The International Game Developers Association is a 24-year-old organization dedicated to serving game developers all over the world, and they make sure that advocates ensure quality of life for developers and prepare the next generation of developers. Each year, the IGDA hosts a survey that reveals what developers think of the game industry as a whole, and heading into 2018, the IGDA has supplied us with some of the data collected from this survey.
To start things off, it seems that developers value workplace diversity, and 81% of the people surveyed agree with this statement. This is up from 78% in 2016 and 63% in 2015. To add to this, 84% of developers think that diversity in the game industry is somewhat important or very important, which is up from 80% in 2016 and 66% in 2015. However, only 42% of developers felt that diversity had increased in the industry, which is down from 47% in 2016. When asked what needs to be focused on more in the gaming industry, 21% of people answered with diversity, which is right behind advancement in game design at 22%.
When polled on company policies, 14% reported that their workplace had no policies directed towards diversity or equality, and 25% said they did not know if their company had diversity-related policies. In regards to those polled that have diversity/equality policies in their workplace, only 56% felt these policies were adequately enforced, and 34% said they were not sure. 26% said their company had a formal complaint procedure, and 21% reported an existence of a formal disciplinary process.
With job security and working conditions, 39% of people expected to stay with their current employer for three years or less, while 20% were unsure how long their current job would last. 51% of developers said their job involved crunch time, and 44% of developers said they experienced long or extended hours. Additionally, 14% of people said they worked more than 70 hours a week during crunch time.
Among employed developers, 27% reported to have worked for three to five employers in the last five years, and 64% of people have been working in the game industry for fewer than ten years. This statistic is important in that it highlights the significant employment volatility in the industry. This is also demonstrated by the 44% of developers that believed their profession had a clear career path, the 39% that said there was no clear career path for them, and the 17% that said they were not sure.
In terms of demographics, the average age of a developer was 35-years-old (the mean age of the US labor force is 42), 71% of the survey identified as white or multiracial with white, 79% identified as male, and 44% were working in the United States. Of the men surveyed, 86% identified as heterosexual, 57% responded as being in a long-term relationship, and 37% identified as single. 69% noted that they did not have kids, and 79% identified as not having a disability. 45% had a university degree, and 16% of those with a degree had one in computer science and 13% in game design. Also, for the first time in four years, Valve is no longer the most desirable company to work for—instead, Blizzard is with 8% of the vote, and Valve trailed behind with 6%. The closest other answers were Nintendo and Bethesda both at 4%.
“We’re seeing high rates of turnover and concerns about job stability,” said Jen MacLean, interim executive director of IGDA. “Combined with the lack of support for equality and diversity in the workplace, these results confirm the IGDA’s belief that the organization must act to help game developers create fulfilling, sustainable careers. A short average tenure in the industry is also a clear wakeup call for game development companies; we must do a better job of keeping talent engaged and participating in our industry.”
While the game industry appears to have its heart set in the right direction, there are still many improvements that companies need to take to make game development a worthwhile career path in the future. While there were some ups from 2017’s survey, hopefully the 2018 survey will improve upon some downs shown from these polled developers.