Women gamers are on the rise, and now constitute approximately 48% of players worldwide, according to a 2022 report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Yet despite women’s growing interest in playing games, they continue to lag behind in the corporate sphere, representing just 30% of gaming industry professionals and holding a mere 16% of executive positions at the top fourteen global gaming companies.

A 2015 Gender Balance Workforce Survey also revealed not only that 45% of women in the UK gaming industry felt their gender was a limiting factor in their career progression, but also that 33% of them had experienced either direct harassment or bullying relating to their gender.

While there remains a long way to go, the good news is that a growing number of companies, industry bodies, and nonprofits are collaborating to drive change and promote the onboarding and advancement of women in the industry, the fruits of which will help to even the playing field and create a richer and more diverse gaming community for all.

Representation reaps rewards

Now representing almost half of the market, and over half of the global population, expanding women’s inclusion in the gaming industry should be a no-brainer. Women are drawn to gaming for unique reasons, and having more women in the workforce will enable companies to better serve this growing customer base by gaining accurate, valuable insight into the preferences and behaviours of women gamers. In France, for example, studies show that women play games predominantly for competition or to challenge themselves, while men in the country seek out games to help them combat stress or achieve success through competition.

Including women in the development process is also therefore essential to successfully unlocking the revenue potential of this customer base – one that is increasingly lucrative given women are now often either the primary breadwinners of the family, or significant contributors to household income.

Beyond this, diverse perspectives also lead to fresh and unique storytelling, gameplay mechanics, and creative approaches, while a balanced workforce can help reduce stereotypes and promote respectful gaming environments. By harnessing the talents and insights of women, the gaming industry can enhance its creativity, drive economic prosperity, and cultivate a more welcoming and dynamic community.

Leading by example

In my role at MY.GAMES, I am responsible for overseeing the company’s efforts to advance women employees, and am proud to say that women now hold 45% of the company’s leadership roles, significantly higher than the industry average.

Achieving a more balanced leadership team has been the product of a conscious and deliberate effort to foster diversity and inclusion within the company, as well as the result of several company-wide initiatives that seek to amplify women’s voices and accelerate their professional growth.

One such initiative is the Women in MY.GAMES club, which provides employees with resources, support, and mentoring to help them discover new opportunities, identify areas for professional growth, and unlock their full potential; while another is MY.GAMES’ internal speaking club, which offers women a platform to share their experiences, expertise, and ideas with one another in order to promote knowledge transfer and women-led innovation within the company.

Industry initiatives addressing overdue change

While industry issues should be tackled at the company level, broader industry-wide collaboration is essential to accelerate change. At MY.GAMES, we have partnered with other industry players, including Google’s #IAmRemarkable movement, to empower underrepresented groups in the workplace and boost their self-confidence by organising workshops focused on overcoming self-doubt, celebrating achievements, and fostering a positive mindset. We have also invited a diverse array of external speakers into the company to share their perspectives as women in the industry to further promote learning opportunities for women employees and foster cross-industry collaboration.

Several nonprofit organisations are also doing valuable work to provide women with the tools needed to flourish within the industry. Women in Games, a UK-based community interest group founded in 2009 – when women numbered just 6% of the games industry workforce – is among these, and works to recruit more women into the industry and protect their interests within it through its annual conference, career events, and projects to showcase the creative work of talented women working in games across the globe. GirlsWhoCode meanwhile works to address the gender skills gap from childhood, teaching introductory to advanced level skills in computer science to young women from school to college level in the US, Canada, UK, and India.

Industry-wide awards, including those run annually by MCV/Develop, Women in Games and WeAreTechWomen also play a valuable role in recognising the achievements of women in the gaming and broader tech industry, and help to inspire young women either earlier on in their careers or considering a career in gaming to take the leap and become a part of it.

These initiatives are all designed to foster positive change and challenge the structural inequities prevalent in the industry as it stands, and serve as a testament that things are moving in the right direction. Yet with a persistent gender pay gap of 13% – an average of £8,000 annually – and continued underrepresentation in the wider industry, there is still much to address. For its part, MY.GAMES looks forward to playing a leading role in driving this change.

About the author

Varvara Iaffa, Platform & Vendor Relations Department Lead at MY.GAMES

Varvara is Head of Platform & Vendor Relations at MY.GAMES, is a leading European video game developer and publisher. Varvara has more than 12 years’ experience in the gaming industry, including at Nexters and Game Insight, and is responsible for overseeing app-store optimisation, securing new partnerships, and ensuring effective communications with mobile platforms and vendors. Prior to joining MY.GAMES, Varvara also held positions in marketing, helping to launch games in new markets and overseeing brand strategy and positioning.