The industry has been catering for the stereotypical male gamer for too long, but in Sweden games companies are taking action
The image of the typical gamer as a lone teenage boy in his room is gone – female gamers have increased over the past six years and today 48% of gamers in the US are women, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
That helped drive total consumer spending on gaming worldwide to $21bn in 2013. But games companies are still routinely failing their female audience.
Four out of the five top-selling video games of 2013 globally were rated “mature” in content, meaning that the game may contain intense violence and sexual imagery, and Target has refused to stock the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 5 in Australia because of its degrading depiction of women.
Only 4% of the main characters in the 25 top-selling video games of 2013 were female and more often than not we see hyper-sexualised representations of women used as foils in games plots where the heterosexual male is hero.
The events of #GamerGate (GG), which started as a protest against corrupt journalism and ended as a vehicle for sexism targeting women speaking up about the issues, may have split gamers worldwide, but in Sweden games companies stood united.
They denounced the actions of those backing GG and, well aware of the lack of women in the sector, industry organisation Dataspelsbranschen, helped set up a network to promote equality and diversity in gaming. Microsoft’s Xbox is one of its early members.
In a project funded by the Swedish government, Dataspelsbranschen is also looking into a possible certification process for games developers to ensure diversity in games.
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