Are you a boy? Or a girl? - a look at gender minorities in the Swedish games industry
It is a well-known meme in the pokemon games regarding gender. A professor with a name based on a tree asks you the question Are you a boy? Or are you a girl?
and leave no room for people outside the gender binary.
Disclaimer, I myself am a cisgender person, which means my gender identity corresponds to my sex assigned at birth and I am in no shape or way trying to speak for gender minorities and their experiences since I do not have their experiences myself. I know and work with people who identify as a gender minority and am looking at this topic as an ally who wants to use my position to lift the lack of inclusion in our system.
June is, in general, regarded as the pride month.
But here in Sweden, we spread it out a bit more, usually from the start of June to the beginning of September; in Värmland, we have Wermland Pride on September 3rd.
Swedish initiatives for gender minorities in the games industry
There are a lot of initiatives in Sweden, newly started and older, working towards empowering and helping women in the games industry, and they all do a fantastic job!
But we are yet to see more initiatives that go beyond the gender binary. Many of the above initiatives are also open to non-binary people, transgender people, and other gender minorities, but the focus is usually on women.
When we look at the excellent publication Game Developer Index 2021 by Dataspelsbranschen, the percentage of game developers identifying as women in the Swedish games industry is rising yearly. Still, it's hard to find information on other gender identities.
I tried to find if there are any statistics on how many game developers identify outside the gender binary in Sweden but had a hard time finding any.
Mental Health and the Games Industry
We know mental health has been an issue in the games industry, with its reports on crunch, working overtime for an extended period.
Last year our partner Safe in Our World published an article where they reflected on LGBTQ+ mental health in the games industry and you can read more about it here. The survey is done in the UK, and it shows a significantly higher number of trans people experiencing anxiety and depression in the industry.
What do we do?
We want to work towards a more diverse, sustainable, and inclusive industry in The Great Journey.
We are still small, making it a challenge to move resources, but our "smallness" allows us to work with these topics early in our process, both internally and with our studios.
We have partnered with Safe in our World (check out their #levelupmentalhealth campaign) to work against mental ill-health in the games industry. In addition, we are now working with Wermland Pride who are responsible for our local pride parade, and we will host a speaker for Pride that will talk about LGBTQ+ representation in games - the past, the present, and the future.
Following the event, we will host a 24-hour Queer Jam in an effort to create a safe and beginner-friendly space for LGBTQ+ people to test game development.
But it should and will not end here.
Friday Stories is one of our main flagship event series where we invite the industry to bring lectures and discussions around meaningful topics like sustainable development and inclusive game design.
We do our best to ensure we have a diverse and inclusive speaker lineup as humanly possible, but we shall always strive to do better both in terms of speakers and topics.
We have put together a YouTube playlist with our Friday Stories that we have themed around sustainability, accessibility, and inclusive game development.
We will try to move forward with more focus on creating a better space for LGBTQ+ game developers.
Over the years, we can see that people, who identify outside of the gender binary, only make up around 4-5% of our attendees at Friday Stories.
We have game developers and community members who identify as a gender minority and we need to do better for them.
We will do better, learn and grow, and we ask the rest of the games industry to do it with us.
Do you have inititives or resources you want to share with the community?
Leave a comment on our LinkedIn post and we will follow up with a post sharing all the collected resources.