Sexism has no place in the world of gaming

Sexism, hate and threats have no place in our society, and neither does it have a place in gaming – industry or otherwise. Lately a lot of women in the industry and in games media have been victims of threats, harassment and assault. We distance ourselves from these acts, writes representatives from the largest Swedish game development companies and game educations.

[Translation of petition in Swedish newsletter Svenska Dagbladet 2014-10-24: http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/sexism-hor-inte-hemma-i-spelvarlden_4038953.svd ]

Nowadays most people are aware of the successful export of the Swedish games industry. A large part of which is attributed to the fact games are no longer the pastime for enthusiasts, instead it has become widely enjoyed by a sizeable cross section of the population. This is a major shift that has occurred in recent years, not only in Sweden – but in the world. It is this increase in demand that drives the growing market, and as a consequence: more people look for work in games.

Lately we’ve heard horrific recounts of women that publicly take a stance against sexism in video games being subjected to threats and harassment by anonymous people online, to the point where their physical safety and the security of their own homes can’t be guaranteed (SvD Kultur 20/10). This isn’t something that needs to be said, however here we stand: Hate, threats and harassment can never be accepted. We – representatives from the industry as well as the education managers – reject, in the strongest possible way and without reservation, all harassment and sexism. We support the women who have suffered this. We want to defend everyone’s right to exist and work in games without being treated poorly because of their background, affiliation or gender. Threats should always be taken seriously and be reported to the police.

We have, as employers, educations and the trade associations, over a long time worked with equality, and pushed to better women’s opportunities to work in games. For a long time there was one woman for every ten men in the industry. Today it’s looking better, and in 2013 the percentage of women employed within the industry increased by 38%. However, women only constitute 16% of the total number of people working in the industry. The positive trend needs to continue.

Equality is one of the success factors in the Swedish games industry. In the high-performance gaming industry, Swedish studios can compete for international top quality competence by offering a functional daily life for new parents where paternity leave is encouraged. The question of diversity is obvious in an international work environment that recruits competence from all over the world. Diversity at the work place is needed to create games for a diverse audience. A lot of the Swedish successes are played by women and men both young and old. Games have become a hobby for everyone.

Our many years of work with equality and diversity have now spawned the initiative Diversi. Diversi combines many of the positive forces for equality and diversity from both gaming organizations and game educations to the industry. By offering a platform for cooperation and the exchange of experiences, Diversi strengthens the different projects that are online from different parts of the country and companies. One of the realizations to come out of this is that actions taken in the interests of equality often work as an action taken for diversity, and vice versa.

Diversi came into fruition in 2013 as an initiative by Dataspelsbranschen (Swedish Games Industry) and the research company Praxikon with support from the Vinnova (Swedish Innovation Agency) project Genuslabbet. Today, Diversi is a grass roots movement with support from all facets of the gaming world: students, gamers, game developers, teachers, researchers, journalists, event organizers and many others.

In addition to the long-term work, Divesi has started a petition for diversity and equality, against hate, threats and sexism. In just a few days, hundreds of people connected to games in Sweden have signed and taken a stand. Sign the petition: diversi.nu/petition

Working with games means that you will be able to develop products that are entertaining, evokes emotions in the player and most of the time brings joy to many people. Sexism, threats and hate is the complete opposite of this, and have no place in our industry.

Signed

ANDERS FRANK , researcher, National Defence College; ANN-SOFIE SYDOW , Principal, The Game Assembly; ANTON WESTBERGH, CEO, Coffee Stain Studios; BIRGITTA LUNDVIK, President, Hansoft; BRJANN SIGURGEIRSSON, CEO, Image & Form; CHRISTOFER SUNDBERG , founder and creative director Avalanche Studios; DANIEL HASSELBERG , CEO, MAG Interactive; DANIEL KAPLAN , business developer, Mojang; DANIEL ÖHBERG , CEO, Fragnet; DAVID POLFELDT , CEO, Ubisoft Massive; DAVID ROSÉN , CEO, Pieces Interactive; DENNIS GUSTAFSSON , co-founder, Mediocre; EIRIK PEDERSEN , CEO, Game-Hosting; ERIK ROBERTSON , founder, Redikod; FREDERICK OLOFSSON , president, Sens Avis; FREDERICK WESTER , CEO, Paradox Interactive; Hakan Larsson, Furuboda Competence Center; Hans Svensson , Head of Department, Department of game design, Uppsala University; JOHAN HÖGLUND , CEO, Rocket Games; Johan Westin, game director, Level Eight; KARL MAGNUS TROEDSSON , CEO of Dice; KLAUS LYNGELED , founder, Zoink; LINNEA AGNES , project, PlaygroundSquad; LINUS FELDT , founder and CEO, Filimundus; MAGNUS ALM , CMO , Palringo; MAGNUS BJÖRKMAN , CEO, Tension Graphics AB; MARTIN EKDALSVÄGEN , co-founder, Simplygon; MARTIN WAHLUND , CEO, Fatshark; MARTIN WALFISZ , CEO & Founder, Planeto; MATTISUDDEN LARSSON , CEO / Creative Director, Zordix; Mr. MIKSCHE , CEO, Stardoll; MATTIAS NYGREN , CEO, The Station; MATTIAS OHLSSON , Pixelbite; MIKAEL NERMARK , COO, Starbreeze; OLA DE FREITAS , president, Goo Technologies; OLA HOLMDAHL , CEO, Tarsier Studios; OSKAR BURMAN , CEO, Rovio Sweden; PER STRÖMBÄCK , spokesperson, Games Industry: Per-Arne Lundberg , Senior Vice President, The Game Incubator; PETER LEVIN , president, Forest Light; PIM HOLFVE , CEO, Expansive Worlds; RICKARD FRISEGÅRD , CEO, Stunlock Studios; SEBASTIAN KNUTSSON , founder, King; SIGBRITT KARLSSON , Vice Chancellor, University of Skövde; STAFFAN BJÖRKLUND , Professor, University of Gothenburg; STEFAN HOLGERSSON , Executive Director, Foundation Teknikdalen; STEFAN ÖSTERGÅRDE , CEO, Fuffr; TOM LÖYCHE , Director of Studies, Future Games: TOM CHAMBERS , CEO of Ink Studios; TOMMY PALM, director, Association of Swedish Game Developers (Spelplan-ASGD)

Translation by Johan Toresson (Gameport)
Proof-reading and fixes by Vic Bassey (The Square)