Achievement unlocked – gaming no longer a boys’ club

video games

A fun, interactive exhibition recognised the groundbreaking work by women in the games industry.

The days of video games being a boys-only zone are well and truly over. Nearly half of all gamers are women and, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of women working in the industry rose from 8.7% in 2011–12 to 15% in 2015–16. But there is still a long way to go, and incidents like Gamergate – where female gamers and developers in the US were harassed and threatened for speaking out against sexism – give the industry a bad reputation.

Elissa Harris, Co-Founder of Flat Earth Games and programmer on Objects in Space gamer girls
Elissa Harris, co-founder of Flat Earth Games and programmer on Objects in Space.
Lisy Kane League of Geeks gamer girls
Lisy Kane, producer at League of Geeks.
gamer girls Maru Nihoniho, Director of Metia Interactive, project manager of SPARX and Maori Pa Wars 01 copy
Maru Nihoniho, director of Metia Interactive, project manager of SPARX and Maori Pa Wars.

An exhibition previously shown at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) called Code Breakers: Women in Games aims to change that. Ten female programmers, producers, designers and directors from Australia and New Zealand are featured, and female gamers can play their video games, which range from big studio releases like Little Big Planet and Tricky Towers through to more experimental titles.

As programmer Elissa Harris says in the exhibition, “One of the most important things for a child growing up is seeing people who look like them doing the things they want to be doing.”

More diversity behind the scenes also leads to more diversity in the video games themselves. Protagonists in games used to be mainly men – now there is more variety, in culture and race, as well as gender. For example, Maru Nihoniho’s Metia Interactive produces games with Māori characters, and players can choose to play in English or Te Reo Māori.

And the good news is, Australia is ahead of the curve when it comes to being inclusive. Lisy Kane was the first female hire at League of Geeks in 2014; now the team is 35% women. “The video games industry has definitely identified the gender imbalance problem,” she says. “They’ve accepted it and taken it on board and want to improve it.”

Code Breakers at ACMI has now finished its exhibition. Play the games online at acmi.net.au.

– Chloe Walker

Liked this article? Read about how to code your way into diverse careers!

Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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