Gaming Equity: Women, Videogame Companies, and Public Discourse


  • Jennifer Jenson The University of British Columbia
  • Suzanne de Castell
  • Olga Kanapelka
  • Karen Skardzius



Women, Video Games Industry, Equity, Legal Action, Riot Games, Activision Blizzard King


It is by now well documented and widely acknowledged that the videogame industry has since its inception been a bastion of hegemonic masculinity. Only more recently, however, with events like Gamergate, #metoo, and the public accusations of workplace toxicity and sexism brought against prominent AAA giants like Riot and Activision Blizzard King, have game companies initiated policies and processes for change—or at least what looks like change, based on company websites and interviews with female employees. Does this mean women are being heard, at last? These are turbulent times for the industry, with legal actions, policy shifts, personal callings-out and billion-dollar corporate mergers and restructurings. What has changed and what is changing for women in games? How, and by whom, is that change being made? This paper begins with a closer look at what women have said since these events, about their experiences, expectations and frustrations working in the industry. Has the public scrutiny turned upon the games industry, post-gamergate and beyond influenced what women have to say about their conditions and experiences working in games? Are they better supported in taking the risks and shouldering the costs of speaking up? What workplace changes in policy or practice may have resulted from women giving public voice to their experiences? Building upon an earlier study of public speech by women about their experiences in the videogames industry (de Castell & Skardzius, 2019), this study both updates and extends its database, and deepens its analysis, by looking explicitly at a speech event’s context of elicitation: who elicits the “event” of public speech, on what topics, with what purpose? Through that dialogical lens we can make more visible and explicit how minority self-representation and marginalized identities and voices are deployed to bolster business as usual, even as they are still expected to lead the charges and fight the battles for a just and inclusive working life in games.