Game developers "can't all be white males", EA's COO Peter Moore has said in an interview highlighting the publisher's focus on diverse hiring practices.
We’ve gone from the personification of what we believe women should look like in a video game, to actually involving women in making video games, to today where at Electronic Arts we have some of our most powerful franchises overseen by women who manage hundreds of men,” Moore told Fortune.
Star Wars Battlefront and Mirror's Edge Catalyst, two of EA's most anticipated games, are being overseen by women - senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, and executive producer Sara Jansson, respectively. The development team for The Sims 4 is around 40% women, according to Moore, headed by executive producer Rachel Franklin. Last year, the company hired Amy Hennig (the former creative director for Naughty Dog's Uncharted series) as creative director on a new Star Wars game at Visceral Studios, and Jade Raymond, formerly of Ubisoft, recently joined to head a new EA-owned startup, Motive in Montreal and to oversee Visceral Games.
“I’ve seen incredible growth in the number of female game developers in the video game industry since I joined in early 1999,” Moore continued. “You can look at the last twelve months with everything that has gone on with Gamergate, that it’s made us all pay attention to this issue. When we talk about what I call D&I, Diversity & Inclusion, at EA, it’s never far from our minds when we make hiring decisions.”
Depending on who you talk to, the Gamergate movement Moore referred to is either a consumer movement focused on ethics in gaming journalism and challenging alleged corruption and political influence, or it's a harassment campaign that targets outspoken women, people of colour, and other minorities in games. Either way, it's brought the question of diversity both in games themselves, and in the teams creating them, to the forefront.
“We all need to step back sometimes and think about the environments we create for our people, the opportunities we create for people internally, and equally importantly how you bring new blood into the company,” Moore said. “It can’t all be white males. As a result, I think that hiring managers at EA over the last couple of years have had a sharper focus on diversity. I know that my teams around the world have. If there’s been any benefit to Gamergate, whatever Gamergate is, I think it just makes us think twice at times.”
According to Moore, EA is also "encouraging girls to think about programming as a career as young as high school, even before you get into college and focus on where you go for computer science degrees." The company is also involved with Girls Who Code, a program aimed at helping young women break into computer science.
Finally, Moore highlighted the upcoming FIFA 16, which will include women's teams for the first time in series history. He said that the decision to include women was made over two years ago, and he believes this will help make the franchise more popular among women, who are currently only make up 15% of the audience.
"We’ll know within the first few weeks how many people are choosing to play the women’s teams,” Moore says. “I think it’s going to have a very positive impact.”