Women represent 40% of the video game sector in Spain. This is indicated by the recent study published by ArsGames and the Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media (CIMA), the CIMA 2022 report. A priori it seems like good news: women in the electronic entertainment sector practically occupy half of the jobs. Isn’t this a good indication, then, of the approach to parity? As usual, the crumb is found in the fine print and in other percentages of the study that indicate that 59% of the players hide their gender on the Internet to avoid harassment or that 40% of the companies in the industry do not have protocols against harassment and/or discrimination.
Spain is the fourth European market and the ninth worldwide in the consumption of video games. Electronic entertainment is present in most homes, whether on mobile devices or on consoles and computers. There are more and more players, although, as the study shows, many of them do not feel represented by the word gamera nickname and a community that is very masculinized on the Internet.
Going a little deeper into the study, there are other data that allow the sector to be x-rayed. The vast majority of women who work in electronic entertainment occupy positions related to communication, marketing, human resources or localization. There are practically no women in management positions and very few occupy creative or directly technological positions. In programming teams there are only 3% women. This gap is widened by other aggravating factors such as harassment and job insecurity.
The video game industry in this country, in general, is precarious and unstable. Most development studios are small, young companies. Half have less than five workers and 94% have staffs of less than 50 people. In addition, 68% of professionals in the sector have been in their current job for less than six years. All this is intensified in the case of women: they have more temporary contracts and their salaries are lower. Only 45.84% of women have permanent contracts, while in the case of men the figure rises to 69.52%. Regarding remuneration, men earn an average of 22,850 euros per year, while the average for women drops to 19,482 euros per year.
These problems are also transferred to the work environment. Beyond underrepresentation, women also experience more harassment than men. 75.66% of the men in the sector state that they have never suffered discrimination in their professional career, a percentage that drops to 40.74% in the case of women.
Although bullying does not only occur in the workplace. 71% of adults overall have experienced severe abuse (including physical threats and sustained bullying) while gaming online. This percentage increases year after year and has gone from 65% in 2019 to 60% in 2020 and now it already reaches 71%. But the bullying is not spread evenly across all players. 49% of adults surveyed who identify themselves as women claim to have suffered harassment. In the case of African Americans the figure is 42% and in Asian Americans it is 38%. But the worst part is taken by the LGTBI+ community, with 64%. Among the games with the highest harassment rates are Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, PUBG, and League of Legends.
The study published by ArsGames and CIMA is much more extensive and its in-depth reading is highly recommended to better understand the current situation of the video game sector in Spain. In addition, from both associations they launch several proposals to improve the conditions of women in the industry. To begin with, they ask that public aid be linked to encouraging parity and diversity in companies. With specific aid for increasing the number of women in the industry and for incubators and accelerators with a gender perspective.
In addition, they also propose the creation of public distribution channels for video games to prevent the publication monopoly from being in the hands of private publishers and publishers, mostly foreigners. “Only if there is a public publisher can it be guaranteed that the content is not solely governed by commercial interest, prioritizing diverse content, free of sexism” they point out in the study. In addition, they also suggest the implementation of quotas in the sector.
Finally, from ArsGames and CIMA they offer a decalogue of good practices for companies with measures such as prioritizing diversity among development teams, creating more equal companies and with a more gender perspective or consciously creating diverse and sexism-free video games. Only with clearly feminist policies, making women visible in the sector and based on references can the current situation be improved.
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