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Lifestyle: Sexism in the Gaming Industry

Women in the gaming industry has always been a subject that can immediately spark some heated discussions, but lately the issue has once again come to the forefront of the community for a number of reasons. Between the awful treatment women are subjected to while playing online and the objectification of female characters in so many games, it’s sometimes a wonder that any women choose to go down this path.

You don’t actually have to look too far to see that many women have chosen this career and have been very successful. Amy Hennig is currently the creative director for Naughty Dog, and she worked as the game director and head writer for the Uncharted series on the PS3. Rhianna Pratchett is writing the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, and Bonnie Ross is general manager and studio head of 343 Industries, the company tasked with carrying on the Halo franchise.

These women have big influences on the industry. Despite this, though, women still face a shocking amount of sexism and harassment in the industry. All you have to do to get a hint of the industry situation is take a look at the Twitter hashtag: #1ReasonWhy. Since November 27, women in the industry have been sharing their experiences and discussing some of the hurdles they’ve had to overcome. You can even read about sexism in the gaming industry in some our forum discussions.

The Old Arguments Just Don’t Apply

The disparity between the number of women working in the industry and the number of men has often been attributed to the notion that “It just so happens that the overwhelming majority of people that are passionate about games are men.” Maybe there was a time when this could explain the demographics of the industry, but it just doesn’t work anymore (and it certainly doesn’t excuse the treatment women have experienced).

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 47% of all gamers are women, and women over 18 years of age are one of the industry’s fastest growing demographics. In fact, there are now more adult women playing games than boys under 17 years of age. According to those stats, males are far from the “overwhelming majority.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

Games simply are no longer a “boys only” club, but there still seems to be a strange defensive attitude about the whole thing. Just follow the Twitter hashtag to get a sense of how the industry and the gaming community in general seem to have a deep, abiding fear of change.

Change is good, though, and more women in gaming can only help to advance the industry. In an article that was partially in response to the hashtag, Siobhan Reddy, the (female) Studio Director at Media Molecule, put it best when she said:  “Games are made by teams, and teams are only as good as the sum of their parts. Think of a band, a film crew, or a theatre company. The more interesting personalities you add to the mix, the more interesting the outcome will be. Merely by internally reflecting our broadening audience, the industry stands poised for ever greater success.”

No one ever said paving a path would be easy, and we certainly seem to be in a real rough patch right now, but everyone who comes down this road later will definitely appreciate the work these women have already done.

What are your thoughts about women in the gaming industry?

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