I love Game Informer.
I renew my GameStop PowerUp Rewards Pro card every year not to score sweet game deals (although that is a nice bonus), but to receive a twelve-month subscription to Game Informer. I like their reviews, I think the editors write well and with interesting, dynamic word choices, and I like the wide variety of feature articles. Hell, I can even count the honor of having a poem published in their letters section back in 2006, one of my few formally published pieces of writing. So I have nothing against Game Informer. I really like Game Informer. I have a vested, ten-years-as-a-paying-subscriber interest in continuing to find Game Informer totally awesome.
Which is why I was so disturbed today when I read the Editors Top 10 Picks for the best games of 2014. Sure, this picture’s a little blurry, but I think you can see my point.
Yeah, so out of eighteen Game Informer editors, there is one Asian guy, one woman, and sixteen white dudes. Wait, really? How have I never noticed this?
This makes me ask a lot of questions. I mean, I don’t think the staff of Game Informer are a bunch of mustache-twirling secret racists, sitting behind their computers, patting each other on the backs because they haven’t hired any people of color. But why is the staff so overwhelmingly while and male? Certainly, it seems self-evident that having access to as many perspectives as possible would create stronger, more objective journalism. Also, it is at this point well-documented that both women and people of color play games as much as or even more than adult men and teenage boys. So why not have an editorial staff that reflects the diversity of your intended audience?
Perhaps there are simply fewer women and people of color entering the field of games journalism. This may be so – after all, only 11 percent of game designers are women, and only 3 percent of programmers, while only 7.5 percent of game designers are Asian, 2 percent are black, and 2.5 percent are Hispanic. It seems to make sense, then, that a similar lack of diversity would extend into the related field of games journalism. I am not certain that this dearth of women and people of color in both game design and journalism is related to any kind of lack of corresponding talent. Indeed, it seems that the diverse talent is either being driven out of the industry by sexist vitriol on the Internet, as with the case of Jenn Frank, or overlooked, as in the case of O’Dell Harmon, a talented black games journalist who managed to intern at Game Informer, but was evidently not hired. Seriously, read Harmon’s Game Informer-hosted blog: his writing is great.
Perhaps games as they are now simply are not for minorities and women, even if these are the very demographics that buy and play the most games. According to a 2009 study by Dmitri Williams, Nicole Martins, Mia Consalvo and James D. Ivory, 85.23 percent of all video game characters are male, and 80.02 percent of them are white. Check out these sweet, informative graphs:
Diversity in gaming is a huge, hot-button issue right now. The more we talk about it, the more it will change. As more and more tech companies push for diversity, I can only hope that more game companies and game news outlets, Game Informer included, will soon follow suit.
Will I stop reading Game Informer? Of course not. The fact that the writing is overwhelmingly produced by white guys doesn’t make the writing any less excellent, only of more limited perspective. I believe in you, Game Informer! You can do better!