That’s My Opinion: Sweden Considering Sexism Labels For Video Games

Posted in The Screening Room by - November 21, 2014

Two years after the 2012 stir that occurred when the Swedish affiliate of Toys R Us began advertising using gender-neutral toy catalogs that deliberately mixed and matched outside the traditional boy/girl toy dichotomy, or when some of Sweden’s movie theaters and TV channels began issuing ratings indicating whether or not films being shown passed the Bechdel Test, Sweden is becoming the proud beacon of gender equality. Now, that same due diligence is being turned onto the games industry. Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state-funded “Innovation Agency” Vinnova to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality. 

I’ll be the first one to stand up and say that I’m game for gender equality. I’m down for equal rights. It’s only fair really. But you’re telling me that we need to consider instituting regulation on games and media due to the content not promoting gender equality? Honestly, it’s thinking like this (insert people like this…) that are ruining creative and innovative industries like cinema and video games. The same people/thinking that put explicit warning labels on cassette tapes in the 80s, stickers on albums in the 90s, the little red E on iTunes in the 2000s. 

Thankfully, the fine people at the English-language Swedish news outlet The Local, thought to ask the most important question. That being “Will this focus on diversity detract from the creative process of developers?” 

Of course games can be about fantasy but they can be so much more than this. They can also be a form of cultural expression – reflecting society or the society we are hoping for. Games can help us to create more diverse workplaces and can even change the way we think about things.

— Anton Albiin, Dataspelsbranschen Project Manager
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