Words by Chechiwa Nyangu
The gaming industry has long been male-dominated. This is true for most countries and regions, and this is not surprising as the industry has for years pandered to the male demographic, targeting them since their boyhood years. Because of this, boys are more likely to want to work in games it seems more feasible to them as they have plenty of representation. They have plenty of people to look up to in the industry.
This is not to say that girls cannot be inspired by men, actually, a large number of women and girls in gaming first learned how to play from their brothers. But the danger here is that unless they see other women doing it, most women and girls tend not to take gaming seriously as a career option, it is something that they can do for fun and to recreate but most do not think that it is realistic to even consider a career in games. There are a large number of women who are very passionate about games, and many of them would love the opportunity to work in the industry.
This is why representation is important, to encourage participation from women and girls who for any number of reasons may not feel like they can get into the industry. Fortunately these days it is a lot more common to see women participating in gaming, where careers include but are not limited to streaming, game development, professional gaming, owning a game store, game design, animation, artwork, interpreting and translating, software development, game programming, writing, composing music, and audio engineering. There is so much to explore while working in the industry and artistic, technical, and logical talents are very important in developing a game.
There is also the perception that plagues the industry that one has to be super obsessed with games to work in the industry. It does help, passion is always a good thing but considering that the majority of women and girls have not been around games enough to even take an interest in it, much less pursue activities involving the industry, this perception can be detrimental to industry growth. We all have to be introduced to new things at some point and for some people the introduction comes later in life, when they didn’t even think that it was something they could be interested in. Take for example a female casual gamer – or she may not even be in gaming at all yet – who sees other women doing great things in the industry and making waves, her interest in the games will be piqued, she may want to learn more about it and at the very least she would have known that a career in gaming is viable. By documenting inclusivity, more women, and people in general, will want to try out games and see how they feel about it at least and since most times people do find the type of game that works for them, this would just go to show that gaming truly is for everyone!
Inclusivity and documenting inclusivity helps everyone as more people will get a chance to discover their passion for gaming and the industry will then continue to grow more organically without having to pander to anyone. And having more people with different stories to tell, people from different regions, people who have different life experiences, can bring a sense of realism, more creativity, and new experiences which are vital for the design and development of new and existing games.
Many organisations and publications are working towards documenting inclusivity in the industry to guarantee continued growth in the industry. One of these organisations is Crystal Dynamics, an American video game development company co-founded by women.
Crystal Dynamics authored a book documenting 100 women in gaming. As of Women’s Month 2021, you can download the book for free here: https://crystald.com/news/100-women-in-gaming
Crystal Dynamics is also donating 200 physical copies of Women in gaming: 100 Professionals of Play to Girls Make Games to aid their efforts in supporting the next generation of game developers.