Gaming’s gaping gender imbalance is to be tackled by a group aiming to promote careers in the sector to a new generation of women.
Scottish Women in Games, which has launched with its first meeting at DCA in Dundee, aims to educate a new generation of girls about the opportunities open to them and attract existing workers into the burgeoning digital industry.
Coordinator Maxine Dodds said females remained grossly under-represented among the sector’s programmers, designers and artists at a time when the demographics of the gaming public had changed significantly.
“There are very few girls coming into the industry — but we now know that more than 50% of gamers are women, and older women at that,” she said ahead of the event.
“The whole industry has changed, away from the original view of young lads sitting playing shoot-em-ups and car chase games in their bedrooms.
“We’re now looking much more at social games which people play on Facebook, or their phones, iPads and tablets. So the industry needs to address these issues, and the companies around Scotland are well aware that they need to deal with it.”
She said a job advertisement at one Dundee games firm had attracted 100 applications for only three posts — but just three of them had been from women.
She wants to see better coordination of outreach initiatives in schools, promotion of female role models, and better careers advice for women interested in the sector.
Ms Dodds is working alongside Skills Development Scotland to provide new video content for its employment-centred web portals.
“We should go into schools and give girls the opportunity to do a bit of game development using tools which are child-friendly — and from there get kids interested in the possibility of making games,” the consultant and former IBM project manager said.
Abertay University graduate Sophia George, co-founder of city games firm Swallowtail, spoke about her hope of inspiring more women in the industry following the release of Bafta-winning title Tick Tock Toys this year.
“The popular stereotypes of gamers just being young men couldn’t be more wrong,” she said. “What’s really worrying, though, is that this male-dominated idea is so pervasive and it influences what families think about games, and what young women think as they grow up and make decisions about their careers.”