Project to challenge marginalisation of women in video game industry

The marginalised status of women in the video game industry will be challenged by a new international research project involving Dr Alison Harvey from the Department of Media and Communication.

Video games routinely feature ‘hyper-sexualised’ female characters, and despite around half of all game players being women they remain dramatically underrepresented in the industry, with only 4 per cent of programmers being female and women making up just 22 per cent of the industry workforce as a whole.

A new project, titled ‘Re-figuring Innovation in Games’, which is funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), aims to support a dramatic re-think and ‘re-configuring’ of the video game industry, where a lack of gender diversity, inclusivity and interventions that can shift the status quo stifles innovation.

Dr Harvey is co-leading the Formal Education research theme of the project and will be conducting a study of UK-based game design higher education programmes in order to assess how diversity is encouraged or hindered within formal education such as degree and certificate programmes in game design and game studies.

The study aims to make an intervention in how these programmes are promoted and organised to foster more inclusive game design training, through consultation with educators, students, skills bodies, professional associations, policy-makers, and industry representatives.

Dr Harvey said: “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."