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Survey: poor work conditions and sexism give games industry a bad rap

Game developers surveyed by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) believe society's negative perception of the video game industry is influenced by reports of the industry's poor working conditions, sexism in games, sexism in the workforce and the perceived link to violence.

More than 2,200 game developers took part in the survey, which gathered data on the industry's demographics, employment experience and work/life issues.

When it came to the factors influencing society's negative view of games and the people who make them, 68 percent of respondents said reports of the industry's working conditions were a contributing factor. Sexism in games followed closely at 67 percent. 62 percent of respondents named the perceived link to violence as a factor. 51 percent said sexism in the workforce was a problem, while 49 percent attributed the negative perception to the perceived link to obesity. 42 percent of respondents blamed the lack of overall diversity in the industry.

The survey results also revealed that the games industry is still male-dominated, with 76 percent of respondents identifying as male, 22 percent identifying as female and 2 percent listed as transgender or "other." The number of women working in the video game industry is up from 2009, when only 11.5 percent of respondents identified as female.

Respondents were also asked what they thought of common industry practices, such as the necessity of "crunch" — an intense work period where developers work overtime to complete a feature or product. 24 percent of respondents said crunch is necessary, while 53 percent said it wasn't. 45 percent of respondents said they received extra compensation during crunch, 37 percent said they didn't, and 18 percent chose "other."

The leading reason why respondents chose to leave the profession was because of the poor quality of life the job offered. 15 percent of respondents blamed burnout. Meanwhile, 41 percent of respondents said they stayed in the industry to earn a living. 40 percent said they were following their passion.

IGDA executive director Kate Edwards said the IGDA plans to use the survey results to better understand its members' priorities and the most critical issues affecting their overall satisfaction. It plans to use that information to help prioritize the association's advocacy efforts and initiatives.

The IGDA will release the Summary Report to its developer satisfaction survey in July.

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