PR > PR Techniques

GENDER SWAP

BETC, Paris / WOMEN IN GAMES / 2022

Awards:

Silver Cannes Lions
CampaignCampaign(opens in a new tab)
Case Film
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Overview

Credits

Overview

Why is this work relevant for PR?

50% of the 3 billion gamers worldwide are women. Yet, they only represent 22% of employees in gaming studios. The consequence? A representation of female characters that is too often hypersexualized and cliché compared to male characters.

At Women in Games, we want to change things by increasing the number of women in the industry. To show the extent of the problem, we hacked the game files of dozens of mainstream video games, to swap the animations of male and female characters.

Introducing GenderSwap: male video games heroes like you’ve never seen them before, animated like their female counterparts.

Background

Half of gamers worldwide are women. But women comprise just 22% of gaming-studio employees, and this number drops to an even lower level in the studios’ design, animation and coding departments.

The consequence is visible in most AAA video games which are designed to appeal to a male audience, leading to hypersexualized characters, and a sexist culture infusing gaming on such a large scale that players do not even realize it anymore.

Created in 2017, Women in Games seeks to double the number of women working in gaming over the next 10 years. It focuses on four pillars of action: improving women's visibility in the sector, raising awareness of diversity’s positive impact in gaming, supporting the professional development of female employees, and educating young girls about industry jobs.

Our objective was simple: raise awareness by showing the extent of the problem and introduce our solutions.

Describe the creative idea

We hacked our way into the game files of dozens of video games, to swap the animations of male and female characters, and highlight these stereotypes.

By editing the games files, we managed to assign the movements that were initially designed for female characters to their male counterparts. Ass shaking, sensual dances, suggestive postures, exaggerated sexualization: we let the gaming community discover video games biggest heroes, from Batman to The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia, like they’ve never been seen before!

Our modified versions were played live on Twitch by top French streamers, and our initiative went viral instantly. The results of our experimentation were also gathered in videos that were shared by thousands on social media (Reddit, Twitter, Youtube).

Both lives and videos led to tools, job offers and tips from our association to help women get access to the video game industry.

Describe the PR strategy

As the gaming community can be really defensive about these issues, we knew that to get their attention we needed to be entertaining. Our modified versions of the game have a double advantage: while addressing a serious issue, gamers were able to get a fresh but most of all funny new look at their favourite games. As the swapped files could be downloaded, they could even play themselves, and experience the potential of our campaign.

The fact that the modified files were created by female professionals also helped us to prove our point. We knew that our content was entertaining enough to grab people’s attention and it was also the perfect vessel to introduce the assets of our association: tips, interviews, advice, guides and job offers for women. This was done at the end of each Twitch live stream, as well as on our website, and on our discord server.

Describe the PR execution

The first part was to modify the game files to swap the animations of the most interesting male and female move sets. We created modules that were available for download, for both Twitch streamers and regular players.

The second part took place on Twitch where streamers played the modded versions of our games. While they reacted to the games with their communities, they explained how and why we did it, and presented the associations solutions for more women in the industry.

The initiative was presented in a video trailer, and gameplays videos that were posted on social media and sent to video games journalists. All the content was also available on our website.

The last touchpoint was our discord community, used as both a starting point to spread the idea, and as a destination to discuss and help people who were interested and wanted to know more about our actions.

List the results

With 1 350 000 views across social media for the trailer in less than 24 hours, without media investment or paid influencers, the campaign became the most discussed and shared video game related campaign of 2022 in France on Twitter (#2 Trending Topics on Feb. 15th) over 300 000 cumulated interactions during launch day, and over 40 articles.

It trended on the Top Twitch Trending streams in France during the two days of the live sessions with 5 streams out of 10 in the organic “trending” streams on Twitch France Homepage.

The Women In Games Discord got 74% new female members. This led to visits to the “job offers” page of our website being multiplied by more than 35.

Most importantly, the campaign helped us get noticed by major video games studios that signed partnerships with us, (Ubisoft, Bethesda or Focus Home Interactive) to help them improve their employee’s representation.

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