Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir Talks Diversity and Inclusion in Gaming

Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir DICE Europe 2017

Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir is quite charming. She has that cool Icelandic accent, produces excellent games, has traveled Thailand extensively, and raises environmental awareness through The Future is Ours. Oh yeah, she’s also the senior producer of the FIFA franchise at Electronic Arts. Prior to working on FIFA, she was senior producer for Star Wars: Battlefront. She also served as producer for CCP on the EVE Online franchise and Ubisoft on Tom Clancy’s The Division.

At DICE Europe 2017, Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir will be talking about the importance of diversity and inclusion in both videogames themselves and the gaming industry. To generate interest in her DICE Europe 2017 session, I had a conversation with Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir on behalf of the (excellent) Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Here are some clips from the interview.

On the importance of diversity:

Diversity is important in games as it is with any other media. As human beings, we engage with content that resonates with us — content that makes us feel invited and included. For the past 15 to 20 years or so in the games business, we’ve mostly seen the representation of a particular masculine protagonist in games. We’ve seen less diversity in terms of people of color and less gender diversity, although some franchises, such as the SIMS have stood out as inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation and race. This has started to change over the past few years. There’s work to be done still, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Looking at the movie industry, as an example, movies that have a broad representation of cast appeal to a broad audience. I don’t believe that’s any sort of rocket science. I believe very strongly that games have the same correlation. In games, we have a chicken-and-egg problem. We’ve narrowly defined the core gamer as an 18- to 25-year old male and have a wealth of content that appeals to that particular audience. Historically, other groups have felt less invited and less included by that content.

On how videogame companies can achieve diversity:

That’s a multilayered question with a complex and multidimensional answer. In order for teams to become more diverse than they are now, game developers need to think about their talent pipelines. That’s part of what I want to demonstrate during my talk. If they feel like it’s the smart thing to do from a business perspective and the right thing to do for catering to a broad audience, being cognizant of representation, and making experiences for everyone then companies will have to look at how they manage the talent pipeline. How are they sourcing their staff? How are they representing themselves to potential job applicants? How are they representing themselves to young people making education choices and career choices? In order for people to aspire to be something, it’s important for them so see someone like them in that environment. We’ve seen so many examples of that throughout history. It’s important for people in underrepresented groups to be seen in positions of authority and influence. Oftentimes our choices are made operating within the social norms and the social constructs. If we see game development as a particularly masculine field then that’s going to deter a number of women that might have interests in gaming and the skills to thrive in that environment. They self-select out of it because it doesn’t feel inviting to them.

As someone that tries to live somewhat green, I asked Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir about her thoughts on the Tesla Model 3. When you have a chance, please check out my full interview with Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir by clicking the link below.