Video games have traditionally been thought to be largely for boys and men. However, recent statistics have revealed that women make up almost half of today’s gamers. This is a huge indicator that the number of female gamers is increasing, and it could change the status quo in video games.
With more women showing interest in video games, many also want to take the next step in becoming game developers. However, the game industry is still traditionally male-dominated.
Let’s take a look at women in games and what can be done to create a safe space for women to thrive in this industry.
We know that women are pushed out of pursuing gaming from a young age, and that there are gender stereotypes that this field is not for them. Thus, fewer females start a career in gaming and as a result, they become a minority gender in university courses, which subsequently affects the workforce.
Gender inequality remains a major unresolved issue where there is a tendency for female game developers to be treated unfairly. For example, when their work is valued less than equivalent work done by male teammates. Unfortunately, this is the hard truth.
For all the increased awareness about the representation of women in games over the last decade, we can only wonder how many people out there in the industry genuinely want to fix this issue.
Gender inequality cannot be solved by just being aware of the issues but taking no action. Furthermore, generalizing that all males are harassers is not right either.
Some men believe in equality, and they make an effort to improve things by inviting more women to speak at events and educating themselves on how to make their workplaces safe for both women and minorities.
The only way to make a difference is for more people in the industry, regardless of gender, to care and take an active role in making the game industry a better place.
In 2017, I met up with other women in the industry and became part of the Malaysia-Singapore (MYSG) Women In Games community. Since then, I have actively encouraged the female students from UOW Malaysia KDU’s Bachelor of Game Development program to meet other female game developers, discuss these issues, and gain relevant industry advice from fellow female developers.
With the increasing number of girls and women entering the game development workforce in Malaysia, I, along with three other women (LeeYing Foo, Priya Kulasagaran and Nabilah Raihan), felt the need to establish a Women in Games community in the country.
And that was how Women In Games Hangout (WiGout) was founded in 2019. WiGout aims to provide a safe space for women and under-represented folks in games and foster a healthy and supportive community to enable these developers to thrive.
We wanted to create a platform where anyone, especially women, could reach out and share their problems.
Educators have an essential role to play in the steps towards gender equality and diversity in the industry. We can begin to change the culture by encouraging the next generation to respect women, support equality and promote diversity.
It is suitable for students to know what to do if they experience or witness abusive comments or threats while playing video games, working on game projects, or at the workplace where they are interned. The critical point here is to educate the students that everyone deserves to feel safe.
We hope WiGout will grow into a strong community that will keep women and under-represented folks safe.
If you’re interested in continuing your tertiary education in a Degree in Game Development programme, one of the best places you can do so is at UOW Malaysia KDU.
UOW Malaysia KDU aspires to foster high-quality talent who are familiar with the production processes and understand what it takes to create great games in these three areas.
Under this 3 year programme, students will learn about new technologies such as 3D graphics, animation, game mechanics, game user interface design, game software development, artificial intelligence (AI), and interactive design. So drop your enquiry here!
Ng Yiing Y’ng
School of Computing and Creative Media
UOW Malaysia KDU University College
WiGout official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wigout.msia
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