Since video games debuted, women have played an integral part in the growth of the industry. Whether as developers, programmers, writers, voice actors, designers or in any other professional role related to gaming, women have played an essential role in creating some of the most popular gaming titles in the world.
There are also more female game players than ever before. According to Statista, while 38% of gamers identified as female in 2006, in 2022, the number reached an all-time high since tracking of 48%.
Despite their prevalence as gaming consumers, women have, unfortunately, been underrepresented in the gaming industry. According to nonprofit organization Women in Games, women represented 6% of the games industry workforce in 2009. While that number grew to 22% in 2020, there’s still a long way to go, as women represent only 16% of executive teams in gaming.
The good news is, professionals with non-male gender identities are continuously playing a bigger role in gaming development. The following are three ways women are transforming the gaming industry.
1. High-Profile Advocacy
Established in 2005, Women in Games International (WIGI) is a nonprofit organization that provides women, nonbinary and femme-identifying gaming professionals with resources and educational opportunities to grow their careers in gaming. WIGI offers a mentorship program for everyone from aspiring gaming professionals to managers who want to become gaming executives. WIGI members can access conferences, workshops, panels, workbooks and other assets that help women in gaming grow their careers, wherever they are on their journeys.
Another organization celebrating diversity in gaming is the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). With roots dating back to 1994, the IGDA facilitates more than 160 chapters and special interest groups related to game developers. Anyone from students to executives can join and access resources, news and events related to game development.
And, as mentioned, the nonprofit Women in Games is a network of activists working to advance the role of females in the gaming industry. The site features news, resources and events related to women in gaming. The American Gaming Association also publishes research on diversity in gaming, including gender diversity.
2. More Seats at Developer Tables
In terms of game development, this is one area where women are finding a bigger share of influence. According to Statista, in 2014, 76% of game developers identified as male. In 2021, 61% of developers identified as male, while 30% identified as female, and 8% identified as nonbinary, genderfluid/genderqueer, two-spirited and/or transgender.
That female/nonbinary representation has been steadily increasing over the years, which is encouraging news for job seekers and current gaming professionals. Many gaming studios have created diversity initiatives with aims to increase representation in their workforces. Electronic Arts launched a “broader impact” report in November 2020, a comprehensive look into gaming workplace culture. Since then, gaming studios including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games and Unity have followed suit.
Electronic Arts also has a commitment to pay equity and promote fairness in the workplace. Other companies, such as Take-Two, have launched diversity statements that outline goals and commitments to fostering equitable workplaces.
While most gaming studio diversity reports illuminate the disparity between the presence of male leadership and female leadership, they’re a step in the right direction toward offering transparency and accountability to improve gender representation.
3. Gaming Professionals Unionize for Better Conditions
Until May 2022, no American gaming studio had a unionized workforce. After Activision Blizzard was sued in 2021 for issues including sexual harassment and psychological trauma inflicted on multiple women working at the studio, news of inequality in the gaming industry united workers and led to the creation of the Game Workers Alliance, part of the Communications Workers of America. The union was created by workers at Raven Software, a video game studio under Activision Blizzard that’s responsible for the Call of Duty series.
Since its creation, the Game Workers Alliance has played a role in representing diverse workers in the gaming industry. It also has a mission to set a fair and equitable standard for all industry workers, including just working conditions and wages for women and nonbinary gaming professionals.
Throughout the industry, attitudes about women in gaming are positive. In 2022, the International Game Developers Association found 87% of gaming professionals said diversity was somewhat or very important to the workplace, while 90% said it was somewhat or very important to the game industry. As attitudes continue to embrace diverse perspectives, expect women to play bigger roles in advancing the industry.
There’s So Much Potential for Women in Gaming
The Chris Hood Digital Show, “The game industry is constantly evolving, and it’s constantly changing. There’s new roles that are popping up all the time in response to different technologies that are being developed or different narrative approaches.”
The high-profile lawsuits and creation of advocacy groups and gaming unions in recent years have spotlighted the need for diversity in the industry and opened up more doors for women in gaming.
Whether you’re a gaming studio that wants to diversify its workforce with high-quality talent, or you’re a professional looking for a gaming job, ggLocators can help. Contact us to join our gaming studio network and find talent or job opportunities in your industry.