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IGDA: More women are making games, but men still dominate the industry
IGDA: More women are making games, but men still dominate the industry
June 24, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

A recent survey conducted by the International Game Developers Association sought to shed light on the current state of the game industry, and today the IGDA shared some results that suggest the gender diversity of the industry is improving, even as its members continue to struggle with work/life balance.

According to the results, 22 percent of respondents identified as women, 76 percent identified as men and 2 percent identified as transgender or "other", suggesting that the industry still has a long way to go before we can feasibly consider it a diverse field.

Still, the IGDA makes a point of highlighting that only 11.5 percent of respondents identified as female during a similar 2009 survey, suggesting that the percentage of women working in the industry has roughly doubled in the past five years.

That's a (very small) bit of good news for the industry, especially when you look back almost ten years to a 2005 IGDA survey that also suggested women represented roughly 11.5 percent of the industry workforce. Given that data, it seems the industry is moving to address at least some of its diversity issues, albeit slowly.

When it comes to compensation, almost fifty percent of developers who participated in the survey make less than $50k a year, while 19 percent make over $100k/year; the remaining 33 percent of developer respondents fall somewhere between the two.

Of course, the average respondent in the IGDA's survey has spent over nine years working in the game industry, with an average of four different employers in the past five years. Based on results from our own State of the Industry survey, it's likely that at least one of those stints was as an indie developer as the practice of self-funding and self-publishing becomes more prevalent.

61 percent of those surveyed by the IGDA said they plan to work in the field for the foreseeable future, but the majority of those who were thinking about leaving said they desired a "better quality of life."

The industry's persistent demand for crunch seem to be part of the problem; 54 percent of respondents said they believed "crunch time" was not a requisite part of game development, and many said they still felt pressured to work longer hours than were strictly required; 38 percent went on to claim they received no extra compensation for that overtime.

It's worth noting that the IGDA surveyed more than 2,200 developers in partnership with folks at the University of Western Ontario and the M2 Research organization, and the association plans to release more details from the survey in the near future.

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Andrew Dovichi
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Anyone know if this survey was only sent to IGDA members or if it was open call?

Katy Smith
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It was open. I took it from an ad linked through my Facebook page. I haven't been an IGDA member for years.

Kristen C Stewart
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Open call. More specifically: "Anyone who is involved in the video game industry in a professional or academic capacity may take part in this survey, including professors, students, contractors, indies, and so forth." (

Steven Bobson
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It's essentially the same thing since IGDA has no membership qualifications.

Andrew Dovichi
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Thanks for the replies, I know I'm not the only one who wasn't aware of this survey.

Terry Matthes
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There will always be under qualified people hoisted into positions that make crunch a reality. The bigger the company the more out of touch the management is and subsequently the more crunch you will have. Crunch as a term is such a catch all its useless anyway.

Instead of using the catch all term "crunch" let's call it what it is; gross mismanagement. At least that gets us a little closer to dealing with a tangible problem. To label such a complex problem with such a simple term does the entire industry disservice by not articulating any actual issue.

John Maurer
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Exactly. If your budget and timeline are never in-sync then management needs to re-examine their project planning. Having to grind a month or two towards then end in order to meet a release date is understandable, but chronically going on 4 - 6 month death marches for years means there's someone upstairs with a very up-to-date Facebook page and a smoking hot YouTube account.

John Flush
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My favorite part of crunch is the fact everyone always thinks it is managements fault. Developers, when given the ability to estimate everything for themselves and plan their sprints for themselves will still miss 90% of them... even when management is non-existent. Crunch is not just a "management gave us a deadline problem" and developers need to realize this and actually get better at estimating and/or building in time they know they don't know about yet.

Edit: and I don't mean to excuse management either. Both sides can be pretty bad at planning.

Matt Boudreaux
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In my years in the industry, it seems to mainly be a production level issue. Most developers, at least in my experience, are pretty good at estimating how long a task will take as long as the design requirements have been nailed down. If the requirements change then the estimates change (obviously). Some of the best producers I've ever worked with have been engineers/artists/etc in their past lives and are able to bridge the gaps between high level production estimates and the low level actual feature implementation estimates.

Tyler King
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I agree that developers can mess up estimates as well, however a good manager should always add padding in on top of what the developers say. That way unless the developers just absolutely don't know what they were talking about you should still fall within a certain threshold and be able to avoid most crunch.

Mario N
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I work for a studio that is owned by a large publisher and the majority of our crunches are actually caused by our publisher saying, mid-project, ''Hey, how about you change this, this and this. Oh, I know you didn't plan for it, but tough luck. I'm sure you are all PASSIONATE enough to pull it off.'' Even if, for argument's sake, the changes they ask make the game 5% better in the end, you know what: I don't give a shit if it means I have to crunch for three months. Life's too short.

I love my job, but I hate what it costs to keep it.

Richard van Harten
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In some cases this may be true but I think the actual problem lies in the fact that developers often need to estimate things that cannot be estimated accurately, especially when dealing with new technology or concepts. Still, the need for dates is obvious as well, so it will always be a standoff between those two.

Benjamin McCallister
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Are there like, 10 buttloads of women who want to get jobs in the game industry but can't? I don't see it. Is the reason there is a 22% female population of developers because of a lack of diversity or a lack of qualified applicants.

I would think most development companies would throw jobs at female devs JUST to pad numbers (not saying they wouldn't deserve it but lets be honest political hottopics like this do exist)

I really don't think there are huge throngs of women beating down the doors of game development companies and thats the cause for the sub one quarter staffing numbers.

So why do we say its the industry's responsibility to fix it? Its not like 1960s segmented america where there was actual racial bias that precluded qualified applicants from being hired. Unless it is and I'm completely ignorant. (Has happened before!)

Joshua Wilson
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If the issue is just supply then it's not strictly speaking the industry's responsibility to fix it. But that doesn't mean the industry can't take steps to raise awareness for girls and young women, or outreach/lobby to ensure education is protecting the interest of ALL our potential and future coworkers and industry peers.

This is something that most industries will do to protect their own interests if nothing else.

Doug Poston
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Then the question should be "Why don't more women want jobs in the game industry?"

Cordero W
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And Doug answered with the obvious statement. Why don't more women come to this industry. And it's not our responsibility to answer. We're done all we can to be aware. You can tell people to make toys, but not everyone will be toy makers, both male and female.

Clayton Weaver
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As it has come out recently, a lot of women are interested, but a lot seem to have a mental image about the industry due to how women are being treated online. No one can remove that erroneous image except the industry.

With women like Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Jennifer Hepler, and others that are getting unreasonable backlash for their views or actions and only a few developers or companies speaking out for them it just sends the wrong image that the companies either don't care or aren't concerned. This can lead to women imagining this is the norm of the industry. I remember one reply to Gabrielle Toledano's Forbes article basically claiming the article was bull and claimed EA paid her to lie about it. It is that misguided claims that make women stand-offish from the industry.

Bad public image is definitely the industry's responsibility to fix and that may get women to join. That is all just my speculation from talking to female designers I know that make games and want to make them for a living, but aren't sure they want to join the industry professionally.

Jonathan Murphy
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As humans we like making shortcuts. Tell a person to dig a trench, they'll dig it, and complain. Eventually they'll invent a better way. It's only frustrating to us, because we are in the transition. We haven't arrived at the conclusion. Yet...

Ian Griffiths
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Equality of opportunity does not always result in equality of circumstance. For example, men have equal opportunities in being primary school teachers but only a fifth of new ones are men -

It seems as though this issue is a wider cultural one. Women of working age were not encouraged to do many of the subjects associated with development, hopefully that is changing. Games are still predominantly seen as a 'male job', in fact games are still seen a childish, a trait unfairly associated as a gender stereotype for men that reinforces the image.

As much as we can change ourselves within our industry, we will always have a lot of work to do outside of it to make it appeal to everyone. We want people in games because they are passionate about them, what they look like or where they come from shouldn't even be a factor.