Facebook Gaming: The next level of diversity and inclusion

As part of Facebook Gaming’s support of this week’s Women in Games Awards, Cheryl Savage, Facebook’s Director of Gaming, EMEA talks about how we can push for better representation in the games industry.

2020 has shown us once again that gaming can bring people together. While we stayed apart, games bridged gaps, and offered people a way to connect and communicate. As of this year, we also know that 48% of gamers worldwide are female, with more women discovering a love for games each day, even outnumbering male gamers in key genres.

Cheryl Savage FacebookWhile researching the Genre & Great Games report, we found that globally, 63% of mobile gamers are women. While in the UK 60% of Hyper-Casual gamers, 54% of Physics Puzzle gamers, and 74% of Matching Puzzle & Word/Brain/Board gamers self-identify as female. Recent data from Statista has also shown a jump in the number of female-led titles hitting the shelves. In 2020, 18% of games had female-led stories, a jump from just 5% of titles released in 2019. 

Despite this, there is still a disparity between who’s playing games and who’s making them. The 2020 UK Games industry Census published by UKIE showed that people of colour and members of the LGBTQ+ community are represented in the gaming workforce at higher levels than other sectors. But women still only make up 28% of the gaming workforce, which is well below the national average of 50% in all sectors. So we still have a way to go for all underrepresented groups. The games industry is moving in the right direction when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but we still have a way to go. 

Supporting diversity in the games industry 

It’s important to foster a culture in the games industry that supports diversity and inclusion across the board. We’ve seen the power of games to bring people together through play. By creating a professional environment that reflects the diversity of gaming audiences, we can move the whole industry forward in a meaningful way. That’s why we’re proud to have been one of the founding partners of UKIE’s #RaiseTheGame pledge to improve all areas of diversity and inclusion in the games industry. Because a more diverse working environment is better for everyone. 

In Facebook Ireland alone, over 100 different nationalities are represented in our employee base. We run events year-round to provide training and resources for those who self-identify as female, while celebrating diversity and inclusion as a whole with employee resource groups, cultural exchanges, talks, and events. We’ve also launched industry-wide initiatives like the #SheTalksGames video series, and #MakeWorkPlay campaign, both of which encourage women to pursue careers and leadership roles within the games industry. 

As we look forward to 2021, we have many more exciting projects on the horizon to continue to move the needle on diversity in the games industry worldwide. 

Finding where you belong in the games industry 

For anyone looking to join the games industry, there’s a massively diverse range of roles. I think there’s a perception that you need a tech or design background, or even that you need to be a gamer. But it’s a great environment to upskill. I have a sales and media background, and was recently appointed as Facebook’s Director of Gaming for EMEA. If you have transferable skills and an interest or passion for the gaming industry (whether you play games or not), I’d encourage you to lean into that interest, network, and seek out opportunities.

What needs to change? 

Diversity must begin at the drawing board. With more inclusion and better representation in the development of ideas and stories, all throughout the creative process. By ensuring that everyone has a voice in making games, we can begin to remove stereotypes and biases. The outcome of this will be games that truly reflect gaming audiences, empowering gamers to embrace and celebrate diversity each time they play. The industry, like many others, can be a high-stress environment with tight deadlines and high targets. I think we need to push for a work environment that promotes mental health and supports neuro-diversity, to create a safe and inclusive workplace for everyone. 

There are many paths to our goals, to walk them the trail needs to be blazed. It’s up to us to keep doing this, and to make sure those who follow in our footsteps can do the same.  

Cheryl Savage is the Director of Sales for Facebook Gaming in EMEA. She leads the Mobile, Console, and Real Money Gaming teams. Prior to her time at Facebook, Cheryl was at Yahoo! for over 13 years where she held multiple leadership roles and founded the Boston chapter of Yahoo! Women-In-Tech. She also sat on the board of the AdClub of Boston where she participated in multiple diversity & inclusion events including the Women’s Leadership Forum and The Rosoff Awards. Cheryl is immensely proud of the work Facebook Gaming is pursuing, namely Game Changers and Women in Gaming’s She Talks Games video series, where Facebook Gaming is pushing for diversity by encouraging more women to pursue careers and leadership roles within the games industry.

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