12 months in which the video game industry finally started to represent women both in-game and in development
To say the video game industry hasn’t always been a model of inclusion and diversity is a bit like noticing that the sea’s wet or that Jeremy Hunt needs to be lowered quietly into a septic tank; it’s so blindingly obvious it’s hardly worthy of comment. However, unlike the sea and the Conservative health secretary, gaming has begun to change, and not for the worse. There’s been a dramatic rise in the number of women making games, and some inspiring success stories among small, independent developers. That said, it’s still a blockbuster-driven industry that employs disproportionate numbers of men, but hey.
According to a poll conducted at the end of last year, 52% of British gamers are female. A survey of the industry taken around the same time found that just 22% of game developers were women; that’s double the number in 2009 thanks to more open recruitment practices, but still tragically low. That’s a real disparity but some recognition of the medium’s shifting audience is emerging. One simple but important change is that it’s now standard to be given a choice between playing a male or a female character. Even in traditional boys-y bastions such as Rainbow Six Siege, there are female special forces operators every bit as effective at blowing holes in walls, floors and terrorists as their male counterparts. In Fallout 4, one of the year’s highest-profile titles, the sole survivor of the nuclear apocalypse can not only be a man or a woman, but also gay, straight, or robo-sexual (for those interested in stretching diversity in new and potentially painful directions).