The Gendering of GameWork

One of the most interesting (and indeed helpful) aspects of understanding issues of work and professional identity in the computer and video game industry is its openly reflective, transparant and self-critical character. Magazines, journals, blogs, and discussion forums overflow with issues, comments and heartfelt criticisms of what it is like to do gamework.

In a recent conference summary on Gamasutra, IGDA director Jason Della Rocca is quoted as:
"At the base level, each one of us is too passionate sometimes, too complicit," he added as he detailed the typical work behaviors in the game industry. Some employees shoot for team effort and don't want to let down co-workers, while others play into the bravado macho stereotype building up work hours, he described."

What he (and others) fail to see, is the gendering of gamework that is going on here, and that has been noted by those studying other media industries such as filmmaking and television production: media professionals are expected to conform to the masculine stereotype or 'male professional ideal' of the 'always on and available' superworker who is completely okay with intense stop and go work patterns, long hours ('perma-crunch') as well as instability of income - which in turn to some extent explains the dominance of men (more than 90% of game developers are guys), young people and childless households in the industry.

Gamework, just like most mediawork (and especially freelance, temporary and otherwise contingent mediawork), is not a open, free-for-all and egalitarian (some say: heterarchic) praxis - it excludes, limits, curtails and effectively privileges certain people, certain values, and a certain way of doing things. I wonder what we're missing in media content (whether its games, movies, or newspapers) because of this.