Women represent half of the gamer population
"Women don't know how to play video games."
"A girl can't be that good."
“Did you lose against a girl?”
We've all heard some of these stereotype phrases about women in the gaming world - machismo is still very visible in this industry. But, if before playing consoles or computers was considered a “boy thing”, nowadays the reality has become quite different - there are more and more women gamers, in Portugal and in the rest of the world. Nationally, represents 35% of gamers and internationally, they reach 48%. But are they given a stage to shine?
Dimension Seven, or D7, as it is known, was a professional Counter Strike Global Offensive player for the Spanish team Vodafone Giants Red, until the beginning of 2021. Despite being one of the best players nationwide , complains of hearing sexist comments daily and feels discriminated against for being a woman in this universe.
D7 is one of the only Portuguese professional players, but says she still can't make it her only income. In Portugal there are still very few women's teams and those that are are not paid. The case is quite different when we analyze the male universe - there are more and more professionalized teams with sponsorships.
Despite representing almost half of the gamer population, women practically do not occupy positions of creators. The total number of games developed by them is only around 10%, according to Women Up Games. Another study, from 2020, carried out in the 14 largest gaming companies worldwide, reveals that 84% of executive positions in the industry are held by men. Outside the executive area, only 24% of workers are women.
Most companies continue to create products that target men and the idea that this is a male-dominated industry hurts brands. There is still a lack of representation of female characters in video games. Several studies reveal that gender stereotypes continue to prevail, often resorting to objectified and sexualized images. When that doesn't happen, female characters are portrayed as an object of love interest or as a maiden who needs to be rescued.
But there is good news! Feminist Frequency reported a significant improvement in 2020 in the representation of female characters. In 18% of the games released last year there were female characters. But it's still too early to know if 2020 was an anomaly or if it represents the beginning of a new trend to show female protagonists, free from gender stereotypes.
Internationally, the Women in Games Ambassador program has more than 400 ambassadors around the world, working to support women who want to join the games industry - the goal is to double the number of women in gaming in the next 10 years.
In the business world, initiatives such as the UK-based #RaisetheGame encourage companies to create more inclusive work environments. More than 100 companies have already joined this initiative, creating spaces with opportunities for everyone.
Despite the achievements of women in the gaming world, there is still a long way to go, especially in Portugal. It is important to support the development of inclusive initiatives and communities and of practice is often the first step.
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