Making and distributing a video game is easier today than it has ever been. The materials needed to make a game – a computer, development tools, access to people with experience – are commodities within reach of far more creative people than they have been for the past thirty years, when games have been largely beholden to wildly expensive technology and delivery methods. For all the newfound accessibility in game development, however, the industry itself remains largely homogenous. On average, based on data culled from Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra, there are more men making video games professionally than women (and it would appear that they make less doing so, though just how big the discrepancy is open to debate).
For big businesses in the game industry, getting women to play games has been a major goal of the last decade. Today, about 47-percent of players are women. Goal achieved. Now companies like Sony want more women making games.
In attempting to make the PlayStation 4 a console that appeals to women, Sony believes that the path to success lies in hiring women to make games.
“We are not going down the route of making the console pink,” Sony Europe’s Andrew House told The Sun, “I think the key is to have people – and increasingly women – with different sensibilities creating different games. It is not all about shoot ‘em up games.”
Surprising words from a company who decided that the second PlayStation 4 game it would ever show the public was Killzone: Shadow Fall, a game that even in the smallest demo size proved beautiful but just a shoot ‘em up. The company has demonstrated though, that it’s interested in investing heavily in smaller developers working on more unusual fare. At both the PlayStation 4 event in February and at GDC 2013, Sony pushed its new console with myriad partnerships with independent developers. Finding the small developer that can create the next simple, genius hit is another part of Sony’s goal for getting women interested in PlayStation 4.
“The key is getting game developers who are going to make the next Angry Birds excited about the PS4. And they are,” said House.
If you trust the statistics, the turn away from “core” gaming will be the quickest way to win female fans. Core games, AAA titles like Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite that tend to emphasize violent spectacle, are overwhelmingly played by men. About 71-percent of the audience for core games is male according to the NPD Group. Turning to more unusual games may not be enough to bring more women into PS4 game development, but it’s a start.