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.