A few weeks ago, [a]listdaily ran an article explaining how involvement of women in the video game industry was growing, with a 52 percent chunk of overall gamers consisting of women. We also briefly talked about prominent women in the industry, including Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig.
What we didn’t elaborate on, however, was the struggle that many women face finding such a place in said industry. GamerGate (which continues to be an ongoing – and very ugly – issue), along with acceptance in eSports and development circles, are incredible hurdles – and a few industry peers stated that the previous article didn’t go nearly in depth on these issues.
This past Friday, we spoke with EA’s Bianca Anderson on several subjects revolving around women in the industry. Today, we’re continuing our study of women in the game industry, as we had a chance to chat with #INeedDiverseGames hashtag creator Tanya D. about a number of different subjects, including the controversial GamerGate.
First off, what do you think is the main problem with acceptance of women in the industry? Do you think it’s just some guys accepting the “he-man woman hater’s club” logic, or is it something deeper?
I think it’s twofold, one is realizing that men don’t hate women in the industry for the fact they are women, that’s never really it. It’s the insidious and almost unseen ways in which gaming has been normalized as the domain of boys and men, not women and girls. There’s not been a lot of pushback on the idea that women don’t make or play games, at least none that I’ve seen discussed as publicly as it’s been over the last year or so.
There is also a sense of entitlement, that THIS IS MINE, it will always be mine and you cannot have it. The idea that women are not real gamers, despite all evidence to the contrary. The idea that women aren’t real gamers because they are casuals, or only play Candy Crush on their iPhones.
That’s kind of hilarious, considering some of the most go hard, go home gamers I know are women. There’s also an element of toxic masculinity at play when you look at how women are treated, this idea that the mere presence of women in the industry is a threat to it, that there’s some fallacious secret agenda to paint the industry pink, get rid of FPS games and make it all rainbows with glitter. It’s ridiculous.
It’s why I’m glad there are women like Brenda Romero and Robin Hunicke who are doing such great work. Brenda has been in the industry since 1981! So women are in the industry, and they are not going anywhere. The hard part is getting more women in, getting them in visible roles and knowing they are present as heroes to girls and women who want to get into the industry.
With eSports, some male gamers have expressed disinterest in seeing females in their hobby (and even went as far as saying they would “rape” them, as one player said a little while back), while some companies feel that having separate tournaments for the groups is the answer. What’s your take on this?
It’s ridiculous, especially that anyone would entertain the idea that players should be reduced to segregation to keep the peace. If someone is at the skill level to compete professionally, then they have reached that level through hard work, lots of practice and skill; they deserve to compete on a fair playing field. If a male identified player can’t take that, then maybe they should reconsider their stance on competition.
Do you feel that certain male gamers are intimidated by the strength of female gamers, or do you think they just refuse to shake the notion that it’s a “man’s world” when it comes to their approach to games?
That’s a fine line to balance on, no matter how I reply I’m sure there will be at least NOT ALL MEN from the audience. But, I think it’s a bit of both, some male gamers probably don’t like the idea that a woman is as good as or better than they are at something they consider their domain. As long as they can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a woman can hold her own at (game of choice); then things won’t change. There needs to be a cultural shift in how people view gaming as a guy’s thing.
Do you think companies should just let loose and have tournaments where all players are welcome?
If they meet the skill level required, yes. If I work hard and get to competition ready skill level Yes, I should be able to compete against anyone of the same caliber.
GamerGate is a rather ugly subject — and it’s exploded beyond the original argument over ethics in gamer journalism. As a result, certain women in the industry were affected, such as Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu. Why do you think things have gotten so far out of hand with the death threats and what not?
It was never about ethics, let’s get that straight. In part, I think it’s because those targeted did not lie down and take the threats or go meekly off into the ether and let themselves be pushed out of the industry as game makers/gaming as consumers. It’s ridiculous that anyone speaking up for diversity and inclusion has to literally fear for their lives because of a hate mob. There’s been a slow decline of discourse online for the last few years, look at how people respond to things they don’t like, game delayed Threaten the devs, call them names and harass them.
Another reason I think it’s gotten out of hand is because people separate online interaction with in person interaction. They relegate it to the box of “not real”, and think it’s only the Internet! Stop taking it so seriously, come on no one would actually do that would they But Internet threats are serious, when people’s personal information is put out there for the purpose of harassment it’s no longer just the Internet. When you get someone posting YouTube videos of how they plan to murder a game dev It’s not just an Internet troll, that’s red flags, code red, I am in danger.
There’s a component of sexism as well. People are fast to dismiss women as emotional, hysterical, etc. when they point out something that is a threat. They are treated as if they should be glad of any attention that comes their way, and what ungrateful bitches they are if they push back! Woman with an opinion No we can’t have that! There’s also toxic masculinity at hand, again. The idea that men are master of all they survey and if women won’t behave in a proscribed way then they are asking for it, by somehow daring to speak up.
I mean look at Chris Kluwe, John Scalzi, Seth Rogen. All men who spoke out against GamerGate, what’s the worst that happened to them A few people attempting to harass, Kluwe got doxxed and people threatened not to buy Scalzi’s work, and there was some “disappointment” that Rogen wasn’t down with the GG. But none of them are in danger of being killed, or getting constantly harassed.
Do you think social media makes it too easy for certain male gamers to “lash out”? It seems like Twitter’s lack of punishment for certain threats may not be helping, especially where Zoe and Brianna are concerned.
Yes, reference above answer. Reference the way you can’t use the hashtag to point out their continued harassment without becoming a target yourself or even mentioning them without getting your TL jammed with commentary. Without blockbot and blocktogether, I wouldn’t probably continue to do the work I do under #INeedDiverseGames.
We’re seeing more and more women enter into prominent roles in the game industry, like Jade Raymond breaking away from Ubisoft in the hopes of pursuing her own goals. Do you feel that more can be done to welcome them within said industry?
Yes, and this is something that needs to happen in gaming culture, not just the industry. Women and girls need to be kept in STEM fields, computer science and engineering. Women and girls need to be kept on those paths so they don’t get discouraged. Those that make it through need to be promoted to visible leadership positions. Especially needed are more women programmers.
Do you have any advice for those that want to take a crack at entering the video game industry?
As I don’t actually work in the industry, not sure how practical this is but here’s my two cents. Go to IGDA (International Game Developers Association) meetings and events, network. Use your university/high school resources. Seek out mentorship. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself and your work out there. If you can, go to GDC under the student rate. Seek out women in gaming, and keep at it.
Finally, The Guardian recently reported that 52 percent of the industry is made up of women, but it doesn’t seem to realize the growing stature of that audience. Why do you think that is, and do you think something could be done to change that, so more people could see their roles in the industry?
Again, I’m answering as a game consumer not as an industry person. This shift needs to come slowly but steadily from the ground up. People need to stop assuming all women who game are casual players, and the idea that casual gamers aren’t real gamers needs to end. Reference earlier points as to why people assume women don’t game, or better yet assume that they are all playing Candy Crush and not Halo, or Street Fighter or Destiny. We need a cultural shift and that means people need to speak up when they see the argument that women don’t game. Actually listen to the women in the field, many of their voices are going unheard except for a few.
You can follow Tanya D. on Twitter here. Make sure to follow the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag for more insight.