A message from our CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman

Occasionally I hear murmurings about the role of Women in Games. It’s rarely to my face, of course, but I am aware of the questions about whether an organisation like ours is still needed: the claims that there are more women in games and esports than ever before – even some in leadership roles – and that, of course, we are treated equally.

Well, on this very basic level, we know those points not to be true. There may be more women in games and esports, but even the most optimistic suggestions show that women make up just 23 per cent of the games workforce, on average globally. That figure is likely to be much, much lower in roles such as programming.

Women in leadership roles in the industry are in the minority, outside of ‘traditional’ roles such as marketing and HR. And women at any stage of their career have to make big decisions about their working lives when it comes to maternity and caring issues.

These are the very basic reasons why Women in Games exists and is still required – to support women through their careers, and to help change attitudes within studios. And in the wider games and esports spaces.

And then there’s the issue of the safety and protection of women in games and esports, in the workplace, at events and online…

According toThe Bryter Female Games Survey – which has been running for five years and is led by Jenny McBean, Bryter’s Director of Research – toxicity within gaming is on the rise and is particularly prevalent in female gamers’ experience. As a result, female gamers are often discouraged from playing the games they love.

In Bryter’s 2020 study, data showed that both male and female gamers experienced similarly high levels of toxicity, showing that toxicity is an issue across the entire gaming community, not just amongst certain groups.

However, further exploration in subsequent survey’s shows, the experiences that girls and women encounter are often much darker and threatening. Sexist stereotypes and being aggressively quizzed about their gaming skills often lead to more violent verbal abuse and threats of rape. Even more disturbingly, the abuse doesn’t always stop once players leave the game – some instances manifest into serious consequences outside of gaming, including stalking on other platforms and threats of this transferring into real life. For further information on Bryters survey’s contact jenny.mcbean@bryter-research.co.uk

And few could have read the recent press reports coming out of GDC about abuse of women attending the event, without recoiling in horror:

  • Drinks being spiked
  • Women being ‘belittled and undermined’
  • Being ‘hit on relentlessly’
  • Harassment reported on the show floor
  • And two women being lured to a hotel room for a ‘pitch’ – and being assaulted

We are going backwards as an industry! None of this is okay, none of this should be happening! If you ever hear anyone questioning whether Women in Games is relevant today – this is it!

When the day comes that a woman at a global games conference doesn’t have to wonder whether she will be safe when she has a business meeting, alone, with a man – that’s when our work will be done.

Until then, we must pull together and fight to put an end to this type of behaviour being somehow acceptable. Harassment, abuse and assault of any kind online and in person must be called out! And we urge the organisers of GDC – and all other industry expos and conferences – to work with Women in Games so that we can help them make these events safe spaces for all.

Women in Games is not going anywhere. We can’t…