New Diversity Effort Empowers Women in Video Game Industry

The Entertainment Software Association Foundation, along with Red Bull Media House, launched “We Are,” an initiative aimed at energizing women in the video game industry.

Women comprise about 45 percent of gamers, but only 21 percent of video game developers.

This disparity helped prompt “We Are,” a collaborative initiative between the Entertainment Software Association Foundation and Red Bull Media House, which encourages women to pursue their dreams in the video game industry. The focal point of the initiative is a new website, featuring a photo gallery of women gamers sharing their stories and a blog bylined by different female gamers.

“We’ve had great success with our scholarship program that focuses on supporting women and other minority students, and what we realized was that for a lot of young women, there was just this lack of visibility of others like them in the video game industry,” said ESA Foundation Executive Director Anastasia Staten. “When you don’t see those examples that you can relate to, it can be harder to get inspired to pursue that path yourself.”

To kick off We Are, ESA Foundation hosted a booth earlier this month at E3 2018, the gaming industry’s big annual show, which featured live conversations with women gamers and a photo exhibition.

“I’m really thrilled with the reaction we saw to our booth at E3, from the nearly 70,000 attendees who were able to experience it, to the positive feedback and engagement from industry professionals, consumers, press, influencers … it was a remarkable amount of engagement,” Staten said. “Most importantly, I think that the positive reception we had makes it even clearer that women are eager to be continue to be a part of the video game industry—and even more ready to be a part it.”

Following E3, ESA Foundation hopes to keep the We Are momentum going with new content that highlights women within the industry, as well as students who have won scholarships from the ESA Foundation to pursue careers in video games. Although ESA Foundation’s current focus with We Are is women, one of its longer-term goals is to expand this movement to one that is inclusive of all. “We really want to embody that ideal that video games are for everyone,” Staten said.

With We Are, ESA Foundation is underscoring the fact that empowering women will help the industry as a whole. “We want to make sure that future generations of video game professionals come from all walks of life and infuse that rich diversity of experience into the video gaming experience and the video game community,” Staten said.

Ultimately, the initiative is about promoting equal opportunity and sparking dreams. “It’s as simple as that,” she said. “Diverse teams create the best products for consumers, and while our current focus is certainly on women right now given the current climate and statistics, our long-term goal is really to fill the pipeline with high-level talent from all different backgrounds.”

Crysta Frost, a technical analyst for Visual Concepts and one of the featured participants in the We Are campaign. (Handout photo)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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