Women as Outsiders in the Video Game Industry

Leah Burrows for The Boston Globe:

The billion-dollar video game industry is growing quickly with the explosion of mobile gaming, but women remain outsiders. Female game characters are hypersexualized, and female workers are frequently subjected to unequal treatment, harassment, and hostile atmospheres. At last year’s industry convention in San Francisco, for example, one company hired topless models for a professional networking event. Others sponsored parties with S&M themes.

The effects of this frat boy culture are captured in glaring industry statistics: Women account for only 11 percent of game designers and 3 percent of programmers, strikingly low even when compared with the broader fields of graphic design and technology, where women make up about 60 percent and 25 percent of employment respectively, according to surveys.

Not even speaking to the numbers, but in terms of the anecdote that’s above, that’s not even a problem of sexism per se. It’s a problem with people who don’t know how to act as civilized, polite human beings and not make other people feel uncomfortable. The phrases “topless models” and “professional networking event” shouldn’t be in the same sentence unless it’s a stripper or porn convention we’re talking about.

Speaking as an outsider to the industry as a whole, the studios and publishers that perpetuate and allow this kind of behavior should be ashamed of themselves.