If you’re a woman who games, you’re probably aware of the negativity that exists. 41% of all gamers in the US are women, yet only 24% of game Developers are women. This isn’t much of a surprise considering 84% of executive positions at the top 14 global gaming companies are held by men.
Women have faced challenges and barriers in the gaming world, and despite this improving over the years toxic cultures still exist.
There’s trolling, abuse, and harassment that occur daily. Positive role models and safe communities are so important for females in the gaming industry, a place where people can be their authentic selves.
develop know that the gender gap isn’t the only disparity that the gaming industry faces. In a 2022 ESA report, over 50% of gamers were male, while 71% identified as white. The report also showed that 10% identified as Hispanic or Latino, 8% identified as Black, 7% identified as Asian, and 3% identified as other.
Today we want to discuss the challenges faced in the industry, but also highlight the positive online spaces and communities that are here to improve the environments for future gamers.
Behind the scenes
The past 10-20 years has seen games such as Tomb Raider feature more female characters which are appealing to gamers however, are these games being created by women?
Female representation behind the scenes is a problem. There’s not sugar coating this. In the UK, 14% of people working in the gaming industry are female, and these women have reported that they feel their gender is a limiting factor in their career progression.
The gender gap also scares females off from considering careers in gaming, as well as influencing the Developers and Engineers of the future – if you can’t see someone who looks like you in an industry, this is known to impact your psyche. If you’re a female in the gaming industry, speak up and make your voice heard – you have an opportunity to share your story as well as opening the gaming industry up to a more diverse talent pool.
The International Game Developers Association has been created to encourage discussions, share experiences and promotes educational opportunities – a Women in Games Interest Group has also been created specifically to help females to enter the industry.
Traditionally, games have been developed with a male audience in mind and female characters are often portrayed in stereotypical roles or sexualised ways.
In recent years, this has started to change; 2020 saw 18% of games launched featured female protagonists, and 23% of games featured male heroes – this is the smallest gap in gender imbalance recorded.
Gaming companies are waking up to the fact that 44% of their customers are female and that things need to change in order to keep up with the new audiences. Intel invested $300 million towards female diversity in the gaming industry – and they’ve committed to doubling their female workforce in the next decade.
The gaming community
Although men and women both experience abuse, female gamers are more likely to experience sexual harassment and being excluded from the game. Women in gaming often face discrimination from male gamers, which can cause toxic communities, a lack of representation, and a lack of opportunities. This in turn leads to hostile environments and individuals feeling unwelcome.
Despite these negatives that females have faced, this hasn’t stopped a new wave of female gamers from pursing their passions. In response to some of these challenges organisations have been set up to support female gamers such as Women in Games and InnovateHer.
Female streamers have also found success on platforms such as Twitch; in 2022 out of the top 200 streamers only nine of these were female. Yes, this is a huge disparity but women are starting to be included, they’re claiming their position and this number is only going to increase.
Gaming has always been played by everyone, and women have always been interested in gaming. It’s only in recent years where the industry is interested in women.
develop knows the importance of a diverse workforce, which is why we’re committed to DEI both internally at develop and for our clients. If you’re looking for Engineers to join your tech team, send us a message. We’d love to help.