The video game industry is male-dominated. Video games make up a $48 billion industry, and 48 percent of that revenue comes from women. But around three-fourths of the developers creating those games are men. That said, talented female professionals are making the games — and their career — a woman’s place.
“Traditionally, the video game industry has been dominated by men,” says Sandy Lin-Chiang, associate art director at Sledgehammer Games. “When I first started in gaming 15 years-ago, I remember I was one of two women content creators on the team.”
Betsy DeHont, development director at Sledgehammer Games, has a similar perspective. “It’s exciting to see the industry change, but there’s so much more to do.”
That is part of a larger trend of studios seeking more diversity. “It takes a village. I see a ton of support from men in the industry trying to change the culture,” says Lin-Chiang, “especially at Sledgehammer Games. We understand that having diversity and having a female voice is very important, it’s something our studio has been advocating.”
That matches DeHont’s experience. “Part of my motivation to join was the prospect of being a female leader at Sledgehammer Games. And the studio has adapted their practices to be more open to people of different job backgrounds. At some of the large AAA studios there has been a tendency to just look for very specific AAA experience. By doing that, people were hiring or re-hiring the same people — that meant that if it wasn’t diverse before, it wasn’t becoming morediverse.”
Closing the gender gap
Both acknowledge there are challenges remaining. The number of women seeking careers in the industry is frustratingly small, and DeHont thinks gaming needs to be more aggressive in recruiting talented women. “It’s great to be really open to female candidates, but that hasn’t been enough. We just don’t have enough women applying. We need to do more outreach,” she says. “We’re focused on getting the word out that a career in games is fulfilling for women.”
“Anytime there’s an opportunity, I always try to see how we get more women involved,” says Lin-Chiang. “Something that is very important is providing mentorship to young developers or people trying to break into this career.” Her own experience has been encouraging. “I’ve been at Sledgehammer Games for nine years. I became a mother of two kids, and it’s important to note that I have a lot of support from my colleagues. That’s the culture that we want: open and inclusive.”
Foot in the door
For women interested in a career in video games, both DeHont and Lin-Chiang offer enthusiastic encouragement — and concrete advice. “Internships are extremely valuable, but can be hard to come by,” DeHont advises. “If possible, getting a degree that’s related to gaming can help. Don’t be intimidated to reach out to industry professionals. We have a culture of openness at Sledgehammer Games and many use their job networks to connect with people. We’re dedicated to helping passionate people break into the video game industry.”
Lin-Chiang echoes that encouragement. “I would say to young girls who want to get into the video game industry, ‘Don’t be afraid. Have courage. Always take on the challenge. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Anything that you want to do is possible.’”
How to connect with Sledgehammer Games:https://www.linkedin.com/company/sledgehammer-games
And be sure to check out Sledgehammer Games’ Developer Profiles, that focuses on telling the personal stories of individual contributors in the Video Game Industry.
Jeff Somers, [email protected]