IGDA: Interest in Diversity, But Not Actual Diversity On The Rise in Game Industry

According to the IGDA, 81 percent of developers feel that workplace diversity is either "very important" or "somewhat important"

GDC Expo Credit: GDC

While more game developers see diversity in the industry as important, less companies are taking steps towards creating an workplace environment where "people from all walks of life can thrive," the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) reports, citing findings from its 2017 Developer Satisfaction Survey. Check out the results below.

According to the IGDA, 81 percent of developers feel that workplace diversity is either "very important" or "somewhat important." This number is up three percent from 2016 and up 18 percent from 2015. Additionally, 84 percent of developers feel diversity in the game industry in general is "very" or "somewhat" or "important." This number is up from 80 percent in 2016, and 66 percent in 2015. 

Though developers feel a need for increased diversity in the industry, the IGDA reports only 42 percent of people polled feel its taken steps to create a more diverse workplace, down from 47 percent in 2016. 

14 percent of those polled said their respective companies had no policies set in place to promote workplace diversity, while 25 percent said they didn't know whether or not the company they worked for had these policies. Of the companies with diversity policies set in place, 56 percent of respondents said they were "adequately enforced," while 34 percent said they weren't sure. 

The IDGA also asked developers "what the industry needed to do to succeed in the future." 21 percent of those polled said the industry should double down on diversity in game content. According to the Association, this was the second-most picked option behind game design advancement. 

Asking respondents how they feel about working environments and job security, 39 percent of those polled said they expect to "remain with their current employer for three years or less." 20 percent said they weren't sure how long they'd keep their current job. 51 percent of respondents said their job involves crunch time on projects, 44 percent said they work extended hours and 14 percent reported working more than 70 hours a week during crunch time. 

27 percent of polled developers say they've only been in the game industry between three and five years. According to the IGDA, this "statistic that highlights the significant employment volatility in the industry." 64 respondents said they'd been in the industry less than 10 years. 

Highlighting all the above are statistics provided by the IGDA about the typical worker in the game industry. The Association's findings are as follows:

  • The typical employee in this sample was 35 years old, identified as white or as multiracial with white (71%), was male (79%), and was working in the United States (44%). He was heterosexual (86%) and likely to be married or in a long-term relationships (57%; 37% reported being single). He did not have children (69%), and did not identify as having a disability (79%). He had a university degree (45%) probably in computer science (16%) or game design (13%).

  • Game developers are significantly younger than the mean age of 42 for participants in the US labor force, with 54% of respondents aged 25-34. This trend may reflect both the significant turnover in the industry as well as age discrimination often seen in tech fields.

  • For the first time in four years, Blizzard has beaten out Valve as most desirable company to work for with 8% of the vote. Valve received 6%. The next most common answers were Nintendo (4%), and Bethesda (4%).

“We’re seeing high rates of turnover and concerns about job stability,” interim executive director at the IGDA Jen MacLean said in a press release. “Combined with the lack of support for equality and diversity in the workplace, these results confirm the IGDA's belief that the organization must act to help game developers create fulfilling, sustainable careers. A short average tenure in the industry is also a clear wakeup call for game development companies; we must do a better job of keeping talent engaged and participating in our industry.”

More information about the IGDA can be found here