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Hothead Rants Pt. 3: Anna Anthropy

Hothead Rants Pt. 3: Anna Anthropy

Thu 04 Apr 2013 9:23am GMT / 5:23am EDT / 2:23am PDT
PeopleGDC 2013

The Auntie Pixellante founder with a deeply personal poem

Continuing our series of transcribed outbursts from the Hothead Developer Rants session which took place on the closing day of GDC 2013, we have a GamesIndustry International first: a poem.

The text below was re-written from an original by RPS contributor Cara Ellison. Reconfigured and performed by Anna Anthropy, who founded Auntie Pixellante to explore issues of gender, sex and perception, it might well represent a very different view of the industry to yours. Perhaps, as a queer trans woman, Anna's experiences might not seem that relevant, too niche, too obscure.

Perhaps, if you watch the video embedded along with the transcript, recorded on a phone by Anna's PR, Anna's passion might persuade you that however niche, however 'other' Anna's experience might be to yours, that even if you don't agree with it, it can still be important.

John Romero's Wives

There comes a time when you're more angry than tired

There comes a point where sitting in silence is more terrifying than standing and speaking

The games industry is a man in love with his libido

I have a libido

Had to be joked away at conferences

Had to be scrolled past on internet forums

Had to be hissed under your breath

Had to be leant over a keyboard at 3am

Had to be seen in the statistics

Had to be segregated in schools

Had to be guided away from the sciences

Had to be a self-taught programmer

Our apathy and the games industry are in cahoots

Had to be Jenn Frank's endless patience

Had to be Leigh Alexander on a Bombcast

Had to be Mattie Brice making a game so she could finally be the main character

Had to be Mattie's game misattributed to Merritt Kopas

Had to be Merritt's game misattributed to me

Had to be unable to make room for more than one trans game designer

Had to be Lara Croft shipwrecked on an island of rapists

Had to be David Cage's sex bot begging for her life

Had to be protected by a man

Had to be marooned on Makeb

Had to be games where women moan when they're shot

Had to be Remember Me rejected because a woman protagonist makes it gay

Had to be Rhianna Pratchett asking "but what if the player's female?"

Had to be a Mojang security guard asking "what do you expect me to do?"

Had to be the forty hottest women in tech

Had to be fake geek girls

Brenda Braithwaite can't bring her daughter to E3

Had to be moaned through knees in the bath

Had to be screamed into a pillow

Had to be rewritten a hundred times

Had to be deleted before I clicked "send"

Had to be in fear

Had to be fat, ugly or slutty

Had to be told I'm really a man

Had to be asked why my name doesn't match my ID

Had to be a feminazi slut

Had to be an attention whore

Had to be obsessed with my own sexuality

Had to be on display

Had to be a torso on a shelf

Had to be mistaken for a booth babe

Had to be told to stop talking about it

Had to be told "this isn't an intelligent conversation"

Had to be told to get your husband's permission before posting on the internet

Had to be verbally abused

Had to be clogging Patricia Hernandez's inbox

Had to be Lana Polansky scared to talk about sex

Had to be Tracey afraid to comment on her own site

Had to be Dani Bunten denied her own name

Had to be the indie game developer who told my friend she could give him a blowjob

Had to be Adria losing her job because she said "no more"

Anita Sarkeesian's face is bruised

Had to be rage

Had to be fear

Had to be scared to use the bathroom

Had to be silenced

Had to make a rape joke

Had to put it on a t-shirt

Had to get your wife to insist that you're not sexist

Had to refuse to call Dys4ia a game

Had to deny that Tentacle Bento is a game about rape

Had to leave two hundred comments on an open letter to Destructoid

Had to hate other women because you were taught to

Had to call us "females" like we're another species

Had to give me a panic attack

Had to push me out of the chair and play the game for me

Had to take away my agency

Had to take away my identity

Had to be John Romero's wife

Had to be John Romero's wives

All had to be John Romero's wives

All had to be John Romero's wives

21 Comments

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

56 180 3.2
Popular Comment
I thought I was reasonably aware of examples of sexism within the industry. But the number of references in Anna's poem that are news to me makes me think that the shameful cases that actually get reported are just the tip of the iceberg :(

Kudos to Anna and Brenda and other activist developers for continuing to raise awareness of industry misogyny.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Paul Jace Merchandiser

945 1,433 1.5
This just confirmed that we are in need of a poetry jam section on GI, especially if they can further easily illustrate issues within the industry like this one just did.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Andrew Watson Programmer

103 260 2.5
Sorry, but I just see whining here. The other two so far had more to discuss and provided ideas to change things, but this just reads like "a list of things I dislike".

Posted:A year ago

#3

Chiara Pasquini Global Submission Manager, 505 Games

10 40 4.0
Popular Comment
I disagree with Andrew: yes, this is a list, but defining it "a list of things I dislike" is plain wrong. This is a list of real issues and actual facts that every women in the industry is experiencing and has experienced, so far from being tied to a personal preference.
Also, as this has been written by a victim of sexual discrimination, I don't think it's fair to also expect the victim to provide a solution to the problem.
She's the victim. Women are the victim. We can keep suggesting things as much as we want, but who has the power to do something in the end? Nobody here has a magic wand with the ability to change other people's mind. Otherwise we would just "Obliviate" people and fix the issue in no time.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
We can keep suggesting things as much as we want, but who has the power to do something in the end?
Well she could make good games instead of writing hypocritical poems, a lot of these activists want respect and recognition of thier talents but they don't seem to want to actually do anything to earn it.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
Popular Comment
Yes Paul, how dare she highlight her concerns which are clearly invalid unless she is making amazing games. John Lennon should have focused on making pop songs instead of causing trouble with his extreme views. Don't get me started on Martin Luther King...what a terrible clergyman, he should have focused on that more...

Dear Anna Anthropy, keep at it.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Chiara Pasquini Global Submission Manager, 505 Games

10 40 4.0
Yes Paul, how dare she highlight her concerns which are clearly invalid unless she is making amazing games. John Lennon should have focused on making pop songs instead of causing trouble with his extreme views. Don't get me started on Martin Luther King...what a terrible clergyman, he should have focused on that more...

Dear Anna Anthropy, keep at it.
Exactly!
Being respected as a human being has nothing to do with having the ability and tools to make good games.
Or you seriously think that it's OK to grope a woman and tell her to give you a blowjob, unless she's a genius at work?

Posted:A year ago

#7

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

356 1,520 4.3
Well she could make good games instead of writing hypocritical poems
Sounds like somebody hasn't played Dys4ia. Or Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars. Or any of her other games.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Her concerns are mostly self issues and about the video game/tech Industry, and like I said she mostly seems to want to be respected and recognized as a developer (which she can be by making good games/programs), John Lennon didn't protest to have his music respected or listened to he used his fame to protest for world peace. Martin Luther King wasn't fighting for the right to worship, he was fighting for human rights for Black Americans. The fact that you used them as examples in comparison is a tad ridiculous Tameem getting called fat ugly or slutty isn't on the same level as being assassinated.

If she wants to change how people think/perceive in the industry actions are louder than words, make games/programs, show the
world what its missing! writing poems and ranting/whining on blogs isn't going to get you anywhere its just preaching to the choir.

I checked out Dys4ia it was interesting, but not so much as a game.
Being respected as a human being has nothing to do with having the ability and tools to make good games.
Well it is if you wanted to be respected as a dev.
Or you seriously think that it's OK to grope a woman and tell her to give you a blowjob, unless she's a genius at work?
Of course not, where did I even imply that?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 5th April 2013 1:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#9

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

356 1,520 4.3
Actually I think she wants to be respected as a human being and a person before anything else. That's... kinda what the poem and many of her games are about.

What makes Dys4ia 'not a game'?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 5th April 2013 1:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Chiara Pasquini Global Submission Manager, 505 Games

10 40 4.0
Her concerns are mostly self issues and about the video game/tech Industry,
Explain to me how her concerns are mostly self issues, because I fail to see this.
How are female characters being reduced to busts on a shelf Anna's self issues?
How is Anita Sarkeesian receiving death threats and rape threats Anna's self issues?
How is boot babes being constantly harassed, teams hiring prostitutes at parties, co-workes being told to give blow jobs Anna's self issue?
Look, you can think whatever you want of Anna and of her skills, but I can tell you with no doubt that many (all) women in the industry can relate with the things on that list, so it's not a list of self issues.
Of course not, where did I even imply that?
Well, you basically stated that she should stop complaining about women issues in the industry and start making good games.
You made a remarks on her talent to address and criticize a piece of writing that is about human rights and gender equality.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
I can understand that's what she wants and there's a lot of people out there in the world who hate her automatically because of her gender which is a terrible thing, the best way for her to win people over is to show them that shes just like everyone else that her gender/sexuality doesn't define her, The worst thing she can do is write poems and blogs about it, you're not going to change the minds of bigots/racists and sexists by yelling at them telling them they are bigots racists and sexists that just hardens their beliefs, when she stood up at the session she should of talked about how to make better games how to aim for different/new demographics discuss her ideas for STEM childhood education and how to make it a more appealing subject that would of got her respect.
How are female characters being reduced to busts on a shelf Anna's self issues?
By busts on shelf you means like figurines are such? Hows that even an issue? Its business some people like to buy them so they make them like any other product.
How is Anita Sarkeesian receiving death threats and rape threats Anna's self issues?
Anyone who stirs up the internet gets death threats Anita's case isn't special in anyway she just publishezed it and spun it into an advanatge, Im sure Tameem has had a few of his own.
How is boot babes being constantly harassed, teams hiring prostitutes at parties, co-workes being told to give blow jobs Anna's self issue?
Well that is one of the real issues booth babes and of course all staff shouldn't have to put up with any sort of harassment and I guess it depends on what the prostitutes were for.

I never intended to put down her talent or skills apologies if it came across that way like I said Dys4ia was interesting, the reason why I don't think its a game Jessica is because there's no win/loss scenario without that its an interactive experience.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 5th April 2013 2:30pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

356 1,520 4.3
show them that shes just like everyone else
She's not, though. Pretending to be 'like everyone else'(which in this and many other areas really means 'act like a dude') is defeating the point of diversity. Diversity and equality is about acknowledging and celebrating people's differences and experiences, and respecting them for the people that they are - not stuffing them into the little box of 'just like everyone else'. Anna Anthropy is very definitely, gloriously different - and she deserves respect like anyone else; as a human being, as a woman and as an internationally-acclaimed game developer.

And please don't condescend to tell us how a woman 'should' act to gain a modicum of respect. For one thing, the 'Hothead Rants' session wasn't for chatting nicely about STEM and how to make the games industry more appealing, it's for ranting. This poem in all its angry, bitter honesty is a rant. And a good one.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
I didn't mean act like a guy I meant she shouldn't see her self as a special snowflake I didn't want to use the term because it makes me sound like a git.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 5th April 2013 2:55pm

Posted:A year ago

#14

Chiara Pasquini Global Submission Manager, 505 Games

10 40 4.0
can understand that's what she wants and there's a lot of people out there in the world who hate her automatically because of her gender which is a terrible thing,
My point is that there is a lot of people out there in the world hating women and thinking that they are inferior because of their gender, this is why I don't think that she is only complaining about her own issues, but that she is pointing out problems that most women have.
the best way for her to win people over is to show them that shes just like everyone else that her gender/sexuality doesn't define her, the best way for her to win people over is to show them that shes just like everyone else that her gender/sexuality doesn't define her, The worst thing she can do is write poems and blogs about it, you're not going to change the minds of bigots/racists and sexists by yelling at them telling them they are bigots racists and sexists that just hardens their beliefs,
Same comment as Jessica here and usually,if you are woman trying to educate people it mainly results in death threats and rape threats.
If you are a woman playing online games mainly results in death threats and rape threats, too.
Actually, even if you are a woman and just try to express your opinion you get that.
Guess what? Some women need to complain and this is called a "Rant session" for a reason...
when she stood up at the session she should of talked about how to make better games how to aim for different/new demographics discuss her ideas for STEM childhood education and how to make it a more appealing subject that would of got her respect.
It is a rant session, isn't she allowed to rant?
By busts on shelf you means like figurines are such? Hows that even an issue? Its business some people like to buy them so they make them like any other product.
Not the time and place (and not my time and place) here to educate you about how reducing women to sexual objects has contributed and still contributes in oppressing women.
Anyone who stirs up the internet gets death threats Anita's case isn't special in anyway she just publishezed it and spun it into an advanatge, Im sure Tameem has had a few of his own.
But Anita's case is special. First of all, she didn't "stir up the internet" : she did an objective and well researched analysis. Secondly, sorry, but I can't see any man over the internet getting rape threaths and thirdly - you deflected my question, by the way.
I have asked you how the death threats and rape threats that Anita received are Anna's personal issue.
Well that is one of the real issues booth babes and of course all staff shouldn't have to put up with any sort of harassment and I guess it depends on what the prostitutes were for.
Nope - all of those are real issues. I am sorry that people like you, that seem smart enough to carry on conversations like this don't see the problem. Also, deflected the question again.
I never intended to put down her talent or skills apologies if it came across that way like I said Dys4ia was interesting, the reason why I don't think its a game Jessica is because there's no win/loss scenario without that its an interactive experience.
Well, you criticized her skills as a game maker in order to comment on a poem she wrote that is about something else.
This isn't very different to criticizing a woman's look to take away the attention from the fact that she could be very good at her work.
This stuff happens every day - were you a women, you would see this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chiara Pasquini on 5th April 2013 3:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Alberto Venditti Psychologist & Game Designer

2 2 1.0
Well she could make good games instead of writing hypocritical poems, a lot of these activists want respect and recognition of thier talents but they don't seem to want to actually do anything to earn it.
When we feel overwhelmed by an inescapable threat, we “identify with the aggressor” (Ferenczi, 1933). Hoping to survive, we sense and “become” precisely what the attacker expects of us-in our behavior, perceptions, emotions, and thoughts. Over the long run, it can become habitual. This habitual identification, with a massive lack of elaboration, leads to a crystallization in the culture that doesn't allow to work on deepest levels for trying to move forward these important issues that are, obviously, not only related to the game industry.

I've quoted you as an example of this implicit, culturally-acquired behavior, being very similar to many many others that I've read.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
@Chiara
Everyone gets smacked talked in online games Its not a new thing which only effects women.

There's nothing wrong with complaining that's what the internet is for but just ranting at a public place throwing plastic cups etc is just deconstructive and makes the panel look like children and it fuels the fires of sexist "Typical women, complaining about my video games again" remarks
But Anita's case is special. First of all, she didn't "stir up the internet" : she did an objective and well researched analysis
You're right she didn't stir up the net she whisked it up! and then kept on refueling it over and over got to give a credit for that it was genius. I'm not gonna go deep into Anita's videos again all im gonna say is that they are about as objective as Christian Intelligent Design videos. When it comes to death rape threats its still a threat it doesn't matter the content of the threat.
I have asked you how the death threats and rape threats that Anita received are Anna's personal issue.
I guess I didn't make this clear, Its not a personal issue of Anna's as its not even an issue, anyone who pisses people off on the internet gets threats of death, Its an internet thing its always going to happen the only way you could get rid of that is to regulate the net (which I hope never happens).
Not the time and place (and not my time and place) here to educate you about how reducing women to sexual objects has contributed and still contributes in oppressing women.
How does a plastic object oppress women?
Nope - all of those are real issues. I am sorry that people like you, that seem smart enough to carry on conversations like this don't see the problem. Also, deflected the question again.
I agreed they were real issues I can't comment on the prostitute one because I have no idea the context of it.
Well, you criticized her skills as a game maker in order to comment on a poem she wrote that is about something else.
This isn't very different to criticizing a woman's look to take away the attention from the fact that she could be very good at her work.
This stuff happens every day - were you a women, you would see this
Like I said I didn't criticize her design skills, just her poetry skills.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,199 1,017 0.8
I enjoyed it. Makes for an interesting insight presented in a very different way.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

331 784 2.4
@Paul Trillo

Anna has made several excellent games.

Based on your comments I would charitably assume you are commenting from a position of ignorance (not knowing about Anna's games, not knowing about the Dead Island controversy etc.) rather than outright malice here. Perhaps do a bit of background research before alienating lots of potential future peers/employers?

...

I'm not usually a fan of the GDC rant session (it's usually a platform for successful, self-promoting developers deeply invested in the status quo to attack populist targets), and I didn't think much of the poem in its original form (it's a bit... 'sixth form activist'), but the intersection of these elements with the zeitgeist of this year's GDC works surprisingly well. And as we've seen in the past couple of weeks on this site, these things still clearly need to be said.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
When I said she should go make good games I wasn't implying that the games shes already made were bad. I meant she should carry on and go make bigger better games instead of poetry.

And yes I did know about the dead island riptide special edition,I still don't see how a plastic limbless mid piece oppresses women. If it you don't like it don't buy it.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
You know, people talking about virtually every woman for essentially being a party pooper, or some crap, and telling them to shut up, it's "just a party", this is "just a list", the industry isn't "really" sexist, etc... etc... etc...

There is a*A LOT* of smoke. 98% of the women in the industry - both production and press - that I've heard have complained about discrimination to varying levels.

Maybe people need to stop screaming that there's no fire?

Posted:A year ago

#21

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