Nintendo Exec Says 'A Very High Number' Of Its Designers Are Women

One of the key reasons behind Nintendo’s success over the decades isn’t just that it makes fun video games, but that it makes video games that broadly appeal to both men and women. One possible explanation? There’s a “very high” number of women employed at the company, Nintendo says — although they haven’t offered statistics.

Nintendo’s executives hosted a Q&A with investors in Japan this week, as they do every quarter of the fiscal year, and among other things, one investor asked about the number of women they employ.

“Female gamers are growing in number year after year,” asked the investor, “but what is the proportion of female employees in your hardware and software development departments?”

It’s a good question, given how gaming demographics have shifted. A recent report from the analytics group EEDAR found that Switch owners had evolved from 30 per cent female in 2017 to 50 per cent female in 2018. And games such as Super Mario Odyssey and the upcoming Animal Crossing have proven to be broadly appealing in a way that other publishers’ big games might not be.

(Anecdotally — my wife didn’t care about video games until she started playing Zelda, and now she’s hooked on the Switch.)

In response, Nintendo director Shinya Takahashi offered this:

There are many female developers in the software development departments. Especially, there [is a lot of design work] involved in developing software, and a very high number of females among our designers. Many of them have children, and we have created an environment to work with comfort even for those who have children. I think that it is a very good workplace where women can participate actively and find satisfaction in their work.

And legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who’s always worth listening to:

There are also many females actively involved in development. The director of the Animal Crossing series is a woman, and there are many female designers working actively. When I had chances to look at other development companies in Europe and the US, they give the impression that they’re overwhelmingly male-dominated. Compared to companies like that, Nintendo has a lot of female developers energetically working.

Nintendo has always been something of a black box for us here in the West, thanks to language barriers, cultural barriers, and the publisher’s love of secrecy. Here’s one thing they might want to talk about more, ideally with some specific numbers.


Comments

    Oh boy. The comments here are going to be fun...

    'It’s a good question'

    It's not a good question, and your constant demand for specific numbers is infuriatingly dumb. Here's a concept which might be foreign to you, you can only hire people who are qualified for the role. Demanding companies to make up 50% of their workforce with females is impossible, ignorant, stupid and plainly out of touch with how reality works. You choose the best candidate for the job regardless of gender, if there are less females studying and becoming qualified for a role then obviously there will be a lower proportion of females to males hired.

    In addition to that. Being female doesn't make one's work any different to that of a male's, or any more appealing to other females. Now you're just perpetuating outdated and false gender roles, not to mention toxic and misguided societal/cultural norms, stereotypes and myths. As someone who believes in equality, you are part of the problem because you are approaching these issues without intelligence.

    Treating women differently or favourably in order to reach a dictated target of not treating them differently (regardless of quality) is absolutely nonsensical and gaming is certainly not the only industry facing this stupid out of touch approach.

      Hear, hear ! Agreed and well spoken

      probably one of the most sanest and intelligent comments I have read in the last 20+ yrs ????????

      I agree to a point. Ultimately hiring the best person for the job regardless of gender etc. should be the goal.
      However short term it can be handy to set quotas, if only to get ppl in said work environment to get past the childish thinking of gender/etc. being the reason they shouldn't be hired or respected.

      It's always a good question. It's funny how for decades there has been hidden bias towards males in workplaces with women struggling to get even 10% of the good jobs, and yet as soon as this even slightly changes suddenly it's "bias towards women! Unfair! Unfair!".
      It was always easy in the past to just claim "we're employing the most qualified", so for a woman to get a job she actually had to be better qualified than all the men.

      if there are less females studying and becoming qualified for a role then obviously there will be a lower proportion of females to males hired.

      Note that this is your assumption. While it may happen to be true, you have chosen to believe a possibility you came up with instead of a possibility described by someone researching into the matter. You talk about stereotypes and myths and yet the very basis of your argument is a biased assumption. Not to mention that it implies that "quotas" are being demanded by the author when it's not mentioned anywhere.

      Treating women differently or favourably in order to reach a dictated target of not treating them differently (regardless of quality) is absolutely nonsensical

      Don't you realise that the reason for any "different treatment" is that historically, undeniably there's been gender-based discrimination? You're basically telling a collective who's been beaten to a pulp "C'mon, get up. I'm sorry but I respect you too much to treat you any differently, so I'm not going to give you a hand... mmm I'm so just and impartial, the true defender of womanhood!" and /then/, when they are having some trouble getting up, due to all the systemic damage, you turn around and say "whelp, I guess they just didn't want to stand up to the challenge. It's their fault, then, and any allegation of discrimination is wrong."

        "Winter Park's Full Sail University, which also offers degrees in digital media and game design, said female enrollment has doubled to more than 20 percent during the past decade."

        This is a quote regarding one university. While it may be less than other establishments it would not surprise me if it were the average (I could not find any numbers for graduates in these fields across the board).

        The fact of the matter is there should be a push for more women to study in these fields, but that the people that are brought on board with video game companies should be the ones that are the best in their field regardless of gender. It would be surprising to see women who make up 20% of the workforce take 50% of the executive and managerial roles unless they are all serious overachievers.

          The fact of the matter is there should be a push for more women to study in these fields

          This is correct, and I suspect that it is an issue that is resolving itself, as more women already in existing positions and a conscious effort to reduce gatekeeping or normalised sexist behaviour will increasingly encourage more and more young women to get into it. Still, the article is not claiming for an arbitrary 50% out of nowhere, and truth to be told I doubt that most places even meet the expected percentage (i.e. 20% in your example) of women in managerial roles.

    Doubtful I highly doubt Nintendos success is due to the highest proportion of women they employ.

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