Comment & Opinion

There is no such thing as a typical gamer, and our industry needs to reflect this

King's global director of diversity and inclusion Frances Light on why the company is aiming to hire a 50/50 gender balance in 2020

There is no such thing as a typical gamer, and our industry needs to reflect this

Frances Light is global director of diversity and inclusion at King.

This week there were two big developments for diversity in the UK games industry. Firstly, Ukie announced the results of its first ever diversity census, and secondly, the industry's leading companies came together to pledge to do more on diversity.

I'm proud that King has been part of both of these initiatives, and excited that we've already made real progress in a particular area: the gender diversity of our business.

The census is the most authoritative analysis of diversity in the UK games workforce ever conducted and is an important first step in addressing the challenges we face. It confirmed what you may already know: women are significantly underrepresented, with just 28 percent of people working in the games industry identifying as female.

The crucial point for me is that while around half the female population regularly play games (48 percent), 70 percent of the people actually making new games and developing live titles are male.

Games companies, like businesses in every sector, should work towards embracing diversity because it is the morally right thing to do, but there's a second reason: it's also the best thing for our businesses.

Diversity of background and experience fosters diversity of approach, which we believe is vital to a creative industry such as ours.

We must make sure to cater to an increasingly diverse player base.
Frances Light

As a mobile games company, we feel this more keenly than some. Mobile games have broadened the accessibility of games: women, older people, and other groups who have typically played less, play more on mobile. The idea of a stereotypical "gamer" is fading, and we must make sure to cater to an increasingly diverse player base.

We've always had a more equal player community than most. This will be no surprise to anyone who has looked around on their daily commute to see men and women of all ages alike engrossed in a game of Candy Crush, which is headed up by female protagonist, Tiffi.

But a more equal player base doesn't mean this is any easier. When we looked at our intake in 2018, we found that only 34 percent of our new hires that year were female.

We realised that closing this gap would need a strong focus on how we hire, so we made a plan, and set a target to reach 40 percent in 2019, and I'm delighted to confirm that we met this.

This week we're announcing our 2020 goal is to hire a 50/50 gender balance, a move that we believe is a first for a games company of our scale.

We also know that our success will not be lasting unless the whole industry succeeds.
Frances Light

We're achieving this progress by addressing the whole talent pipeline:

At school age, we are a founding supporter of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills in the UK.

For new graduates we created our GDC scholarship, which takes 15 female or non-binary graduates to the world's largest games event in San Francisco and offers them an internship at one of King's studios.

For recruitment, we're using a wider range of recruitment platforms, increasing our presence at Women in Tech events & talent fairs, and using blind resumes during the application process.

Once in the 'Kingdom', efforts continue with initiatives such as our custom designed bias awareness training for our managers, to help each of them build awareness around their own unconscious bias.

And for accelerating women into leadership, our Kicking Glass programme will specifically support and provide experience and exposure opportunities, coaching and mentoring high potential employees.

Much as we're proud of what we've done so far, and know we can do more, we also know that our success will not be lasting unless the whole industry succeeds.

That's why we're also a founding partner of #RaiseTheGame, the brand-new pledge, which aims to improve diversity, equality and inclusivity across the sector.

We're delighted to share what we've achieved, and how, so that it might help others starting out on that same path, toward an industry as diverse as the players it serves. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.