Thursday, December 7, 2017

Google to make gaming more diverse via its Change the Game initiative

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There’s a problem in the mobile gaming industry that not a lot of people like to talk about. Women are vastly under-represented in games despite making up about half of gamers. Google is on a mission to change this and has rolled out a new initiative to make gaming more inclusive. The initiative is called “Change the Game,” and through it, Google is planning diversity programs, new partnerships, and research through 2018.


According to a study commissioned by Google, 49% of gamers in the United States are women. That includes 65% of women aged 10 – 65. Women are also more likely to prefer mobile games over other platforms like PC or consoles (64% to 38%). The study also discovered that 43% of women play mobile games five times per week or more; only 38% of men do the same. The top reasons women gave for playing mobile games include entertainment, stress relief, and restful moments.




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Despite all of these facts showing how engaged women are, games tend to court more male players. For instance, there are more male characters featured in game icons in the Play Store. In fact, of the top 100 grossing games on Google Play, 44% more of the apps feature male characters over female characters. Women think that 30% or fewer of all mobile games are made for them due to this prominent featuring of male characters.


And this is just the issue with female representation within games. It gets even worse when you look at female representation among those who make games. Just 27.8% of those in the gaming industry identify as a female, transgender, or another gender identity. Google argues, “the industry’s lack of diversity limits its ability to build games that resonate with a wide and diverse audience.”


So, those are the problems, but what is Google planning to do about it? First, it’s promoting diversity in and of games. Google is highlighting games with strong female characters in the Google Play Store’s Indie Corner. It also created Infinity Deviation: Games to help more people get in on the processing of making games.


Google is also shining a light on female players. When you’re as big and powerful as Google, people pay attention when you talk. Google will use this influence to spread the word that not all players are men. If more people know that women game and more women feel comfortable talking about their games, attitudes can start to change.


Google’s final goal is to get more girls coding. It’s teaming up with Girls Make Games to create opportunities for girls to “envision, design, and develop mobile games.” Through Google’s Made with Code, its introducing teen girls to computer science and teaming them to develop games, make music, create entertainment, and fashion through coding. Google says going forward, it will continue to build and scale programs for skill development, career opportunities, and mentorships.


You can find out more at Google’s Change the Game website.

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