Sweden Considering "Gender Equality" Game Labels

Country mulling idea of putting labels on games that promote gender equality.

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Mirror's Edge is made by Swedish developer DICE
Mirror's Edge is made by Swedish developer DICE

Games industry representatives in Sweden, a country that's home to prominent games developers such as Mojang, DICE, and Avalanche Studios, are mulling the idea of putting labels on games based on whether or not they promote gender equality.

Swedish news publication The Local reports that the idea is part of a wider project by the country's video game trade organization, Dataspelsbranchen.

The group recently received a 272,000 kronor ($37,000) grant from Sweden's innovation agency, Vinnova, to work with Swedish game developers to look into how games made in the country portray female characters and gender issues.

Project manager Anton Albiin said he wasn't sure yet if all games made in Sweden would come with a label, or if studios behind games that are shown to promote gender equality would be provided some form of certification to use in their marketing efforts.

Minecraft is also made in Sweden
Minecraft is also made in Sweden

"I do not know of any other project in the world asking this question and of course we want Sweden to be a beacon in this area," he said.

In addition to looking at the content of games produced in Sweden, Albiin said Dataspelsbranchen would examine the processes game studios use to promote gender equality and diversity within their companies.

The Local also asked Albiin if he thought these new measures, which focus exclusively on gender diversity, could adversely affect creative measures studios might take. He replied: "Of course games can be about fantasy but they can be so much more than this. They can also be a form of cultural expression--reflecting society or the society we are hoping for. Games can help us to create more diverse workplaces and can even change the way we think about things."

Dataspelsbranchen data shows that around 16 percent of Sweden's game development workforce are women. On a global level, around 22 percent of game developers are women, according to a recent report from the International Game Developers Association.

Sweden's new gender equality measures arrive amid continued discussions surrounding women in the video game industry. At E3 in June, publisher Ubisoft found itself in hot water over its controversial decision to not include female playable protagonists for Assassin's Creed Unity's co-op mode. And later that month, EA Studios boss Patrick Soderlund said he thinks the reason why there are so few major games with female protagonists is because games are predominately made by men.

More recently, Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian was forced from her home due to threats against her life. She also canceled a college speech recently over a mass-shooting claim.

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