The Problem

The games industry is not utilizing half of the human population’s talent. More people are playing video games than ever before, and the mobile gaming industry is predicted to reach $54 billion by 2015, double by 2016, and triple by 2017.

Facts at a glance:

Game Developers Percentages

Figure 1. Graphic representation of the video game development workforce in 2014.

The Blog

“She Builds Games” aims to diversify the video game community by reaching out to underserved minority developers, so that big tech companies are better suited to make all developers feel welcome in the industry.

Every month we’re going to post a new interview with an awesome female game developer. From indie game devs, to AAA coders and designers, you’ll hear their stories. Games made by women tend to perform well with both men and women alike, according to Kotaku journalist Patricia Hernandez.

The Opportunity

“Diversity needs to be a source of strength and competitive advantage for us. Our customer base is increasingly diverse.” – Microsoft’s Human Resources Manager Lisa Brummel recognizing the problem plaguing minorities in technology and articulating it in her company email sent October 3rd, 2014.

Figure 2. The gaming market is a rapidly-growing billion-dollar industry.

Figure 2. The gaming market is a rapidly-growing billion-dollar industry.

The high-level importance of teaching video game development to unreached audiences is evinced by several statistics. Overall, the online gaming market is estimated to reach $115 billion dollars with 1.2 billion mobile app users by 2016. Mobile games are the most popular App Category, as shown by the fact that 70-80% of all mobile downloads are games. An unbiased system would reflect the same demographics as its user base.

Figure 3. Predicted revenue growth for the video games industry

Figure 3. Predicted revenue growth for the video games industry

Having options and diversity creates a richer experience for all ethnicities and genders. A more inclusive industry would be more progressive, and games built by women could function as a gateway for girls to become interested in tech fields.

When the majority of the people working on game development teams are men, the team’s best efforts often produce a game that closely matches the male perspective and expectations. Unfortunately, not only are there fewer women in the development side of games, but women are much more likely to leave the industry than men are. About 56% of women who start in the tech field leave by midcareer, which is twice the rate of men, largely over a culture of sexism in the workplace, Harvard Business School research found.

Figure 3. Source: National Science Foundation, American Bar Association, American Association of Medical Colleges Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Figure 4. Source: National Science Foundation, American Bar Association, American Association of Medical Colleges. Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

The Solutions

One of the best ways to increase the percentage of female players comes from the aspect of authorship, which is to say, having their voice represented in the writing of the game. Another solution to the problem is interventionist work such as the insertion of women into the industry.

The Girls ‘N’ Games conference, held on May 9, 2006, at the Experimental Digital Arts (EDA) space on the UCLA campus brought together numerous researchers, designers and industry professionals from Europe, Asia and North America to discuss and review current trends in game design and marketing in a private gathering.

Researchers, Designers, and Industry Professionals from Girls ‘N’ Games conference, 2006:

  • Associate Professor Yasmin Kafai from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.
  • Brenda Laurel from the Art Center of Purple Moon.
  • Jen Sun from Numedeon Inc.
  • Mary Flanagan, Hunter College, NYC.
  • Tracy Fullerton, University of Southern California.
  • Moderator Jill Denner of ETR Associates.
  • Mimi Ito from the University of Southern California’s Center for Communication.
  • Justine Cassell of Northwestern University.
  • Holin Lin from the National Taiwan University.
  • Daniel James from Three Rings Inc.
  • TL Taylor of the University of Copenhagen.


“Women can step into development and create games for new generations, but diversity is essential as well. By relating to both men and women, researchers and developers can analyze cross-gender play, which is invaluable to the growth of games, as concluded by the wide range of panelists at the Girls ‘n’ Games conference.” — Beth A. Dillon, Gamasutra journalist.

In conclusion, giving gaming different voices that speak to different audiences is important because it’s good for business, and because it’s the humanistic thing to do. Females are undoubtedly drawn to gameplay.


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