Women in Games responds to media reports on harassment in the industry, will reveal new research on toxicity at upcoming conference

women in games logo 2021

Women In Games, the UK-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting equity and parity for all women and girls in games and esports globally, has issued a statement following the recent media reports on discriminatory and toxic behaviour within the games industry.

Two weeks ago, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over sexual harassment.

Other publishers including Ubisoft and Riot Games have been accused of sexual harassment in recent years, highlighting a systemic problem in the games industry – and beyond.

An open letter from past and present Ubisoft staff sent to management proposes that Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard and other games publishers should work together to come up with a set of rules and processes for handling reports of harassment.

Women In Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman said: “International, widespread news of the growing furore mounting around Activision Blizzard, stemming from allegations reported across the media about a Californian Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) lawsuit, and the subsequent response from the company, shine a harsh spotlight on a culture that Women in Games is actively working to reform.

“The problems that confront women, whether they are players or makers of games, are not history, and are not news, and Women in Games is proud to highlight our ongoing initiatives to achieve change.”

Marie-Claire Isaaman, Women in Games

“All of the media coverage points to a work culture gone badly wrong – harming women through discrimination and harassment – issues that are horribly familiar. 

“Perhaps what is genuinely new, is that the world, connected as it is now by global movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as the continuing global disaster of the COVID-19 pandemic, is more equipped and ready to vociferously reject such a culture.

“In addition, we are seeing high level efforts from The UN through its sustainable goals, the EU with its strategy for weaving gender equality through all of its policies, and the UK’s presidency of the G7, integrating gender equality into all of its strategies – all demonstrate support for radical change.

“Women in Games brings its proactive support to both the popular demand for change and the wider political will that provide a more formal backdrop. As an organisation we are actively engaged in a range of initiatives and activities to counter discrimination, harassment and inequality for women in the workplace and in online spaces. 

“The problems that confront women, whether they are players or makers of games are not history, and are not news, and Women in Games is proud to highlight our ongoing initiatives to achieve change.”

Results of latest Bryter research into toxicity towards females to be presented at the Women in Games Conference

Women in Games says toxicity directed at female gamers is taking on an increasingly sexual nature in 2021 and one in five say that such toxicity makes them not want to play again.

Almost half of gamers in the US and UK feel there is a lack of female representation in streaming, but toxicity discourages them from streaming themselves. Women in Games will soon publish a new report on this topic.

Since 2018, Women in Games has worked with Jenny McBean, director of research at market research company Bryter, to better understand the severity and persistence of online harassment.

A talk on the detailed findings of this research will be presented by Jenny McBean at the forthcoming Women in Games Conference, which takes place on September 15th and 16th as a virtual event, alongside a host of other initiatives central to tackling real world problems.

The conference sits at the heart of a larger event this year: For the first time, a Women in Games Festival will be a global online event, and between September 6th and 18th will encompass a range of events including the conference, featuring speakers, fireside chats, panels and stories.

The event will also include the Women in Games Global Awards 2021. Judging is currently taking place now and the finalists will be announced on August 13th, with the public able to vote for who they want to win. The awards ceremony itself will take place on September 18th.

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