Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

2008 Game Developer Salary Survey

Posted by Ben Zeigler on April 10, 2009

I opened up this month’s Game Developer, and it’s salary survey time again! I thought I would take a look at the numbers and compare them to last year’s survey. First of all, the tone of the piece was a bit different. Jill Duffy, who wrote the article and was a senior contributing editor, mentioned that she was being laid off in the intro to the piece. Despite that depressing start, salary numbers lag a bit behind the economy, so wages were actually up this year. Next year is the one where we’ll really see the fallout. Most of the trends are basically the same as last year, so no point in going over the general trends. One thing worth noting is that the US sample size was only 1,879 this year (down 600 from last year) so statistically it’s a bit more suspect.

One area I wanted to revisit was trends in gender pay equality. Here’s the 2008 gender pay equality chart:

Field Percentage of Females Female Compensation Difference
Programming 3% $10,249 less (12%)
Art 10% $8,456 less (12%)
Design 6% $18,324 less (26%)
Production 21% $10,079 less (12%)
Business 14% $28,704 less (26%)
Q/A 14% $7,500 more (+16%)

Right, so, except for Q/A (either the demographics of Q/A changed dramatically in the last year, or something weird is going on statistically) and to less extent Business, this is pretty bad news. The gender disparity in Programming, Art, and Production rose by 3% which is disappointing. The gender disparity in design rose by a ridiculous 11%. Female game designers now make $18 thousand less a year than male game designers, and game designers don’t really make that much on average. All of the trends I mentioned last year about females having a hard time getting top-level design jobs seems to be even worse this year. I find that more than a bit depressing.


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