So, what are the bloody results already?
As expected, the overwhelming majority of people working in the industry are men. There is however uneven distribution across the different roles. In the below tables “Mixed” refers to situations where there was more than one person in this role, and at least one of them identified as a woman. I also show the total % that is not exclusively male (i.e the sum of Mixed and Female).
As each of the 100 games was examined across 5 roles there were 500 positions in total. Of these 500 positions about 96% of these roles were occupied by men. Meaning that only 4% had women as occupants, which is a bit lower than I had anticipated (I was expecting it to be about 10%). There is a common trend that women are more likely to be present as part of a team with other men rather than independently. This means that in the overall participation rate is probably lower when measured against individual employees rather than roles.
|Gender||% of total|
|Total Not Male||4.20|
The participation rate for women as producers was slightly higher than the overall average. There was one woman who occupied the role independently (Linda Kiby, Europa Universalis 4) while the remainder were sharing the role with others. Having a woman in this role had a slight impact on the frequency of women appearing in other roles.
|Gender||% of Role|
Creative Director / Creative Designer
The Mixed/Not Male figure sits at 4% here – interestingly this is about in line with the results found in Hollywood with comparable creative roles (Directors, Directors of Photography etc). No women were in this role independently.
|Gender||% of Role|
The role of writer (excluding technical writers) sees a notable increase in the number of women present but nothing large enough to begin to challenge the overwhelming male presence. As I show in Part 3, this increase is not evenly distributed across different genres in gaming.
|Gender||% of Role|
Lead Programmer & Lead Artist
The results for both these roles were identical, and see the lowest level of participation. The result for the lead programmer is about what I expected. I had anticipated that Artist and Writer would have been the roles with the highest levels, but part of that might have been a misunderstanding of what artist means in the gaming context.
|Gender||% of Role|
These roles a very top level, equivalent to what might be considered “Above the Line” creative labour in Hollywood. While looking through the credits of these 100 games I did notice many women’s names appearing, and it would be worthwhile revisiting or expanding the sample to look at other roles, particularly within design teams (e.g level or character designers) and QA teams.
Comparison with results from other sources
(I’ll add to this list as I find more, or let me know)
There didn’t seem to be a particularly large set of data from other sources. The two main sets were from two industry bodies, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and CreativeSkillset (UK) both of which have annual reports on workplace participation. Both tended to have wider definitions of roles which generally raised the participation rates, indicating that women’s participation might be higher in other roles I’ve not looked at so far.
The IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey 2015 reports that female respondents accounted for 22% of their sample. However, this sample includes;
Those in roles peripheral to game development such as administrative support, customer support, technical support, journalists and academics [and] Those in quality assurance and testing roles
The CreativeSkillset, a UK industry body that covers (among other creative industries) game development, reports in their 2010 Creative Media Workforce Survey that 6% of those in game development or publishing identify as women.
Some research reported by Prescott & Bogg tends to suggest higher rates of participation (such as here and here) claiming, for example, a participation rate of 30% for women in the role of writing. However the report cited notes that some methodological issues would tend to inflate or over emphasise the diversity of the industry, and a broader definition of what working in development meant was in place. Elsewhere they use figures from a 2004 report by Haines Why are there so few women in games? For example, Designers are reported at 5%, Artists at 9% female participation. These (and other) figures are broadly in line with my findings.
It is worth noting that these reports all following a similar method of seeking survey participants meaning results might be skewed by the self-selection process (which is in itself a useful thing to know – people in the industry are interested in diversity!), while the method I’ve used looks at the games credits themselves, which is likely more accurate but means a smaller sample and another kind of bias could be in play (industry selecting women out of major gaming development teams).
|IGDA Developer Satisfaction 2015||22% across industry||Online here||Includes administrative support, customer support, technical support, journalists and academics, quality assurance, testing roles|
|CreativeSkillset 2010 Workforce Survey||6% across industry||Online here||Does not report on specific roles|
|Game Developer Demographics: |
An Exploration of Workforce Diversity
11% Visual Arts roles (undefined)
|Online here||Some issues with methodology which may inflate figures. Provides link to full raw data (quantitative and qualitative)|
|Gender Balance in Nordic Computer Games||15-22% across industry||Online here||Covers Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Doesn't look at specific roles in industry.|
There are a number of interesting and informative pieces of qualitative report on the experiences of women in the industry that should certainly be read alongside the quantitative data (where they don’t directly reference the sources above). Dr Julie Prescott and Dr Jan Bogg have a substantial publication record in this area.
|Gender and the Games Industry: The Experience of Female Game Workers||2013 MA Thesis concentrating on Canadian workers.|
|Gender Divide and the Computer Gaming Industry||Google Books preview||Covers work, development, representations and audience.|
|Women in Games: Experiences and Attitudes of Female Employees in the Male - dominated Games Industry||MSc Dissertation from Sweden.|