Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a series of raw figures regarding digital game development in Australia during 2011-2012 — how many people were employed, how many games were released. There were some interesting figures, perhaps the most alarming of which was the dramatic drop in people employed in the Australian games industry, but you could argue that was expected. Another alarming number? Under 9% of developers employed are women.
According to the survey, 581 people were employed in the digital games industry in the 2011-12 financial year — 530 men and 51 women. The last time these numbers were released, at the end of 2007, that number was 1,431.
245 digital games were produced during this time, 188 of which were mobile games. Only 14 of the 245 were for consoles, with 27 being made for PC. The revenue brought in by digital games went from $137 million in the 2006-2007 financial year to $89 million.
While this makes for depressing reading, it's worth mentioning that 2011-2012 was one of the worst years for studio closures in Australia, and it could be argued that the local industry is in the midst of a real resurgence. 2006-2007 was a different time, with a completely different set of circumstances. Hopefully next year's figures will paint a more optimistic picture of the digital games development in Australia.
That said it is alarming that only 8.7% of those involved in the games industry are female. More alarming is the fact that number is actually decreasing. At the end of 2007, when the last set of numbers were released that percentage was slightly higher at 10.8%.
Perhaps the most troubling issue is this: women simply don't seem to be applying for jobs in the games industry.
"We're a fairly new and small game studio," explained Rohan Harris, co-founder of Flat Earth Games, "but we still get cold applications every week or so from developers looking for work. Depressingly, the ratio we've found of male to female applicants is about 20:1, and of the female developers who've contacted us, only one has been a programmer - the rest have been artists or designers."
Do women simply not feel comfortable applying for jobs in the games industry? It's a crucial question. Diversity in development is of paramount importance if we want games to grow as a medium and, at the moment, it seems like that diversity doesn't exist.
Statistics from the ABS can be found here.