LucasArts creative head calls for more women in industry, warns against ‘Viking’ game dev culture

It takes a creative type to convincingly compare modern game development to the old testosterone-fueled days of Viking expansion. A creative type like, say, LucasArts’ creative director Clint Hocking who contributed an opinion piece to Edge Magazine suggesting the male-dominated industry is in danger of fading away like those village-pillaging manly men of yore unless it attracts more females into its ranks to create a “better-balanced culture”.

“Minus the literal rape and killing, of course, modern game development has a number of things in common with the Viking expansion,” Hocking explained. “Specifically, game development studios and their teams are largely staffed in the same way that Viking longships were crewed. Consequently, the culture is overflowing with beer and pent-up aggression, and a very significant portion of our overall cultural output is fart jokes. I think we can do better.”

To “do better”, Hockingnoted the industry must avoid adopting the expansionist attitudes of its Nordic ancestors, and instead embrace a more sustainable and better-balanced culture, like the ones which eventuallyreplaced Viking rule. The first step, he says, isattracting more female talent into the business through better industry education, recruitment, and workplace equality practices, adding:

“Some people are sure to interpret this as me saying that we need more female game developers so they can make more games for a giant, untapped market of female gamers that’s waiting to be served. This is not at all what I mean. What I mean is that we need more female game developers in order to ensure that the development culture in game studios becomes more reflective of our culture at large. It’s this overall culture that’s the giant untapped market we need to serve: a rich and diverse mass market that’s comprised of men and women, appreciating and consuming art and entertainment together.”

Concluding, Hockinginsisted he isn’t advocating an end to stereotypically male video games, just that there’s a benefit to balance, saying,“I’m not suggesting that we stop making violent, fart-joke-infused, aggression-release-valve games for the aspirational Vikings among us. If we ever hope to make high-profile titles that are something besides that, however, we need to behave a little more each day as though we’re seated at the family dinner table, rather than rowing the longship.”

Check out the entire opinion piecehere (opens in new tab), and let us know your thoughts on the matter below.

Jul 6, 2011

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