Game developers recognize ’50 over 50′ to combat ageism

The Global Game Industry’s 50 over 50 list of game developers over the age of 50 is out again, and I’m not on it again. But that’s OK since I don’t make games. But it’s an honor for the 50 game industry professionals on the list compiled by industry veteran Kate Edwards.

Kate Edwards, former head of the International Game Developers Association and consultant at Geogrify, started the awards list as a way to combat ageism in the game industry.

This year, more than 250 people from more than 20 countries nominated a total of 120 individuals for consideration to be on the list. After processing the results and verifying ages, as well as eliminating three individuals who already appeared on the 2018 list, Edwards and her team arrived at the final list which can be viewed on this link. The luminaries include Phil Spencer of Microsoft, Gabe Newell of Valve, Shuhei Yoshida of Sony, and game developer Jennell Jaquays.

A wealth of expertise

The finalists on the 2019 list represent a tremendous breadth and depth of skills and expertise. Regardless if some names are widely recognizable and obvious choices, and others are not as well known, every individual represents a long career of continued, active contributions to the art and science of game creation, Edwards said.

From hardware architects to composers, from educators to narrative designers, from artists to executives, and beyond, this group illustrates the reality that game creation – like all other media of creative endeavor – is a lifelong passion that is not diminished by age and time, but rather honed and ever-refined as one’s career progresses, Edwards said.

“Ageism, like its similar counterparts of sexism, racism, and all other forms of discrimination, poisons the well of creativity and represents the real possibility of irrational bias – sometimes unconscionably or even worse, deliberately,” Edwards said. “Research continues to confirm that our creative energies aren’t affected by time.”

She noted that an article published by the BBC in April of this year discusses the findings of Professor Bruce Weinberg from Ohio State University. Weinberg said, “Conceptual innovators tend to peak early in their careers, before they become immersed in the already accepted theories of the field. […] But there is another kind of creativity, which is found among “experimental” innovators. These innovators accumulate knowledge through their careers and find groundbreaking ways to analyze, interpret and synthesize that information into new ways of understanding.”

Conception, experimentation, and innovation are core elements to all game creators, regardless of age.

Refuting ageism

The “50 Over 50” List was conceived as a response to the reality that ageism is a rampant problem in the game industry and within the broader technology sector (and beyond), Edwards said.

Howard William‘s of Parker Software said in an article published by TechTalk in a March 2019 that 68% of those in the baby boomer generation don’t even apply to technology jobs because they fear ageism and being perceived as “too old.” Indeed, when the worldwide average age of tech developers falls into the 22-year-old to 29-year-old range, it’s easy to see why older, experienced individuals in the workforce might take pause and save themselves from the frustration of being interviewed and rejected, Edwards said.

As you view the distinguished names below, as well as those in the 2018 “50 Over 50” List, consider how much the game industry would lose if these individuals were still not actively participating, if their careers had been cut short by being discouraged, or rejected via ageism, or seen as inadequate simply because they reached a point of physical age, Edwards said.

The list is in alphabetical order.

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