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November 27, 2012 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Women in the gaming industry have taken to twitter to talk about the sexism they've faced under the hashtag #1reasonwhy

Of similar interest: David Gaider (writer for the dragon age series) about why the female perspective in game development is important.
posted by dinty_moore (139 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
This has, of course, also stirred the cesspool that is the Internet (and gaming circles in particular). Already seen some "classic" comments from MRAs and the like which just prove the original point all the more.
posted by kmz at 10:13 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There now seems to be a second hashtag just for mentorship, under #1reasonmentor

And yeah, I read the first three comments on the kotaku article before thinking 'welp, that was dumb.' But I can't help but be happy that the trend is to talk about this more: the more we talk about the sexism in geek and videogame culture, the more obvious it becomes that these are not isolated incidents.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:18 AM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm glad to see women bravely posting things that they say they've been afraid to post publicly before.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:19 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's easy for me to forget, when I spend most of my online time in relatively feminism-friendly places like MetaFilter, just how bad things still are in industries that I'm directly or tangentially involved in.

A friend of mine, who works as a storyboard artist, tweeted:
Because male characters are designed in a large variety of body types, but female characters must all fit the same template.

Because of the times when you design something different, you're told either "sex her up" or "how will they know it's female?"
To which some guy replied,
no one pays 60 bucks to see muffin tops in their games
Which just...where to even go from there, when that's the way the conversation's going to start?

I don't know, random Twitter dude, maybe "different body types" doesn't necessarily mean "overweight?" Maybe it shouldn't matter, because there are plenty of overweight, weird-looking, non-sexy guys in video games but no one ever wonders if that's decreasing their value? Because maybe the most important thing about any character isn't whether or not you would bang them? Because not everyone buying games are men, and not all men who buy games want all the women in them to be conventionally attractive eye candy?

God forbid we put a paunchy, middle-aged, craggy-faced woman in a video game. YOUR CONSOLE WOULD PROBABLY CATCH ON FIRE.

:|
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [81 favorites]


I'm always amazed that the comments to every. single. article. about how gaming culture is hostile to women are full of the same range of handwaving to outright harassment. Every time this is brought up, the response doesn't just prove the point, it reaches beyond the initial hostility WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY dismissing the existence of that hostility.

The complete lack of self reflection, over and over and over and over again, is astonishing.
posted by almostmanda at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2012 [92 favorites]


And naturally, after reading the Kotaku article, I was dumb enough to read the comment thread and find a great many people enthusiastically demonstrating how they Totally Don't Get It (or Totally Don't Care).

FWIW, Metafilter is probably the ONLY place on the internet where I'm ever happy to read the comment threads. Just wanted you all to know that I appreciate you. :)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2012 [30 favorites]


This has, of course, also stirred the cesspool that is the Internet (and gaming circles in particular). Already seen some "classic" comments from MRAs and the like which just prove the original point all the more.

/Big sigh at that being the default.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2012


Yeah. I saw this on twitter earlier and browsed through twitter postings with that hash tag and wasn't more than a dozen entries through the list when I found some guy complaining about how Anita Sarkeesian is a big meanie. *sigh*
posted by rmd1023 at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2012


I hope this gets all the exposure it deserves. Women need to be more involved in video games, and the only way to do that is to get all the dudes involved who are ignorant to how shitty women have to realize the fact that they have it this shitty and start being more openly inclusive to women (both in the industry and in games themselves,) and more actively confrontational toward sexism and misogyny, whether it is aggressive or casual. There has never been a time that women weren't involved in video game history, from design, to code, to journalism. The treatment of women in the industry is ridiculous on every single front, from the violation of basic human civility, to the degradation the lack of women's voices is doing to games as an artform, to the fucking monetary aspect of actively alienating half of a goddamn market and then laughing about it.

Also, way to frame this with the respect it deserves Kotaku! Seriously. I cannot for the life of me figure out a way to actually commend them on this without sounding sarcastic, but this is appropriate framing, which considering both who they are and their visibility as who they are, is a Good Thing.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nthing the MeFi = good comment threads. Gamers with Jobs is fantastic as well, btw.
posted by papercake at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've got more than one close female friend who works (or has recently worked) in gaming -- everything from WotC to major development on MMOs. And I'd love to encourage them to participate in this, but then I think of how one has a no-shit-really stalker, and another probably can't afford to be seen as criticizing her company, and... yeah. :/
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:30 AM on November 27, 2012


Wow, yeah. Some of the completely dickish comments from men using the hashtag only serve to provide more evidence of why the discussion is needed.

Making misogyny unacceptable is important because it's entry level human decency, but as a nice fringe benefit, greater diversity equals a larger pool of talent to draw from = better games = more $$$s for the industry. I enjoy playing video games and I don't want it to feel like this grubby, embarrassing habit because of the idiotic, backward views of some of its male consumers and the cowardice of a larger number in not confronting them.
posted by RokkitNite at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I talked about this recently with my girlfriend, who said that, at this point in time, she is completely alienated from games and gaming. Now considering that she grew up playing and enjoying video games and works in comics (and lives with a guy who listens to rundowns of industry stockholder meetings for fun) that should give you a hint at how bad certain aspects of the gaming industry are.
posted by griphus at 10:33 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


We just bought an old Wii for our kid's Christmas present, and also so I could play with him. He loves video games, and I know we have years of them ahead of us. He'll play kiddie games for a while, but would be really nice if there was more than blood and boobs games for him to choose from as he gets older, or at least games where women are protagonists and equal while they slaughter gooey monsters.
posted by emjaybee at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2012


And, in case it wasn't clear in my previous comment, I include myself in that larger group who passively allow sexism to happen without calling it out. I worked as a video games journalist for just over a year and it was a horrible environment. On one press junket in France, literally all the journalists and developers were men, and they hired women to sit at the tables in the bar after the demonstrations, to make small talk with us. They were the only females I saw all weekend. There's a culture of 'booth babes' and smutty fanservice and general gross skeevy-ness that really put me off.

But of course, I didn't say anything, because I rationalised it as 'the way things were' and was basically a bit spineless.
posted by RokkitNite at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


My Twitter feed totally blew up with this last night (predictably) and it's mostly just depressing to me.

I left my last gaming job after I had a manager who was flabbergasted when I pointed out that posting Craigslist Missed Connections ads asking his subordinate to sleep with him constituted harassment.

Community management is at least 65% women, and the managers of CM teams are around 75% male (and that percentage goes up the higher up the chain you go.)

I never got my face photoshopped onto a farm animal taking it from behind, but that was in large part because my first name is masculine and I didn't bother correcting people on my gender all that often. All of my more feminine colleagues had that kind of experience.

I was told - flat out, by a manager I had respected - not to talk in design meetings because my opinion wasn't wanted.

Man, I could go on for a while. I don't regret my time in the game industry, but it'd take a lot of persuasion to get me to go back.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:50 AM on November 27, 2012 [35 favorites]


Also, way to frame this with the respect it deserves Kotaku! Seriously. I cannot for the life of me figure out a way to actually commend them on this without sounding sarcastic, but this is appropriate framing, which considering both who they are and their visibility as who they are, is a Good Thing.

On a related note, when I read the article earlier, yes, the first comment was a predictable MRA argument (something that included "Well, the fashion industry excludes men." among other winners) and there were 40+ responses that were basically "fuck off, you're wrong; here's why." So though I'm not expecting no stupid comments, it is nice to see, even off-Metafilter, the balance heading the other direction in articles like this.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:51 AM on November 27, 2012


Okay, things are bad. So, why aren't there more lawsuits?
posted by FJT at 10:51 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


With the rise of indie gaming, maybe this is an industry that will be easier for women to infiltrate and flip the old guard on it's ear, no? Fewer gatekeepers and all that.
As an added bonus, maybe if we got some fresh new different points of view in gaming I'd buy more than like 2 games a year.
We have all 3 main systems at our place and I rarely get new games because it's always variations on the same basic stuff.
None of this is to say that women should have to put up with any of this nonsense.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:52 AM on November 27, 2012


I am not a huge gamer, but have recently been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG. I am a 25-year-old woman. While I enjoy the game, there have been a couple of things that have really stuck in my craw.

#1: The costumes for female characters are unabashedly, ridiculously revealing in a way that is both impractical to combat and, well, hideous. Regardless of the class of character I play or the type of armor (light, medium or heavy), I am often clothed in a skirt which does not join in the front, revealing the character's underwear/booty shorts/gartered leggings. The tops are almost always deeply plunging, sleeveless and backless. I just spent a lot of time and energy leveling my armor, only to be greeted by this. Admittedly, the male armor is kind of ridiculous, too, but nowhere near as comically revealing, I think. Further, the cleavage and vag reveal seems to be a default for almost all female costumes, except for the occasional pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt which I covet. In addition to this, whenever your female character is swimming, the design is such that you get a direct view of that character's 3D butt and vag. The characters wear tiny underwear-like things, sure, but there is something really gross and needlessly sexual/objectifying about it to me.

#2: The chat. I very rarely participate in the chat (I do not play the game for the community, to be honest, and prefer to play alone or with my boyfriend/friends), but occasionally I'll see some seriously outrageous things said, if I'm paying attention (the chat box is always open while I'm playing). Un-ironic and, of course, unfunny rape jokes. Homophobic jokes. Racist jokes. While the cesspool/trolling aspect is high in all of these offensive areas, there is definitely a strong current of sexism. I certainly never reveal my gender, because I know where that would lead. It's just incredibly disappointing that in 2012 being a woman playing a game is equivalent to adorning a bulls' eye.

When I think about these above aspects of gaming culture (specific, I know, and I'm not trying to generalize about all gaming or anything like that, just sharing my experience), and I think about how many like to pretend there is no longer a need for feminism or that women's rights isn't really an issue anymore, it makes me pretty sick. These ingrained attitudes towards women didn't disappear 40 years ago, and in some areas like parts of the internet or gaming culture, hateful misogyny runs rampant, is encouraged, and treated as something entirely run-of-the-mill and even light-hearted. A few days ago a friend of a friend wrote something about how women friendzone all the chivalrous guys they know--I had to comment, because it was so ridiculous and offensive, and countered that it was a sexist thing to say. This man replied by promptly insulting my intelligence by asking if I had just completed my first college course, implied I wanted to fuck him, referred to me as a "beastly woman" and told me he hoped my "uterus shriveled up." Seriously. Dude then blocked me, and my friend deleted the post.

I guess my point is that I think all of these things are connected. Gaming culture isn't isolated, and I think it feeds off of other areas rich in misogyny. There still seems to be the idea that sexism can be funny, that it isn't that big of a deal, and that women just need to get a sense of humor. There also seems to be this bizarre notion that, like the Facebook guy, you can really love women while absolutely loathing them. I mean, this guy went on and on about how he was the best boyfriend ever, how well he treated women, and then promptly unleashed vitriol against me precisely related to my womanness. I hope there can be a shift in attitudes, and Twitter movements and articles like the above will surely help to achieve that.
posted by nonmerci at 10:52 AM on November 27, 2012 [32 favorites]


I've spent relatively little, but enough, time reading I Blame the Patriarchy and getting schooled by my non-straight-white-abled-cis-male friends that when I look at the guys tweeting about how this is sour grapes from incompetent female designers, all I can think is, "He's just trolling." The thought process is so alien to me, it seems impossible that it might be sincere. But that thinking used to make sense to me, until enough people yelled at me in sheer frustration. Hope the hashtag trend gets through to some people.
posted by radicalawyer at 10:58 AM on November 27, 2012


Okay, things are bad. So, why aren't there more lawsuits?

Same reason why a lot of other work-related illegal/shady crap goes on: the person who is harassed wants to work in the industry. A lawsuit means even more harassment and aggression pointed towards you, plus the possibility that nobody in the gaming industry will hire you again.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:59 AM on November 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


FJT: "Okay, things are bad. So, why aren't there more lawsuits?"

Because this isn't always a legal/illegal issue. It's a cultural one.

Because you can't sue someone for making stupid assumptions at a trade show.

Because suing an employer is a great way to make sure you never get a job in the industry again.

Because suing someone based on sexism makes you a "feminazi" or "femistasi" or "man-hater".

Because women have been conditioned for... well, pretty much forever, to just roll over. To avoid conflict. To "man up".

Because even MENTIONING discrimination in a public place (as a woman) is pretty much an open invitation to more disgusting comments. If you're lucky. Or doxxing/rape threats/death threats if you're not.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:02 AM on November 27, 2012 [63 favorites]


A lawsuit means even more harassment and aggression pointed towards you, plus the possibility that nobody in the gaming industry will hire you again.

Too true. Also, lawsuits are fucking expensive, and women are the underpaid minority in an underpaid industry. I would need a very high degree of confidence that a) I would win and b) the settlement would be enough that I wouldn't need to work again to risk a lawsuit for anything short of assault.

The woman being solicited for sex by our boss wouldn't even mention it to HR - and made me promise not to do it, which I agreed to and now regret - because she was so certain that it would only make things worse. I think in that specific case she was wrong, but that's one out of three companies, and I'm damned sure at at least one of the others nothing at all would have been done and a complaint would in fact have made things worse.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


So what can be done besides waiting for people to stop being assholes? Of course people should stop being assholes, but the nature of being an asshole means you won't stop until somebody makes you.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2012


A lawsuit means even more harassment and aggression pointed towards you, plus the possibility that nobody in the gaming industry will hire you again.

I'm assuming the positive benefits of including women and not acting sexist has been said, shown, and drilled into everybody at this point. If this stuff still exists even after that, then the best recourse is to burn the house down.

These people are going around on twitter already. The first stone's been cast. I think if even 3 of them were convinced to file high profile and ugly lawsuits, more will follow. If not lawsuits, then at least create media pressure by publicizing names, dates, conversations, photos, and videos.

I mean, it's nice to assume that everyone will listen and be courteous, but that's not going to be the case. Sometimes only sticks are respected, and not carrots.
posted by FJT at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah emotionally I get the 'burn the whole fucking thing down' sentiment but when you can count all the major employers on one hand it really changes the equation.

And when these companies are run by guys who are sympathetic to the cesspool comments, because 10 years ago they were the ones making them, what are you going to do?

You wouldn't believe the shit I've heard from my friends in the industry. Unless you're willing to basically give up having a job doing the only thing you know how to do, I wouldn't be so quick to judge how hard it is to stand up against every other person in your world.
posted by danny the boy at 11:17 AM on November 27, 2012 [23 favorites]


If this stuff still exists even after that, then the best recourse is to burn the house down.

I mean we can go on all day listing reasons why women in gaming should this and why women in gaming should that, but the blackballing problem remains, and that problem is a very, very good reason to keep schtum. Once you become loud and public about anyone with any remote amount of influence, or become a liability to the grim specter of HR, you're done. Unless you manage to make it as an indie developer (unlikely!) or get someone to pay you to be an activist or something, you'll no longer be a member of the industry. So it's less "burn the house down" and more "set yourself on fire in protest."
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


specialagentwebb: "Because suing an employer is a great way to make sure you never get a job in the industry again."

Well, you know, fuggit: if the industry hates you already, make sure they fear you as well.
posted by boo_radley at 11:19 AM on November 27, 2012


Exasperation with harassment does seem to be reaching some kind of breaking point; I've seen more articles about it in the last year than ever before. (And high bloody time too.) I wonder whether the breaking point was greater solidarity among the people getting harassed, or else the harassers' solidarity taking them to a point where they got so vile that people started thinking, 'You know what? Fuck it; speaking out can hardly make things worse than they already are...'
posted by Kit W at 11:19 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eve Walter ‏@MidnightRem
#1ReasonWhy Because a major developer insists on keeping us in boxes with ads like this: http://bit.ly/UDG6EQ and this: http://bit.ly/UDGanX


There is so much to read, but this comment - seeing the linked ads side by side makes me completely exhausted with rage. How is this 2012? How is this still okay? How is any of it?
posted by harujion at 11:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


It also doesn't help that the average tenure in the industry - for anyone - is five years. Shitty pay, shitty working conditions, and profound job insecurity mean that the industry as a whole has some pretty major barriers to forward progress. You can educate everyone at your company and finally achieve nirvana, then you ship your product, everyone gets laid off, and you start all over again from square one. (Or you decide you'd like to have a life and leave.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:21 AM on November 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Dude, what? How can a grown man think a joke like that is a good idea? Did his parents love him too much?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:41 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know how one of the twitter quotes in the article said basically, "we don't read the comments on our own interviews"?

It's totally true. I don't know a single woman game dev who admits to reading the comments beyond browsing it and then just getting frustrated. I've never seen an interview with a woman game developer for any mainstream blog or magazine where the comments online weren't filled with at most vitriol, and at least commentary about her appearance. God forbid you actually write an article or do an interview on the subject of women or gender or sexism in games, development, or communities. Then you're accused of keeping the men down, affirmative action strawmen, being told that it's just what the market wants, that if you want better games go make them, that you aren't suited for this industry. Those comments are at places like Gamasutra, too, whose articles are supposed to be by and for all developers. It's frankly fucked up when your own peers are saying this.

At least the trend in the last few years has been for more and more people to rise up and respond to the misogynist comments. I will give those men and women credit for that.

But it's bad enough that I've heard many women talk about how they are adverse to interviews or blogging, because too often sites will include a picture of you with the article. They just don't want to be under that kind of scrutiny and know how easy it is to anger some gamers and suddenly be targeted with threats and harassment. It's a pretty awful situation because now you have these smart, skilled developers from all walks of life who could be great role models for women and girls interested in games and whose careers would benefit from the increased recognition... who just opt out because of this low-level harassment. And when they do interviews, they're almost always beset by some low-level stress, knowing what will be the outcome (commentary on their appearance) and what could be the outcome (a month of free rape threats on twitter).

When the internet rises up to attack, say, Jade Raymond, or Courtney Stanton, or Jennifer Hepler, or even Anita Sarkeesian, they are sending a big message to any women developer who might write or talk about games publicly. Weirdly enough, very few of my male coworkers recognized these names or took notice of the harassment, but all of my female coworkers did. This causes a side effect where guys in the industry just don't know about or see the harassment and sexism, and get really defensive when women try to bring it up or treat it like a major topic. That naivety contributes subtlety to the atmosphere of sexism.

Anyway, I dislike twitter. I'd just say that in this day and age you shouldn't welcome new team members by bringing them to a strip club, and then wonder why there's no women on your development team. I've got a hundred other examples, but that one will now and forever always hold top place in naive sexism.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:42 AM on November 27, 2012 [28 favorites]


Sounds like there are enough disgruntled women gamers/programmers to form their own company. All they need is seed money. Perhaps a Kickstarter project?
posted by Renoroc at 11:44 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Nintendo ad for girls is like a brilliant horror film in thirty seconds.
posted by whorl at 11:46 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sounds like there are enough disgruntled women gamers/programmers to form their own company.

A publisher would be a better idea, IMO (er, assuming you meant a dev. company.) And I would absolutely donate to/invest in a for-women-by-women publishing venture .
posted by griphus at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sounds like there are enough disgruntled women gamers/programmers to form their own company. All they need is seed money. Perhaps a Kickstarter project?

Thank god they all live in the same place.
posted by Theta States at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


But Renoroc, that's part of the problem. Women aren't like this monolithic group with all the same interests, and we don't actually want to be segregated from the rest of our industry. We want to work on the projects we care about at studios we respect, with people we want to learn from. We just want for more of those people to be women, for all of them to treat us like humans and not sex objects or annoyances, and for the studios to respect us back.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:50 AM on November 27, 2012 [44 favorites]


A nice contrast to that Nintendo ad is this Swedish catalog, though really, they could have just had the mom playing along with the guys in the first ad (or even had a boy having fun with the dress up game too, but let's not get too hasty here).

And yeah, it's nice that I could actually link to the Kotaku article, instead of reading Kotaku's take on it, wincing, and then seeing what the Mary Sue had to say about it ... which is what I feel like would have been the case a few years ago. There's a lot of work to be done, but at least it's slowly getting better.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and we don't actually want to be segregated from the rest of our industry.

That's why I think a gender-inclusive/openly-woman-friendly publisher would be a good idea. They wouldn't have to worry about having a consistent vision outside of "let's publish games and invest in dev by all the women who were laughed out of other places just for being women." It would raise their profiles, allow them to make a living, etc.

I mean, admittedly, I am a dude who is neither dealing with the shit women need to deal with, nor embedded in the games industry, but I think that could go a long way toward increasing visibility and getting the bigger publishers to reconsider their dumbass views.
posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The flip side of all the doom and gloom is the uplifting #1reasontobe hashtag started by Rhianna Pratchett.

I'm a programmer with the best job in the world, and being female is just as relevant to that as being 5'7".
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2012


(And if I am somehow blanking on some grossly sexist thing by positing that idea, for the love of god correct me.)
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on November 27, 2012


(And if I am somehow blanking on some grossly sexist thing by positing that idea, for the love of god correct me.)

I don't really think so, but it's a suggestion on the order of "If you don't think politics are fair, go buy an island and form your own government!" Game publishing is a huge, high-dollar, risk-intensive business, unless you're going for Facebook/casual games, and that's already the female ghetto. It's just not really an immediate solution.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


The storify page with mentors/resources for aspiring women in the industry.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


So basically what I've learned from this thread so far is that the entire gaming industry is one long, nauseating episode of Mad Men, only 45 years later. Swell.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:03 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd love to invest a bunch of money into a women-friendly non-jerkoffish indie game publisher. It'd essentially be like starting a alternative comicbook press in 1969.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:05 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do y'all remember the endless discussions on whether games are art, which seem to have subsided lately? I wish half the effort had been spent on discussing how sexist mainstream gaming is and pushing to change that. I'm glad people seem to be talking about it more often, but I'm not sure we're even close to effecting change.

#1: The costumes for female characters are unabashedly, ridiculously revealing in a way that is both impractical to combat and, well, hideous.

Morrigan in DA:O is my go-to cringing example.
posted by ersatz at 12:06 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just not really an immediate solution.

No, it is by no means an immediate solution short of finding an investor with a shitload of capital they wouldn't mind outright losing. In fact, I doubt it's even a workable solution without someone like that. I mean, dream scenario here, notch (yeah I doubt I can find a more unlikely person, but bear with me) decides to peel off a few of their mil toward that sort of project, could that help things? Or would that contribute to ghettoization? Or am I missing something and is it just a totally and inherently unworkable idea?
posted by griphus at 12:08 PM on November 27, 2012


Incidentally, WOOO restless_nomad!
posted by Blasdelb at 12:12 PM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sadly, I think it'd contribute to the ghettoization, or at least not help mainstream publishing. The comics parallel is a good one: there are plenty of indie presses out there, plenty of great comics dealing covering a great number of subjects, but it doesn't seem to help DC or Marvel figure things out.

Though admittedly, I don't know much about women working in mainstream superhero comics to talk about that work environment.

I don't know, it's hard to say what the outcome would be without it happening.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:13 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, just being able to get the games from the female-centric videogame company would be pretty rad. Oh my god, I could play an RPG where I'm allowed to wear pants!
posted by dinty_moore at 12:15 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, WOOO restless_nomad!

Ugh that guy is every that guy. Never the problem in their own eyes, never the solution in anyone else's.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:17 PM on November 27, 2012


Ok buddy it was just a joke calm down you're being hysterical.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:19 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


^Is what I would say if I were that guy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:19 PM on November 27, 2012


I mean, dream scenario here, notch (yeah I doubt I can find a more unlikely person, but bear with me) decides to peel off a few of their mil toward that sort of project

Just for context, Modern Warfare 2 cost $40-$50 million, Star Wars: The Old Republic cost (it is guessed) upwards of $200 million, Skyrim cost somewhere in the $100 million range. Even something like Plants vs. Zombies had a $35,000 marketing budget. Games big enough to require a publisher - i.e. not iPhone or Facebook games - are a really huge proposition.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:20 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok buddy it was just a joke calm down you're being hysterical.

The hilarity of that whole exchange is that I am 100% sure that he thinks I'm a dude.

(And that he thinks that if only I got to know him, I would like him better. Trust me. I would not.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:21 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's been a number of small women-led studios - that make it part of their charter and company philosophy that they are games made by and for women - that have popped up. Any that try to make games other than "fashion" or "shopping" end up finding there's no funding, and the studios end up failing. There is still Her Interactive around, though.

But hey, there's kickstarter and indiegogo now for funding opportunities, and there's always been lots of interesting indie games made by women. Just check out anything put out by Anna Antropy or Emily Short, for starters. If you want more games made by women, then I recommend you play - and buy - more games made by women.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:23 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want more games made by women, then I recommend you play - and buy - more games made by women.

Anyone have any recs?
posted by dinty_moore at 12:25 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, yeah, that Plants vs. Zombies figure actually puts things in perspective. I mean, there's going to be a point where I have kids and I'm going to be putting a controller in their hands and I'm just picturing a "what did you do in the war?" scenario and sigh. I just wish I had a more active way to Help Things from the outside than whatever the hell it is I'm doing now.

Anyone have any recs?

Flow, Flower and Journey (which I think are available as one release now.)
posted by griphus at 12:28 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hilarity of that whole exchange is that I am 100% sure that he thinks I'm a dude.

You can tell because, if he thought you were female, the sexist jokes would have turned into sandwich jokes when you started talking back.
posted by almostmanda at 12:29 PM on November 27, 2012


It's not just gaming. There's a powerful lot of macho in these here tubes.
posted by lodurr at 12:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can tell because, if he thought you were female, the sexist jokes would have turned into sandwich jokes when you started talking back.

And that he was baffled that I cared, rather than calling me humorless or oversensitive.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:31 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


What's really unfortunate is that this shit is sadly not restricted to the big studios. They set the tone, for sure, but then it pervades smaller and indie studios as well. It isn't even seen as particularly notable -- it just is. And this is not restricted just to video games.

There's an indie board game Kickstarter going on right now that I'm not going to link, because they don't deserve it, that has me really frustrated in this regard. It's a game that looks very interesting (coop survival horror), with what appear to be some really well made miniatures. I'm intrigued by the mechanics and the world they are setting out to build.

But, oh, by the way, for no reason whatsoever, most of the female art and models involve unbelievably large breasts, exposed midriffs, and in at least one case what appears to be hard nipples poking out from beneath an absurdly tiny bikini top.

Sadly, the project is already funded 10x over their initial goal, so boycotting it is at this point only a moral victory at best.
posted by tocts at 12:33 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact is he's probably not a bad guy, he's just clueless and privileged and unfunny and shallow and now I'm starting to give the definition of a bad guy so nevermind.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:33 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Blasdelb: "Incidentally, WOOO restless_nomad!"

Hey, guess what's gone?
posted by boo_radley at 12:38 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have met maybe one (1) genuine Bad Guy in my time in the industry, and several Probably Should Be Under Psychiatric Supervision types (you know all those stories about how most sociopaths don't kill anyone, they just end up as CEOs? Yeah.) It doesn't matter. It doesn't help. When you're in a position of power and you have shitty attitudes that do real harm to real people, it doesn't matter that you're not a Bad Guy. You're doing bad things. And if your response, when called out on it, is to brandish the relative unremarkableness of your soul like a shield, forgive me if I'm not impressed by it.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:39 PM on November 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


Steve Parker ‏@retailsails
I don't really care enough to support a flippant tweet, so I deleted it. It's a tough road for everyone, humor gets some of us through it.


What a jerkoff.
posted by lrobertjones at 12:40 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


What a jerkoff.

SERIOUSLY. It's one thing to say something stupid. It's another to rescind it and pretend to take the high road while maintaining your it's just a joke idiocy. One of the great things I see on MetaFilter and so few other places online is people actually taking accountability for the stupid or wrong or careless things they say and learning from them.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:44 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Steve Parker ‏@retailsails
I don't really care enough to support a flippant tweet, so I deleted it. It's a tough road for everyone, humor gets some of us through it.


Oh man, what a perfect illustration of the problem at hand. He can't make the connection between the stuff he says and how it's making the road more difficult for others.
posted by almostmanda at 12:47 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am also amused that he didn't pull it until I actually used the hashtag again. I was trying to be nice and not make his stupidity more visible than it already was.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:50 PM on November 27, 2012


Indeed, let us pity the flippant. They're the real hardest hit victims of their own dismissive failed jokes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


" Every time this is brought up, the response doesn't just prove the point, it reaches beyond the initial hostility WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY dismissing the existence of that hostility. "

The only thing that gives me solace is imagining that these comments are all written by 14-year-old boys who like gaming but haven't gotten hit by the clue by four yet.
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want more games made by women, then I recommend you play - and buy - more games made by women.

Anyone have any recs?


If you are really interested, I'll make a list tomorrow when I have some free time.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


So basically what I've learned from this thread so far is that the entire gaming industry is one long, nauseating episode of Mad Men, only 45 years later. Swell.


Don't be ridiculous.

The tailoring isn't nearly as good.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, can I take a minute and rant about something? (Hah, you can't stop me.)

Twitter is not private unless you set it that way. Neither is Facebook. If you say something in public, people may disagree with you. People may, in fact, decide you're an idiot, and say so. This is not an invasion of your privacy or misuse of technology. This is not people judging you on insufficient information.

Twitter is a public performance. If people don't like your character, rewrite your script.

(This is the second time I've gotten this sort of shirty response in the past two weeks. Both times over dudes being dumb about sexism-related topics. Come on, guys, just because you only hang out with people who agree with you doesn't mean that's the way the world is supposed to work.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2012 [34 favorites]


[folks, the metaphor derails are getting kind of derail-y, maybe stick closer to the subject of the post?]
posted by mathowie at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2012


If you are really interested, I'll make a list tomorrow when I have some free time.

Consider me also really interested, and of the opinion that this would be a great FPP on the blue or alternatively a collaborative AskMe question.
posted by jaduncan at 12:57 PM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm really interested, and I figured other people in this thread would be too. Outside of the huge franchises, I really don't know who the individuals are behind the games I play.

I'd ask over in askmefi but I already used up my question for the week.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:57 PM on November 27, 2012


So it's less "burn the house down" and more "set yourself on fire in protest."

True, but the pace is either non-existent or glacial for this sort of thing. The companies are only going to take action if they have an existential threat. And that's only going to happen if they get hit with a really bad public relations nightmare or they are in danger of losing lots of money. Since suing or going public is unlikely, the only thing I can think of is a boycott.
posted by FJT at 1:03 PM on November 27, 2012


Ohhhh... it would make a great FPP, but only if no one decides to race me to it. I want a few days to make it comprehensive.

I know this is a derail, but, like, the whole "there's no women in game development!" ignores that there's so many women out there, they just don't really market themselves, or they make more niche games, or they just are under the radar. Lack of role models and recognition is one of those reasons why many women are turned off from game design.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 1:05 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ohhhh... it would make a great FPP, but only if no one decides to race me to it.

I'm not going to race you but if you want any help gathering info and stuff, let me know.
posted by griphus at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2012


I don't know much about the video game industry, but back in the day, Wizards of the Coast ran an ad for their Battletech CCG with the tagline, "Balls of Steel". "Really? That?" I wondered.

I knew someone who worked there at the time who informed me that it was okay because their market research showed that women weren't interested in playing Battletech anyway. I asked him, "If your market research showed that black folks weren't interested in playing Magic, would you be okay with calling a card, 'Jigaboo Spearchucker'?" He rolled his eyes at the comparison.

This was not a neolithic bro-dude, but a pretty in-touch guy. There's just this...thing...that seems to happen where folks in the industry just stop seeing it. Maybe it's when they notice that catering to the boys pays the bills and then some, I don't know.
posted by Legomancer at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone have any recs?

Quantum Conundrum is a puzzle game by Kim Swift that is pretty fun and frequently on sale. I too would love to see a more comprehensive list of games made by women!

My hobby is writing and podcasting about video games (mostly MMOs). While everyone with an opinion gets crap on the internet from anonymous tough guys, my male colleagues get told off about what they've written first and foremost. For me, though, the first line of trolling is saying that I'm not hot enough to write about games.

It's irritating and dumb, but it also makes me laugh. Oh yes, amateur video game journalism, the last bastion of the beautiful.
posted by jess at 1:08 PM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


they just don't really market themselves, or they make more niche games, or they just are under the radar.

Or they don't get promoted, they don't get media attention, and they don't get credit, internally or externally, for the work they do. And when someone finally does interview them, they are asked "what is it like to be a women in games?" rather than anything about, you know, their jobs, and then the entire consumer response is a discussion of how fuckable they are.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:08 PM on November 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


Now I'm all curious. What did this "flippant" tweet say?
posted by brundlefly at 1:11 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something along the lines of "Should I post to #1reasonwhy to pick up chicks? Hah hah, just kidding."
posted by restless_nomad at 1:13 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And then we have this fun forum discussion for a game I had never heard of, and now only know bad things about.

I'm not sure which quote from the creators I liked most. Maybe "I actually think that adding female characters to a game like this would make it appeal less to females" or their final post, which says that they didn't have enough designers so when they made the 8 unique models, they were obliged to make them all male.
posted by jeather at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I knew someone who worked there at the time who informed me that it was okay because their market research showed that women weren't interested in playing Battletech anyway. I asked him, "If your market research showed that black folks weren't interested in playing Magic, would you be okay with calling a card, 'Jigaboo Spearchucker'?" He rolled his eyes at the comparison.

This was not a neolithic bro-dude, but a pretty in-touch guy. There's just this...thing...that seems to happen where folks in the industry just stop seeing it. Maybe it's when they notice that catering to the boys pays the bills and then some, I don't know.
posted by Legomancer at 13:06 on November 27 [+] [!]


This is precisely the problem, and it is not at all gaming-specific. There is this notion that sexism isn't serious, that it doesn't merit an earnest debunking, and that women in particular who rail against it (though men too can and do certainly experience this) are overly dramatic, humorless, too sensitive, looking for an argument, etc.

I really think the only thing that is going to help any of this, including the gaming industry, is shedding more light on the sexism and misogyny we experience in our lives, and calling people out. Hearts and minds are not changed through silence, and while some of the suggestions above are well-intentioned (like a female-run gaming publisher), they don't address the larger problem: we live in a misogynistic society that both undervalues and hypersexualizes women, and this can only really change through education, discussion, and so on. In other words, what these women are trying to do.
posted by nonmerci at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


romanmaroni:
"It's nice to see, some few hundred years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that Puritanism is alive and well! "Ban them! "Name and shame!"

A "Scarlet Letter" for our time. It's #1ReasonWhy I find movements like this noxious. This isn't about justice or changing a culture, it's just about lynch mobs and trying to have everything your way. The McGonigal tweet isn't separate from the rest. Rather, it's wholly indicative of how these things worse - people piggyback their wants onto legitimate issues, and it all gets carried forward whether it ought to or not. People get their names sullied, livelihoods are destroyed when the grievance industry comes out to play, and creativity is constrained because the mob is always lurking ready for the new hashtag movement of the day.

Thanks, but no thanks.
"
This reminds me of something wise gompa once said,
"As a bit of remedial English lit, I'd just like to note that Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter was about a decent and moral woman trying desperately to win back the trust of her community after being convicted of adultery. It's about the way the religiously driven legal and social codes of Puritan Massachusetts ruined the lives of women out of their fear of female sexuality.
...
It's an interesting take on the Hawthorne story, to be sure, but I'm really not seeing where the themes overlap.
"
posted by Blasdelb at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well shit. I remember when the microcomputer industry was so young it wasn't an industry yet, it was a revolution against the corporate hierarchy and that included patriarchy. With new personal computers and the power it gave to everyone as individuals, all the barriers to entry were down. And then as it grew into a new industry, the same old assholes discovered where the money was going and they grabbed ahold of it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


[A couple comments deleted. Sarcastically injecting the dumb stuff you predict someone else you disagree with might say into the conversation preemptively isn't actually much better for the conversation than someone saying that stuff earnestly. If someone does say something crappy for real, flag it when it happens.]
posted by cortex at 1:52 PM on November 27, 2012


So basically what I've learned from this thread so far is that the entire gaming industry is one long, nauseating episode of Mad Men, only 45 years later. Swell.

Don't forget; it also smells like Axe body spray and ass.

I hate hanging out and gaming with other males. Whether it's online or in person (rarely), something stupid ends up being blathered and all the alpha males emit a musky scent in agreement. Bro-Gaming disgusts me and these articles only justify my love of playing NBA 2K13 alone or with my daughter.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:01 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, the film industry has been around for more than a century and has yet to figure this shit out, so maybe we're doomed. I can count the number of prominent women directing big budget films on one hand. And we don't even need to bring up how women are depicted in most films.

On the other hand, video games are still in their relative infancy as an expressive medium, so maybe it isn't too late.

Politics and justice aside, I want to see more women involved in every facet of the games business for a purely selfish reason: it will lead to BETTER GAMES. For the first time ever, we have an INTERACTIVE medium. The way we can tell stories is infinitely broader than it was before video games existed.

It would be a shame to squander that potential.

Which is not to say that games need to be didactic exercises or Lessons To Be Learned. But it is one thing to watch a film about a woman who succeeds as, say, a prize-fighter. It is another thing to EMBODY that woman, to be vested in her success, to learn to jab and counterpunch along with her. We have a powerful and expressive tool for exploring the lives of all sorts of people.

I'm tired of being the silent square-jawed heroic type with manly stubble and and a big-ass gun. Let me see the world through the eyes of an Inuit seal hunter. Let me rise from the gritty streets of Bangkok to be the best damn starship pilot in the fleet. Let me walk around Paris in a powdered wig plotting sedition against the king.

Games can offer so much that no other medium can.

It's dumb to think that in a world of 7 billion people the only stories worth telling are those of Western white men. It's a disservice to everyone who loves the medium. There are so many stories worth telling, so many lives worth living. Games can do that. We should let them.

(And now I'm off to download the new Mass Effect 3 DLC and kick more ass as my ridiculously over-powered Vanguard FemShep. Biotic charge + shotgun blast to the face FTW.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:10 PM on November 27, 2012 [36 favorites]


Having read the exchange between Restless Nomad and Steve Parker, I now want to build a Twitter bot that posts I SAID GOOD DAY! in response to any tweet that ends "good day".
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:20 PM on November 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


For the first time ever, we have an INTERACTIVE medium.

Oh how quick we are to forget the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series.

It's dumb to think that in a world of 7 billion people the only stories worth telling are those of Western white men.

Well, Western white men and East Asian men.
posted by FJT at 2:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Western white men and East Asian men

Point. I stand corrected.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Humor helps some of us get through it," says Steve Parker.

Dumbass sexist jokes certainly don't help me get through discussions about sexism, Steve Parker. Of course I'm not in your precious "some of us" club anyway.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:05 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not into computer games which are to me like car maintenance, but the discussion of gender on this site never fails to make my head spin. Way too many flashing lights.
posted by three blind mice at 4:07 PM on November 27, 2012


We don't/can't supervise our schoolyards anymore because our schoolyards are in Xbox headsets. The nasty words we once heard spread around recess for which we would be punished are now the vile pools the brains of these children pickle in for hours a day with impunity. You can't tell me it's not different. It's different. And it's making bad people.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:00 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I seem to remember hearing and to some extent parroting plenty of vile or stupid or embarrassing shit on the blacktop and the schoolbus and hanging out with my friends when I was a kid, and none of it was facilitated by my NES's chat functionality.

There's plenty to talk about in terms of what is in fact problematic about this stuff, but I'm not sure the notion that this is on those terms a fundamental difference from the recent past is the most useful frame to approach it from.
posted by cortex at 5:12 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed, as stated! Though it was never, ever as ubiquitous, or as age-spanning, as our digital schoolyards are now. At what age do our young minds now jump into Call of Duty? To what new heights of vileness are they now immediately exposed to by their (far) elder gamers?
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:17 PM on November 27, 2012


...but, yes. I imagine I did, and am, exaggerating to some extent.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:20 PM on November 27, 2012


but the discussion of gender on this site never fails to make my head spin. Way too many flashing lights.

Equal pay for equal work, equal recognition for equal work, equal opportunities to contribute, professionalism in the workplace and not being horrible to colleagues because of their gender: I think these are the main points.
posted by ersatz at 5:22 PM on November 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


There's a background level of sexism everywhere, but every time gaming culture gets brought up here it looks like just such a cesspool.
posted by Forktine at 5:34 PM on November 27, 2012


Quantum Conundrum is a puzzle game by Kim Swift that is pretty fun and frequently on sale. I too would love to see a more comprehensive list of games made by women!

It is a great game, and it happens to be free on Playstation Plus right now. Kim Swift was a dev on Portal, and QC is also a physics-and-room-based puzzle game.

There's a background level of sexism everywhere

I teach second grade, and I literally can't tell you how many times I've had parents tell me that they're so glad their child has a 'man teacher'... seriously, I think sometimes that I could just let them play all day and the parents would still be all happy. Every time I hear it I tell them that all our teachers are great (and they are), and of course they agree with me, but it's like an automated response.
posted by Huck500 at 6:19 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep wanting to chime in about tabletop RPGs, but to be honest, the situation there isn't much better.
posted by jiawen at 7:44 PM on November 27, 2012


I'm a (male) programmer working on Triple A (ugh that label) games, and I have a bit of first-hand experience here. There aren't many female programmers in the industry (or in compsci in general), but the ones I've worked with haven't had much trouble getting advancement and seem pretty satisfied. I've worked with a bunch of female artists, and haven't heard much from them about sexism, other than the costume issues noted above (which I've personally got into many arguments about with a variety of male artists).

But, I've talked with several designers and producers who have had very negative, sexism-based personal experiences that they've had to struggle with to get their jobs done. Producers and designers usually have more direct control over the game compared to artists and programmers, so it seems like a lot of the issues boil down to men not being comfortable taking orders and creative direction from women. Because of that, women's perspectives are less commonly shown in games than they should be, even given the fact that around 10% of the industry is female. Given other examples like film, I honestly have no idea how to fix that, other than moving away from a hierarchy-driven production process in general.

Smaller, collaborative teams and indie games are probably where women will have the most luck, but on the positive side the industry is moving that direction in general. It may be a case of the women leaving the men behind, in what becomes a ghetto of top-down direction and overbearing control.
posted by JZig at 8:15 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the lack of recourse in general (lawsuits leading to lack of jobs, co-workers and HR telling people to get on and get by, etc. etc.), this sounds like the sort of problem an inquisition with extremely limited reporting power could make headway into.

Or perhaps some truly anonymous informant system that actually accorded a response in time to do something about a systemic (state and federal law violating) problem at a workplace.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:03 PM on November 27, 2012


no one pays 60 bucks to see muffin tops in their games

I don't pay 60 bucks to see all those nice cocks covered up by combat fatigues and other pants... imagine how many nice hard cocks you could see if they started putting all the male characters in some nice skimpy underwear. Gorgeous, bobbing cocks. Imagine the cock-physics they could engineer in modern games!

Also, I talked about this recently with my girlfriend, who said that, at this point in time, she is completely alienated from games and gaming. Now considering that she grew up playing and enjoying video games and works in comics (and lives with a guy who listens to rundowns of industry stockholder meetings for fun) that should give you a hint at how bad certain aspects of the gaming industry are.

I feel the same way. I spent my pre-teen and teen years playing video games pretty much every day (new video games, on new consoles, pouring money into a souped-up gaming PC), and now I don't even bother. I haven't bought a new video game in years, and I don't even like watching others play them, to be honest. Playing most video games embarrasses me because they're so blatantly not "for" me, and the culture around them is so toxic and disgusting. They couldn't be clearer that they don't give a shit about outright hostility toward women. I'm usually not the type of person to give up something completely just because it's problematic, but it's one arena where the problems are so complete that I feel it's almost against my morals to participate. It's a good example of how ambient, "harmless" sexism is full of aggression-- whenever I think I'm making too big a deal about something in media I remember how gaming culture makes me feel and it all comes rushing back.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:18 PM on November 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


I do think that going indie will eventually take the industry in the right direction, though among the indies that I know, there are even fewer women than I saw in AAA. I'd guess that part of this is due to the fact that there's often a going-solo, slowly-drive-yourself-mad aspect to it that was captured by Indie Game: The Movie, which is even less socially-acceptable for women than for men. That's not all indies for sure, but, that's the perception. The main thing is that indies don't have as much of the hyper-macho culture, and are accepting and even celebratory of differences.

I was writing some long thing about how I thought the industry would go, but then I thought about other other content industries and their current states. The main insight I had is that we don't necessarily expect to end up with a completely homogeneous industry -- it might be reasonable to have an industry that has both a boys section and a girls section. Some horribly gross generalizations:
  • Chick flicks/action films. Male directors/male directors.
  • Romance novels/Science fiction. Female authors/male authors. (I know, science fiction does not have quite so strongly male of an audience.)
  • Fashion magazines/car magazines. Female editors/male editors.
  • Chefs seem to be majority male, but restaurant-goers I think are evenly-gendered.
  • Sports. A male-dominated pursuit in both production and consumption.
  • Dance. A female-dominated pursuit, in the artists and the audience (I think).
I dunno, it's almost as though human endeavours end up in all sorts of haphazard, chaotic states throughout history. I think that for games specifically, we may be near to a critical moment where a dramatic change happens. I hope that it'll be towards more games for all genders, and not a retrenching. It's still a nascent world, we can change its course if we all try.

I happen to be hiring for an indie right at this moment. We make games that have cross-gender appeal, and we make a conscious effort to make our work environment sexism-free. If you are a talented female (or male) developer who is interested in this sort of job, MeMail me.
posted by breath at 11:33 PM on November 27, 2012


It's a tough road for everyone, humor gets some of us through it.
//
Oh man, what a perfect illustration of the problem at hand. He can't make the connection between the stuff he says and how it's making the road more difficult for others.


I wouldn't give him that much credit. I think that to him, 'tough' means 'people are trying to change my lovely sexist enclave' and 'everyone' and 'us' mean 'my sexist little buddies and me.' When bonding with other men against women is your happy place, campaigns like this do indeed make the road feel tough.

Yep, humour in that context is a pretty good way of getting you through the times without having to learn anything you don't want to learn.

And somehow, amazingly, he's still single and casting around for ways to 'pick up' women. Wonder why that is.
posted by Kit W at 12:27 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what the whole thing reminds me of? That Simpsons episode where Homer gets a new head of hair and a genius assistant, then loses his hair again. His assistant writes him a brilliant speech, and he stands up to deliver it ... and while he's up there full of insight and innovation about how to save the company thousands and thousands of dollars, nobody in the audience is listening to a word he says because they're too busy talking about how bald he is.
posted by Kit W at 12:37 AM on November 28, 2012


I thought there had already been an attempt at fundraising for an LGBTQ and women friendly game. And it garnered horrible reactions. can't remember.
posted by bleary at 2:37 AM on November 28, 2012




Blasdelb, that might be it. I might be conflating reactions for that fundraiser with the fundraiser for the Arkh Project.

http://thearkhproject.tumblr.com/FAQ

http://m.kotaku.com/5884133/the-arkh-project-is-creating-a-game-for-queer-people-of-color-and-everyone-else
posted by bleary at 7:34 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(this morning I found the magic search terms that pulled up those Arkh results, but I'm still not certain if that was the one I am thinking of.)
posted by bleary at 7:38 AM on November 28, 2012


The situation isn't that grim for the whole industry... I'm so lucky to work in a genuinely women (and GLBT)-friendly AAA development studio. I sit with marketing where female presence is not that unusual, but there are women, gay and transgendered people in every departments, from QA to core creative teams. We don't all sit together at lunch in a little ghetto, either, we're all well integrated in our work groups. HR and management are really sensitive and responsive to issues of inclusiveness, which seems to keep bro-dudeness down to a nice healthy level.

When studios make that effort, it's reflected in the end product. For example, both of our franchises have female Narrative Directors. Result? Diverse, fully-realized (and clothed) female characters.

And it's not about eradicating sexiness, we know it sells to our audience. I've sat in meetings where we discussed how best to present a scene set in a brothel to make it less exploitative of female NPCs, or just how long we can make the camera linger on an ass shot before it becomes insulting to both genders. We've had post-mortems on the Latex Nun controversy and the Tomb Raper incident, so we could learn from other studio's mistakes.

The thing is, those conversations can't happen without women in the room. To get good female characters (or good games, period), we need women artists to draw clothes women would wear, women animators to show how they move, women writers to give them credible voices and backgrounds, and women marketers to make sure they're not reduced to a tit shot in the trailer. The answer is not lady studios making lady games for ladies; we need to work together to make better games for everyone.
posted by Freyja at 8:49 AM on November 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


This is not the first time I've mused that the first game company to offer the same level of respect and job security to its developers that a Java programmer working at a bank gets would easily be able to snatch up the best and the brightest in the industry.
posted by suetanvil at 8:53 AM on November 28, 2012


Imagine the cock-physics they could engineer in modern games!

We actually had a huge swinging cock on one of our monsters. Unfortunately it received the cruellest cut during development.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:13 AM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


@Freyja - just watched that Latex Nun trailer.

Seriously - what the actual fuck?
posted by Kit W at 9:43 AM on November 28, 2012


Emily Short weighs in with a list of women whose games you should know about.
posted by juv3nal at 10:57 AM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


The answer is not lady studios making lady games for ladies; we need to work together to make better games for everyone.

I agree with this partially, but I would also like lady games for ladies. As in, games where "how long to linger on an ass shot" isn't really a question, unless the ass is meant to appeal to women. I don't just want games that are not as sexist but still really mostly marketed and sexualized for men-- that would improve the situation, but it would still feel like most of the world in terms of invisible sexism. I get that this is a real world situation and sexiness sells, but that doesn't make it not sexist or hostile in the world we live in. I appreciate making brothel scenes less offensive and trying to cut out gratuitous female objectification, but why are brothel scenes so fucking popular, and why is female objectification a baseline expectation? (Don't really need answers there but I would genuinely like a quality game made for gay or straight women, that wields overt sexuality in a way appealing to women, the way the show Weeds did.)

(Weeds had some big issues with race and homophobia at times too, so not relying on those for edge would be great as well. The sex though, A+.)
posted by stoneandstar at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


re: Emily Short, it should be mentioned that her own games should not be overlooked.
posted by juv3nal at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Freyja: " just how long we can make the camera linger on an ass shot before it becomes insulting to both genders."

This makes it sound like the butt shot is a piece of pizza somebody's dropped on the floor. "5 second rule! 5 second rule!"
posted by boo_radley at 3:26 PM on November 28, 2012


(I have some big issues with the sex in Weeds, although I'll grant that it is hot. I don't know if anyone can agree on what constitutes empowering overt sexuality in the media...)

The problem with Emily Short's list illustrates perfectly the problem with ghettoization. They're all largely unknown indies. As a woman, I do enjoy seeing the medium used to express different points of view, just like I enjoy geeking out at indie game jams, experimenting with bizzaro controllers and deconstructed gameplay mechanics.

However, as a gamer? I want the AAA experience, too. I want the massive multiplayer experiences, the lavish single-player epics. I don't want to be directed to the Facebook games when I go to E3, I want to be part of the conversation in the mainstream industry. If we start making Games For Women, we're in essence saying it's ok that the great bulk of games are made for men.

It's not ok. It makes no business sense. Even as mainstream games keep getting targeted to the same old male 18-35 demo in marketing plans, we're seeing the actual audience shift towards gender parity. One of our games, for example, a typical macho fighting/shooting/driving game aggressively promoted to young brodudes (with the aforementioned ass shot) still managed to grab ~40% women buyers.

Numbers aren't shared much, but I imagine the ratio is much closer for games like Portal. There's a game designed by a woman, featuring two amazing female characters in leading roles and innovative non-violent gameplay. Should it have been relegated to the pink aisle? No way, it's just a good game for everyone to enjoy. Hence massive mainstream success.

From an industry point of view, we need to take women seriously as consumers and not actively alienate them in the name of outdated stereotypes about our target market. I'm not saying that as a girl gamer, but as a professional who'd like to keep selling successful products and getting big bonuses.
posted by Freyja at 9:06 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hi! Something to bear in mind about that list: I'd been asked about games in which women's voices could be heard, and it's not so easy to identify any one individual's input on a game that had dozens or hundreds of contributors as it is with an indie game. If the list had been a list of every woman I know or know of who works on a commercially backed game project, it would have been very different.

It's also not really a list of Games For Women. A few of them might be -- I'd guess that Miss Management fit common expectations about the demographic for casual games, and Georgina Bensley also probably reaches more women than men -- but most of the indie and interactive fiction entries on that list were written for a mixed audience and played by many men as well as women.

I totally agree that there's a long way to go in addressing gender in this industry; I just want to make sure that people don't take the list as evidence of anything but what it actually means.
posted by emshort at 10:40 AM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


How Capcom's 'Remember Me' Challenges the Popularity of the White Male Protagonist Stereotype
"We wanted [Remember Me lead] Nilin to stand out," he said. "I think these sort of issues become self-fulfilling prophesies; people saying that only white males sell so then everyone only does white males. If you start believing these things you get your head inside this cold marketing strategy that you cannot get your head around. It becomes a pretty fucking racist and misogynistic way of thinking about lead characters."
posted by tonycpsu at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2012


omg hi emshort! (belated) welcome to metafilter!
posted by juv3nal at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2012


If the list had been a list of every woman I know or know of who works on a commercially backed game project, it would have been very different.

This is totally true. Beyond a certain scale, games have so many people working on them, and the team dynamics vary so much, that it's really hard to talk about what is influencing the product more. (This is part of why the media focus on single designers, almost always male designers, is irritating - they may have a big chunk of influence, but they're also usually the attention hounds who photograph well.)

This post about why female perspectives in game writing are critical (from the lead writer of the Dragon Age series) is a really good example of what happens when things work well, and what is lost on a less-diverse team. But writing is not design is not marketing is not production, and diversity, or lack thereof, has different effects in each of those areas. It's just not as easy to tease out from the user side how diverse and non-sexist a team is.

Which is why, of course, this hashtag campaign is valuable - because otherwise, to the larger world, these problems are often invisible.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:57 AM on November 29, 2012


Rock Paper Shotgun: #1ReasonWhy We Are All Responsible
...The two then exchanged dismissive jokes about yet another brouhaha over women in gaming, but the part that really stood out to me came after the laughter stopped: “Seriously, though, I’m a guy. It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

I wanted to leap over the table and scream at them.

But I didn’t do that, because I felt like it might have been a bit counter-productive to the argument I was trying to make – or, indeed, any sort of argument ever in the history of human civilization. So instead, I thought about it. Because that response to gaming’s rampant – and even if it’s maybe improving on some level, it is still absolutely rampant – sexism problem is incredibly erroneous, but it’s an easy mindset to get into even when your heart’s in the right place.
posted by flex at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


emshort, welcome!

FWIW your post is great. I try to keep track of women who make games (where their authorial input takes center stage), but I hadn't heard of about half the women you called out. I hope you do not mind me borrowing liberally from it as I make a list of games made by women.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2012


I don't just want games that are not as sexist but still really mostly marketed and sexualized for men

Same here. I am vicariously embarrassed when a game designer thinks that, as a straight male, I want to be titillated by 3d models. What I want is good gameplay and a good story and I think that at this point the "bro demographic" is a minority. Hear us roar, game devs.

Thanks for the list, Emily.
posted by ersatz at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2012


Just in case anyone is watching this thread and missed it: Subject_Verb_Remainder put up her list here. It's long. And amazing.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:46 PM on December 1, 2012


lodurr: "It's not just gaming. There's a powerful lot of macho in these here tubes."

Oh my goodness the comments on that article are depressing. It's remarkable how everything is turned on its head in the minds of "Men's Rights" advocates -- she's the attacker, and all men are the victims. Feminism is sexist. And so on.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:56 AM on December 2, 2012


BitterOldPunk: "Let me walk around Paris in a powdered wig plotting sedition against the king. "

Holy crap this would be the best game ever.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:03 AM on December 2, 2012


I've been in the game industry for 7 years, in 3 companies with a couple of paid side projects, and I've been fortunate enough to be in one place where we all --and I mean all-- consciously hired women when we could. The other places, it wasn't a priority, but in that one ... well, I think the most innovative work was done, and the work there honestly helped spawn the "casual game" genre, which later, as a dead horse, was beaten once it was established that the major audience for casual games was women 35 and up. Meaning that the studio had a major role in making games that were extremely popular with a significantly new (for gaming) segment of the population.

I can't directly relate that to the fact that the studio was 50% female while I was there, but I really don't think that it's unrelated. There's a lot to be said for actual representation leading to, well, breadth of appeal.
posted by peripatetron errant at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2012


Apparently Anita Sarkeesian did a talk at TEDxWomen about online misogyny. And apparently comments were closed because of all the online misogyny.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So poor Anita Sarkeesian's still getting the hate? I'm so impressed at her dignity under fire.

Having listened to her TED talk, I can see why the losers can't seem to understand that they've lost: as she puts it, they turned harassing her into a kind of online roleplaying game. At this point, they're more like fans who keep on with a series long after everyone sensible has realised it's not working any more.
posted by Kit W at 10:39 AM on December 8, 2012


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