How Many People Work In The Australian Games Industry? (More Than We Thought)

When UTS honours student Debi Taylor decided to focus her thesis on the experience of women in the Australian games industry she realised she needed raw data. She needed to know precisely how many men and women were working in the Australian games industry. The next step? A one woman census on the entire Australian games industry. The results? There appears to be a lot more people working in the Australian games industry than we previously thought.

The last official census provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) made for grim reading. According to those numbers, as of 2011-2012, there were only 581 people employed in the Australian games industry. Those number respresented a dramatic reduction of 59% compared to the previous ABS survey conducted in 2007-2007. In addition — perhaps more worryingly — only 8.7 % of that total (51) were female, a massive drop in overall representation.

Those statistics were roundly criticised upon their release by observers who argued that a vast majority of the Australian industry, as it currently stands, had gone Indie. Many large scale AAA studios had closed down in the period between 2007 and 2012, but many of those developers had transitioned into smaller scale studios and those studios, according to some, weren't fully accounted for in the ABS survey.

According to Debi Taylor's numbers, those observers may have been correct.

Her numbers state that there are now 209 business in the Australian games industry, up from 84 in the previous census.

In total there are 1618 people working in the industry 1349 of which are men, 269 of which are women. That represents a massive 427% rise in female representation compared to the 2012 ABS numbers.

As you might expect, a large number of the employees that make up these numbers work in small independent studios. According to Debi, only 68 of the 209 businesses actually work in a commercial office space. 180 of the 209 described themselves as an 'indie' studio. An overwhelmingly large proportion of these studios were created in the last four years.

It all serves to paint a far more encouraging picture of the Australian games industry — a positive story we're not used to hearing.

It is worth stating however, that a vast majority of the studios in Australia employ a small number of people. 44.5% of studios employed only 1 to 3 workers and a further 35.9% employed between 4 and 9. But that doesn't detract from the fact that the Australian games industry appears to be growing. There is also an argument to be made that female representation in the Australian games industry is growing too — another massive positive.


Comments

    Oh man, that de Blob sunset pic. Right in the sads.

      Honestly one of the most underrated games of all time. A true forgotten classic, should replay it sometime :) Too bad we will never see De Blob 3

    Definitely shows a shift in the landscape. I'd be curious to see more from the raw data, is there a link?
    The devices section doesn't make sense, the numbers are too low for individual respondents, so it's most likely companies selecting one or more. But if this was the case, the categories with 150ish should be about 75% of the data set, not 25%...

    Was watching the show Community the other day, and Abed was wearing a de Blob shirt for the whole episode. Keep in mind that this is a American, vaguely sitcom show with relatively small focus on games. My mouth dropped haha, so random.

    Hey I'm making a game, noone asked me! Harumph!

      Haha... you must not be registered on the Tsumea dev list.

      Once your email is up there you'll get all kinds of surveys, and the pleasure of cringing at the resumes of high school/uni students. "I'll do anything... programming, art, coffee... for free! Pleeeeease just give me a chance!"

      Bad flashbacks to my own youth...

        Oh dearie... I'm not feeling very sold on signing up to this :/

    Erm, if they aren't working in a commercial office space, then they probably aren't "employed" in the games industry, i.e. being paid for their work.
    68 companies jibes much better with the 84 in the previous census.

      Im going to make the assumption that a lot are dependant on state arts welfare funding.

      Last edited 30/04/14 5:50 pm

    I remember how sad I was when Krome Studios was shut down, bu it's nice to see that there are still Aussies making games. Reminds me of how surprised I was when I realised that the developer of Game Dev tycoon (a big indie success) lives only a couple of kms away from me!

    Woohoo my first posting too quickly error! I thought I had been missing out.

      Lets try that again.

      Good article Mark.

      To the points I made last time it, it seems certain there is a correlation between those genders who start studios to those who work in the industry.
      "She found about 150 women, including about a dozen running their own companies."

      And that the immaturity I mentioned was on target:
      "I don't want to say it is bullying but it is a condescending attitude ... In your first year, there is a lot of pressure; male students can be dismissive of a woman's input. Men and women tend to challenge women more than they challenge men," says Taylor, a mature-age student who could withstand the blokey culture better than most."

      Its a shame the sample size was so small for interviews, but to anyone who was in doubt about the business side of the industry taking over from the gaming side this should be a welcome read. Its a shame its been written by someone who doesn't enjoy gaming.

      I question whether this is worthy of a PHD thesis, but oh well that's a separate conversation. I question further the comments that she used regarding needing to encourage gaming amongst girls to get women further into the industry. Any indie studio making mobile games will tell you they make up near identical volumes of players, so while Debi may speculate that this is corollary it certainly wouldn't appear to be causal.

        I haven't read anything about interviews as of yet. Based on this article, I would really question whether she is approaching the notion of the experiences of women. But hey, they could be holding back on those findings.

        Edit: Oh and if this is the same study as last week, I believe it's an Honours Thesis.

        Last edited 30/04/14 10:44 pm

    Only 1618 people in the video game industry in Australia? Yikes! I'd like to know the number of Australians working overseas in the games industry , I have a hunch that number is going to be pretty high.

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