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ESA scholarships promote diversity in the game industry
ESA scholarships promote diversity in the game industry
October 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

October 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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Helping bring more diversity to the game industry, the Entertainment Software Association Foundation has awarded 30 scholarships to women and minority students aspiring to become game developers.

A number of developers have previously commented that the Western game industry is too homogeneous and dominated by white men. They've argued that developers and publishers need to attract a more diverse pool of people in order to bring new perspectives to the game-making process, and appeal to new audiences.

Anna Anthropy (Dys4ia) recently described the typical game-making cycle as "Straight white developers 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."

The ESA Foundation's scholarships help promote the idea of bringing more people with different backgrounds to the industry. It's given each of the 30 recipients -- which include graduating high school seniors and college students -- $3,000 toward a degree that will prepare them for entering the entertainment software industry.

The recipients are pursuing degrees in a wide range of areas relevant to the game industry, such as graphic design, computer science, animation, programming, digital entertainment, and software engineering. You can see the full list of scholarship recipients here.


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Comments


Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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I see a good gender diversity in everything but programming - many female testers, artists, designers, managers. As for racial diversity, Ive always seen a diversity roughly equal to the diversity seen in the local population (in Canada anyway). Now, aside from the issues regarding "equality", I have a hard time believing that a 3000$ scholarship will convince any women to change career paths, especially considering the lengthy education and personal pre-disposition it requires.

Joe Wreschnig
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"I see a good gender diversity in everything but programming"

Research does not bear this out (except that it is worse in programming than elsewhere). http://gamedeveloper.texterity.com/gamedeveloper/fall2012cg#pg38 for example says 3% of programmers, 13% of artists, 11% of designers, 16% of producers, 7% of audio developers, and 13% of testers are women. They are universally paid less than men, often drastically so.

It is possible that you're seeing some hyper-local difference from the average - which really just means, everywhere else is worse and programs like this are even more necessary.

It's more likely that you're victim of well-documented psychological effects like in-group bias or out-group homogeneity bias, where people (particularly in positions of privilege) see themselves or the status quo as a neutral state, and thus you see "good gender diversity" when there's only 10-15% women because you cognitively balance them against explicit extreme sexist positions rather than the reality that the other 85-90% *are all men*.

"I have a hard time believing that a 3000$ scholarship will convince any women to change career paths, especially considering the lengthy education and personal pre-disposition it requires."

The $3000 isn't about convincing them to become game developers. They already want to do that. It's about compensating for the structural barriers we "can't" (meaning collectively won't) move fast enough to tear down, and it's about pleading with them to not let people like Chris Fisk or Kyle Redd or Maurício Gomes or any of the other racist and sexist jackasses here on Gamasutra or elsewhere in the industry/community scare them away.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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It'ld be interesting to see localized statistics.

"The $3000 isn't about convincing them to become game developers. They already want to do that."

No they dont, not statistically. My computer science department didnt get more than 5% female applicant, same with the resume I see.

The article above states that the goal of the scolarship is to "promote the idea of bringing more people with different backgrounds to the industry", not to give compensation for hardships that the person may or may not experience, or for hardships that a different person of the same gender/skin color might have experienced.

I would like to add that, in my humble opinion, there are more important things to a person's background than gender and skin color. Im "white" but my background is very different from an hypothetical "white" person from the US, just like plenty of people have a similar background to mine but have a different skin color. This just reinforce the idea that people with different gender and skin color need to be treated differently, and I find that harmful. My son is of mixed heritage and I would rather have him grow in a world where he's not treated differently than me or his cousins because of his darker skin color. Even if that mean him not getting a special scholarship.

Kyle Redd
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Joe, I'm so touched you're thinking of me. You're the very first person to ever refer to me as either racist or sexist, despite my longtime fondness for other such bigots like Dan Savage, Tracy Clark-Flory, and Joan Walsh.

Jennifer Dowding
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As a woman in the industry I will say this: I went to an all-female high school (in Canada) where although we were encouraged to speak our minds and study hard we were never once offered more than a basic keyboarding class in a computer lab. I took a couple of computer networking classes at another school because I was interested in computers, but no scripting language was taught. Our guidance councillors asked us if we were interested in medicine or teaching - one girl I knew took engineering in university and the councillor told her she was wasting her intelligence.

"Girls aren't interested" is a cop out - everyday at my company which makes games for everyone we have lots of female applicants and even more as time goes on, but this diversity it is not seen everywhere. Companies like Valve - whose games I love - has only 3 women on its development team out of more than 80ppl with the amount of women in the industry today - I find that shocking.

I applaud this program for encouraging diversity in this industry.


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