Women in gaming
Women aren’t equal in society. And, let’s not talk about the added challenges of being a women of colour. How sad is it that this still rings true in 2018? However, with the renewed feminism movement and social media platforms allowing freedom of speech hopefully things will finally start to change for the better. The Time’s Up movement and the #MeToo on Twitter are two examples of how feminism is forcing our society to question things that have been the norm for so long. February was the centenary of the women’s vote and March was women’s month.
So we continue the year as we mean to go on by highlighting the need for equality. One area that is heavily under-represented by women is the video gaming industry. To combat this not-for-profit organisation Women in Games have been working tirelessly to support and encourage females in the video gaming industry. Fancy finding out more? Then you should head to the European Women in Games Conference at City University in London this September.
What is the conference about?
Women in the video gaming industry is something we don’t hear about enough and Women in Games aim to “…educate, inspire and help stimulate future generations…” The headline sponsor for the event will be Facebook. The two-day conference aims to change the industry by having open conversations. In the opening video, Sheryl Sandberg COO at Facebook explains how important and valuable women are in the gaming industry. She notes that women only make 20% of the gaming workforce and that women of colour are even less represented.
Aoife Brodigan who is Head of Global Business Marketing for Gaming at Facebook Europe goes further and states “…about half of gamers are women, but various reports show that about 23 percent of the workforce in games is female. Women of colour are even less represented. And women are even smaller slices of the engineering teams at game companies.”. It is time we celebrate female gamers, and not just on platforms dedicated to the industry. She adds that women face prejudice in the industry as they do in every other industry. The main aim off the conference is to encourage and support women who have a desire to join this male-dominated industry; using success stories and female role models in the industry. Sandberg states that at Facebook they get to work with exceptional female gamers every single day. The initiative doesn’t stop there — it will also work with gaming companies to set up Lean In circles and support networks across the world. The aim is to bring women together to support and empower one another to create real change in the industry.
Furthermore, they’ve created a hashtag for the campaign: #SheTalkGames. On the official Facebook page, there are success stories of women in the industry. Andrea (host, producer, and writer) is one of them and explains that we are at a time where it is more acceptable for women to say they are playing games. She started What’s Good Games because she felt that they were a lack of diversity in some of the voices that are present in video games. Andrea explains that the things she sees are more targeted towards men which makes sense because a lot of men play video games. However, the industry can do more. She ends her interview by saying that we’re going to see more female gamers in the future. These stories are is a good example of women empowering each other.
“We work every day to bring people closer together, connect them to the things that matter to them. Gaming is one of the best examples of people connecting around their interest” explains Sheryl Sandberg. Aoife Brodigan explains the reasons behind the campaign:
“Facebook has a rich history in broadening the audience for playing and building communities around games, but there’s more work to be done. Today, the gaming industry doesn’t fully reflect the audiences it serves or the stories it tells. We’re hoping to encourage more diversity in the games industry by highlighting the stories behind people who work to create the games we play. That’s why today we’re thrilled to launch Facebook’s Women in Gaming initiative, built to bring women in the games industry together to share their stories and to create meaningful connections that inspire real change.”
Empower each other — that seems to be the purpose of this campaign. To show girls that they can succeed and have a place in this industry; that they are welcome. So many women paved the way for them. While it is a good marketing strategy for Facebook to use their own female employees’ success story, it also shows that there are spaces for women in gaming. It is a relatively new industry which means that things are changing fast. In addition, I recently saw a thread on Twitter where female gamers were responding to someone (another female I might add) who stated that there was no space for women in gaming. As you can imagine she swiftly has to delete her tweets but it just goes to show how frustrated a lot of female in the gaming industry are with the sexism that they have to face on a daily basis. However, on the thread, a female gamer was explaining that in North America they organised a women-only event but only 25 applied. Perhaps this is where the problem lies? Perhaps there is space for women that are willing to put themselves forward. But is it enough? Whatever the case there does need to be more visibility and reassurance. Reassurance that if they are good their gender shouldn’t matter. This is why Women in Games’ initiative is such a good idea. It acknowledges that women are in the gaming industry and more should join because they are welcomed here. It not only empowers all women but the next generation of young girls…