Zynga has teamed up with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) to support women in games.
Zynga will be a platinum sponsor for the IGDA Foundation’s Women in Games Ambassador and IGDA Scholars programs, which will get started at the 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. The partnership is one pillar of Zynga’s presence at this year’s GDC, which takes place March 19 to March 20. Other game companies like Facebook and Google have also launched initiatives for women in advance of the big event for game developers.
All of the companies see an imbalance in the make-up of the game industry, where close to half the customers are women but only about one in five of the developers are female.
The Zynga initiative is led by Women at Zynga, whose mission is to foster an inclusive work environment that values diversity and empowers women to succeed and become leaders in their careers and community. Zynga’s sponsorship of the Women in Games Ambassador program will enable the IGDA Foundation to expand its programmatic outreach, which helps women find their first professional opportunities in game development.
In addition, the partnership supports IGDA’s Scholars, empowering students to further their careers and education through scholarships and access to industry events and activities, like GDC, with IGDA’s volunteers.
“Our goal at the IGDA Foundation is to inspire potential and current developers from all walks of life and around the globe to embark on successful and fulfilling careers within the gaming industry,” said Jen MacLean, executive director of both the IGDA and the IGDA Foundation, in a statement. “We’re honored to partner with Women at Zynga, as their mission to empower and support women across the gaming industry aligns with our core values of mentorship, access and advancement for everyone. Through our deep partnership with Women at Zynga during this year’s GDC, we’re excited to pair our program participants with a fantastic cross-section of leaders at one of the industry’s leading social game developers.”
Women at Zynga will host nearly 60 IGDA Foundation program participants during GDC. And, Women at Zynga will also provide GDC scholarships to six female students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and Marshall School of Business.
The scholarships will give access for the students to attend GDC while receiving on-site career mentorship from Zynga game makers. The GDC scholarship program is one component of Zynga’s partnership with USC to support the creation of innovative social mobile gameplay.
Announced in May 2017, Zynga’s USC initiative funds three years of class curriculum and an event series of panels and lectures on inclusivity and diversity in the video game industry. The program is open to students from across the USC campus who are interested in innovative game design, as well as inclusivity and diversity in the development of social mobile games.
“As a leading mobile social game developer, Zynga is committed to creating and supporting initiatives that build an inclusive environment for women working in the mobile games sector as well as those interested in pursuing a future career in our industry,” said Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga, in a statement. “At Zynga, we aspire to be a top destination for women in gaming and I’m proud of how our own industry leading Women at Zynga initiative has partnered with IGDAF and USC to support the next generation of game makers. We look forward to joining the conversation at this year’s GDC on how to meaningfully empower and advance women in gaming and foster a thriving industry for all game developers.”
According to a 2017 Google Play and Newzoo study, 65 percent of women aged 10 to 65 in the U.S. play mobile games, with women making up nearly half of all mobile gamers. To facilitate a discussion on the state of women in gaming, Women at Zynga will host a group of industry leaders for a GDC panel focused on building diverse entertainment audiences and inclusive points of view in gaming.
Moderated by Lucy O’Brien, games and entertainment editor for IGN, the panel will feature Jen MacLean, Executive Director, IGDA Foundation; Lisette Titre-Montgomery, art manager at Double Fine Productions; and Nicole Opas, vice president of games at Zynga.
Established in 2011, Women at Zynga embodies the company’s belief that an organization is stronger when it values diversity, equality, inclusion, and respect. The employee led group develops female focused enrichment programs around education and training, professional development and community building. In addition to advocating for women’s achievements and advancements across gaming, the group is also focused on the retention and recruitment of female game makers across the industry.