Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett spoke to RPS recently regarding the issues surrounding the lack of women in the videogame industry. While most would attribute it to sexism and the fact that it is male-dominated, Pratchett explains how there are other reasons there is an gender imbalance within the industry.
“My gut feeling is that, by and large, it isn’t necessarily male attitudes which keep women out of games development or cause them to burnout,” Pratchett said. “Instead, it’s a combination of a poor work-life balancing conditions, a lack of awareness of the opportunities out there and dwindling creative diversity. And these are problems that have a huge impact on the industry as a whole.”
“Yes, this industry’s in need of a shake-up, but one that should be designed to benefit all developers, males and females alike. We need to place stronger emphasis on improving working conditions, burnout rate and industry awareness. Ultimately, that’s what will improve the quality of the games and the lives of those who create them. And that’s what really matters.”
Last year, Twitter was overcome with the hashtag #1reasonwhy which highlighted and exposed the prevalence of sexism towards women within the videogame industry (Check out our podcast about #1reasonwhy here). Twitter was barraged with tweets from everyone, key people or not, about why they thought there were a lack of women in the industry as well as sharing personal positive and negative experiences surrounding the matter.
Following #1reasonwhy, Pratchett came up with a more positive hashtag #1reasontobe because she believes that “raising awareness of what a great industry this can be, and what opportunities there are for men and women alike, is fundamental in tackling these problems.”
“The industry is used to targeting the male demographic, at least when it comes to triple-A, non-casual titles. And it is still, in many ways, stuck in that rut, either uncertain of how to change, not interested in changing or simply averse to straying from the established path.”
Pratchett went on to compare how the movie industry can gear towards four-quandrant movies. These are the types of films that attempt to cater to each demographic: male, female, over and under 25 years-old. She cited films such as Avatar, The Hunger Games and Jurassic Park as examples.
“They do it through strong story, characters, exciting action and thrilling set-pieces. That’s the kind of thing we need to look at more closely and find a way to emulate, not through whole-sale copying, but in a way that really works for our industry and players.”
“It’s not about the ‘pinking’ of games. It’s about making them better for everyone.”