Why it matters that The Game Awards 2015 only includes 2 female jurors

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Token woman

I think we all get it by now – representation of women in gaming is important. No, not because it’s bowing to pressure to placate one group or another, but because it actually represents the population of humans and gamers on this planet. Also, by including people from diverse backgrounds, we can broaden our horizons and see things from various perspectives. Plus, it undoes some of the awful stereotyping in the gaming industry –  that it’s all a white male dominated industry. But of course, someone messed up in this regard, again.

Earlier this week, Geoff told you about the Game Award nominations. Most of the nominees seem pretty solid, although we were all a bit surprised at the exclusion of Tomb Raider from the list of Game of the Year nominees. Still, it’s hard to argue with the titles on the list and The Game Awards is sort of the most official award show that you can get each year, with the exception of ours, of course. It makes sense that they selected the titles that they did – they worked with a jury of 32 international media to select and assess the games. But that’s where things get a bit hairier than Darryn’s toes.

The list of 32 jurors was announced, and it became immediately clear that something was a bit amiss – there was only one female juror. After a bit of twitter hullaballoo, that number has now doubled. Yes, there are now two female jurors, out of 32, excluding the eSports ones, which brings the sausage tally higher. I have to wonder how the jurors were selected. Clearly they were drawn from each publication, but could the publication choose who would represent them, or did it just default to whomever serves as managing editor?

I’m sure these 32 jurors will do a fine job and the games that they select as winners will be in line with the games that would have won if more women had been in the jury pool. However, it is a bit disconcerting on two levels. First of all, despite all the calls for more female representation in the past couple years, it’s a bit surprising that such a high profile award show would go forward without at least considering the composition of its panel. Secondly, what does it say about the levels of representation at these various international publications if only two of them were able to put forward women as their jurors? While plenty of sites and magazines have written about the issues of women and people of colour (of which there are apparently four on the panel) in gaming, it seems that the issues are even more embedded than previously imagined.

Are these jurors qualified? I’m sure they are. I’m not advocating that women are included on a panel simply because of their gender, but rather to better represent the population of gamers. It’s just disappointing that even after all the attention highlighting the issue, a high profile award show could completely overlook the fact that their jurors are predominantly white male. I know we’re all tired of talking about it, but until these types of things stop happening, apparently we need to keep reminding the world that it’s an important topic.

Last Updated: November 19, 2015

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