Exploring An Equity & Inclusivity Problem: Gender & Ethnic Diversity in Video Games

Exploring An Equity & Inclusivity Problem: Gender & Ethnic Diversity in Video Games

The video game industry expanded rapidly in the last decade with the U.S.A games market exceeding revenues of $43 billion in 2018. While there is growth, the industry is also facing an increasingly apparent and problematic disparity among audiences. In many traditional PC and console genres, women and non-white ethnicities are underrepresented both among the player-base as well as on-screen; furthermore, the player experience for underrepresented players is markedly different than their over-represented white male counterparts.

It's Game On At The Louvre!

This March, it’s game on in the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre. A delivery of 5000 Nintendo 3DS consoles shall be left at the footsteps of the museum in an effort to revamp its audio guides, which are currently used by a mere 4% of its total visitors.

Not much is known regarding the content or how the in-built 3D capabilities will be utilized but  Mashable reports that visitors will “have access to themed itineraries and commentaries, including child-appropriate ones, in seven languages.”  The content of the tour is being developed by Nintendo in collaboration with the Louvre, who will have editorial control.

With so much emphasis on the Tablet-Smartphone duumvirate, gaming consoles have certainly been overlooked. Even though certain games have surfaced, such as Tate Trumps, they have hitherto, been developed for the hand-held tour guide technology that triumphs; the iPhone, the Droid, the HTC, or the iPad.

Additionally, there has not been much innovation in the field of audio guide technology, and even the audio tours themselves are static because they are based on a one-way communication channel. Thus, the Nintendo 3DS does sound promising as an audio guide technology that can offer 3D visuals and maybe, some playfulness?

So now the question everybody would like to ask; will there be games, intellectually inclined games? Let’s hope so! Last year, Andre asked whether the arts can successfully have a game dynamic? In his article, he argued that games would help arts organizations “overcome certain aesthetic hurdles” and organizations should adopt games because of their “potential for growth.”

And growth there shall be. In fact, an article in the Economist states that “video games will be the fastest-growing and most exciting form of mass media over the coming decade.” Furthermore, the current figures for the gaming industry itself are astounding; “the global video game market was worth around $56 billion in 2010”, which is “ more than twice the size of the recorded-music industry, nearly a quarter more than the magazine business and about three-fifths the size of the film industry...” And this market is expected to reach sales of $82 billion by 2015!

Interestingly, the Economist also notes that the average age of players in America is 37, with 42% of them being female. With the incredible popularity of a bunch of angry birds and virtual farming, it's no surprise that the adult world surely likes to play every now and then. Yet playing on gaming consoles such as the Nintendo 3Ds falls in the domain of a somewhat younger demographic. So the Louvre’s new entry will certainly entice children to go whizzing about the museum, but what about the adults?

Maybe they will, for once, follow in the footsteps of their children. Maybe they won’t. Only March will tell. But one can’t deny that Nintendo consoles are certainly a fun way to begin the auditory odyssey towards art appreciation and knowledge of art history.

Meanwhile in the Louvre, behind her glass enclosure, and with onlookers abound, the Mona Lisa smiles. Gaming is her secret.