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Men still dominate game development

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The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has put out the results of their developer satisfaction survey. For the most part, the results are as expected – while there have been some changes since the last one in 2009, the status quo is still the same.

Compared to 2009 when 11.5% of respondents identified as women, this year 22% did so and 2% defined themselves as transgendered or “other”. This means that 76% of game developers are male. Nearly 50% earn less than $50k per year, with 19% raking in $100k or more.

However, it’s the actual satisfaction element that I find most interesting. 41% of developers say they do the job because they’re able to earn a living while doing what they love, and 40% give the reason that they’re following their passion. However, when they leave the industry it seems understandable:

IGDA leave

With 15% burnt out and 39% seeking a higher quality of life, things aren’t easy for the people who make our preferred form of entertainment. Part of this is that many studios still make use of “crunch time” prior to the launch of the game – this is when developers are expected to work like demons for ridiculous hours to push towards the deadline. Despite the added workload, only 45% reported earning extra compensation during the crunch. Considering the difficult market, it’s also not surprising that the average developer had four different employers over the past five years.

While many of us might dream of making our own games, the reality clearly isn’t that great. The income is less than stellar, the work environment can be really poor, and it’s an industry that seems destined to lead developers towards burn out and seeking a better life elsewhere. The only thing keeping people at it seems to be their passion for games and game making, but it must be absolutely grueling in the industry, and almost impossible to have a good life or family. It’s no wonder that it’s still such a male dominated industry – women typically avoid industries with such high burnout and low lifestyle situations. It’s not universal, but as a general rule women tend towards industries that are more secure and low risk, with the flexibility to spend time with their families.

What sort of changes would you expect or like to see in the industry? I would hope that game developers could get higher rewards (read: more money) for their labors, giving a higher quality of life and hopefully lower burnout rates. It makes me sad to think that inspired developers and creators are leaving the industry that makes them happy because it simply chews them up and spits them out.

Last Updated: June 25, 2014

73 Comments

  1. Liquid Kaz (Umar)

    June 25, 2014 at 09:27

    This inudstry is so sick, it’s just not funny. A failed game could easily spell your doom…I could never live with that kind of stress not to mention the amount of hate these people can get from the internet. Let’s face it, gamers are turning into monsters. And obviously this is not everyone and I always include myself when I speak of gamers, as I can do better too. But just look at the flappy bird incident. Kak game, sure, but did the developer deserve that kind of hate?……..There is a much greater problem in the industry, and it has nothing to do with including gay/females etc …. the fanbase is toxic and the industry is greedy. It’s a really sad thing to see, and I wish more people would focus on the real issues here.

    Reply

    • Rince&exhale

      June 25, 2014 at 09:36

      Agree with most of what you said. But remember, gaming is now mainstream, and any mainstream hobby that brings in billions is going to have the same bastards at the top, and at the bottom. Same with cars, movies, books etc. If you compare now to 20 years ago easy to say it looks sick, but also need to remember many things have changed since and more than likely will never go back to the way they were.

      Reply

      • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

        June 25, 2014 at 09:43

        Yeah can definitely agree with that. But then, the changes it went through in its transition to mainstream is clearly not healthy..The industry is more now about money than anything else. And I’m not just looking at it from a monetary stand point, but the practices that goes on here as well as the fanbase that it bred has become an entirely different beast all together

        Reply

        • Rince&exhale

          June 25, 2014 at 09:45

          Look at football. It used to be a gentle sport as well, now it’s all about money and has fanboys that are hooligans. Same as games.

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            June 25, 2014 at 09:47

            There was a time that football didn’t have hooligans? πŸ˜›

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 09:48

            lulz, ya, pre second world war.

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:49

            Usually when your team loses the fans go ape sh*t, I guess Gavin must’ve been raging forever

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:48

            Then all the F**king industries are whack lol

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 09:49

            I think it’s the nature of capitalism, not just the industries. When something starts to make money it will inevitable end up in this sort of state. Sho, look at Nike and its sweatshops, the iPad and it’s death factories…

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:51

            Hence…………….Money really is the root of all problems

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 09:53

            Well, what is money but a manifestation of power? And an apparently legal one. Back in the day it was the dude with the bigger muscles.

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:57

            Until someone paid another guy with BIGGER muscles to take care of him….So what is the problem then? Humans? Are we just cancer in this world?

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 09:57

            DING DING DING! πŸ™‚ Not all of us are man.

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 10:00

            lol yeah of course, still…We could all be better I guess. Or try at least. Can’t change the world unless you change yourself?….

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 10:02

            You shut your tentacle face up, I are pefectz!

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 10:03

            LOL perfectly imperfect

          • Mark Treloar

            June 25, 2014 at 10:25

            Perfect mutant?

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 25, 2014 at 09:48

          Well just look at the way the heads of publishers or other senior people in the gaming industry talk to gamers. It’s the snappy MBA business lingo of the day that impresses the shareholders so much.

          I read an article a couple of years back which talked about how many of the big publishers have people from the movie industry in senior positions, with no gaming experience.

          Reply

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:52

            They’re good for one thing. Not making games better, or giving more to gamers. They’re there to make money….plain and simple…..

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            June 25, 2014 at 09:54

            Did you ever read that long article on the collapse of Lucasarts? Thanks George.

          • Liquid Kaz (Umar)

            June 25, 2014 at 09:57

            Nope, will have a look at it

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        June 25, 2014 at 09:44

        I know… 20 years ago there were only the PC gentlemen & their gentle Nintendo brethren who co-existed peacefully. There was no internet highway. It was a simpler time. Then came the dark ages & the revolting peasants that are still with us today πŸ™

        PS. trollol!

        Reply

        • Rince&exhale

          June 25, 2014 at 09:46

          I have to agree πŸ˜‰ Blame the internet. Being able to call someone a motha f****r and not have to worry about the consequences changed the world.

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            June 25, 2014 at 09:53

            Yes, anonymity has it’s upsides but it has it’s downsides too. But if you think about it, you can’t really do anything to anyone who does that IRL either unless you want to end up in a whole lot of trouble. Removal of swift consequences for “bad” behaviour isn’t really a good thing as far as I’m concerned, although I understand why it’s come about.

            I think Uncle Ben said it best when he said, “With great power comes greatness.” At least that’s what I think he was trying to say, he died near the end.

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 09:54

            Wasn’t it “with great power comes the inevitable reboot?” 0-O

          • Weanerdog

            June 25, 2014 at 14:58

    • Anthony

      June 25, 2014 at 14:00

      Its not a problem until you make it a problem. Women Don’t want to Program. So lets stop acting like there is type of discrimination going on. I mean do any of you actually work in the IT industry at all ?Cause any of you have, you would think this whole article is BS. There is Absolutely no women in my department. When I go out on dates, I talk about my job, I talk about games, and I can literally just see their eyes drift away. Its almost like a natural reaction. And here we go with these guys crying about More Gay people and women. Gay people would rather spend their day at a art gallery then play video games.

      Reply

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 25, 2014 at 09:35

    Companies that don’t pay staff for overtime are bad ones. And I don’t mean oh I worked an hour overtime & I never got paid poor me boo hoo. I mean ones that pay for 40 hours a week & demand 50-60 per week & give nothing back, whether it be time, perks, money or whatever, systematically.

    The thing I also don’t really understand is that there is SO MUCH research around work hours & productivity & it’s a fact that people don’t perform well under extended periods of working like that, yet it still goes on. It’s a short term gain at best. Think the reason so many game companies do it is because many of the people are employed on contract for a specific project, so as soon as the project is done the contracts are over & they’re out the door – so they don’t have to deal long term.

    Reply

    • Rince&exhale

      June 25, 2014 at 09:41

      Totally agree. the occasional hour overtime I have no problem with, but then it becomes 10-20 hours a week for months on end then you can see why you have credits like this at the end of games… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPk1LtESE-U

      Reply

      • Rince&exhale

        June 25, 2014 at 09:51

        Correct me if I am wrong, but was Gears the first game to have the pictures of its team with little ‘sorry for never seeing you wife, thanks for putting up with that last few killer months’?

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 25, 2014 at 10:30

          Go ahead, correct yourself for being wrong.. I want to see a Rince-ception in action.

          Reply

          • Rince&exhale

            June 25, 2014 at 10:47

            I am wrong? Who was the first?

  3. Rince&exhale

    June 25, 2014 at 09:35

    Yeah. I wouldn’t survive long if I had to deal with the vitriol of the internet. The over privileged little punks have created a toxic environment that I would want nothing to do with.

    Reply

  4. Hammersteyn

    June 25, 2014 at 09:47

    Pay a person what’s due. Look after your people. If they work extra compensate them for it. It’s really easy, treat them like you want to be treated. I’m speaking out of experience as well, the few years I was part owner of a company. We would put cash away every month but only after we payed out performance bonuses. We always did because everyone worked hard and everyone worked hard because they knew they would be rewarded. This is applicable to any industry

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      June 25, 2014 at 10:02

      Inderdaad. Happy people work harder & are more productive = long term benefit for company that employs them.

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        June 25, 2014 at 12:01

        My previous company has a ridiculously high staff turnover. You’d think they notice?

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 25, 2014 at 12:19

          The ones who don’t notice are the same ones who weren’t paying attention in MBA class when they were told 70/75% of businesses fail because of poor management.

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            June 25, 2014 at 12:42

            This company, I don’t think they know what an MBA is…

    • Gavin Mannion

      June 25, 2014 at 10:29

      but what about shareholder profit… you know those annoying things that really don’t give anything apart from a bit of cash to make someone else richer..

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        June 25, 2014 at 10:39

        We were fortunately a smallish dev company so we didn’t have any shareholders, but good point. In the end most people are basically selfish miserable creatures. In a perfect world I would have liked to believe things worked the way we did it.

        Reply

        • HvR - Still dislikes Random.or

          June 25, 2014 at 10:44

          Seen and experience this a few times, dev companies (software, hardware etc) usually started by engineers or developers. It is fun but hardwork to work for a small or up start company and you usually get just reward if things go well.

          But as soon as the VC guys arrive AND take contol it is a good time to cash in and get out. I take my queue when a guy in suit uses the words “were are a family” when explaining why we are not getting raises or bonuses despite reaching all ridicolous targets set.targets

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            June 25, 2014 at 10:46

            I work for a private company that was bought out by a corporate, which in turn was bought out by another. It actually makes me really sad to see the way things have gotten worse.

  5. Brenz

    June 25, 2014 at 09:55

    Not sure why the title is poking the feminist bear, not really the point being made here,and its getting old, but anyway.

    Its not just the gaming industry you know, try working in hospitality, now that’s a fucking joke, especially as a chef. Whats a 40 hour week? whats a 60 hour week? oh every day is crunch time is it? you call this a salary?
    There are problems in many industries in this world, game development being one of the many. Greed the common enemy here, pay people as little as you can get away with so there can be more for you. People are all replaceable, they are just numbers.

    Reply

    • Rince&exhale

      June 25, 2014 at 09:56

      Because HITS!

      Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      June 25, 2014 at 10:01

      That’s the biggest problem with the entire world economy. People are replaceable numbers because there are so many so them & it’s also led to a decrease in the perception people have of the value of time/labour.

      Reply

      • Brenz

        June 25, 2014 at 10:04

        So I guess the best solution would be cull half the population of the world then, so the survivors become valued again.

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 25, 2014 at 10:05

          Actually, yes. But it’s not going to happen voluntarily πŸ˜‰

          Reply

          • Brenz

            June 25, 2014 at 10:06

            Naturally, i suppose someone has to start it, we should talk somewhere a little less public….

    • Tom Krager

      June 25, 2014 at 12:39

      I was thinking the same thing. The article only mentioned the male/female angle in one sentence. obviously they are targeting certain ppl with a title like that . . .

      Reply

      • Brenz

        June 25, 2014 at 18:01

        Yeah, because the feminist attack group are such a nice bunch of people to have part of your conversation.
        Im getting real tired of this sexist bullshit.

        Reply

  6. Hendrik

    June 25, 2014 at 10:26

    That is why I have 30 plus original games in my flat. No copies, and only two of them were bought on a sale. I support these people even though it hurts me because I can’t live without them.

    Reply

    • Hendrik

      June 25, 2014 at 10:31

      I don’t know if that will solve the problem, but that is the best I can do from my side. I will kill someone who owns a pirate copy of a game, even if it is Call of Duty. Maybe I’ll just kill you because you play Call of Duty anyway πŸ™‚

      Reply

    • HvR - Still dislikes Random.or

      June 25, 2014 at 10:58

      I’m not supporting piracy.

      But for a long time you have not been you have not been supporting the people thinking of, creating or making the game.

      You are supporting the big shareholders (mostly born into money) who have never created a game in their life and egotistical maniacs like Jobs and Gates who never had an original idea in their life.

      Reply

  7. Rags

    June 25, 2014 at 10:35

    Its gonna even out eventually. My generation and the one before, males are ridiculed as nerds by being part of the industry by females. Now the industry is called sexist for not having employing enough females by ‘pop culture experts’. πŸ˜‰

    Reply

  8. CAE9872

    June 25, 2014 at 10:41

    This article brings up a LOT of issues and counter-issues:

    1. Women in industry – doubled in 5 years isn’t bad. That’s approx a quarter of the industry being women or “other”. The good thing is if it starts to impact games in non-traditional ways. Everyone goes on about what another perspective may bring – I hope so, but there seems to be a lot of innovation left anyway.

    2. Work hours – to me the crunch time thing is a part of the industry. Because of its very nature I cannot see this changing easily. You have a game to release on x day – its time to knuckle down. However, if that is what you do 24/7 year round = recipe for disaster. Ask me I know – I am in an industry that charges by the hour…which brings me to the next point.

    3. The work hours thing is possibly a reason for so many more high-profile people going “indie.” Even though you may still kill yourself on occassion, its your baby so you don’t overly mind working flat out when needed. When its a big corporate – besides the big stick, there is no real motivation.

    4. That is a lot of people leaving the industry because of poor wages. Its the age-old problem – the people doing the work tend to get the lowest returns! Heck just look at society around us – it blows my mind how doctors, nurses, teachers, police, etc get paid so poorly. My industry pays decently, for hard work sure, but at the end of the day I just crunch numbers mostly. I hardly do anything that is noble to the general public as those mentioned above do – I do love my job though.

    Anyway my 2 cents…

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      June 25, 2014 at 10:56

      Well said. It’s not simple, which is what makes analysis so much fun.

      Reply

  9. HvR - Still dislikes Random.or

    June 25, 2014 at 10:51

    There you see crunch time, burnt out short on time and lots of deliverable and then you get gaming journalist calling them lazy when they do not have enough time to add to add in every gender, religions and sexual orientation in the game.

    Reply

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

      June 25, 2014 at 12:01

      Very good point. Very very good point

      Reply

  10. oVg FX

    June 25, 2014 at 10:53

    Reply

  11. ToshZA

    June 25, 2014 at 11:55

    You know what the difference between Game Devs and Animators, Designers and anyone in theTV and Film industry is? The rest of us don’t bitch about low pay and shitty hours. We just get on with it.

    Reply

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

      June 25, 2014 at 12:02

      Hey! Leave me and my low pay job out of this!

      *disclaimer* – I am not complaining. I actually think I make alright money and am happy with what I have

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        June 25, 2014 at 12:03

        What’s a pay, precious?

        Reply

        • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

          June 25, 2014 at 12:09

          It’s this magical number that appears on your bank account about a day or so before that number magically disappears due to negative numbers that make it smaller

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            June 25, 2014 at 12:18

            I cannot upvote this enough!!! Well said man, well said.

      • MichaelMatusowsky

        June 25, 2014 at 13:06

        If you have internet in your home, you’re doing alright :).

        Reply

  12. Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

    June 25, 2014 at 12:01

    For one, less unreasonable deadlines would go a long way.

    This also goes on to prove what I’ve been saying all along. It’s not because the industry is biased that there are so few females in the industry. It’s because most woman aren’t interested in being in the industry due to its hectic environment.

    Men jump in to the industry because we men will make it seem good in our heads and think that it’s amazing! (While it really isn’t) and woman are more level headed and kind of go “yeah, urm no. I like my life thanks” and do other things.

    So to all the femenists out there. Please stop blaming men that the industry is saturated with men. Rather be thankful it’s full of men who only saw carrot at the end of the stick and fell in to the industry thinking it will be amazeballs.

    Yeah, I’m probably going to be flamed for that last part….

    Reply

    • MichaelMatusowsky

      June 25, 2014 at 13:06

      The only amazeballs part is payday :(.

      Reply

  13. Brady miaau

    June 25, 2014 at 12:39

    Um. Ok. Engineering sector too. Most developers / engineers I have worked with have been men. Nothing against woman, just advertise and get far more men than woman interested in the job.

    Reason? I am not sure. I know a few female engineers, very good at what they do.

    Reply

    • Rags

      June 25, 2014 at 13:57

      The reason is that there are 1% females in the the engineering faculties. Most are not interested in the field.

      Reply

      • Brady miaau

        June 25, 2014 at 14:25

        Yes, but that is not, I fear, the core reason. Why are they not interested? Is it because they feel there are not enough woman, so will feel intimated? Or just not interested in the engineering building and design stuff?

        Reply

        • Rags

          June 25, 2014 at 14:53

          I don’t know why they should feel intimidated. There is no negative stigma as opposed to say male nurses or pre school teachers. The female engineers while a rare specie in my experience where at worst impartial and at best celebrated by students and staff. My guess lack of interest due to gender expectations at younger age. Son would help dad in the garage, thus spark interest in engineering.

          Reply

  14. MichaelMatusowsky

    June 25, 2014 at 13:05

    Women still dominate the porn industry (with regards to pay). I DEMAND EQUALITY!

    Reply

  15. Weanerdog

    June 25, 2014 at 15:03

    Tales from the trenches always makes your job seem OK http://trenchescomic.com/

    Reply

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