Levine: Gender gap 'terrible' for the industry

BioShock designer Ken Levine upset over male dominance in game business, says "problem" must be understood before it can be worked on.

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The industry's gender gap is "terrible" for the business of making games. That's according to Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine, who opened up on the issue today on Twitter.

"a) The gender gap in the industry is terrible for the industry," Levine wrote. "b) to work on the problem, we need to have an understanding of the problem."

He added, "c) The first step is research that doesn't ignore basic statistical standards? (small sample sizes, self-reporting, experience x ref)."

"Probably statistically safe to say 50% of potential game talent is female (adjust for nurture issues)," he went on. "Long way to go, but need good data."

A new Game Developer magazine United States Salary Survey report found that in 2012, men made more money than women in every category except programming. In addition, men made up a significantly higher portion of overall salaried developers in 2012.

Check out the full report for more.

Discussion

460 comments
DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

I wouldn't be too surprised if 50% of gamers were female actually. However, what I don't think is that we should instantly focus more games at  women just because of this. Why? Because it comes down to how much each gender games, and I think it's safe to say men game more than women. Therefore, a woman involved in this percentage may own 3 games, whilst a male could own 50 or more. Men are buying more games, so it makes sense for the industry to focus more greatly on a male demographic. Besides, Levine even says '[p]robably statistically safe' and '[l]ong way to go, but need good data' which clearly shows he doesn't have enough to back up what he's saying, and he's not definitely certain that his assumption is true. Regardless, what's wrong with the industry being gender specific, there's a lot of them out there? For example, you'll probably find more builders are men, whilst more shoe enthusiasts are female. There's nothing wrong with it so long as sales are good.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

It's the same reason there are more men plasterers than women. Game developement is more appealing to young guys than chicks and they persue a career in that area more than females, it isn't something people should be getting arsy about it's just the choices we make.

strayfies
strayfies

Honestly I agree, I think the slant is noticeable and not to anyone's benefit.  It's nothing to rage over, but to recognize and address it is perfectly appropriate. 

June-GS
June-GS

"...men made more money than women in every category except programming..." -- Oh, really? Hmm, never would have thought of that.

bluefox755
bluefox755

Like others have mentioned below....why is it a problem that more men play video games than women?  I don't think any less of a woman if she's not a gamer lol, this is just politically correct nonsense, women wanna game, cool, if not, that's cool too.  I can say with relative certainty that women generally enjoy shoe shopping more than men...does that anger me as a man?  Of course not....just stop with the PC nonsense, let people be themselves instead of trying to stuff them into an ideological mold.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

Not to be that guy but I have very rarely ever met more than 5 female gamers who do anything but gush about the same couple of games or actually play more than three games. I know a ridiculously cute gamer who stomps my gamerscore on both XBL and PSN, but owns probably a 10th of the games I do (not sure how that's mathetmatically possible for her score to be 4x mine when she doesn't own nearly as many games) and she plays some similar games like Resident Evil and whatnot, but for example I told her about God of War and she was like "What's that?" What? How can you not know about God of War? It's been around for like 10 years. I didn't even own a PS3 or the GDoW games until the past two months and I knew about them from the start. Most of her games are things like Wrath of the White Witch or games that people would refer to as casual, like Just Dance for instance.

It's still very much a guy thing.

JohnMark320
JohnMark320

No offense but WHY is a male-dominated industry a "problem?" Certain past times attract different kinds of people, unless Levine meant it in aim for increased company revenue? 

barrica
barrica

The point is some people grew up around Master Systems and others around Barbie. Do you know any good Mechanic that grew up working as a Fisherman? If u where the owner of the garage would you hire him? Give time to time and they might start their own company's and surprise us from time to time. 

BlackDog49
BlackDog49

I think he's referring to women being a demographic that hasn't really been reached yet as far as marketing goes, and in terms of women making up a small number of developers. He's not saying that women should be given jobs in dev over men, just that having more women entering the field will bring more perspectives and insights on game making to the table.

KratosHump3R
KratosHump3R

Pay your women employees more and maybe there won't be that big of a gap. Douches

Hrodwulf666
Hrodwulf666

Levine: Something Something, terrible for the industry... 

I love yer games and to some extent I agree with most of your points mate but running your mouth is becoming terrible for the industry and it happens so often that your beginning to sound like David Cage. Ok maybe not that bad. 

grauberger
grauberger

How come female programmers made more money than their male counterparts?? This is a problem. We have to fix it! :-) 

TNR-HEAVYSET
TNR-HEAVYSET

Let's be honest and get off our high horse.... the average gamer is a man. always has been a man, and in the future will most likely continue to be a man. does this mean that women can't enjoy games or be involved in the gaming industry? NO

acting like we don't pay attention to the female market is crazy. i mean who are you trying to impress Levine? 

is it wrong to make games that cater to your general demographic? I know that when I lined up for the midnight release of your game (bioshock) all I saw was a bunch of dudes!

and don't say this industry dosen't cater to women. tomb raider! Fem Shep! Mrs. Pacman! there are plenty of games that have respectable female leads. 

acting like the gaming crowd is 50/50 is insane... you have been hanging out with paid booth babes for to long. time to go walk the floor at E3... you will see what I mean

FoxeoGames
FoxeoGames

Notice that the lack of female workers in the gaming industry is automatically just assumed to be negative. Do you ever hear people talk about the lack of males in any industry, and how to "fix it?" No, you don't. 

For example, according to the number of licensed nurses in the US, one statistic says that less than 6% of nurses are men. Do we talk about how to "fix" this "problem?" No, we don't even label it as a problem. 

If fewer women than men want to work in the gaming field, that's not a problem, it's a reality. We need to stop this silliness. A lot of these ridiculous articles come from either:  A) feminazis, or B) white males. 

And yet again, it's another example of straight white male self-imposed guilt. I have no guilt, and feel no need to try to artificially include others. I'm not frightened of the workplace developing a natural gender/racial makeup, and so I feel no need to try to artificially manipulate the gender/racial makeup of any workplace. 

MysteryJ0ker
MysteryJ0ker

Now call this crazy.... but.... the gender gap.... seems to be yet another excuse corporations are using for their games' shortcomings.

DiamondSlicer
DiamondSlicer

I just noticed.. But it's kind of funny how he talks about a gender gap and how that's terrible for the industry but meanwhile he only put Booker on the front of the box art while Elizabeth's tiny portrait is on the back. Care to explain, Mr. Levine?

gamingqueen
gamingqueen

I'm insulted. This makes us feminists look idle and have nothing better to do than complain about why women don't make games. 

gamingqueen
gamingqueen

Quota is sexist. You hire people for their talent and not their race, religion, gender..etc. As a woman it would be insulting to know that I wasn't hired because of my talent but because of my gender. Any woman can fill that space. 


lex_in_the_moon
lex_in_the_moon

@DamnILoveGames You have a point but you have to stop to think why a job like "shoe enthusiast" involves more women. It's certainly not because they are biologically more likely to be interested in clothing fields, it's more so the roles that our culture pushes them towards. And in any case, women should never be subjected to less pay in the many fields that enforce it; it's just blatant sexism not many people seem to talk about (not saying you agree with it). My point is saying a certain job appeals more to one sex and that's just the way it is misses a lot of important points.

lex_in_the_moon
lex_in_the_moon

@Conan1985 Do you have any idea how many more jobs give preference to males than females? You find one that's the other way around and try to deny that we live in a very misogynistic society.

June-GS
June-GS

@bluefox755 I totally agree with this. But I think what Ken was sayin was there's not enough talent from the female talent pool that's being encouraged into developing games. His point was that it's a missed opportunty. What if a woman had helmed the writing duties for MW2/3, could it have changed the narrative quality at all, just like it did for Lara Croft? Maybe, maybe not. But that's the point, we'll never know. That's a missed opportunity for us all. And that's what he meant that we should think about.

saleama
saleama

@JohnMark320 Becasue anything male dominated is not ok these days.  Males are seen as the enemy of progression for some reason.  An industry is stuck in the dark ages if it does not somehow find a way to lend itself more toward women and minority interests.  Even if said interests are largely nonexistant or imagined.  Why are people mad about the protagonists being all white males?  This clearly is not true but rather than focus on the fact that white male protagonist sell more games, people try to put some racist sexist spin on it. 

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@barrica This is pretty false though. Companies will go out of their way to hire women over men in IT a lot of the time, even if it means a less qualified employee. I've seen it happen.

Eric8315
Eric8315

@FoxeoGames Ken Levine is a certain ethnicity That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, that likes to spew this anti white male, white-guilt bullshit.  Your point is the same one that I was making a few days ago before I got modded.  If a certain field has a lot of women or minorities, no one ever complains about that and no one says that we need to get more white males in those fields.  It's never a problem then, it's just accepted that those fields are predominantly female or minority oriented.  But when a profession is too white male, that's when the claws come out.

Does anyone ever talk about the "black problem" in the NBA, and how we can make it more white?  Does anyone ever talk about having more straight male hairdressers, or more male nurses?  No.  It's only when something is too white, too male, or too WHITE MALE, that it get attacked.  That's classic NWO Marxism 101.  And plenty of the drooling simpletons who replied to this article, followed this Marxist, politically correct bullshit, hook, line, and sinker.

I'm sure that this is a bit too advanced for your average dumb fuck gamespot reader though.

tizmond
tizmond

@bluefox755 I'm sorry, you have to remove this video immediately, because it is perfectly rational and makes far too much sense, which isn't allowed in the gender debate, I'm afraid !!!

OurSin-360
OurSin-360

@gamingqueen  This isn't just a gaming industry problem though, i'm really not sure why gaming is all of a sudden taking the brunt of this.  It could be the fact that the industry is actually growing to include more and more women, that all this "controversy" is starting to develop.  I feel like the industry is growing in a positive direction in terms of women being involved on both the business and consumer side, and this is actually evident by the growing concern for women in the industry these days.   Like every other industry, it's not perfect but I feel like it's growing in a more positive direction than many others.  Also i wonder if these Salary gaps are considering the amount of women in these certain roles, and the amount of years and seniority they have at said roles.  I don't know, just throwing that out there.  There aren't a lot of audio people period (they typically have one person or 2 on a game period) so women making less could be just a matter of the number of women in the role, experience and the budget of the projects, since big budget releases probably stick with the people they've used before. 

dyze
dyze

@gamingqueen but this is the gaming industry at the moment, women are hired simply because there needs to be more of them.

I agree with Levine that more women needs to be here, in order to make games more diverse and especially since male and females view things differently and a developer needs to see all aspects of what they're making when they're making it.

But as someone that's trying to get into the business at the moment, it does hurt knowing that if I apply for a job, I know that if a women also applies and as long as she's decent at best, she'll get it the job ahead of me.

I'd like to add that, this isn't ALL women of course. I've met a lot that truly deserve to be there, but also some that are just filling a quota.

I think a step in the right direction could be gaming education with all female admittance. allowing for a freedom of learning without the pressure of males around. In my class some of the girls find it hard to take the space they need, and often feel inferior to their male counterparts, this isn't productive for their growth as artists or developers. hopefully that would lead them to take more space, and grow as developers.

DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

@Conan1985  What does online have to do with it? If you're going to make a statement at least explain it without leaving nothing to go on.

June-GS
June-GS

@Conan1985 LOL. Umm, firstly, I was obviously being sarcastic up there. Secondly, what's illegal & BS? The pay gap? Then you're barking up the wrong tree, mister. Coz that's exactly the point of GD, the GS article above, the US Survey, Levine (& me): The compensation and/or incentives gap.

Conan1985
Conan1985

@lex_in_the_moon @Conan1985 Its a pay gap not a preference of employment. I don't know what planet you live on but we are in 2012 and everyone is gets what they work for these days. Frankly i find it ridiculous people argue otherwise...although to be fair its rarely heterosexual women who whine, funny that.

saleama
saleama

@Eric8315 @FoxeoGames That is because when an org is mostly white male it is thought that it is so because of racism.  The truth of that is irrelevant.  It could simply be that black chicks don't like hockey or Korean women don't want to work in an auto body shop.  Whatever the reason, when a white male is involved the race card has to be played because why else?  The inlightened one was supposed to fix all that but we see how that went/is going.  The truth of the matter is there are far more passive racist events than open ones...ie, affirmative action, welfare, the "white guilt" vote that got you-know-who elected.  Saddly, passive racism/sexism is accepted and encouraged while those of us who would rather not judge but accept a person based on merit are going to eventually get the racist/sexist lable.

DiamondSlicer
DiamondSlicer

@aidsta @DiamondSlicer I remember him something saying of leaving a psychological impression of some kind, but that still doesn't cover why he didn't feature Elizabeth, who is one of the most, if not the most important character in the whole game. Nothing what he would have said would have justified her not being on the front cover, where she belongs. Mr. Levine says one thing but then actually does something else entirely. 

bluefox755
bluefox755

@aidsta @DiamondSlicer Yeah, he's tricking the customers into thinking the game is for idiots...that was the gist of it right?  Way to stand on principle Mr. Levine.

gamingqueen
gamingqueen

@OurSin-360 @gamingqueen True. I think it's got to do with the fact that game developing used to be exclusive to very few people. Ten or fifteen years ago, you wouldn't see ads hiring people to work in games. Nowadays they all want Maya experts (Crystal Dynamics I'm looking at you) all of them do. 

gamingqueen
gamingqueen

@dyze @gamingqueen I respect your opinion but I have to disagree for the following reasons:

Women are able to get through any establishment/industry without the help of quota. It'll happen I assure you because where I reside, even though women were given their political rights recently, four women made it to parliament and without a quota. I also think quota puts a limit on the number of women who can get  in. 

As for hiring more women "because women will help make games diverse" not really. Jade Raymond, produce of the first Assassins Creed, didn't make a game with a female character in lead. The same applies to other women in the industry. Also, most games with female character in lead were made by men. 

I believe the same goes for TV and film. You'd be surprised by the number of black authors/screen writers and scenarists who have written shows where the whole cast is of one race. While it's true that people like to relate with characters in films, books and games but making relatable characters isn't limited to making games with character who share the audience' skin color. 

If quota helps familiarize gamers with the women in industry scene then I'm totally for it. 

DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

@Conan1985 That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that I think it's obvious that more men play games than females, and that there's nothing wrong with the game's industry being targeted towards male consumers.

June-GS
June-GS

@Conan1985I asked if the pay gap was ​what you were calling illegal, you should have just said yes. 'Coz that's exactly what the bills (you referred to) enact. But the thing is, nobody's arguing with you. Of course. It IS illegal, it IS wrong, it IS unfair, we ALL agree on that, period. But it IS happening. That's a fact. And that's what the survey and articles (and Ken) above are talking about. Just because it's wrong doesn't mean it's not happening. That'd be like saying rape is illegal, so it couldn't possibly be happening, sexual assault cases are just BS.

And to get on your side for a moment here, yes, the statistic you posted about male models' "pay gap", if indeed that is accurate, is illegal and unfair too, IF it is based on gender. And that's what Ken and the others (and I) meant. We should find out what's REALLY going on. If it's ONLY based on the quality and quantity of work, as you proposed, and every single female on the U.S. Survey just happens to be either less competent or works less than their male counterparts, then it's all good. There's nothing wrong with the industry or the world. It's legal and it's fair.

But what IF it's not? Don't you think we should at least find out the truth? If it were your mother or your sister or your spouse or daughter, wouldn't you want them to get a fair shake too?

And getting back to your example, you asked how come nobody's fighting for the male models, well, that's because nobody in their right mind would really want to fight for male models, hahah, just kidding! But seriously, hey, if they really are being discriminated against (gender-wise), and you really wanna take up their cause, then go for it. You'd be on the right side.

Conan1985
Conan1985

@June-GS @Conan1985  There is no pay gap, you get the wage for the job you do. If the men work more then earn more, its that simple. You have to get paid the same for the same job male/female/black/white/whatever. 

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex 


European Union law also requires that women and men should receive equal pay for equal work. The original legislation on equal pay was contained in Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome. In 1997, this principle was then amended by Article 141 of the Treaty of Amsterdam.

If your saying that are equal disregard my what i said, thought your response was kinda confusing.


erickultti
erickultti

Wow, that is some straight up truth.  Kudos.

bluefox755
bluefox755

@DiamondSlicer @aidsta He didn't have to, and no one will call him out on it, the subtext of the game is anti-nationalism, pro-liberalism, and the inclusion of religion allows liberals to make the leap to anti-conservatism, so his sexism can be excused for preaching the greater good.  Which is to say "our politics are good, yours are evil"...this sort of thing happens in the media all the time, not so much in the gaming industry though.  Not to say this isn't a good game, but to say there's not something more to all the e-boners in the gaming journalism world over this game, would be rather naive.

saleama
saleama

@gamingqueen @dyze make a 50 shades of grey game?  LOL...I can see it now.  Women everywhere would rise up in arms over the games that sexually exhibits women in an S&M scenario.  There is a huge difference in passivly reading a book written by a woman and participating, all be it digitaly, in the bondage and sexual exploitation of a grouping of pixels ranged in such as a way as to look like a female.

Also, NO dating sim has ever been accused of being anything but a perverted lolli assault on women. 

gamingqueen
gamingqueen

@dyze @gamingqueen  Yes and I still do because quota means denying other people things for the wrong reasons. Not being female is one. You get a talented guy and a less talented girl, would you hire the girl just for the fact that she's a girl? Another example is fashion industry, I'd rather wear clothes designed by Valentino and Armani than Vivian Westwood. Does it mean we should hire more people like Westwood just because she's a woman? What about male designers market and loyal buyers? 

What's a good alternative to Quota? Study the market. Look at the most selling books, films, most watched shows by women and try to do similar games to those. Look for the topics which interest women the most. Sex, relationships ( fifty shades of grey and dating simulation games come to mind) and make games with similar topics. 

dyze
dyze

@gamingqueen @dyze  

huh?   first you say that quota is sexist and wrong, but now you're ok with it?

 Games get more diverse because of the way of thinking, not because they add more female characters or more romance sub-plots or what have you.

it's the general idea and how we perceive things differently. 

It comes down to story arch, gameplay and design choices etc. Things might seem cool and awesome from a guys point of view, but a women might feel differently. This is the type of thing that needs to be addressed during development, and gets overlooked simply because there's not so many girls around. 

I think it was Gaider?  the dragon age writer, that mentioned how they changed something with one companion of da2, because the female writers finally voices their opinion on how some of them were actually perceived. Something that seemed ok for us guys, but wasn't for the women.

another example is from bioshock, and how one of the employees took offense at the religious views of the main protagonist, and how levine handled that and learned from it. It's the same thing.  We need everyone at the table, in order to understand and make things better.

but I don't believe that a quota is the way. This just breeds resentment and frustration, and why I think a all female education could be more appealing for girls looking at gaming as an occupation.

This would make them as talented, or probably more talented.