Game Industry Gender Wage Gap Is Horrendous

As if there weren’t enough #reasonswhy, recent figures published by Game Developer Magazine have shown that women in the games industry are routinely paid significantly less than men. As spotted by The Border House blog, the numbers show that men are on average paid around 25% more than women for equivalent jobs.

With the exception of programmers, where the ludicrously tiny 4% of positions filled by women show a very slight higher payment than men (less than 5%, and explained as The Border House points out likely by their being paid to retain them), the figures are terrible.

Of artists and animators, the average salary for men is $77,791. For women, $60,238. Because, er, women don’t draw as well? Making up 16% of all positions, women are paid 22% less. Then designers. Male employees average $76.6k, whereas female employees bring in $62k. 11%, making 19% less. For producers, men make an average 8.3% more. In audio, men are making an enormous 65% more. SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT. Even in QA, the 93% of male employees earn 25% more than female. And lastly, there’s business and legal, where the 18% of women are making 24% less than men, seeing their average number at around $82k, compared to men’s at $108k.

There will be factors, certainly. The hugely larger numbers of men in the industry means by nature there will be many more of them who have worked for longer, and thus secured ultimately higher salaries. But there are women who have been involved for a long time too, and this absolutely doesn’t explain away these massive discrepancies.

It’s despicable, and the only valid response is for those in senior positions at publishers and developers to not pretend it isn’t them, to look at their own figures, and to rectify discrepancies.


  1. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Wage gaps (be them based on gender, race, nationality, …) are unfortunately a tough subject that is rarely addressed with the type of scientific research that it should deserve. It falls down on us to ultimately make up our minds about it.

    I personally believe there are wage gaps across the whole spectrum of a society prejudices. Gender, race and nationality, above all, are fertile grounds for wage gaps. I have personally witnessed it happening on the various places where I worked and it’s frankly just one company that I don’t have anything bad to say about.

    Women and Men simply don’t get payed the same from my life experience, for all the bad reasons. I’m 43 years old and started working at 18. I’ve been an employee of 13 companies and have otherwise worked closely with double that number. I have worked in 4 countries (Portugal, Canada, Australia, Angola). Meanwhile, my wife is herself victim of this abuse. My life experience tells me there is a gender wage gap and it is actually quite pronounced.

    But regardless of what anyone may think on this matter, or what their experiences might be, I cannot accept we disregard “evidence” that there is a gender wage gap so easily as many did here on this article. There is simply no study, no evidence for or against this issue that has been validated as a sound scientific study on the matter. But because of its importance and the damage it causes, it should be preemptively approached by everyone. Wage gaps are among the worst possible manifestations of prejudice. They remove the dignity and the respect a professional is due and they have the potential to cause or widen social gaps. They were one of the tools used by apartheid-like regimes to ensure the separation of individuals.

  2. Giuseppe says:

    What country(ies) is this survey based on?

  3. Tetragrammaton says:

    As someone who has worked as an artist in the games industry for some time, I can say that I’m a little suspicious of how high these figures are, and the lack of allowance for discrepancy between different roles and their often very seperate renumeration within each department.

    But it also leaves out an extremely important fact: that in many studios you have to negotiate your own wage! And it has been my experience with the many female colleagues and friends I’ve had, that women working as artists in this industry are not as bullish in demanding more money than their male counterparts.
    So if any women looking to join the industry are reading this: speak up in your negotiations! Be assertive and value yourself and your work correctly! Dont allow yourself to be fooled into thinking theyre doing you a favour or its some kind of honor to be on the team- If you think they’re taking the piss, say so!
    This also goes for men too btw, plenty of them have the same issue.

  4. destroy.all.monsters says:

    It frustrates me that this site gets to be more like Jezebel with all the dishonesty and jerry-rigging of figures they have.

    And it doesn’t do any good because ultimately it will not bring in more women – because bringing more women into the gaming industry requires that the industry as a whole stop hating its employees. Despite EA_spouse and numerous other people trying to shine a light on inherently anti-worker positions such as forcing incredibly long working hours even when not at the final crunch time very little has been done. So it leaves those people so incredibly enamored of games and gaming that they’re willing to put even their health on the line. And yet not a single developer is unionized. And since there is always new grist for the mill coming out of Full Sail and the like there is no impetus that will change it. Short of new legislation or mass unionization I fail to see how any of this will change.

  5. Hahaha says:

    It does seem like we are in school and all these are being written for someone…..

  6. RogB says:

    is it possible to block wordpress blog posts by specific authors?

    • Rusky says:

      I would certainly love to know that as well.

    • Jannakar says:

      I’m just a little astounded by the fact somebody has gone to the length of a writing script with explicit intention of blocking articles written by a specific person on a site which they co-founded. And people say: oh that’s a good idea?

      Are people so sensitive that they can’t even see anything by an author, regardless of merit, intention or interest? Can’t you just scroll on by?


      Still, less articles they be trollin’

      • RogB says:

        Some people are obviously sick of the flamebaiting, and would rather just see the rest of the (verygood) content of the site.

        why do people block comments from other people? why cant they just ‘not read them’?

  7. Continuum says:

    I hate graphs like this. Giant numbers and “average” salary. Is this mean salary or median salary? Because the mean is useless in this sort of thing when outliers can heavily influence.

    I don’t doubt that women are getting the short end of the stick in the industry, and I think it’s a problem. But provide some numbers comparing median income of men and women in the same position with the same experience. Then we can have a meaningful discussion.

  8. Deadly Habit says:

    So the actual editor of Game Developer (the magazine who did this survey) posted about this on Gamasutra, actually covered both sides of the argument and stated that it’s from a small sample.
    link to

    For those who you know are actually interested.

    TL;DR the editor of the magazine who published these stats stated the sample size is too small to compare if this is an experience or gender issue.

    • Delusibeta says:

      So, there’s 1,504 responders across all the fields, of which 173 were women. Hmm…

    • El_Emmental says:

      Thanks a lot for that link, it was really missing :)

      (the comments are really filled with very interesting contributions – keep up the good work people, this is what we need, not that yellow journalism)

    • WrenBoy says:

      While the sample size is fairly eye opening, John may be interested to note that almost half of male respondents (623/1333) have over 6 years experience while less than a third of female respondents do (50/173).

  9. Rusky says:

    Could you guys add a dislike button please ?

    This article is very poor for many reasons already stated in the comments before, it feels like someone just gave the author a big wad of cash in exchange for a tabloid level posting.

    It has been shown again and again that women tend to favour their personal life over their jobs more on average (and before some white knighting a-hole comes along, I like favouring my personal life more too), which will ALWAYS result in a “gender gap” when you go ahead and make a global statistic like this.

    Notice how the biggest gap tends to be in the 5+ years area ? Even wondered why ? I mean seriously not giving in to the easy way of thinking of “TEH PATRIARCHY”.
    People with a lot of experience (and a good amount of work behind them) tend to end up in a situation where they have to make a choice: more work for more money, or less work for less money (yes, we all make this choice as soon as we start working, but once you’re an established veteran, it becomes a career defining choice).
    Since women tend to chose less work (be it because they need to stay home and bring up their children, or simply because they have a husband who can bring in more so they don’t have to), the gap is born.

    Oh, the shining white knights and gay feminazis will come down on me for saying that women don’t (want to / have to) work as much as men on average, but then again, hiding the truth behind a PC lie is not how you make a healthy society.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      1) That men “Can bring in more” is the problem being discussed here

      2) You are making stupid sexist assumptions when you say “Women favour their personal life” – no, I’m not accusing you of being anti-woman, I’m accusing you of ignoring the unfair pressure men feel when it comes to providing for the family. Why don’t men choose to take more personal time at the expense of their income while the woman works harder, sees her kids less, suffers stress? Because society and people like you are sexist.

      Yes I’m a woman white knighting for the gender issues men suffer, that’s a positive thing.

      • Rusky says:

        How am I sexist for pointing out what is really happening ?

        Do you think that ignoring the reality and singing loudly in your head makes it go away ?

        All of these articles serve one thing only: Affirmative action crazies and people who would rather give in to the “women are victims” mentality that has spread like a disease these days.

        If people were truly interested in the root causes behind the gap they wouldn’t be marketing it as a “despicable” case of “misogyny”. They would actually look into the reasons for this (which are rarely about “misogyny”), and ask themselves what we as a society can do to fix those.
        But they don’t because they only care about being “down” with the latest trend in PC behaviour.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Why did you start talking about misogyny. I didn’t.

          “How am I sexist for pointing out what is really happening ?”


          “It has been shown again and again that women tend to favour their personal life over their jobs more on average ”

          It has in fact been shown again and again that the percentage of men and women who are career focused or family focused is equal in Europe and America, when the studies look at what men and women wish for their lives rather than what they have to do. The fact that you believe otherwise is an indication that you view the world from a circular sexist point of view.

          and because:

          “Since women tend to chose less work ”

          See above

          and because:

          “be it because they need to stay home and bring up their children”

          despicable, so women need to stay at home because the men aren’t capable of raising a family whilst the woman works?

          and because:

          “or simply because they have a husband who can bring in more so they don’t have to”

          which is what this article is saying

          and because:

          “Oh, the shining white knights and gay feminazis”

          Homophobic as well! Notice how men who stick up for womens rights are “white knighting” whereas women who stick up for womens rights are gay nazi’s. Despicable.

          You probably think you’re a decent person and in most areas of life you almost certainly are, but your opinions and views are homophobic and sexist. You use the word gay as an insult. You claim to want to stay at home, may I work with the assumption you wish to do this rather than to slack off, but to take a more active role in raising your family? What’s stopping you? Let me guess, your wife can’t earn enough to make it possible. So even as a victim of sexist society, you are labelling the people who would change your life for the better as gay – used as an insult- nazis. FYI, the nazi’s were rather extreme when it came to womens rights, not in the direction of equality.

          The very notion you don’t realise that your views which are so commonly held by men is the problem, that when men marry women and have a family, the men almost overwhelmingly return to work sooner, have less to do with the children, expect the wife to give up her career in order to preserve theirs. Sound familiar to your life? You are living a sexist lifestyle as is the rest of society. Your views are sexist and unless YOU and every man and woman out there changes, sexism will always be a part of this world. Tell me right now, as you want to work less, why don’t you give up your career and allow your wife to restart hers?

  10. namad says:

    these numbers really don’t mean a whole lot in terms of wage discrimination. there are simply too few women working in these jobs to even amount to a statistically significant amount in most cases, with my audio being the exception. the disparity in how many women even work in the industry at all is a huge problem, yes… however this probably needs to be dealt with at a younger age… getting more women to want to train and then work in the industry in the first place.

  11. Jerakal says:

    Sigh. I’d like to see some actual hard date here, rather than some numbers grouped together to paint the portrait of AMG PATRIARCHY. A better break-down of numbers would be really great. Such as showing what the years worked of the different gender groups actually broke down to.

    I’d also like to see if we could get some actual info on WHICH companies were doing this as just slapping an “Average salary” sticker on there also doesn’t tell us a whole lot. Which companies were polled? What countries?

    I’d really like to see some hard data put forward before we default our responses to feeling sorry for the poor mistreated women.

    As for those of you liking to claim that there is a significant wage gap, in America at least, this has largely been debunked as a myth that was spread around by exploiting variables in the way the wages were calcuated. Google it, I’m not doing your work for you.

    • Nurse Aenima says:

      John Walker article written with an obvious agenda, manipulating data to suit his ideological crusade, news at 11

  12. Jediben says:

    What about the poor representation of transgendered audio developers? Won’t somebody think of the he/shes? Or are they all counted as men for purposes of maintaining the facade?

  13. chhopsky says:

    I believe women are paid less than men for equivalent roles in most areas.

    That said, this data does not prove it. It is not a valid assessment of the data to make a fair comparison. It separates the inexperienced, mid-experienced and very experienced as income brackets, and then makes a statement about the gender pay gap between men and women, while having JUST finished talking about the pay differences based on experience level.

    In order to do a valid comparison you need to be comparing men and women at each of those experience levels as well, then bringing that out to a percentage difference from the average, INSIDE the bracket.

    This is just bad analysis, and again, while I do believe there is an unfair pay gap, this does not prove it.

  14. Not Marvelous says:

    Just to add some more numbers here, I’ve just counted 57 comments on this thread that are, at least, threatening, and take a very demeaning stance on gender issues. And I have omitted all of those that just dismiss the article and the statistics without taking a specific stance on feminism.

    All of them were quite probably written by males. Some of them I know were written by males. Let us then all look forward to a future online community that, you know, women don’t feel threatened by and can freely participate in.

    • maximiZe says:

      This has to be bait.

    • JonRico says:

      There is nothing threatening about being logical. Again, I state that I firmly believe that people with the same experience should be paid the same if they are male or female. Of course they should. That is just fair, right and proper.

      But now that we know the sample sizes involved, these stats are just pointless. They tell us nothing. At all. Zero. No conclusions can be drawn. On top of that even if the numbers are considered valid the wage gap is not significantly larger in gaming than in other fields so this is not a gaming related issue.

      If there was an article on RPS saying that we should be concerned that gamers in Cyprus with more than 100k in their bank accounts are losing more than 50% of their savings, that would not be considered relevant because its not just gamers – non gamers also have that problem and I don’t come to RPS to be educated about random points – just about games and gaming.

      This article is poorly researched because the stats are meaningless and the sample size is tiny, uses sensationalist terms in its headline like horrendous when such conclusions cannot be drawn from the facts (just like the daily mail does to backup its own agendas), and the conclusions its draws are not unique to gaming so the point is not relevant to gaming. Its terrible on a whole variety of levels and I find it surprising the author has not commented here to at least accept these and other similar points as true.

      • darkChozo says:

        Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that there hasn’t been a correction or apology or a response or, I dunno, something constructive from someone in the hivemind. Considering that the statistics quoted in the article have gone from “questionable” to “the guy who ran the survey said that the conclusion is not supported by the data”, I’d expect some sort of follow up, even if it’s just an update to this article with a link. It’s not like the study damns the idea that women are underrepresented and discriminated again within the industry or anything like that. It’s just a bit sketchy to leave this up, particularly with such strong language completely unsupported by fact.

        Probably doesn’t help that the two “official” additions to this thread are (a fairly well justified) “Fuck off” and an insinuation that people that think something that since has been properly substantiated are idiots.

      • Not Marvelous says:

        This seems to be a mistake on my part, that comment was supposed to be to another poster claiming that there have only been five to ten, well, ‘bad’ comments. Also, it should say ‘triggering’ instead of ‘threatening’… well that was a successful post.

        Anyway, I see your point. I would disagree that, even if sexism in gaming is just the same as sexism everywhere else, ‘it is not a gaming issue’. I think gamers should be confronted with gender issues, just like everyone else should. The many hostile posters here prove that. Other points I do not want to raise again, I raised them already but who knows where with a comment thread this long…

        Sorry for the confusion again, I was definitely not baiting.

  15. 11temporal says:

    Women are simply inferior to men when it comes to making games.

  16. F33bs says:

    Feminist bandwagoning: #1reasonwhy the comment sections of Walker articles are typically the more well-researched of the two.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    While I do suspect I would sympathize with John’s overall view given better research of the situation, all the people pointing out that the article itself is under-researched are right.

    An article with that thesis and headline requires at least one graph with a timeline in it. The original blog post is fine, because it is clearly an opinion piece, and opinions don’t really need any numbers. Statements intended to be taken as fact require proper investigation and MOAR BETTAR MATHS, not repeating ratios of statistics from an opinion piece. (Even if the source of the graphs is a GDMag article (that we can’t see), the source of this article is the blog, making the evidence thirdhand information at best.)

    Some of us are just trying to hold RPS to the standard we think RPS and John Walker have earned, that’s all.

    AND/OR: Perhaps RPS needs to better distinguish between news and editorial. If this article were more properly identified as an editorial, it would be perfectly fine. Lot’s of people don’t consider RPS to be a glorified blog, nor this article to be just a blog post, and that could be the real problem.

    It’d still be infested with trolls, tweens, and those who think they have a decent understanding of economic and business matters because they half-remember what some dead guy wrote that they were forced to read in high school, but there wouldn’t be nearly as much genuine criticism mixed in if it were identified as an editorial.