Report: Diversi @ Almedalen Week 2015

On Monday June 29th at Almedalen Week in Visby, project manager Albertina Sparrhult represented Diversi at the Nordic Council’s seminar on diversity in the games industry. Other participants included Jenny Brusk representing both the group Donna and the University of Skövde, Gameport’s COO and founder of the Creative Coast Festival Johan Toresson and two game design students from Uppsala University Campus Gotland, Mariam Forsmark and Amanda Rathje. The seminar was moderated by Maria Edström.

IMG_2053After the participants’ initial introductions, Maria Edström presented the results of her survey Making change: Nordic examples of working towards gender equality in media before moving on to current questions circling in the diversity debate, such as, “How do we change the stereotypical and restrictive image of “the gamer” that both society and the industry itself still largely takes for granted?”. It was pointed out that results from the survey indicate that the games industry is lagging behind other forms of media regarding representation and diversity, giving cause for the deceptively simple question: “How do we fix that?”. Johan Toresson suggested that if you have access to a platform, the best thing you can do, instead of attempting to be the one to “yell the loudest”, is to share it with others. This is one of his goals with the freshly founded Creative Coast Festival, a media festival in Karlshamn with no entrance fee that he hopes will turn into a yearly tradition.

IMG_2042Another discussion was the state of the industry now compared to that offive years ago. Jenny Brusk received the follow-up question if she feels that her work with Donna has made a difference and her response is that the percentage of female students has increased remarkably since Donna was started back in 2011. She emphasized however that just having more female students register for the education is not the whole picture and that Donna’s work also encompasses creating a good work environment for their students both at the university and at their future workplaces.

All of the participants, students, teachers and industry representatives alike exhibit a strong optimism for the future. When asked whether they believe that we will see more diverse representation both within the industry and the games themselves within the years to come, everyone gives an unanimous yes. However it is believed that more diverse recruitment and thus change within the game development teams will take longer than changing the representation amongst game characters. Albertina points out that even if the representation of women in games is improving, there are other barriers such as stereotypical depictions of different ethnicities that will take longer to break down.

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