Women in Game Design, 2014-2015

I conducted research on the sex imbalance in the game design field, focusing on designers in Montreal, Canada. This was a collaboration with Dr. Danny Godin, a researcher in game design. We co-authored “Motivations and challenges facing female game design students and professionals: Lessons to better support women in the game design field,” an article in The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice (2015).

The female to male ratio of students in game design higher education programs and designers in the video game industry is low despite a growing proportion of female video game users. To address this sex imbalance and encourage and support women in the video game design field, it is important to understand what draws designers to the field along with the experiences and challenges facing female game designers. Thus, the objective of this research project is to understand the motivations and challenges facing female game design students and professionals, and to establish lessons to better support women in the game design field. This study is based on surveys of students and alumni of one higher education program in game design in Montréal, Canada. The survey included two sections. The first addressed participants’ academic backgrounds, interests in games, experiences in the game design education program, and the impact of their sex on their place in the field. The second section tested a hypothesis that desirable traits for game designers are associated with masculinity and, thus, the portrait of an ‘ideal’ game designer is primarily masculine. This research confirmed male domination and negative social pressures against women in the game design field. The first section helped to inform personas of game design students and professionals to guide targeted support for women in the video game design field. The second section demonstrated that the portrait of a game designer may be more masculine than feminine, but that this vision has potential to change over time.

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