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Examining the Pipeline: Demographics of Undergraduate Students Studying Games
by Monica McGill on 06/04/13 12:43:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Monica M. McGill, Bradley University
Amber Settle, DePaul University
Adrienne Decker, Rochester Institute of Technology

Like it or not, diversity in the game industry is undeniably a current hot topic for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s about race, gender, or something less frequently discussed like political or religious leanings, strong opinions exist on all sides. As a social issue, calls for diversity may not be as well heard in the games industry where larger profits and higher returns on investments often take priority over larger social ideals.  But multiple industries have found that a key to broadening markets and market share is to include a variety of designers and developers in the process, a fact that remains irrefutable.  

The evidence for this keeps mounting. According to a 2008 Forbes Insights report, “companies with a strong commitment to diversity on average outperformed their peers with higher profit margins, and greater return on equity and assets.” A 2009 study on the effects of diversity on company performance showed that “companies with greater racial and gender diversity performed better in terms of sales, revenue, number of customers, and market share.” And a 2010 McKinsey report found that “companies with the highest share of women in their senior management teams outperformed those with no women by 41% in return on equity and by a 56% in operating results.”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that, in a field where market share is becoming more and more competitive and exploring new avenues of growth is becoming increasingly important, this topic has become hot within the game industry. Even in 2005, the IGDA report on its diversity survey found that the typical game development professional is “white, male, heterosexual, not disabled, […] and agrees that workforce diversity is important to the future success of the game industry” (pp. 9-10). The report goes on to state that “… it is reasonable to believe that diversity does have an impact on the game industry and the products we create – either via broader markets and/or a means to attract future talent” (p. 22).

Ah, attracting future talent. That phrase certainly begs the question: what future talent are we attracting? And does the prospective talent pool differ in its composition than current game industry employees? Or are we attracting more of the same, trapped in a cycle like the one Anna Anthropy describes as "straight white developers [who] make games that straight white reviewers market to straight white players, who may eventually be recruited to become the new straight white developers and reviewers" (Anthropy 2012)?

Game degree programs at colleges and universities in the United States continue to grow and evolve. As competition and quality improves, these programs have started to become a viable pipeline for recruiting future industry talent. If the game industry as a whole becomes convinced that, like other companies across the world have recognized, that diversity matters and has an impact on market share, it’s important, then, to look at the composition of aspiring game developers at universities and colleges.

In 2012, we conducted a study to do just that—to find the characteristics of undergraduate students currently studying games. We looked at gender, race, disabilities, sexual orientation, and political and religious leanings and learned that, while some areas show marked improvement, other areas remain woefully lacking.

The Game Industry Employee Pipeline Survey

We created the Game Industry Employee Pipeline Survey in which many of the questions were taken directly from the 2005 IGDA survey “Game Developer Demographics: An Exploration of Workforce Diversity” and the 2011 IGDA Industry Survey with permission. The survey consisted of demographic questions, religious preferences, sexual preferences, political views, and disabilities. The survey also elicited information about student perceptions of diversity in the game industry.

Complete details about the methods used in this study are provided in our journal article, Demographics of undergraduates studying games in the United States: A comparison of Computer Science students and the General Population, recently published in the Computer Science Education journal. Data was collected from 261 students at four nationally-recognized universities in the U.S. The data was compared against the U.S. population as reported by the US Census Bureau in 2011 (United States Census Bureau, 2011a, 2011b, 2011c). When data from the U.S. population was not available from the Census Bureau, we reference data reported in peer-reviewed, published research.

Year of study, areas of study, and career aspirations

In the U.S., the majority of the participants (95.8%) are traditional students in the age range of 18-24, with the vast majority being full-time students (97.7%). Participants in their first year of studies made up 33.3% of the respondents, second year 26.8%, third year 19.5%, and fourth year 20.3%.

Respondents could choose from a broad selection of areas of study: Game Design, Game Software Development, Game Production, Game Art, Game Sound, Other, or Undecided. The top three areas of study were Game Design (41.0%), Game Software Development (31.8%), and Game Production (16.2%). Seven percent chose Game Art and fewer than 3% chose Game Sound. Several participants (12.3%) stated that they were undecided.

Sex, Race, and Ethnicity

The results of the study showed that 87.4% of respondents were male and 12.6% were female. According to the 2010 United States Census (United States Census Bureau, 2011a), the ratio of males to females in the general population is nearly 1 to 1, with males being 49.1% of the population and females 51.9%, clearly showing a gap in the representation of women.

Figure 1. Sex of game students in the US and the US population

Figure 1. Sex of game students in the US and the US population

95.8% of respondents were native English speakers. 259 respondents responded to the ethnicity question and 71.6% of participants identified as white, 10.2% as Asian, 6.5% as black, and 2.7% as Hispanic/Latino.

With respect to ethnicity, the data indicates that ethnicity is more equitably represented compared to the U.S. Population than the ratio is for gender (United States Census Bureau, 2011b). Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos are underrepresented, while Asians are overrepresented when compared with the US Population. 

Figure 2. Ethnicity of game students, computing students, and US population

Figure 2. Ethnicity of game students, computing students, and US population

Religious Leanings

255 participants responded to the religious preferences question, with 31 declining to specify. The majority (41.6%) of participants did not have a religious preference. 13.0% identified themselves as Roman Catholic, while 39.6% identified themselves as Christian (Other Christian, Church of Christ, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, or Lutheran). 1.5% identified themselves as Muslim, while 2.3% identified themselves as Jewish.

Compared to data reported by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the religious affiliations of the U.S. population differs significantly. Of significance, over 40% of game students claim no religious affiliation compared to only 16.1% of the population. 

Figure 3. Religious affiliation of game students and U.S. population

Figure 3. Religious affiliation of game students and U.S. population

Political Leanings

Questions about political preferences were also given. Participants mostly identified themselves as either liberal (27.4%) or did not care about political preferences (26.4%). Another large percentage (24.1%) identified with middle of the road ideologies. Only 4.5% identified with conservative ideologies. Seven participants stated other, with four (4.5%) self-identifying as Libertarian. The remaining three stated that their view depends on the issue.

Figure 4. Political preferences of game students.

Figure 4. Political preferences of game students.

Compared to the Gallup Politics poll reported in January 2012 (Gallup Politics, 2012), there are a number of extremely statistically significant differences between the political views of game students versus the U.S. population. 

Figure 5. Political preference comparison.

Figure 5. Political preference comparison. 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT)

255 participants responded to the LGBT questions, with 15 (5.9%) declining to specify (Table 6). Of those that did, 87.1% identified themselves as heterosexual. 5.5% identified themselves as bisexual with only four participants (1.6%) self-identifying as lesbian/gay. Though not shown in the table, two participants (0.8%) self-identified as transgendered.

According to the Williams Institute (Gates, 2011), 96.2% of the U.S. population identify as heterosexual, 1.7% as lesbian/gay, and 1.8% as bisexual. Compared to the population of game students, the lesbian/gay population is nearly identical; however, there appears to be a higher percentage of students who identify as bisexual rather than lesbian/gay, thereby decreasing the heterosexual percentage. 

Figure 6. Sexual orientation of game students and US population

Figure 6. Sexual orientation of game students and US population

Disabilities

Participants were asked to identify one or more medically diagnosed disabilities. This was a required field and 261 respondents selected at least one answer. The majority, 74.3%, of participants stated that they did not have a disability. Of the remaining responses, mental illness ranked highest with 8.4% (e.g. anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, depressions, schizophrenia, etc.), with 7.3% of participants stating that they have a cognitive disorder (e.g. dyslexia, ADD/HD, specific learning disability, autism, Asperger’s, etc.). 1.1% reported they had a hearing disability and 0.4% reported being mobility impaired.

A second question was posed to those respondents who indicated that they had a cognitive disability to identify the one or more cognitive orders that they have. Of these, 5.7% stated that they had Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and 1.1% stated that they had a learning disability.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011c), 78.7% of the US population do not have a disability, compared to 74.3% of game students, and 6.3% of the US has a mental illness, while 8.4% of participants do.

Blind and partially sighted constitute 3.1% of the participants and 3.3% of the population. Deaf/hard of hearing constitute 3.1% of the general population, but only 1.1% of the game students self-identified with being deaf or hard of hearing. Unfortunately, due to how the data is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, categories do not match the categories in the survey, and thus data cannot be compared.

Summary

The results from this work provide new insights about the game industry pipeline. In many respects the results of our study align with the results from the 2005 IGDA survey of game industry employees and with information available on demographics in the science and engineering (S&E) workforce, and in the computing workforce in particular (S&E Indicators, IGDA 2005). In the S&E, computing, and game workforces, women, blacks, and Hispanics/Latinos are underrepresented and Asians have a higher presence than the general population.

What does this mean for the game industry? At this point, it means that in the short term, we are filling the pipeline with essentially the same types of people that are currently in the industry.  If we want to change the demographic makeup of the industry, it is incumbent on the industry (and the burgeoning academic institutions directly supporting them) to start the quest for change.  Without a concerted effort, the industry may not have a diverse group of skilled graduates from which to choose and the face of the game industry may not change. The path, after all, of least resistance is typically the path taken.

We leave our data for your consideration, and we invite the industry to decide whether a diverse workforce is important to increased market share and profits. For those industry leaders who believe it is, the next logical step is determine how to expand diversity in the pipeline.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge and extend our appreciation to the following for their time and resources in shepherding the IRB process at their respective institutions and recruiting students for participation: Briana Morrison, Southern Polytechnic State University; Jacques Carette, McMaster University; Mark Eyles, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; and Siobhan Thomas, London South Bank University.

References

Gallup Politics. (2012). Conservatives remain the largest ideological group in U.S. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/152021/conservatives-remain-largest-ideological-group.aspx

Gates, G. (2011). How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf

IGDA Curriculum Framework: The study of games and game development. (2003). Retrieved October 20, 2012 from http://www.igda.org/sites/default/files/IGDA_Curriculum_Framework_Feb03.pdf.

IGDA Curriculum Framework: The study of games and game development. (2008). Retrieved October 20, 2012 from http://www.igda.org/wiki/images/e/ee/Igda2008cf.pdf.

IGDA International Game Developers Association. (2005). Game Developer Demographics: An Exploration of Workforce Diversity. Retrieved October 15, 2012 from http://www.igda.org/game-developer-demographics-report

IGDA International Game Developers Association. (2011). Game Industry Survey 2011. Retrieved December, 2012 from http://www.research.net/s/IGDA_Industry_Survey_M2Research

McGill, M., Settle, A., and Decker., A. (2013). Demographics of undergraduates studying games in the United States: A comparison of Computer Science students and the General Population. Computer Science Education. Vol 23(2) 2013.  

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2008). U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

Princeton Review. (2012). Top game design programs. Retrieved October 15, 2012 from http://www.princetonreview.com/game-design.aspx 

Science and Engineering Indicators. (2012). Chapter 3: Demographics of the S&E Workforce, National Science Foundation. Retrieved September 2012 from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c3/c3s4.htm

United States Census Bureau. (2011a). Age and Sex Composition: 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

United States Census Bureau. (2011b). Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf

United States Census Bureau. (2011c). Prevalence of specific measures of disability among individuals 15 years and older: 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/sipp/disab10/table_A1.pdf

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2009). Annual Report on the Federal Work Force: Fiscal Year 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2012 from http://eeoc.gov/federal/reports/fsp2009/

 



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Comments


Ramin Shokrizade
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Is there any information available about acceptance/rejection rates of college applicants in these disciplines? It might help to see if our academic institutions are the first line of bias or if they are acting to improve the situation. I certainly feel we need more diversity in our studios, and I tell every studio I visit this. Female gamers are under served with gender neutral or female positive products and they potentially have larger spending budgets for games than their male counterparts.

Daniel Accardi
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Hi Ramin,

I'm also inclined to wonder at what biases creep in if you're only looking at self-professed game development majors, versus the actual constituents of the game industry. I'm sure there are plenty of people - since until recently, this was the only route - who studied programming, economics, literature, or something else before moving into game development. The very basis of people choosing a "game design education" already suggests some pretty strong socioeconomic factors.

That said, it certainly doesn't change the fact that more diversity is preferable, and direly needed.
--Dan

Monica McGill
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Hi Ramin,

That would be an interesting area to look at it. We are going to continue to look at the reasons of "why", now that we have a snapshot of what is going on. We are also starting to systematically review how others are broadening participation in their disciplines.

Monica

Monica McGill
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Daniel,

We certainly agree. In our paper we fully acknowledge this. What's interesting is that we looked at the undergrad game students and compared that with the 2005 industry data, since that is all that is available. We can presume that most in industry who completed the 2005 survey did not come through game degree programs, since there were few in place at that time and prior. And, still, the gender gap is still the same. Weird, eh? Something else must be going on.

I believe you are right on target with the socioeconomic factors as well. It's something that we must consider as we continue our research.

Monica

Bret Dunham
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Unfortunately most of the readers here will fall into the "all white male" category so many of our replies will be either dismissed or regarded with high suspicion by pro diverse groups. That being said I was wondering what the cost benefit ratio is for promoting diversity in the games field.

The possibility of creating that next "new" thing does improve just by the nature of random experimentation (either through a new platform OR new view points based on diversity). But how does one quantify that probability? In the real world we have budgets that are not limitless. As such you want to put your money where you receive the best returns.

I don't want this to sound like no investment should be made recruiting new blood into the workforce but rather focused efforts that can be quantified. From there you will have working data so help achieve more lofty goals.

Monica McGill
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None of your replies are being dismissed by us, for sure. One can't have an honest academic discussion by doing so.

Cost benefit ratio is another great area to look at. I know that Microsoft, Google, and other tech companies, as well as other major Fortune 50 companies understand that there is a payoff. Some of that data is locked down, though. I definitely would like to know more about this as well, having worked in industry and for the government prior to coming into academia as a second career.

As far as the typical white male game designer capturing the normal highs and lows and experiences of others that are not like them and reflecting that in a game? Wow. That would be for another blog post. :-D Trust me, the games that *I* personally want to play, the ones that float in my head, have not yet been made.

Part of our continued research is looking at recruitment efforts that have paid off in such other related disciplines like computing and other STEAM fields. We do know that there will not be one magic, silver bullet. A low-cost, high-impact solution would be ideal.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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"Unfortunately most of the readers here will fall into the "all white male" category so many of our replies will be either dismissed or regarded with high suspicion by pro diverse groups."

I am sad that you think this is how discussions like this play out...

Bryan Provencher
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White male checking in - personally I'm glad that diversity has become a broader discussion in our industry, and I'd like to see the world of development become more diverse as it progresses. I don't think there's a human institution that couldn't benefit from accepting people with open arms regardless of background or outward characteristics (but rather by the content of their character, as a champion of equality and acceptance once said).

Games as a medium have a lot to gain from this. At their core, games are engines by which we generate and impart experiences to others - it only makes sense to have a developer community built on a broad, deep, and varied well of human experience from which to draw from.

Luke ParkesHaskell
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I wouldn't have minded seeing these demographics compared to overall college student demographics, particularly race and religion.

Monica McGill
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Yep, this would definitely be good to know as well. We'll add that to our list of things to do. :-D

We did look at gender, and as you might already know, female enrollments are now much higher than males, at 57%, in colleges.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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I agree. Religion and political inclinations are the top two I'd like to see (as in general younger people tend to be more liberal, so it's not fair to compare game dev college students to the whole populous).

Adam Bishop
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This was my thought as well. I would expect almost any group of young people to be less religious than the general population because younger people tend to be less religious than their parents or grandparents, for example. That's not necessarily indicative of trends in game development so much as trends in a particular age band.

Lars Doucet
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Really glad to see a diversity study that looks beyond the 3 most common checkboxes in these sorts of things (Race, Gender/Sex, Sexual Orientation).

Belonging to a minority religion, having non-mainstream political views, and most especially having a disability can serve to alienate someone to varying degrees, sometimes just as much as being a minority in the "big three," categories even if they look like "white male heterosexual" (or whatever) to the casual observer.

To be sure, all these diversity features are important, but it bothers me a little when "diversity" is boiled down, and thus I'm glad to see such an in-depth report :)

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Lars Doucet
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I assume PoC == "People of Color" ?

I think one of the things that's usually true is any sort of minority status that is immediately visibly obvious, and that you can't hide, opens you up to more discrimination, across the board -- Skin color and Gender/Sex are almost always in this category. Orientation can sometimes be hidden, and of course feeling social pressure to hide it is it's own topic altogether.

I think SWM (of which I am one) could all do well to remember the effect of "wearing minority status on your face", even if they'd like people to be more sensitive to broader categories of diversity.

Religion enters into this depending on how your religious practice and/or lack thereof "outs" you -- dietary practices, dress, etc, are the most common outs I've seen (besides just being vocal, which is a dead giveaway). This is obviously an issue for clergy (traditionally dressed Eastern Orthodox priests, Muslim Imams, Jewish Rabbis, etc, get a lot of negative attention, and are often confused for one another by vigilantes), but it affects laypeople too.

Of course, sometimes it's easy to hide one's religious views (in America a Christian, an Atheist, and a Jew can all be visibly indistinguishable), and sometimes it's not.

Disability can be a much more subtle thing. The world just isn't designed with disabled people in mind, so the whole privilege thing comes in. Usually the challenge I face with disabilities doesn't come from malice or determined opposition so much as people not understanding my difficulties even exist. And if you have two arms and two legs, many people assume you don't count as "disabled," and/or that you're a hypochondriac.

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Monica McGill
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Great feedback, guys!

Regarding disabilities, there are both physical and physiological (such as depression) ones to consider. Both are becoming less stigmatized, which is good.

As for religion, I haven't been able to find a lot of research in this area with respect to games. I'd be interested in hearing people's experiences on how they feel that their religion affects their work in the industry.

Alex Covic
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People in the industry, now in their late 30s, 40s and 50s came from all sorts of professions and backgrounds? Ironically, "diversity" is something equally inherent (different nationalities, social, cultural, educational backgrounds), while still being in this homogeneous trap (predominantly young, mostly white, males?).

If this study makes decision makers in the industry more aware of how to invite more talented, less represented, demographic groups, into their companies, more power to you!

Gary LaRochelle
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I often hear HR people say that they want people who "fit in". I'd be interested in finding out what "fits in" means.

Is it a question of "Who's joining" or "Who's being let in"?

Monica McGill
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Cultural assimilation, maybe? Drawn together by a common interest?

Good point on the "fits in" term. For those studying computer science, it has been shown that culture is a huge part of why women don't pursue it as a field of study.

Gary LaRochelle
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True that most of those who study computer science are male. But games are more than just a bunch of lines of code. The art side of game development does have a healthy proportion of female talent. One place I worked a third of the studio were women. They were working not only in the art department but also in production management.

On a side note, one of the best programmers I ever worked with was a very talented female. There wasn't one of my stupid ideas that she couldn't make come to life.

Llaura Mcgee
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Really interesting research.

While this is outside your scope, I feel like diversity in background is only one half of the challenge. The other being diversity in interests and influences which is just as homogenous right now.

Monica McGill
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There's definitely a common theme running through these comments.

Many game industry job descriptions include being "passionate about games" as a requirement. If one has a diverse life outside of games with many other interests, is that viewed as not being "passionate" about games? It seems to me that having people with a variety of interests outside of work could be very beneficial when it comes to generating creative, original ideas.

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Gary LaRochelle
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Spot on, Matthew.

If "passionate about games" is a requirement for landing a job, you would expect to see more game developers with many years of experience being hired nowadays.

From what I have seen, if a studio is less than five years old, they tend to hire people under 30 so as to maintain a "cool hipster social club" atmosphere. And these studios just pump out copies and skinner games. If a studio is older than five years, they tend to have a more diverse and experienced team and strive for developing more original games.

If a studio is looking to fill some empty spots or expand, there are more than just fresh graduates to choose from. Just ask 520 ex-Zynga employees.

Monica McGill
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Wow, interesting comments, fellows. They're making me think.

Michael Joseph
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We often hear the argument:

"The primary audience for our games is heterosexual, white, and male so of course we want to target that audience!"

which almost sounds like "bigotry makes good business sense" but really just reveals a lack of imagination. Thinking (at least more often) in terms of inclusiveness is probably part of the equation that makes diverse workforces more innovative.

Being concerned about diversity in hiring means you have people at the helm who are more likely to be concerned with diversity in gaming experiences. And that desire to break the mold can drive innovation.

I realize diversity of gaming experiences is not the same thing as diversity in the workforce. You can have a diverse workforce and still find that pressure exists within the business environment to create the same types of games and for the same reasons. I think this is something worth emphasizing. We can NOT assume that innovation derived from a diverse workforce means products and services created by these businesses are friendlier to more diverse customers.

But in the context of games at least, isn't that part of the goal?

The more we move from the hard narrative to the soft narrative the more options for diversity within game worlds there can be. But there still has to be a recognition that the cost of say implementing more character customization options for a game like Red Dead Redemption is worthwhile. Second Life type customization but with actual games built around them....

Monica McGill
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Good point. I've heard stories from within the industry that support exactly what you state.

Tynan Sylvester
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Huh. Interesting analysis. Interesting to see that Muslims are overrepresented in games. I suppose it makes sense; I think I read somewhere that American Muslims are better-educated and more prosocial than the general population anyway.

It's too bad there aren't more conservative voices in the cohort - that would be a good piece of intellectual diversity to add in if we're serious about including all viewpoints. Building an industry of people who all share one political orientation isn't much better from building one where everyone shares the same reproductive organs, I think.

----

I wish that they had compared the students against the U.S. population in their age group. As it is, we're looking at comparisons between a group almost entirely concentrated in late teens and early 20s against people up to 80's and beyond. This confounds a lot of variables.

As a simple example, on the graph it looks like game students are far more politically liberal and apathetic than most Americans, when in reality I know that much or all of this difference is just because younger people are more liberal and apathetic than older people, and game students are young. I wish I could tell how the students compared against their age-controlled peers in politics.

The same goes for percent bisexual, Other Religion, and left/right political orientation especially.

Monica McGill
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Yes, it was very difficult to find the exact data to strip away confounding variables. We mention this in the full paper. We'll continue to look at this as well, and maybe run the study in another 3 or 5 years for comparison.

tony oakden
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I work in an academic institution that specialises in game development. Id say that our student demographic pretty much matches that in the survey. Personally it makes me sad we don't get more diversity. But I don't think it's for want of trying. We interview everyone who applies for a place and places are never decided on race, gender or religion. I think our society has fairly deep seated views on what sort of career is suitable for each demographic and that either consciously or unconsciously people follow those views when they look for careers. For what it's worth I don't think things have changed much over the past twenty years. When I first started work in a AAA studio we had 20 male programmers and one female. Twenty years later I'm teaching a class to program computer games and I have 20 male students and one female...

disclaimer: these views are mine and may or may not reflect those of the institution I work for

Monica McGill
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Ditto here. Culture is certainly a huge component. I am thankful I was raised by parents who thought I could do anything I wanted, just like my brothers.

Ramin Shokrizade
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I was born and raised in very progressive Santa Monica, CA. At some point I decided not to go into the military and instead went into nursing school. Since I started college several years early, I was the youngest student in my nursing school in addition to being the only male student. I just assumed I would be treated fairly like I was in the rest of my classes.

This was the furthest from the truth, and despite being the 2nd ranked student by GPA (#1 was a very close friend whose father was a doctor) I was forced from the program for non-academic reasons after complaining about repeated sexual harassment from both students and instructors. This was a good lesson to learn early (I was 19).

I would imagine from the perspective of the women in the school, things looked pretty normal, they could not even see the harassment because it looked normal to them. I would suggest that when a woman steps into a class where she is the only woman, and she will be in that situation for years, that woman is almost certainly going to be harassed by her peers (or even instructors) and it may even be public without anyone reacting. It takes more than motivation to overcome intensely non-homogeneous environments like this.

Monica McGill
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Ramin,

Yes, unfortunately, the discrimination cuts both ways, in fields that are predominantly men as well as predominantly women.

I also have consciously be aware of what I say in the classroom as well, watching that I don't go overboard with culturally-geek references. Not everyone may fit into that mold, and I don't want to drive those students away.

Robert Barker
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I went to a comic book convention once. The white artists drew white characters, and the black artists drew black characters, and so on, and so on. Furthermore, some of the main characters seemed like grandiose self portraits of the lead artist.

Not criticizing, just observing. I think it's only human nature to draw from what you know when creating a world and characters that live in it. And perhaps it's also human nature to avoid creating something that draws from what you don't know. As a white male I would have trouble, for instance, writing a convincing book about growing up in a fictional Latino household.

More diversity amongst game designers/writers would lead to a larger variety of worlds for players to explore. I don't know if that would necessarily lead to more revenue or market share, but it's definitely a plus in my book as a gamer; and that has to count for something.

I'm not sure if more diversity would have an impact on other areas of game development, such as game programming. Code is code, and it's bound by the cold, hard rules of logic and computer science.

Monica McGill
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Good points. Our experiences really do shape us. One would hope that these experiences would lend themselves to more variety in games. But, as earlier posters commented, attempting "different" in the industry may not be the welcome path.

Mike Williams
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Turn around while you still have a chance!!!!

Monica McGill
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Haha. I can't. Damn principles!

Jennifer Bradshaw
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Dear Monica,

Thank-you for the enlightening article. I'm now very curious regarding what kind of games float around in your mind.

Would you happen to have a Twitter account I can follow?

Monica McGill
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Thanks. Yes, you can follow me at @virtuallyFine.


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