Women and Diversity In Gaming

Organizer: Chris Bowen, Microsoft

Johnny Richardson's Notes:

Women seem especially attracted to jobs in art/design in games and not engineering/etc.

Diversity in the workplace is not the same thing as creative diversity. We need to make that distinction.

Making games for women or made by women? What is the effect?

  • Current marketing methods for girls is panned by the whole group
  • Everything is “pink-ified” instead of actually made for women
    • Barbie, cheerleader, etc.
    • New PSP for girls

Girls seem more into role-playing

  • They like managing things, learning, social atmosphere
    • Character development, situational environment
  • The Sims is huge w/ women because of this
  • FPS games are inaccessible for everyone, not just women
  • Gamepad
  • Strong women professional gamer groups
    • e.g. PMSClan on Xbox Live (offensive name, possibly), Gamer Girlz (I think)?

Webkinz tangent

  • We seem to have delved more into marketing for kids as opposed to women
  • Eastern vs. Western culture with how kids can behave online/allowed chat mechanisms and censorship

Casual gamer no longer casual?

  • Mostly women
  • The average gamer
  • A lot of “casual” gamers play more than 30 hrs a week, much more than ”hardcore”
  • Facebook games
  • Everyone is a gamer whether or not they call themselves one
    • Anyone who calls themselves one is hardcore
    • It’s all about how you identify yourself

Some games are possibly intimidating to girls

  • Space marines shooting things
  • Women might be into that if a hardcore gamer
  • Publishers don’t know what makes a girls game
    • Developer in room says that Dora the Explorer is hard to work on if you’re a woman because it’s got nothing to do with being a girl
    • Purely pink-washing!
  • Basically brainwashed by marketing
    • And it WORKS!
  • Studios not willing to experiment
  • Want/need to attract the parents
    • Parents are ones buying them (blue for boys, pink for girls)
      • EXCEPTION: sometimes girls want the pretty/pink-washed game?

How to attract more diverse developers?

  • More women in industry would help to alleviate stereotypical marketing
  • Somebody claims that way more males play games than women. Everyone disagrees.
    • Clarification: marketing $$$ spent on males (18-24 is the holy grail)
    • Fact check time: according to a study conducted by the ESA in 2008, women now comprise 38% of all gamers
  • Letting women know that there’s opportunities for them in the industry
  • IGDA Women in Games SIG
    • Just launched Game Mentor Online (not just for women but ideal for better reaching out)
    • Right now only open to students
    • Newsletter
    • Trying to do a Women’s Indiecade Competition, work w/ Girl Scouts on technology
    • Showing women in the Preservation SIG; founders of industry like Lovelace, etc.
    • Natural progression/generational?
  • All women have been on computers post-1980s
  • Women will just want to start to be in industry more because they play games more
  • Grandparents don’t know the games, just whether or not they look like they’re for boys or girls
    • BUT if you’re a parent who plays games, you might know better
  • Academia definitely helping getting women into the industry
    • Take a course, etc.
    • Discovering what’s out there
    • Working with schools
    • Hiring women for projects, etc. (MIT is hiring lots of undergrad engineers for Game Lab research)

Gender of protagonist

  • Females are always busty, sexual, and brutal
  • Beyond Good & Evil had a “real” woman character, so did Oni
    • Not marketed properly, however
  • What would happen if a game like Heavenly Sword were marketed specifically at women? Would it be offensive?
  • Fallout 3 has a lot of female characters who have a lot of actual conversations (not related to just talking about guys)
  • We talk and chuckle about the awful Dante’s Inferno marketing campaign
    • Turns women away from industry?
    • Booth babes AT GDC!!!
  • What about going to expos and more public gamer events to educate women about possible jobs?

For further review:
Cassell, J. and H. Jenkins, "From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games", Boston, MIT Press, 1998

Bryce, J. and J. Rutter, “Killing Like a Girl: Gendered Gaming and Girl Gamers’ Visibility”, in F. Mayra (ed.) Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings, pp. 243–55. Tampere: Tampere University Press, 2002.

Winn, J., & Heeter, C. (2009, July). Gaming, Gender, and Time: Who Makes Time to Play?. Sex Roles, 61(1/2), 1-13. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9595-7

Session Audio

From Johnny Richardson:
.mp3 Audio, 4.48mb (Ok to decent quality, may need to crank your volume)

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