According to the Wall Street Journal, there are just five women with chief officer titles across the top five publicly traded U.S. game companies. But in 2015, the video game market was estimated to be worth $16.97 billion in the U.S. alone.
One female Chief Studios Officer sees a major issue with the lack of women in video games, and she's working to change the status quo. In a recent interview, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA)'s Laura Miele explained how companies can attract more women to the video games industry — and how EA is spearheading the movement.
The International Game Developers Associate reported that only 21% of 963 game creators surveyed world-wide said they were female in 2017. But Miele is uniting women who want to increase representation within the space.
"I passionately believe in women’s rights and started a women’s networking and mentorship group at EA about four years ago," she said. "I think we’re making strides, both internally and in the representation of female characters in games."
She shared that Electronic Arts has a large internal project called "A Diversity Framework," which acts as a kind of screening to understand the studio's representation of women.
"How many female roles are in them? How many lines of dialogue do they have? When are they the antagonist, the protagonist? We have this pretty amazing audit, or framework if you will, that we run all of our games through," she said. "I’m not being prescriptive about it. I’m not saying there has to be a minimum level of dialogue for female characters or there has to be this many women in a game. But any choices that we make are deliberate. And I think that is what I want most for the content that we create and for the players that we create the content for."
Miele is hoping that by better representing women in actual games — and by supporting women in the games industry — more women will be attracted to game development. And so far, it seems to be working. More women are playing games now than ever before, and experts are hoping this translates to more interest in the business side.
"Our statistics show that 50% of our players are women. Mobile gaming has been, for some women, a gateway into more immersive, high-definition gaming on their TV sets or PCs. And those games are developing richer, more diverse stories, so they’re becoming more appealing for female players," Miele explained.
While women still face barriers to equal gaming experiences, such as sexual harassment in chatrooms or cyberstalking by male players, Miele thinks "having a company culture that embraces diverse thought and skills is the first place for us to start."
Getting more women involved in video games is important for many reasons. The industry isn't only an important avenue for economic empowerment and creative expression — it's changing the way we communicate and tell stories.
"Games are so much more accessible... That’s helping people build more connections," Miele said.
Hopefully, these connections will include the entire population with the help of industry titans like EA.