International project challenges ‘marginalisation’ of women in video game industry

Almost half of all video game players are women, yet only 4% of programmers are female and women make up just 22% of the gaming industry workforce as a whole.

Now, a new international research project aims to challenge this status quo and support a reconfiguration of the video game industry.

The University of Leicester is among an international group of scholars, community organisers and industry representatives taking part in the five-year project, Refiguring Innovation in Games (ReFiG), which is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Alison Harvey from the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication explained: “Women and girls have largely been excluded from games culture — as players, makers and protagonists. Additionally, many of those who do participate in games have been publicly harassed both online and offline as exemplified by the ‘Gamergate’ hate campaign.

“Addressing long-standing gender inequalities in the global digital games industry is a vital means by which to stimulate innovation and sustain the growth and consolidation of this massive creative arena.

“This project recognises that these issues can only be tackled through the inclusion of a range of international and interdisciplinary partners thinking about and planning to create equity in games culture, education, and work.”

To help bring about real change, ReFiG plans to intervene in four areas: game cultures, the games industry, informal learning environments (e.g. community-based incubators), and formal education.

As part of the research, Dr. Harvey will be conducting a study of UK-based game design higher education programmes in order to assess how diversity is encouraged or hindered within degree and certificate programmes in game design and game studies.

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