With gender biases in the video game industry becoming a more prevalent issue in the twenty-first century, big companies, including video game companies, in the UK are required to provide the government with detailed data regarding the salaries of male and female employees. After some investigation it was found that women earn significantly less than their male contemporaries at Rockstar North’s GTA 5 studios, amongst other companies.
Rockstar North’s public report shows that female game developers’ hourly rate is a significant 64% lower than that of male developers. So for every $1 that a male developer would earn, a female developer earns $0.36. The report also reveals that in terms of bonus payments, only 83.9% of women receive bonuses compared to the 89% of men that receive bonus payments. Also, women’s bonus pay was as much as 84% lower than that of men’s. In addition to the big pay gap, the demographic of female game developers at Rockstar North is severely lacking, where women make up a mere 8% of the highest paid employees at the company.
Andrew Semple, the Rockstar North studio director, defended the company by noting that the payment gap is not due to sexism on the company’s side, but due to the structure of the company. Semple states that most of the senior staff who have been at the company for the longest happen to be male and that every employee at Rockstar North is “fairly compensated based on merit and without reference to gender.” This is a demographic that also needs to be addressed by Rockstar North though, as it clear from this statement that Rockstar North has only employed men in the past. Despite this, Semple has also added that Rockstar North is committed to closing this pay gap as the studio will “continue to find new ways to support and encourage women to both take up and advance in career opportunities in game development.”
The pay gap between male and female developers is not only disparate in the Rockstar North studios, but also at Electronic Arts where the gap is 13.7%, at Sony where the gap is 12.8% and at Microsoft where the gap is 6.6%. Payment gaps are also not isolated to video game developers, but is also a problem in esports where female champions earn a tremendous amount of 718% less in prize money than male champions. As the video game industry is becoming increasingly gender-neutral and as women’s role in the video game industry is becoming more important, we hope to see that issues, such as pay gaps, will be addressed by authorities and studios.