Women in the Game Development Industry

While the average person does not see the code that backs most of our technological choices every day, there are others whose lives are consumed by creating code. More specifically, there are people whose job it is to create the code that makes your favorite video game, for example, function so effortlessly.

As pointed out in Dr. Sample’s “Code” article, the reality above is one of the greatest features about code itself — that it is made by people (60). Now, another reality that Dr. Sample points out is the pay gap between male and female coders (the difference was at $9,000 in the article). What is the reality like for women in the game development industry today?

Catt Small, product designer and video game developer, gave a TEDTalk a couple of years ago on diversity in the game development industry (video above). At the time, she recalls that women made up roughly 22% of the workforce, with only 33% of the overall 24% being actual developers. Why is this number so low? She attributes these numbers to access to learning how to code and stereotypes about who can/cannot code.

For middle school and high school I was privileged to attend Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering, where engineering courses were mandatory for all students. While there, I was exposed to the world of code, an opportunity not afforded to most students attending public schools. While I do not plan on pursuing a career in code, I still valued the experience. The future of video games and code could lie in a middle school student, but if they are not exposed to learning how to code, then they won’t even know what they are capable of doing.

Ultimately, the questions become: How do we become advocates of diversity in video game development? How will diversity in this realm affect gaming experiences?

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