Boliou 104, 7:30 p.m. [Sponsored by the Women's & Gender Studies]
The digital game industry is currently valued at over $6 billion a year, yet academic understanding of the role of games in society has only recently moved beyond concerns over violence and aggression in children to considering other areas of interest. Some early research has suggested that girls and women are underrepresented as central characters in games, and that most times, the females that are present are stereotypical in dress, appearance, movement and roles.
As with other forms of media, it has been thought that by encouraging more women to enter the games industry (an industry with historically low female involvement), this situation would improve. However, I believe that the structure of the industry itself needs careful consideration and larger structural change if it is to become a place more welcoming to women and a source of entertainment that meets the needs of more than a core demographic of adolescent males. This talk demonstrates how various industry structures still exist as barriers to better integration of the gaming industry. Such elements as work week expectations, company recruitment tools and practices, genre limitations and the increasingly conservative views of game publishers, for example, all play into a system that discourages not only the role and presence of women in the game industry, but innovation and change in that industry as well. There are ways out of this dilemma, which I address in closing.
Mia Consalvo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Telecommunications at Ohio University. Her research area includes the study of new media and popular culture, with a focus on the digital games industry. Her current work examines women gamers as well as the growing peripheral aspects of the game industry, including publishers of strategy guides, creators of technological enhancements such as the GameShark, and player-created versions of the same items.