Women in Games, a UK-based not-for-profit organisation with a worldwide influence, today launches the Women in Games Manifesto.
This Manifesto, deeply rooted in the spirit of the suffragist movement, embodies the collective resolve of Women in Games to promote fairness and gender equality in the games and esports sectors.
Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman explains the importance of the Manifesto’s launch: “50% of the world’s population is women, 50% of players of video games across the world are women and girls, yet only approximately 23% of those who work in the games industry are women.
“Women working in the industry are less likely to be in game development and programming roles and less likely to be in senior positions. And only a few studios are owned and run by women.
“There are serious challenges in the games sector, with toxicity against girls and women players online and sexual harassment at major corporate events, along with discrimination in the workplace.
“72% of female players experience toxicity online with girls and women encountering dark and threatening behaviours – often being aggressively quizzed about their gaming skills, which often leads to more violent verbal abuse and threats of rape
“Women and girls are detrimentally affected by these harmful actions and environments. And, along with the negative press that follows, this affects their mental wellbeing and discourages girls and women from pursuing an education or career in games.
“This picture needs urgently repainting. The time for change is now.”
THE WOMEN IN GAMES MANIFESTO
The Manifesto presents ‘Fourteen Reasons for Supporting Women in Games’. It calls on the global gaming community to collaboratively work towards dismantling discrimination and fostering inclusivity.
110 years ago, women suffragists in the UK published their manifesto: ‘Fourteen Reasons for Supporting Women’s Suffrage’. More than a century later, women may have the vote, but there is still so much to be done to bring about fairness for women. Women in Games follows in their footsteps, in this manifesto:
Fourteen Reasons for supporting Women in Games
1 Because women have long been marginalised in the games industry, and it is past time to take action to create a fair playing field.
2. Because ‘women’s economic equality is good for business’ (UN, 2023).
3. Because advocating through collaboration and communication are fundamental tools in the struggle to eliminate discrimination.
4. Because all women working in the industry deserve to be fairly treated at all levels, from content creation to leading development teams, and from junior to senior management.
5. Because equal pay for all means equal pay for women.
6. Because in order to make the games industry a place of fair play, we must foster an environment in which everyone belongs.
7. Because to aspire to be a fair reflection of the whole world, games must fairly reflect the world’s whole population.
8. Because sexism and harassment are a scourge on the face of the games industry, and it falls to everyone, particularly leaders, to ensure the health, safety and well-being of women.
9. Because toxic play environments prevent women from participating in civilised communities of play.
10. Because women’s life experiences and professional expertise are wildly diverse, bringing more innovative ideas, developing better games and a richer, more vibrant creative culture for everyone.
11. Because in order to achieve fairness, the tangible barriers that prevent women from entering the games industry must be removed.
12. Because embracing gender equality and diversity in games and the games industry will bring about a sustainable future.
13. Because education, training and professional development for girls and women are essential to bringing about a fair playing field.
14. Because – to summarise all of these reasons – a fair playing field benefits all.
WHY THE WIREFRAME IN GAMES IS SO FLAWED
Women and girls in the games community are the targets of gender-based toxicity in person and when playing online.
According to the long-running Female Gamers Survey (Bryter), such toxicity is on the rise, and as a result, women gamers are often discouraged from playing the games they love. 72% of female gamers experience toxicity in gaming, often of a dark and threatening kind; even more disturbingly, the abuse doesn’t always stop once players leave the game – some instances manifest into serious consequences outside of gaming. In the 2022 Bryter survey, 1 in 4 women stated they are reluctant to identify as a real gamer, and just 38% of female gamers feel that there are adequate processes in place to deal with toxicity in gaming.
Allegations of discrimination against women working in games and esports have continued to emerge this year – globally, and within small studios and large multinational businesses. Beyond single companies, or individual events such as at the most recent in-person Game Developers Conference, there is a prevalent culture that enables unacceptable behaviour towards women, which at its worst, includes physical threats and harassment.
Women’s representation in the game development community remains extremely low in comparison to their employment across the wider world of work – GDC’s 2022 report revealed it has declined to 20%. Other research, such as that conducted by Ukie, would suggest that in the UK it is as high as 30%, although a lack of granular understanding of the specific roles that women play across disciplines and levels makes it impossible to understand their true involvement.
Further, detailed research into women’s representation is urgently needed in order to make women’s work in the games sector visible. It is crucial to reveal gender-based disparities in the game-making process, and how women are being affected in achieving leadership roles by the ‘broken rung’ at the first step up to management.
HOW WOMEN IN GAMES PLANS TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE
Women in Games advocates for all women, girls and people of diverse gender identities, as well as transgender, gender diverse and intersex women, in order to positively influence public discourse and bring a culture of fairness and belonging to work and play spaces.
We address critical spheres of action, defined by our priority areas of focus, giving voice to a global community who support our cause and one another.
We promote the interests of our community through a vibrant ecosystem of Women in Games Corporate, Individual and Education Ambassadors.
We currently have over 1,450 Individual Ambassadors across 70+ countries worldwide, and over 40 Corporate Ambassadors and Education Ambassadors in our community of active supporters.
We hold global events designed to provide safe, encouraging and supportive networking and career development opportunities.
We produce significant publications that provide important insights into how to achieve gender fairness in the games and esports sectors.
We hold annual Women in Games Global Awards, in order to promote the achievements and accomplishments of women across the sector, and we collaborate with other organisations that share our vision, in research and development projects.
CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman added: “All of our work, which continues to gain widespread recognition, is undertaken in order to achieve real change, both in public discourse about fairness to women and in the lived reality for women in the games and esports sectors. Please join us in making change for women and girls around the world.”
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Women in Games invites participation from all industry stakeholders, including game studios, associated companies, and esports organisations. From becoming a Corporate Ambassador to making individual donations, everyone can contribute to driving Women in Games’ mission forward.
To find out more about becoming a Women in Games Individual Ambassador, or a Corporate or Education Ambassador, visit https://www.womeningames .org/ambassadors/
For details on how to support Women in Games, visit https://www.womeningames .org/about-us/donate-2/