Figureheads discuss video game industry inequality

Video game industry figureheads and members of the game development community have commented on the ongoing sexism issue within the industry and what it will take to achieve equality.

In a recent Post Gazette article, industry veteran Sheri Graner Ray, the senior design adviser for Schell Games and the former executive chair for Women in Games International as well as the author of the book Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market expressed her desire for the equality push to take a different tack.

Graner Ray said the movement for equality needs to evolve. Twenty years ago when drawing power from the anger and shared fury of "being treated pretty crummy" was enough is no longer viable to achieve equality balance, she says.

"It's had its place and time, but now it's time for us as a movement to grow up," Graner Ray said in the report. "We have to OWN our successes. We need to find those women and put them in the public view and lift them up so it becomes just as normal to see a woman keynoting a game conference as a white guy."

The piece points out the variances in game development salaries between men and women.

A Game Developer magazine annual survey among the industry shows that in 2012 male programmers earned over $10,000 in excess than their female programmer counterparts with equal qualifications and experience.

Male artists on average earned $79,000 where female artists earned on average $53,000. Of the programmers surveyed, 97 percent were male and 87 percent of the artists were male.

"Every single study shows that diversity improves the bottom line with the company. Bar none," Graner said of gender imbalance in game development studios. "There's no question about it."

"There are projects in our industry that go too long and try to do too much. I often think if there were more women in the game industry, things might be a little saner," CEO of Schell Games Jesse Schell said to the Gazette.

Drew Davidson, director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University told the Post Gazette that historically hard core games were made by young guys for young guys.

He said that as game designers shift away from the combat and fighting themes and explore more more verbs "it's opened up more possibilities for more people to want to play."

Graner Ray pointed out that Tomb Raider had a strong women following when it was first released and then they got "silly" with her design which was lost them a number of women gamers.

She believes that Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot back to Lara Croft's roots will be a way for the company "to recapture part of that market."

Rhianna Pratchett, Tomb Raider's lead writer was the creator of the recent #1reasonwhy hashtag on Twitter which brought the discussion of sexism and gender equality in the industry to the forefront.

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