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Sweden explores sexism ratings for games – today’s Open Thread

This year has seen plenty of debate about the portrayal of women in games, but now Swedish trade association Dataspelsbranchen is launching an intriguing new project to analyse the topic.

What’s more, the government-backed research could end in some kind of labelling scheme, although news site The Local stresses that it’s currently unclear whether this would be a rating for every game based on how well or poorly it portrays gender equality and diversity, or a badge for games that do it well.

“I do not know of any other project in the world asking this question and of course we want Sweden to be a beacon in this area,” said Dataspelsbranchen’s Anton Albiin, who also had an answer for questions about whether focusing on this area would inhibit developers’ creativity.

“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.”

Swedish government-funded innovation agency Vinnova thinks the research is worth a 272,000-kronor grant: so note for accuracy’s sake, this is a project to explore how the idea of these ratings would work, not a firm commitment (yet) to introduce them.

What do you think about the idea of some kind of ratings system based on how games deal with issues of diversity? If it happens, should it be all games, or more a badge of quality? And what impact might it have if a game is given a negative rating in the former case? The comments section is open for your views.

What else is on the technology radar this morning?

Uber under fire for journalist ‘dirt digging’ claims

No, not journalists digging dirt on Uber: the other way around. Comments made by Uber’s Emil Michael at an event suggested the company might hire researchers to look into “your personal lives, your families” of critics in the media, including tech site PandoDaily’s boss Sarah Lacy. Here’s her blistering response.

Snapchat launches Snapcash payments feature

Disappearing-messages app Snap chat has a new feature called Snapcash, through a partnership with mobile payments firm Square. Users will store their debit card details, and then be able to send cash “directly to your friend’s bank account”. There are surely some uses for this that don’t involve paying for naked snaps. Aren’t there?

WireLurker may have been closed down

iOS malware WireLurker has been sending ripples through the Apple community since being uncovered earlier in the month. Now Chinese authorities claim thatsites hosting it have been shut down, and three arrests made. But worrying aboutMasque Attack malware is the new worrying about WireLurker malware, by now.

Is Nokia ‘the new Polaroid’?

That doesn’t sound like a positive comparison, but Polaroid has been reinventing itself by licensing out its brand to other companies to make products. Now it seems Nokia – the Nokia left in Finland working on non-smartphone products, not the bit sold to Microsoft – is considering a similar strategy.

Fitbit data is being used in a court case

Could that fitness tracker attached to your pocket / worn on your wrist / sloshing around in your washing machine while you swear like a trooper be vital evidence? Forbes has a story on what appears to be the first court case relying on data from a Fitbit fitness tracker.

A manifesto for startup accelerators

Paul Smith runs the well-respected Ignite startup accelerator in Newcastle, and has published an interesting post on Medium outlining some of the ways companies can judge whether an accelerator is going to help them. “There’s a need amongst accelerators for accountability and transparency, so this is a first attempt at some basic terms that all programmes should feel confident agreeing to…”


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