06 August 2013

European Women in Games Conference New Speakers Announced

A number of additional high profile speakers will be appearing :

Noirin Carmody: COO Revolution Software
Fiona Sperry: Studio Director Criterion Games
Belinda Parmar: CEO Lady Geek

For more information, see http://wigconference2013.eventbrite.com and join the Women in Games Jobs Linked In group to see how to get promotional 15% off admission.

05 August 2013

New Toys for Girls

Frustrated by the lack of non-Barbie-type toys for girls and armed with research on girls' play patterns, these entrepreneurs decided to create toys for girls that would ignite creativity, promote positive self-images, and interest girls in science and engineering.

In particular, I found the research very interesting:
"The play is also very precise with girls," says Kaskey, referring to the way in which girls set up the sports figurines on which the portable playing field and then add their own stuffed toys as spectators.

For the full article and to read descriptions of non-"pink" toys, see "New Toys for Girls" from Westchester Family.

20 February 2013

Feminist Game Design Explored

NYU Game Center recently announced an upcoming series of lectures on feminist game design. To kick off the series, game designer and researcher Jessica Hammer described the design process of a game intended to strengthen the emotional skills of Ethiopian teenage girls.

For more information on other lectures in this series, check the NYU Game Center blog.

13 February 2013

Reactions to female voices in FPS games

Over the weekend, Wai Yen Tang posted some findings from a study on how female voices are perceived in multiplayer FPS games.  Female voices received three times as many negative comments than male voices or mutes.

For the full analysis, see Wai Yen Tang's blog post.

04 February 2013

Women in Military Video Games

With the Pentagon's recent announcement that all combat roles would be open to women, it has led to speculation as to whether or not military shooters like the popular Call of Duty series will now feature women more prominently.  The lack of female protagonists in such games has not gone unnoticed. 

In "Games need to address women in military combat," Caleb Hale describes this lack of female protagonists as an example of the game industry's "male-centric mindset" and urges developers to address gender equality in video games. Hale does point out that futuristic, sci-fi games do feature female protagonists, perhaps an indication of a more enlightened society.

Jared Newman in the article, "Women in Combat Roles:Who Knew Video Games Were So Progressive?" expresses the opposite viewpoint, praising the industry for the depiction of capable female warriors in several of these futuristic games.  The mechanics of the games give the same abilities to males and females, alike.

But will we see these female warriors in more realistic shooters?  In "Games likely to follow Pentagon on women in combat," Derrik J. Lang reports that game makers are already thinking of scenarios in which women would appear in combat roles.

29 January 2013

The Risks of Telecommuting

Beware!   A telecommuter's lack of "face time" may be leading to smaller raises, less promotions, and poorer work evaluations.  Whether unintentionally or not, managers seem affected by "passive face time" (being observed in the workplace or working) or "extracurricular face time" (being seen at the workplace or near co-workers outside of normal hours.)

If you're telecommuting, you can try to make a bigger impression by getting colleagues to mention you, by visiting the office more, giving regular status updates, and sending all your e-mail really early or really late (gives the impression you're working beyond normal business hours).

For the full article and to read how employers can avoid unfair evaluations based on face time, see "Why Showing Your Face at Work Matters."

21 January 2013

Passion Capital

"Passion Capital" is the world's most valuable asset, according to Paul Alofs, author of the book, Passion Capital.  Many businesses are recognizing that in order to tap into a worker's passion capital, especially in creative industries, they may have to re-envision their work policies. When or how an employee is inspired may not be up to a regular 9-5 work timetable and thus, innovative businesses are allowing more flex-time, telecommuting, employee perks, employee choices, and are looking to see how they can reward and encourage their employees.

More and more studies indicate that working longer does not equal more productivity.  In fact, after more than 8 hours of work, productivity drops by half.  Moreover, long overtime hours cause an employee's health to worsen and doubles the employee's risk of depression.  European countries where working over 48 hours a week is prohibited still manage to maintain a competitive edge while also having a high happiness quotient.

As mentioned on my other blog, in the article "On Volunteering", one of the worse feelings is a person putting in the work and not being appreciated for it.  Major companies like Symantec and Intuit have instituted a type of crowd-sourced bonus system whereby anybody in the company can nominate a co-worker for a bonus.  Not only does the employee get a bonus, but the social recognition helps too!

Take a look at some of the ways companies are trying to tap into and recharge passion capital:

AOL Huffington Post Media Group:  Special nap rooms to rest during the day.

CouchSurfing:  Option to work one month from anywhere in the world

Autodesk:  Pipes in soft ambient noise to help employees focus

Betterment:  No official work hours; employees choose when and where they want to work

02 January 2013

Diversity in the Workforce

I once asked at a WIGI conference if diversity in the workplace had made an impact on design decisions.  Normally, people talk about the impact on female character models or how diversity in the workforce can broaden the market appeal of the games.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on how diversity in the workforce affects design decisions.

I'm an economics major, so when I presented at the Women's Game Conference in 2005, I discussed the economic impact of diversity:  reduced recruitment costs, increased staff motivation, increased creativity, and greater growth in new initiatives.  A more diverse workforce means more diverse backgrounds and experiences, which can lead to richer ideas and greater community connections.  Moreover, studies have shown that when the male:female ratio is more even, employees feel that it is a more pleasant work environment and this leads to higher productivity.

So why is it that there are fewer women in the game industry?  #1reasonwhy has shed some light, citing reasons from misogyny to harsh work conditions to unequal pay.  The prevailing economic thought on women's unequal pay when I was taking Labor Economics in college had to do with the fact that women can have babies.  Because some women had babies and chose to drop out of the workforce, it was reasoned that employees could not count on women to be reliable.  Therefore, it was riskier to hire women.  Also, those women who did drop out of the workforce tended to do so during years when men were climbing up the corporate ladder so they lost valuable time in their careers.  Often times, they could not return to the workforce after a hiatus.

However, the 2000 Nobelist in Economics James Heckman, who conducted a exhaustive study on women in the workforce, concluded that there was no "typical" woman who dropped in and out of the workforce.  There were women who worked all the time and there were women who didn't work or worked part-time or seasonally.  He concluded that companies should pay attention to the women who worked and invest in them equally.  An unequal wage to a valuable employee would only be detrimental to the company and to the industry.

Of course, as many HR managers in the video game industry might tell you, it can be challenging to find a diverse pool of qualified applicants.  It takes top-level commitment.  See the video below for ideas on diversity initiatives.