Why Change is Slow

This article suggests that women are an underserved segment of the gaming population:

Jennifer Brayton, an assistant professor of sociology at Ryerson, studies gender and gaming. She says since men are dominating the development field, future games will cater towards men, disregarding the needs of women.

Toronto’s International Academy of Design and Technology offers video game design and development classes. When Brayton sat in on the classes, she was the ony woman in the room.

“They actually believed that games are designed by men for men. And when you have schools that are teaching these gender norms, then the future programmers are internalizing these belief systems, which will be reflected in the games they develop in the future,” Brayton says.

“You will need to change the gaming culture and the work environment as well, because if you don’t change the main problem, then bringing in women can just cause them to conform and buy into the flawed system that already exists.”

Do designers really believe that games are made by men, for men? If so, then it’s unfortunate that they aren’t more inclusive. I don’t think that designers are militantly anti-woman, and I am sure that they are not trying to be sexist, but when you’re immersed in such a culture, it may be difficult to step away and see thngs from a different perspective. Maybe they don’t think that they are being sexist at all. They don’t think about these issues, because being part of a minority group isn’t a concern for them. They don’t have firsthand experience of what it’s like, for example, when everyone online assumes that you’re of a different gender than you really are. This is why games are still primarily made with men in mind, whether on purpose or as a result of normative cultural forces, rather than from a gender-neutral approach.

[Via Kotaku]

  6 comments for “Why Change is Slow

  1. 8 March 2006 at 16:31

    I think from the POV of games designers it’s more “by me, for me and I happen to be a man” rather than intentional. As you say, I doubt they’re actively trying to exclude women.

  2. nefarious unknown
    9 March 2006 at 06:24

    Emm why are you so damn bitchy lately. Your blog can strike a balance dont you think?
    hehe picky reader

  3. 9 March 2006 at 06:56

    I am not aware of any “bitchiness” contained in this post. At all.

    Admittedly, a few posts back I might have come across as irritatied, however expressing irritation is a far cry from being “bitchy”, which is a term I would use for commentary arising from malice or spite. I certainly can’t think of anyone in gaming that I feel malicious towards.

    As for the issue of balance… I don’t feel that I’m being particularly unbalanced, unless of course you mean that I’ve been posting about Guild Wars far too much in the past three months. I do admit that the GW posts have been numerous, but I enjoy the game, so… I guess I’ve been “unbalanced” in that regard.

  4. 9 March 2006 at 07:00

    Do designers really believe that games are made by men, for men?

    Designers are influenced by producers, who are influenced by market economics, which indicate that the majority of game purchasers are males between the ages of 16 and 30-something.

    I think that sucks, but it’s the current state of the economy.

    You want to see this changed, as I do? The answer is, unfortunately, not trying to change the mentality of the designers (although that’s a worthy pursuit). It is, instead, to show the CEOs that women spend as much money as men when it comes to gaming. Yes, game purchases by women have been steadily increasing, but apparently it’s not at the point where it would influence those at the top of the ladder who make the ultimate decisions about what games to produce.

    Unfortunately, the side-effect of one implementation of this scheme is that by purchasing what’s already on the market (what else is there to purchase?), the statistics are skewed to assume that consumers actually *like* those purchased products as they are, and companies will use that information to justify creating and recycling the same type of games.

    So, I imagine it would have to be a combination between an effort to show that women spend as much money as men on these products and that women want something different, despite those purchases.

    Sounds like a fun project.

  5. 9 March 2006 at 07:35

    Psyae: I agree. There are a lot of interlocking complexities which keep the market as it is. Unfortunately, I think conventional thought goes against the idea that women are spending as much on games as men are. ESA research shows that 43% of gamers are women, which is contradictory to conventional thought. The ESA study was very broad in scope. It doesn’t indicate what genres these women are playing — e.g. what proportion are playing “casual” games versus games that are generally seen as appealing to men (e.g. most mainstream videogames).

    So yeah… More research is in order.

  6. 9 March 2006 at 07:53

    Statistics from the research you linked:

    Forty-three percent of game players are women.
    Ninety-five percent of people who make the actual purchase of computer games and 84% of people who make the actual purchase of video games are 18 years of age or older. The average age of the game buyer is 37 years old.


    The problem here, and what is lacking, is that there is no analysis of what gender the game purchasers are. I don’t have the statistics to show it, but from my own experience, I’d say that a great number of women who play games are playing games purchased by men. The games women play are likely either used second-hand (guy buys, tries, gets tired, gives to girl), ripped (pirated, etc.), a gift, or purchased by a man who also buys his own copy so that both can play the same game.

    Indeed, statistics are always skewed, depending on who is gathering and who is interpreting the data, but skipping over this vital part of the overall equation is detrimental to the objective of designing and producing more women-friendly games. (I don’t like that term, “women-friendly.” It sounds almost condescending. Is there a better way to say it?)

    Yep, more research. But… who is sponsoring the research? So far, it’s just the same companies that are perpetuating the male-dominated game development market: (with a *few* exceptions)


    But, seems you and I are on the same page and in agreeance, so I’ll quit my tirade now. :)

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