‘Jobs for the girls’

And it’s not just one or two women in senior industry roles dragging the average up, either – our survey included women working at all levels in all parts of the industry.

At the same time, it was also quite hard to get any senior publishing reps to talk on the record about the issue of women in the games industry being paid more than their male counterparts.

Two told me it was ‘too sensitive an issue’, and a few others said the survey result masked a darker truth: that while women are not underrated by the games industry they are under-represented in it.

Perhaps Ubisoft’s worldwide studios head Christine Burgess-Qumard or EA’s The Sims exec Nancy Smith might disagree. Or maybe they wouldn’t – they and other women in the industry still stand out amongst a sea of male faces.
But perhaps choosing not to address the matter, or treating it as embarrassing and to be ignored, is the bigger problem?

Clearly, there is still more to be done in raising the reputation of the games industry as a place for women to work, because the fact that only 10 per cent of the games workforce is female is a bit shameful.

I’m sure the percentage is higher than in fields like engineering and the army. But when the industry is celebrating so much market growth – driven by a more varied demographic which includes more female gamers than ever before – it seems to be quite a mismatch when the industry doesn’t accurately reflect its audience.

On the subject of the fairer sex and video games… It’s a strange world we live in when Eidos can describe the global sales of the latest Lara Croft adventure as a disappointment when it sells over 1.5 million units.

The publisher’s confession that sales were below expectations last week knocked its share price and then spurred talk of yet another revamp for the pneumatic heroine.

Does Lara have any relevance these days? Once upon a time, when the industry was much smaller, some said she was a great icon for women as she represents smarts and skills, as well as sexiness.

Now, although women are still grossly under-represented by the games industry, the debate about how the games industry treats women has advanced (a little, at least).

So maybe a nice holiday (or a new set of owners, eh, Warner Bros.?) might do the Tomb Raider star some good.

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