Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Women treated as outsiders in video game industry

As female characters in video games are continually hypersexualized, female workers in the video game industry are discomforted, and are beginning to voice complaints about the “frat boy culture” and “boys locker room mentality” that permeates the video game business, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.

“The billion-dollar video game industry is growing quickly with the explosion of mobile gaming, but women remain outsiders,” reports the Globe. As female game characters are objectified, apparently female employees in the gaming workplace are frequently subjected to hostility, unequal treatment and even harassment. To add to the grievances, female programmers make an average of $10,000 a year less than male programmers, and women designers make $12,000 less, according to the Globe.

According to the Globe, within the gaming industry, women account for only 11 percent of game designers and three percent of programmers. Meanwhile, women make up about 60 and 25 percent of employment in other fields of graphic design and technology.

So why is this a problem in the gaming industry — why is the culture of the video game industry not inviting to them? Women have confessed to feeling “overlooked, unsafe and unwelcome” at video game conventions.

It is true that males make up for a large consumer demographic of the video game industry. As a result, women characters are often objectified, sometimes resembling (according to an interviewee in the Globe article) porn stars. Sex sells, and programmers know their market. But programmers must also distinguish between fantasy gaming and the real workplace. It is not okay to openly objectify a coworker. Ever. Or sexual harassment lawsuits should ensue.

Moreover, females, in fact, make up for the other component of the gaming industry’s consumer demographic. As a result, companies need to hire more women, so as to help better cater to this market.

The main problem is the manner in which gaming companies treat their females. Women need to feel comfortable in the office. Equally as important, they deserve to earn the same amount of money if performing the same jobs as their male counterparts. More and more women are graduating with advanced degrees in fields of science, technology, engineering and math. If qualified and interested — and hired, consequently — they deserve equal and respectful treatment in their workplace.

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