Women in Games launches punchy manifesto

Colin Campbell, Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 11:38 am

Women in Games today launched a 14-point manifesto, in the run up to its online conference next month. The manifesto is published in full below, and references a famous manifesto released by Suffragettes more than a century ago. Women in Games is dedicated to achieving gender equality and empowering all girls and women in gaming.

GameDaily spoke to Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman (pictured) and co-director / ambassador director Gemma Johnson-Brown about why they decided to launch a manifesto.

Isaaman: Last year, we published the Women in Games Guide, which is about building a fair playing field. It was a fairly major piece of work that took us 18 months to research and to write. It’s been really successful, and it’s doing a lot of good.

It’s quite big, so we wanted something that was more punchy – that sent a message out to people about the issues that we’re working on, and how they can support us.

We also wanted to connect back to the history of women, which is why it’s connected to the suffragette movement. History is important and for women, it’s incredibly important. So we wanted to reference that and to pay homage to it. So we use some of the language of the suffragettes but, of course, it’s updated and it’s about women in games.

We are fighting a lot of challenges at the moment, and they’re becoming clearer – we’ve got lots of issues with toxicity and harassment online for women. There’ve been recent problems at events where women have had drinks spiked. This is not a good sign. The industry should be changing, but somehow the percentage of women working in the industry is still low. The needle is moving far too slowly.

We wanted the manifesto to be a call to arms. It’s stating that whatever’s happening right now is not working. It’s saying that with a more powerful voice.

Johnson-Brown: The guide gives you really practical examples to implement in your workplace or in your education setting or wherever you need to change the dynamics. But we’re still faced with the core challenges. We have to ask the questions, like why do we need equality? Why do we need to have fair play?

The manifesto is very clear, and it gives 14 very good reasons, that will help supporters and ambassadors to show why we need equity and inclusion.

People talk the talk about diversity and inclusion. We want to move from there, to; what can we practically do about it? How can Women in Games help us change the dynamics?

Women play 50 percent of games. We need them designing the games, engineering, testing, licensing, publishing, retailing. We need diversity of thought within the whole creative process. But it’s skewed far too much. And the toxicity that women face, in game, in workplaces, in education settings, that has to stop.

Isaaman: We have a large ambassador community in 72 different countries. These are men and women who are active in supporting our mission and our vision. We have a growing community of interest in our events, such as the conference coming up. And I think the manifesto is really valuable for them, because it gives them clarity and it can make an impact. We’ve got a growing movement. When people notice there’s a growth of something that really matters to people, then they start to take it seriously.

The most change happens when it’s when it comes from the top of organizations. We have found that we’re not always able to get access to the top of organizations – we often get put to the HR department.

There needs to be somebody at the top who really believes in this, and unfortunately the number of women at the top is far too low. Now, that’s not to say that bottom-up activities in organizations and companies aren’t good – they are. But really, when it comes to making real change happen, then you need to get to the top.

Johnson-Brown: There’s no easy answer to this. It’s systemic and it’s endemic. You see it in the media every day.

When I talk to our 1,500-plus ambassadors, I encourage them to be visible and to take some action. When they speak, there’ll be one person in the audience they will have an impact on, and that one person will go away and take some action.

That’s what we hope to achieve with this manifesto – to reach that one person multiple times so that they can go back to their companies and make a difference. We’ve all got to work together to get to this common goal.

Isaaman: With the guide, the conference, and the manifesto – we want to be disruptive. We’re always very diplomatic in the work that we do. But because the needle’s not moving, I think we need to be more punk about it. We need to shout a bit more, and while still being nice, actually make a fuss. In my experience, things can move quite quickly when you make a fuss.

Johnson-Brown: I would encourage all CEOs and execs to read the manifesto, and to come to the conference and engage with us. We are very welcoming, and they can see the impact we’re having and the tangible results we’re working towards with those companies that we’re working with who are committed to change. But they’ve got to step into it. We keep opening the door, but it’s been slammed in our faces a number of times.


The Manifesto presents ‘Fourteen Reasons for Supporting Women in Games’. It calls on the global gaming community to collaboratively work towards dismantling discrimination and fostering inclusivity.

110 years ago, women suffragists in the UK published their manifesto: ‘Fourteen Reasons for Supporting Women’s Suffrage’. More than a century later, women may have the vote, but there is still so much to be done to bring about fairness for women.

Women in Gamesfollows in their footsteps, in this manifesto:

Fourteen Reasons for supporting Women in Games

1 Because women have long been marginalised in the games industry, and it is past time to take action to create a fair playing field.

2. Because ‘women’s economic equality is good for business’ (UN, 2023).

3. Because advocating through collaboration and communication are fundamental tools in the struggle to eliminate discrimination.

4. Because all women working in the industry deserve to be fairly treated at all levels, from content creation to leading development teams, and from junior to senior management.

5. Because equal pay for all means equal pay for women.

6. Because in order to make the games industry a place of fair play, we must foster an
environment in which everyone belongs.

7. Because to aspire to be a fair reflection of the whole world, games must fairly reflect the world’s whole population.

8. Because sexism and harassment are a scourge on the face of the games industry, and it falls to everyone, particularly leaders, to ensure the health, safety and well-being of women.

9. Because toxic play environments prevent women from participating in civilised
communities of play.

10.Because women’s life experiences and professional expertise are wildly diverse, bringing more innovative ideas, developing better games and a richer, more vibrant creative culture for everyone.

11. Because in order to achieve fairness, the tangible barriers that prevent women from
entering the games industry must be removed.

12. Because embracing gender equality and diversity in games and the games industry will bring about a sustainable future.

13. Because education, training and professional development for girls and women are
essential to bringing about a fair playing field.

14. Because – to summarise all of these reasons – a fair playing field benefits all.
(UN ‘Economic Empowerment’ Facts and Figures: Economic Empowerment | UN Women – Headquarters)

You can find out more about supporting Women in Games here.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist.

GameDaily.biz © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.