Just by commenting about how women are being treated in the gaming community and the workplace or take a pro-women in gaming stance can easily start a men vs women war in a comment thread. Polygon.com, known for their “debates” and also for their gorgeous web design, posted an article titled “How to attract more women in game development“. Immediately there were negative comments and comments that side-stepped the issue mentioned in the article to making it about “how to attract ANYONE in game development”. Of course these comments were made by male gamers.
In the article, Media Molecule’s studio director Siobhan Reddy made some statements about how she got into the industry and how there is a lack of young women especially young girls getting involved into game development. She also gave some ideas about how to attract more young girls into game design by specifically designing programs to teach them and young women game design and working on design projects to increase understanding and excitement.
Instead of offering more ideas or sharing experiences about the state in which women are being included in the industry, I was met with some backlash about my comment suggesting that I have never worked for indie game developers and if I had proof to “back up my claims” that the industry does not market to diverse populations for game development education.
I think men were offended by my “assumptions” that there are men in the industry who do not look at women as equals in the workplace. My opinions are based solely on experience and not “assumptions”. This is well documented that they do not and that women who are new entries or mid-levels have a hard time in some workplaces. Women have to constantly prove something in the workplace and in the gaming community to be taken serious. If talking about these issues makes men become bullies and dodging the discussion, imagine not talking about these issues and living through it. So anytime I comment on these said articles, I’m met with the same type of backlash: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. There are no issues. We need proof. You don’t even work in the industry. Men have issues too…”
I understand that men have their share of issues in the industry which can be said of all industries in the world. That still doesn’t excuse the fact that women, even in 2013, are still being bullied by men, don’t receive equal pay, get harassed online, get hacked, receive death threats, just by being a woman and standing up for themselves. If you really want to know why young girls and young women don’t apply for game design, really think about it. If almost 50% of gamers are women, that includes young girls too. They probably get harassed online as well. So if you get harassed online in the medium, why would you even think about pursing a career in that same medium which is obviously made to not welcome you with open arms? Its not too difficult to understand that. And if you find it too difficult to understand that, make an account with a female’s touch, go online and speak like a girl and see if a male with in the hour of playing a FPS doesn’t say something sexual to you. Then comment on your experience. I’ll be here all week…
If you have creative ways of recruiting women into game design and other professional positions in the games industry, please share them. In the same light, share some of your best or worst experiences involving women working, freelancing, or volunteering in the workplace. Let’s get a real productive discussion going.