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Why do we need to know about the general make-up of the game industry?

Yesterday my colleagues at Full Sail University and I launched a survey examining the various demographics of our industry.

A lot of decisions being made in our industry are based on observation and personal experience, but this is not necessarily the best way to look at things. My students come to me and say there don’t seem to be a lot of women in games, so they think there isn’t any diversity.  I can see where they come to that conclusion.

I am Susan Gold, an educator in games (since 2001), female, gamer, artist and activist. I have seen classroom after classroom full of guys. I remember last year when my first female graduate student was in attendance, I was so excited. But come on, getting excited because I have ONE woman in my class (this month I have 2), how lame is that? But is that the truth for the whole industry, possibly? I know at CMU’s ETC they have a lot of women in their program. Are they an anomaly or the norm?

With my work on the Global Game Jam I have met people all over the world doing game development. I see people in our industry as diverse. They are from Tehran to Beijing, Vancouver to Bogota, San Francisco to Moscow, Paris to Johannesburg…. There are developers everywhere in this big world. Is GGJ representative of what is going on in our industry? Is game development one of the few places that does not see color, race or gender? I tell my students that games is the one area in my life that I feel the most acceptance. I think you can be a Mohawk-wearing, tattooed, transgendered pink polk-a-dot person and still be welcome in the games environment… as long as your work is good, we don’t care. But is this true? Or just extrapolation from my own experience?

Yesterday my colleagues at Full Sail University and I launched a survey examining the various demographics of our industry. I am sure some people are wondering: Why do we care? Who will it help? I can give you the many reasons why I care, (they revolve around education).  But I want you to care and I want you to be thinking about these questions. For instance, is this an industry full of young people? Do we all have degrees in Computer Science or Fine Art? Are there population pockets? 

The honest truth is this: We don’t know who is in the industry. We don’t have a real census, and to be honest, that would be quite an undertaking. We have not done a full-fledged survey about demographics or diversity since 2005’s IGDA Diversity SIG Survey. Any current information we have comes from Gamasutra’s Survey Salary which does not really focus that much on these types of questions. We need one, just to know the truth. We need to know who we are, and not just who we think we are. 

Please help complete the picture and participate in a survey about the people in the Video Game Industry: http://tinyurl.com/gamedevsnapshot

You’re a part of the industry and you matter. We want you to be a part of the snapshot.

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