The underrepresentation of women as characters is perhaps more pronounced in video games than in any other entertainment medium. How do gamers feel about the issue? We went to find out.
Sony is starting to do better with its AAA titles, featuring women in the leading role of 2017’s game of the year, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and in upcoming The Last of Us 2. Still, progress across the board is slow, and we’re far off equality of gender representation.
RPGs have often gotten around the issue by having the player select the gender of their character. Still, when a character is given to us, the vast majority of the time it is male. Our research shows that both hardcore and casual gamers are ready for a change.
People who sit in the middle – playing between 5-10 hours a week – are most likely to want more representation for women, but opinions are consistent across the board. A fairly encouraging majority think there should be more female characters in video games. This shouldn’t surprise us. According to The Entertainment Software Association 41% of US gamers are women. How can the industry address the demand for better gender diversity?
Women in Games
Perhaps the solution is simply to get more women working in the games industry. I spoke to David Lang, founder of Women In Games, a non-profit organisation that strives to recruit more women into the games industry and supports those who work in games.
What was the inspiration to form Women in Games back in 2009?
“I wanted to help give information to women wanting to work in the games industry by creating a dedicated website offering practicable information and advice. From very limited, first objectives the Women in Games organisation was born.”
The rise of #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement have drawn a lot of attention to the issues facing women in films and the wider entertainment industry. Have you felt the reverberations of this for women working in video games?
The #MeToo campaign has rippled into the video games sector with an increase in awareness of the need for the working environment to be safe and respectful of all staff.
Gamergate is still only less than four years behind us. What has been the most concerning or pressing trend you have noticed since Women In Games formed?
More games studios and those working in games are realising that a diverse workforce is important for creative and commercial success, but we should not pretend that there is not still a long way to go.
Lastly, what has been your most satisfying moment being part of WIGJ?
For me, I enjoy working with a fantastic CEO and super, volunteer team of board members and Ambassadors. We are always looking to progress and welcome support from anyone and everyone.