The Game Incubator wants to be part of changing this. For three years, the European Regional Development Fund has been funding a project in which the Game Incubator has a goal of promoting seven successful computer game companies run by combiners (people who want to test out starting a game company combined with other employment) and entrepreneurs who are women, people with different cultural backgrounds and people with physical disabilities.
“The intent is to find new target groups and to offer needs-based and gender-inclusive approaches and processes for evaluating game ideas. But it is also to promote strengthening the game industry in Region Västra Götaland as well as increased diversity in the industry as a whole,” says Kenneth Johansson, Head of Operations for The Game Incubator.
As a part of its work, The Game Incubator has conducted a preliminary study in partnership with Ampersand, the business development company, on how to increase diversity in the game industry. The objective is to increase knowledge, and thereby to identify the target groups of the project.
“At Ampersand, we believe the shortage of women in the game industry is due to such factors as their being a non-issue. Women make up a large target group of those who play games and should therefore be an important part of game development, but most games today are developed by young men who make games they themselves like,” says Tatiana Temm of Ampersand.
“We believe it will pay to look at both what and how women and older people play. In addition, it would be valuable to investigate in greater depth what women actually want to develop in games — it’s time to ask them! This is something we hope we can promote.”
“Diversity is an issue of competitiveness”
Different people creating and developing computer games promotes diversity and increases the possibility of reaching new consumer groups, which could lead to new businesses being created.
“Diversity is an issue of competitiveness, both for businesses and their products. Right from day one, computer games operate in the global market, which is why they need to be developed for gamers from a perspective of diversity. Diversification among computer game developers is far too low — this goes for employees, entrepreneurs and combiners,” Kenneth Johansson says.
Tatiana Temm agrees: “Two examples of groups with strong purchasing power who are often overlooked in the game industry are women, and people over the age of 55. As part of our work at The Game Incubator, we help computer game companies sketch out a plan for diversity and equal treatment where aspects of profitability are highlighted.”
A challenge to bring women into the industry
To succeed in its project, The Game Incubator reviewed the original setup for the incubation of game ideas and developed a new training program in which the idea is that it will reach a broader target group.
“We must find new ways and networks for reaching out to the target groups of the project, and creating offers that attract them as well. We need to understand what these people’s driving forces are, what motivates them and what puts them off. Is there anything in our process that prevents people from searching?” says Christian Riedl, Business Developer at The Game Incubator, and concludes:
“Lessons learned to date in the project, include that women develop apps to a greater extent than they do games. And they are graphic artists to a greater extent, working with graphics in games. To reach this target group, we need to be better at listening to their interests and adapting our offering to also provide space for coaching them the right way.”
Game Incubator is run by Gothia Innovation AB, the company that runs and develops Gothia Science Park in Skövde. The Game Incubator started in Gothia Science Park in Skövde in 2004; its subsidiary opened in 2014 at Lindholmen Science Park in Gothenburg. The establishment of The Game Incubator in Gothenburg is taking place in partnership with Gothia Innovation AB and Lindholmen Science Park. The project will run through 2020 and is being financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and Region Västra Götaland.