels problem is women stating “Rather than blame the majority just because they are the majority, I believe the solution starts with us – women.” She explains that game companies want to hire more women, but there just isn’t enough out there wanting to get into the field.
So why are there not more women out there wanting to get into the gaming industry? I think it has partly to do with the fact that women think differently than men — this is the very reason why the industry wants them. It seems that the process of creating games just doesn’t appeal to a lot of women. The National Center for Education Statistics shows that women mostly get degrees in the human science, healthcare, and education fields; while men hold 82% of graduating population for computer science and 83% for engineering and engineering technologies. However, that creates the question of is it really just the way we think differently that makes women want to go more into health fields and stay away from computers, or are there outside factors?
Everyone wants to fit in; especially teenage girls. When it comes to women playing video games it just isn’t seen as the social normal yet, so many women still choice to be an anonymous gamer. In fact, before I started writing for MTB I was very much to myself about gaming, and it was more or less because I just didn’t want to deal with the harassment that goes along with being a female gamer. However, over the years and especial after my first PAX East experience, I came to realize that the people who work in games are very nice and they all treated me with respect.
Please understand I’m not trying to say women are the only problem. I think another part of the problem is that people still see games and the gaming industry as a boys club. As things stand now if feel that when it comes to dealing with every day people we just need try to ignore their harsh comments; the internet can be a very cruel place. I realized that it was either immature people or people who just feel threatened that make these comments. Sadly there will always be people out there to make snide comments. Especially in this age of social media, everyone needs to remember that these people making the comments don’t really know you and try to not take comments as a personal attack, and also be mindful of all the Trolls out there.
There are still those instances when people end up going too far with their comments, like the case of Jade Raymond, producer of the first Assassin’s Creed. If you don’t know the story, Raymond is an attractive female producer who spoke for the game and many people started focusing on the fact that she is pretty and then the rumors started. One of these rumors was that she was posing for Maxim, and then came the very degrading web comic. This comic made Raymond to be a stupid woman who would do whatever she had to get men to buy her game; which was never the case. In situations like I feel that both the HR and the PR department need to get involved to try to improve the situation. When there are some people making rude comments it’s easier to just shrug it off, but when it is an ever ending onslaught of attacks from many people it’s a different story. It is exactly cases like this that lead to women not wanting to get into the industry.
People see the industry as being sexist, but who are these sexist people? Industry professionals or people looking from the outside looking in? Back in November on Twitter there were people using the hashtag #1reasonwhy to share their stories on being a woman in the games industry. Sure, there were some good points on how some games don’t have good PR and some serious cases of sexual harassment. However, the majority of the tweets I saw were women who are in the industry dealing with people (mostly men) who are not in the industry.
For a start, women need to feel more comfortable and open about gaming. Even though gaming is becoming vastly more mainstream, we still don’t see many women stepping out into the spotlight. In recent years, though, we are seeing some women speaking out as gamers such as Morgan Webb and Felicia Day. Both these women come across as strong, powerful women who aren’t afraid to show their passion for games, and do so in a professional manor. I feel that if more women expressed their love of games and gaming, then perhaps future generations won’t hold themselves back. Which in turn might lead to more women becoming interested in creating games.
If the gaming industry truly wants more women to get into the field that they should go to high schools and create internship programs. Maybe even do open houses for younger kids, because if you experience something when you’re young and love it you are more likely to want to go into that field. Or perhaps just reach out to their female fans and let them know of the opportunities that are out there. I think if the industry wants more women they might need to do a little leg work, but they are out there.