Sex discrimination and who works on games March 26, 2009 cliffski My eye was drawn to this story, because it refers to where I used to work. Short summary is that a game developer is claiming compensation for discrimination at work for being gay. I won’t go into the actual case, because I don’t know the guy and haven’t worked there for ages, so it’s not fair to comment. However,I would like to extend the issue it covers to a wider call for action: The games industry needs to grow up and stop acting like kids. We act all high and mighty and start huffing and puffing the minute anyone suggests that ‘video games are for kids’, whilst at the same time doing very very little to change that perception. With a few very notable examples (the nintendo wii, games like Civ and some of the more complex sims) games ARE aimed at children, either deliberately, or aimed at the ‘inner child’. It may be true that most people playing GTA and Call of Duty and World Of Warcraft are NOT 13 year old boys, but if so, that’s a triumph against the odds. Everything about mainstream gaming seems to aim at that demographic. Think about how to make a product attractive to a 13 year old boy, and how many games incorporate this stuff: Guns (enough said…) Big Tits (“phwoarr! etc”) Scoring points (“I’m better than you!” Achievements (“like gold stars on a school report”) Bragging rights and taunts (“You suck!) Outside of video gaming, most of us grow out of obsessions with these. (well most of them..ahem). Of course, you can make adult-aimed (non-sexual) games that contain guns too, but a hell of a lot of games just use guns as pure gun porn. Show me a game that contains a female elf that looks like anything but a supermodel. Show me a soldier in a game that doesn’t have biceps like zeppelins. They are few and far between. Alyx in HL2 is a wonderful exception to all this, but she is the exception, not the rule. Anyway, my reasoning here is that these sort of games are what we make, because that’s the kind of people we are. Game developers are overwhelming male, overwhelming white (scarily so), overwhelmingly middle class, and overwhelmingly under 40. I have no idea what proportion are straight, but given the amount of artists that spend all day modelling buxom elves, I assume 99%. (Given the amount of time artists spend modelling men’s biceps and chests, I assume 99% of the 99% are just in denial :D) I’m 40 this year. I’ll still be making games, but I’ll be unusually old for a developer then. Normally by this age you ahve left and got a real job, or you run a big studio and employ the same young white rich kids to do the work. What the games industry needs, in order to grow up, and to grow in size, is more women, more black and asian people, more gay and lesbian developers, and people from different backgrounds. And that absolutely means that it needs to crush with huge force, ANY discrimination in the workplace. Maxis apparently have more women that usual for a game dev, no surprise they are doing well. Now before you slag me in the comments for doing a game called ‘gratuitous space battles‘, take note that I entirely include myself in this. I am white, under 40, came from a borderline working/middle class home, straight and male. (plus surely I get points for doing intellectual games?) I like buxom elves and spaceships exploding too. This is why people who are not like me should get into the industry. Save us from ourselves.