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Masculine domination and gender subtexts: The role of female professionals in the renewal of the Swedish video game industry

Journal article
Authors Alexander Styhre
Björn Remneland Wikhamn
Anna Maria Szczepanska
Jan Ljungberg
Published in Culture and Organization
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 244-261
ISSN 1475-9551
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Centre for Business in Society
Pages 244-261
Language en
Keywords video game development, female professionals, gender relations, professional role confidence
Subject categories Business Administration


The video game industry is a showcase industry in the entrepreneurial, knowledge-intensive, and technology-based economy. Despite recent technological shifts rendering digital media portable in the form of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, attracting new categories of gamers, most notably women above the age of 35, the video game industry is struggling to handle its masculine domination, prescribing specific and gendered divisions of labor in terms of lowering thresholds for female video game developers. This article reports on empirical material based on interviews from the burgeoning Swedish video game industry and suggests that female professionals entering the industry encounter inherited gendered beliefs and ways of organizing work which locate women in specific, and not always desirable, roles within the industry. In this regime of masculine domination, the study concludes, female video game developers are understood as a particular group primarily knowledgeable about female gamers’ preferences and not as the possessors of general skills attractive to the video game companies. Ultimately, the masculine domination and the historical gendered divisions of labor are preventing the industry from creating more gender-equal workplaces and, as a consequence, fully exploiting market potentials.

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