Indians and Gaming
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 November 2012, 12:27 am
A lot of feminist gamers decry the fact that gaming companies are almost totally male. Personally, I've never felt this was an entirely fair accusation. To me, gaming companies are mostly male because computer science and engineering programs are mostly male. When the pool of talent you hire from looks like X, it's hard not to end up looking like X, especially when you pay below-market wages.

Of course, there is a bit of chicken-and-egg going on here. A lot of men go into Computer Science because they are gamers, and the idea of maybe joining a gaming company after graduation lingers in the back of their minds. (Then they find out about the hours and pay, and decide to go into business programming.)

But something about the above formulation troubled me. Then I realized that it is wrong. Game company demographics do not quite match CS demographics. Oh, they more or less match according to gender, but they don't match according to race.

Specifically, the Indian population is missing from gaming.

If you drop into a CS program, you will notice that there are three significant racial groups: White, Asian, and  Indian. (I am ruthlessly compressing several cultures into each category. Painting with broad strokes.) But the gaming industry is almost totally White and Asian.

Indeed, I would argue that geek and gaming culture is mainly White and Asian. It is rather interesting that Indians are missing, given that all three cultures share enough similarities to make Computer Science a common goal.

Now, I'm not ascribing the difference to racism or anything like that. Rather, I would say that the geek/gaming culture carries many White and Asian people into CS, and the gaming companies recruit from that stream. Meanwhile, the large presence of Indians in CS is a effect of Indian culture's esteem for engineering, and seeing engineering-like careers as desirable.

I've been musing about this lately because (as you may have guessed from my name) I am Indian by ancestry. But when I was young, my parents moved to a town that was almost entirely White. (The actual story is a little more complicated than this, but it will suffice.) So in many ways I am White by culture, and part of that is that I fell into the geek/gaming subculture. It's pretty much what White people of my temperament and talents do: read sf and fantasy, rhapsodize about Star Trek, and play video games. It was what all my (White) friends did, and since I was like them, I did the same.

Then I went to university and encountered that divide I discuss above. I went to a very techy university with tons of fellow geeks. But even though there was a large Indian presence at university, it was almost non-existent in geek circles, even though those circles pulled people from the same classes.

It was, and still is, slightly disconcerting. Growing up, I had made the assumption that I was the only Indian geek I knew because there was a bare handful of Indians in the town's population. Then I went to university, met a large Indian population, and realized I was still pretty much the only Indian geek I knew.

I'm sure there are others out there, but it has always seemed odd to me that there isn't a larger Indian presence in gaming and geekdom, given the fact that there are so many Indians in CS and engineering.

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