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Hocking's comments on gender "an aspect of the problem"

Fri 08 Jul 2011 9:29am GMT / 5:29am EDT / 2:29am PDT
PoliticsDevelopment

Female developer Quinn Dunki warns against making an issue out of gender and culture

Female game developer Quinn Dunki has criticised Clint Hocking's recent column about the value of women in game studios as, "an aspect of the problem."

Writing for Edge magazine, Hocking compared the internal culture of most game developers to the Vikings, and suggested that this is reflected in the games they produce.

He urged the industry to create a more balanced environment by encouraging more women to join the industry, but Dunki, a developer with 20-years of experience and sole proprietor of iOS studio One Girl, One Laptop Productions, believes that Hocking has missed the point.

"I like the sentiment, but framing the debate this way is an aspect of the problem," she told GamesIndustry.biz. "The only way women are going to be comfortable in the industry is knowing that people don't care about gender."

"Making an issue of gender is the issue. We need to get past that. Strive to be the pure meritocracy that most people agree we should have. If you're a man in a power position, that means keeping a critical eye on your own internal biases, and make extra effort to be fair."

Dunki asserts that the problem is far bigger than the games industry, and needs to be addressed earlier than even Hocking acknowledges.

"The outreach needs to go down to the middle school levels. That's where the research shows girls stop studying math and science due to pressures from peers and other sources."

"The only difference between me and my math-inclined, game-loving friend who does advanced needlepoint instead of engineering is that she succumbed to the peer pressure. Fix this problem, and everything else will come out in the wash in a generation or two."

"In the meantime, the best thing we can do is provide role models. If you're a female engineer or scientist, put yourself out there. Give young girls someone they can look at and say, 'Hey, I can do that too.'"

16 Comments

I always keep my quiet on the females-in-the-games-industry issue but I couldnt have agreed more with Quinn here: "Making an issue of gender is the issue" We just need genuine talent, being male/female has nothing to do with it. I have great respect for the sentiments concerning this matter but it all is now beginning to sound very political and patronizing. The last thing I want is women to be presented as victims.

Gentlemen: Thanks ever so much for being a supportive
Ladies: Lets 'man' up and face the difficulties as we would in ANY industry

Please lets not make this matter more complicated then it needs to be.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

178 231 1.3
"The only difference between me and my math-inclined, game-loving friend who does advanced needlepoint instead of engineering is that she succumbed to the peer pressure. Fix this problem, and everything else will come out in the wash in a generation or two."

This. This a hundred times. Though, there also seems to be fewer female artists than you might expect (or am I wrong?), so there are probably other forces at work as well.

Posted:3 years ago

#2
As mentioned in a previous related article.

"Best qualified talent/specialist for the job. Zero discrimination - age, gender, bias, cronyism, favours, colour"

This, ties in with a recent MP asking to hire british first as well.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Christopher Hardwick
Software Engineer

5 0 0.0
I don't like this Hocking character.

That's all I have to say.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Jonathan Cole
Studying Computer Games Technology

2 0 0.0
It would be interesting to see how many females are doing game development specific courses. The one I am on has no females for the two years it has been runnings.

I know that games courses do not directly effect the industry but having no women is an issue. So I guess one needs to look back at school, parents and careers advisors.

Maybe when kids workout Notch looks like he has earned more than most pop starts we see shows like the 'C' Factor rather than the X-Factor. Then the demographic may change...

Posted:3 years ago

#5
@ Jonathan - It could also be both cultural and generational. For example, now that gaming is mainstream, you could see either gender apply for game program courses. Naturally, without any promotion or proper information of what a game programmer does and how they change the world/applied science, then there is the lack of appeal or awareness.

Posted:3 years ago

#6
I think waiting for a "generation or two" is too long to wait. This industry can do more. Yes, promoting role models and giving information and encouragement to women in middle schools is the way to go. But raising awareness of the issue that has to be addressed sensitively also has its part to play.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Judith Matz
Localization Producer

2 0 0.0
"The only difference between me and my math-inclined, game-loving friend who does advanced needlepoint instead of engineering is that she succumbed to the peer pressure. Fix this problem, and everything else will come out in the wash in a generation or two."

Truer words could not have been spoken, thank you.

I recall a million and one incidents where people, both girls and boys, are driven into a direction merely because they are supposed to behave like that, having the biological gender they have.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Ryan Duffin
Animator

8 0 0.0
""Making an issue of gender is the issue."

This reminds me of the famous Morgan Freeman interview on Black History Month and racism (where he says pretty much exactly this). I think he was right there and it's just as applicable here.

I don't know of any women who made it into the games industry (admittedly, not an abundant number in the first place) then left because it was too much of a boy's club. The ones who've left, left for the same reasons as the boys do.

I know of at least one other girl who was scared off in college by some sexist game dev students and teachers but other than that, I agree the real problem starts much earlier and is something wrong with our culture more than any particular industry.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Rick Cody
PBnGames-Board Member

144 14 0.1
This woman sounds as much like a psychologist as a game developer. She makes a great point

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
I recall a million and one incidents where people, both girls and boys, are driven into a direction merely because they are supposed to behave like that, having the biological gender they have.

But perhaps that is, at least in part, reinforced by the current ratios of people in various positions. Girls don't go into game development because there are no girls in game development, and game development is a "boy's club" environment because there are almost no women there. (Nine guys can pretty much ignore the one girl in the room, but but six guys are going to have more difficulty ignoring four girls, and will probably change their behaviour to suit the different social situation.)

So it could well be that the fastest and most painless way to change this situation is to have some selective preference for women just because they are women, without compromising too much on talent and skills and so forth, of course. I don't like the idea myself particularly much because it strikes me as unfair to individuals, but I might be convinced to swallow it if the long-term benefit can be demonstrated.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
Employers should be allowed to select the best person for the job, irrespective of personal traits. Positive discrimination, eg. recruiting a woman simply because she is a woman, with a few exceptions, is illegal. However, positive action, eg. taking action to encourage women to compete on equal terms with men, is legal and, I think, should be encouraged.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Ryan Duffin
Animator

8 0 0.0
That's a bad idea, Curt. It's hard enough to find good talent without "selective preference" towards anyone.

I've been in this situation before, where I was pressured to hire the wrong candidate because they were a woman. Hiring mistakes are bad enough when you don't mean to make them. Imagine how this would work out in other male-dominated industries: Would you want a someone working on your car who was hired because they filled a quota? And on the other end, would you want to get a job because of your gender and never really know if you were good enough or if your whole career was a hand out?

Posted:3 years ago

#13
As Ryan pointed out so eloquently, having a gender ratio and hiring someone you do not wish to hire is a disaster in the making and will only result in biter regret.

Always hire the right person for the right job.
After all, you wouldn't let homer Simpson run your nuclear facility or nuclear submarine in real life!

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Stephen Woollard
Online Infrastructure Specialist

146 71 0.5
Fully agree with many of the sentiments here - I always hire the person who I think will do the job the best of the available candidates. I don't care if they're black, white, male, female, tall, short, fat, thin, straight, gay or anything else in any combination. By all means try to encourage under-represented groups to apply, but do that because your company os a great place to work, not to tick a box on a diversity report.

As to the role enforcing - this starts way before school. I recall with interest an experiment that was done a while ago where adults were asked to look after a child and they were told the gender of the child was opposite to what it actually was and then put in a room with a bunch of toys. Invariably, both men and women gave the "girls" dolls etc to play with and the "boys" cars and such.

Having a son and a daughter I find it interesting that both of them play with all the toys in the house; my son is just as happy playing with dolls as my daughter is playing with cars and lorries.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Helen Simm
GUI Artist

9 0 0.0
I agree, the issue starts far earlier than once within the industry.

I studied Multimedia and was one of 3 females in my class. Not sure why few women venture into the more technical side of creativity...

But there are few artists in the games industry too, maybe because the role of artist in games more often than not includes the need for technical skills in Maya or Flash?
There are very few art exclusive roles (concept artist) and those jobs usually go to those who have a strong portfolio in environmental or architectural rendering which again is the more technical side of art.

I ended up as a UI artist, my role does require me to have a knowledge of Action Scripting, and also a basic knowledge of Kismet, which is a (very)little more technical than the normal UI job.

Posted:3 years ago

#16

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