Tag Archives: industry

I’m bored of hearing about your wife

Almost every time I go to a tech- or gaming-related conference, I hear middle-aged white men in suits talk about their wives and children. This would be lovely and rather sweet, were it not for the fact that they all seem to be married to the same woman, and they all seem to be raising the same children.

A photograph of a blonde woman smiling and holding two blonde children. FlickrCC image by Micah Taylor

“The wife”, as she is often called, is frequently described as “not very good with computers” or “not a gamer.” Often, I hear humbling stories about how The Wife provides an amazing insight into the human condition. Or how she teaches The Exec about what it’s like for the ordinary user, who isn’t familiar with the high-end technological wizardly in which he is apparently so accomplished.

“My son”, says the exec, “is already using an iPad, and he’s only a year old.” There are older children in the family too. “My daughter would be so embarrassed to be seen using a Blackberry!” remarks The Exec, concluding “young people are all using iPhones.”

It’s taken me a while to figure out why this bothers me so much. So what if the people running technology companies make public reference to their wealthy, heteronormative lifestyle in an attempt to give examples of use cases from ‘ordinary people’? They’re bound to draw on their own experience in their work. Far be it from me to tell them to leave their personal life out of it.

I’ve realised that it bothers me because they never once talk about focus groups, and only ever reference market research on a macro-level. These two things combined – coarse, macro-level demographic data and constant reference to the upper-middle-class nuclear family, are leading to design and product decisions that are bad for women, bad for the elderly, and not even that good for business.

I don’t care about this guy’s wife. What she spends her time on is her own business. I do care that he gives his technologically inept wife as the key example when talking about the vague demographic of ‘women aged 35-50′. I don’t care how talented his children are. I do care that he calls tablets “a technology that doesn’t require any training – your children will teach you how to use it” – someone actually said that at the Global Mobile Internet Conference this week. What if I don’t have any children? What if my children don’t have their own iPad?

The Exec decides where to allocate the product development budget. He decides what products get made. He decides the direction the tech industry is moving. And the future he sees is one in which women are removed from the means of production, and anyone who cannot afford to buy an iPad for their children is irrelevant. All because he can’t be bothered to carry out a focus group or buy some qualitative survey data.

This narrow-mindedness appears particularly stupid when you consider the millions of elderly people who are completely neglected by the tech industry. Many of them have a sizable disposable income and lots of leisure time on their hands – perfect for selling computer games to, as long as you get the platform and design right. I always wondered why they were being ignored by the market. Could it be because they don’t fit into the image of the nuclear family with which execs feel compelled to ally themselves?

2009 Game Developer Magazine Salary Survey

The cover of the Game Developer magazine, showing four men and one woman standing in line in various clothing.

The April edition of the Game Developer magazine is out, and with it comes the awaited results of their 2009 salary survey.  This is always a fun time to compare your salary with that of the rest of the industry.  It’s not just salary information though, there is also some demographic information that comes along with the article.  Here’s a quick look at the numbers for females vs. males in the gaming industry in 2009.

None of this is really all that surprising.  It’s easy to see that the gaming industry is still very much a male-dominated field, and that in most cases they make a significantly higher annual salary than their female counterparts.  With only 5% of programmers being female, I’m not sure their higher salary is to be taken into account due to statistical significance, but it is interesting that female audio developers are paid more than men on average.    Business and Legal being 25% female is also not surprising, because this includes Marketing, Community Managers, and Human Resources; three departments that often employ women rather regularly.

Programmers:

95% male, avg. salary $80,128
5% female, avg. salary $84,062

Artists and Animators:

92% male, avg. salary $72,500
8% female, avg. salary $51,071

Game Designers:

92% male, avg. salary $69,790
8% female, avg. salary $62,500

Producers:

82% male, avg. salary $75,950
18% female, avg. salary $71,136

Audio Developers:

88% male, avg. salary $81,184
12% female, avg. salary $87,500

QA Testers:

89% male, avg. salary $37,803
11% female, avg. salary $38,750

Business and Legal:

75% male, avg. salary $100,192
25% female, avg. salary $85,227

Game Industry Women to Know: 2010

Morgan “Rhoulette” Romine, Frag Dolls Team Captain, has compiled a list of 50 games industry women to know. The list is pretty well-rounded and includes women involved in all sorts of professions from game design to community management. The great thing about this list is that each entry gives you a brief synopsis of why folks should keep an eye on these talented women. There are a lot of high profile, famous women on the list, and many lesser known, but no less awesome women.

In the post, Romine described the impetus for writing it:

Since I’ve been wanting to do this kind of piece for a while, I figured there would be no better time to give props to some of the most badass women from around the video game industry. The second factoring motivation was a recent encounter I had with a Top 50 People in the Game Industry list that had ZERO women on it. ZERO!!! And it was a list in a major game industry magazine!!! I am still baffled. In the midst of my initial shock, I could name at least a dozen women off the top of my head who would vie for a spot on any Game Industry Top 50 list, so it’s impossible for me to comprehend how the compilers of that particular list did not manage to think of a single one.

Further on in the post, Romine mentions the games industry’s “Boy’s Club Mentality” and her hopes that, by raising the visibility of these women, it will, in a small way, help move the industry beyond this mentality. She acknowledges that there are way more than 50 women working in the industry or working in games academia, but that every single woman on the list is worth mentioning and knowing. Romine also acknowledges the limitations of this list, as constrained by her own knowledge. As such, the list is constrained mostly to North American women. It’s great to see women being spotlighted for their accomplishments and talents, to give these women the recognition they deserve, and to raise awareness of their achievements.

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