Who Designs Video Games?

You have to look very heard to find one or two female designers of video games. This industry and tech-business are male-dominated world-wide. I feel better today when I read an article by Sarah Jane Stratford in Slate on the subject that has been of my concern for a long time, “Video Games as Applied Design – Without Women”. Stratford noted that there are very few women in designing content, production, and trade of video games. The field is totally male-dominated. We have to find out why this happens. I had spoken to many women in development groups during the past ten years suggesting to them that women, who are interested in changing bad female images in the mass media ( as sex objects, victims of sexual violence, passive spouse of macho men, beast of burden doing double work-load without complaining etc.) should get into this lucrative business. It is shocking that women comprise barely 12 percent of the creative force in video gaming. And that the number is declining. This phenomina reminds me of my experience when working as Regional Information Officer for UNICEF in Asia in the 60s and 70s. Headquarters’ senior staff told me to find two Asian boys to be featured in two children’s photographic-books to be printed by a New York publisher. I sent a letter to New York asking why don’t we choose one boy and one girl instead of two boys. I received a reply from a senior officer of UNICEF that the publisher said that book that focus on girl’s life-experience do not sell well. Therefore, he rejected my suggestion for gender-balance in this project. I had to comply and to go out and photograph two boys: one from Indonesia, one from Thailand: Ketut, Boy Woodcarver of Bali, and Galong, River Boy of Thailand. My experience in this co-production of the two children books shows how important it is that in getting girls and women to be focused by the media required a change of attitudes of not only women but also the decision- makers of the establishments. If we don’t want future video games to be designed and produced mostly by the men, we will have to first, encourage more women and girls to learn this technology, secondly, to create new kind of games that are fun for both boys and girls without male aggression and prejudice against women, and thirdly, find new source of funding from progressive male and female investors and fourthly to convince corporate managers that games produced by women focused on their adventures are as marketable as those of the boys. It is a gigantic task to imagine the impact that this new venture could make in every region of the world.

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