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Game play habits and gender – more than meets the eye

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Dr Jo Twist OBE

CEO, UKIE

CEO of interactive entertainment trades body, Ukie, Dr Jo Twist OBE, discusses gender game player myths and women getting into the industry.


Prevailing stereotypes about “gamers” are just that – stereotypes that are outdated and not backed by evidence. People who play video games are not just teenage boys playing a single genre; in fact, according to Nesta, the typical person who plays games in the UK is a 43 year old woman who enjoys her favourite titles on mobile.

Over the last decade, the mobile market and free-to-play models have pushed games and different genres into the hands of much broader audiences. Across platforms and different types of games, the gender split is 48% female, 52% male. This broadening audience is fantastic to see, but does highlight the need for a diversity of creators and developers to feed the demand for new kinds of experiences, characters and stories.

High demand for programmers, data scientists and artists

Careers in video games are varied and increasingly viewed as an exciting and rewarding option, but there is still a shortage in skills that the industry requires, particularly as we have a high demand for programmers, data scientists and artists. But the industry also needs people who have business, marketing, legal or accountancy skills too and emerging areas of games such as esports brings a whole other set of skill demands.

The latest figures suggest only 19% of the industry workforce is female compared to the UK average of 45%, so there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The industry continues to tackle this challenge, from identifying school speakers, to explaining pathways into careers, and working in partnership with organisations such as BAFTA on its Young Games Designer school competition.

We try to share best practice in inclusive recruitment and retention policies, and we work collectively to spotlight some of the excellent companies that work hard to create and inclusive and welcoming workplace. Whatever your background, we need you. We need people who bring different experiences and perspectives to help us continue to innovate, to create, to thrive – delivering the immersive experiences that enrich our everyday lives.

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