Video Game Industry Not Just For Men Anymore
January 14, 2013

More Women Making, Playing Video Games, According To Reports

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The role of women in the video game industry is changing, with the number of female employees hired by developers and publishers tripling over the past three years, according to recent media reports.

Those figures, cited by Malathi Nayak of Reuters in a Sunday report on progress towards gender equality in the industry, originated from digital entertainment recruiter VonChurch and are indicative of the growing role of women in creating software for computers, game systems, and mobile devices.

“With women comprising just over 1 in 10 in the video game workforce, the industry has a reputation for being among the most testosterone-fueled of the traditionally male-dominated technology sector. But thanks to the mobile revolution, industry executives say that's changing,” Nayak said.

“With smartphones going mainstream and delivering gaming to a new, broader population, publishers and developers are keen to tap an audience beyond young males,” she added. “And, not surprisingly, as women have explored a growing range of mobile games on Facebook or other platforms, they have discovered the allure of working in the industry.”

Sheri Graner Ray, who has worked designing games at firms like Electronic Arts and Sony Online Entertainment, first entered the industry in 1989, Reuters said. At that time, less than 3-percent of all employees working on video games were female.

Today, that number is up to 11-percent, Nayak reports. Graner Ray said that those figures did not represent a lot of growth over a span or more than two decades, but she said that she expects the percentage of women working with developers and publishers “will rise as more women assert themselves in the industry, educational programs take hold, and mobile games continue to flourish.”

A similar phenomenon is currently ongoing in Germany, where women are becoming more involved in both making and playing video games. A syndicated report published last week by Business Insider focuses on Irina Galtsova, a developer with Hamburg-based Intenium.

Intenium, the article reports, is a company that develops and publishes games with a female audience in mind. The author mentions that 20-percent of Intenium´s employees (18 of 90) are female, and they cater to an estimated audience of 11 million game-playing German women.

Despite such figures, “Gaming still conjures up images of young men glued to flickering screens for hours on end, fueled by energy drinks and waging online battles unto death in such ℠shooters´ as ℠Call of Duty´ or tactical war games like ℠Starcraft,´” Nayak said. However, the paradigm is beginning to change, both in the US and worldwide, thanks largely to social media gaming and “the advent of affordable smartphones and tablets.”

“Individuals who had never been tempted to plunk down hundreds of dollars to buy a gaming console found themselves enticed by a whole new genre of games,” she said. “These days, gaming might just as easily mean launching attacks on pigs in ℠Angry Birds´ or slicing produce with swiping motions in ℠Fruit Ninja´ -- games that have mass appeal“¦ That's partly why more than half of America's social and mobile gamers are women, according to research firm EEDAR, while they comprise just 30 percent of those who play hard-core violent games like Microsoft's ℠Halo 4´ on game consoles.”

It is that growing audience that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is hoping to reach by funding an upcoming video game, featuring a female lead attempting to overcome climate change.

According to the Washington Examiner, the game, which is entitled HERadventure, is being developed at Spelman College in Atlanta and will feature “a black alien female superhero delivered to Earth to fight global warming” on her home planet, they said.

The university describes HERadventure, which was awarded a $100,000 grant from the agency, as “a science fiction-based, multimedia platform project that interweaves virtual worlds, digital and social media to create a gaming and storytelling experience.” They add that it “not only entertains but tackles social issues that permeate the daily reality of many women.”