Watch Dogs 2 & Gender Pay Gap

I’m playing Watch Dogs 2 on my Xbox One (aka: my Rock Band machine) and discovered something that fascinates me. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

The game is set in San Francisco — or an interpretation of San Francisco since depicting buildings may result to getting sued. One building that is safe for Ubisoft to depict is their own headquarters in San Francisco.

UbiSoft San Francisco
Ubisoft San Francisco

The game has a photo tagging mini-game and naturally the Ubisoft building is a location. I got there, took my photo, and looked around to see what I could find. There were two people standing outside the door smoking. SF bans smoking within 15 feet of entrances, but anyway…

One male and one female outside the doors of Ubisoft in Watch_Dogs 2

The game allows you to view the private information of NPCs (non-player characters) with their name, profession, a factoid, and their annual income. You also commander resources accordingly. Naturally I turned it on to see what I’d find. That’s when things got real.

  • Saadeh, Asha
    • Races cars
    • Software Engineer
    • Income $80,700
  • Denver, Karl
    • Obsessed with health tracking
    • Programmer
    • Income $168,300

Same job, but the man in programming makes twice the income of woman software engineer. I find the fact this is in the game at this location fascinating.

I have no insight into how this came to be. It could be an algorithm of factors and I happened to catch this. This the Ubisoft headquarters, so something more curated is possible. I don’t have visibility to know how this went down.

My hope? This is intentional and perhaps a canary to put in such a powerful statement in the game. If this is the case, whomever put this in the game — and the people who allowed for this to stay — I commend you. It’s not easy to put this kind of statement in a very mainstream company’s game.

Let’s hope the bug report of pay inequality was filed on Ubisoft’s JIRA. And every other company’s bug tracker.

  1. In-game screenshots by me on my XBox One as of November 20, 2016.
  2. Raw image screenshots of each NPC: Asha, Karl.