The annual Video Game Awards (VGAs) have been around since 2014 and existed as the Spike Video Game Awards (VGX) since 2003. It’s an award show that aims to celebrate the industry and honour the games that came out that year. But as the industry has grown and matured over the past decade and a bit, gender diversity in games has become an increasingly prominent issue. An issue that has been poorly handled as evidenced by events like “Gamergate” in late 2014 as well as the blatant under representation of women in games media, the industry and in games themselves. The latest development of this issue came with the announcement that the jury for the 2015 VGAs would have one — yes ONE — woman on a panel of thirty-two judges. How is this an acceptable practice in a world where the majority of gamers are women? How is this an accurate representation of the industry? The answer is simple: it isn’t.
Several media outlets have spoken out on this issue. Polygon wrote in an article on their site that they would be sending Megan Farokhmanesh (@ on Twitter), Polygon’s deputy managing editor, to represent them in light of this announcement. They believe that this is the best way to try and change the jury in lieu of withdrawing altogether, which is something other outlets are doing.
The independent game site Kill Screen released a statement via their Twitter account stating that they would be withdrawing from the show altogether. The statement reads that “On our masthead and at our own Two5six conference, we’ve maintained a strict 50/50 split, and are committed to only being involved with organizations that do the same.”
Polygon, Kill Screen and other outlets are rightly upset about this blatant under representation of women in an event that claims to “celebrate the power of gaming.” How can it be that celebration when it doesn’t include the voices of women? The answer is simple again: it can’t.
The VGAs not only fail on the jury front but also in their choice for advisory board. On their own site they list the names and pictures of everyone they chose to consult when designing this event. The VGAs claim to be “guided by an advisory board of some of the game industry’s leading business and creative minds.” Do you know what all of these leading minds have in common? You guessed it, they’re all men.
Now some might naively argue “well that’s just because there aren’t any women in those positions to choose from.” Well they would be wrong. There are plenty of leading women at prominent studios across the world that would do an amazing job. Siobhan Reddy, Senior Director at Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, Dreams); Bonnie Ross, Corporate Vice President at 343 Industries (Halo MCC, Halo 5); Pauline Jacquey, Managing Director at Ubisoft Reflections (Just Dance, Watch_Dogs) are just a few of the many talented and innovative women who are changing the video game industry everyday. But no, Geoff Keighly (creator of the new game awards) decided to stick his hand in the hat of the same white, male CEOs and COOs we see every year at E3 instead of trying have a woman’s opinion on the show.
And so the industry chugs along. Women continue to fight every day to make their voices heard in an industry where they are under represented on every level possible. But hey, at least we have an awards show now, right?