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Fighting for the 22%

Women can play video games too.

Actually, women already play video games, making up nearly half of video game consumers, and being more likely to make in-app purchases in mobile games than men. However, the myth that women aren’t involved in the video game community has allowed the game development industry to remain a boys club.

One woman working at a game development company recalled getting blank stares from her male coworkers when she asked why a female soldier in a game “looked like a porn star.” Another woman working in game development mentioned that “there is a sense that we need to cater to a certain demographic,” and that demographic excludes women.

The 22% Project, created by Gram Games aims to change game development culture by giving young women the tools they need to get more involved in the development process and end the myth that video games are men’s games. The name of the initiative stems from the shocking statistic that as of 2016, only 22% of game developers were women. This doesn’t reflect the demographic of people playing these games. The initiative believes that with the proper knowledge and skill set about game art, design, and development, women who wouldn’t normally pursue a career in this industry will change their minds, and the women’s representation will rise. Thus, they fill that education gap with workshops that introduce women to the skills they need to get involved in the industry.

In an interview, Gram Games Culture Developer Erin O’Brien spoke about the goals of the initiative. She said, “The 22% Project is an initiative to break down biases within the gaming industry and open up wider opportunities for women in the sector,” recognizing the mission of the initiative as “[ensuring] that women have the opportunities, education, and resources necessary in order to break into and have successes in the industry.”

Furthermore, O’Brien talked about the motivation for the initiative’s focus on education. “We believe that the greatest biases and barriers for women in the industry are derived from lack of adequate access to education and opportunities in gaming,” said O’Brien. She explained that the discrepancy in education access comes from societal norms promoting education about gaming development related skills to men more than they do to women, which keeps women from believing they can get involved in game development. “If, from a young age, the same doors are held open for women as for their male counterparts, then it’s far more likely that, later on in their careers, we would see a much narrower gender gap.”

Ultimately, O’Brien hopes that The 22% Project will be a resource for women today and obsolete in the future. “We want to be able to provide the support that many women interested in gaming might otherwise lack, in the hopes of closing that industry gender gap,” O’Brien said. She continued by mentioning that what they are actually working towards with The 22% Project is “an industry where initiatives like these aren’t needed, where gender equality is the norm.” Giving young women the skills they need to close this employment gap is taking a step towards creating that industry.

Featured Image by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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