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Reddy: Women in the industry must play their role

Reddy: Women in the industry must play their role

Wed 25 Sep 2013 11:32am GMT / 7:32am EDT / 4:32am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

Tearaway's female character wouldn't exist if Media Molecule's studio head hadn't demanded it

Media Molecule

Media Molecule was founded by a small troupe of Lionhead veterans who, bolstered by their work together...

mediamolecule.com

Media Molecule studio head Siobhan Reddy has used her keynote speech at the Women In Games conference to compel women to be more proactive in making changes in the industry, and revealed how that led to her demanding a female character for Tearaway.

"It's up to us as the women of the industry to be able to play our role in changing the perceptions of the technology fields, because otherwise the changes will come much slower," she said.

Reddy recognised that women often don't speak up in boardrooms, but it is vital that they are present and actively participate in the big discussions at their studios.

"Saying 'f*** it' to the fear of it all, which is when we can actually make our big differences and make our mark on things."

She used the example of demanding a female character in Tearaway, Media Molecule's latest game, which is due for release later this year.

"She wouldn't exist if I hadn't put my foot down," Reddy explained.

"It was important to me that we investigate a female lead on Tearaway. That doesn't mean that I think that every single game, book, television show needs to be for the broadest audience... but for this it was really important to me."

But she also warned against assuming the worst when it comes to the debate over gender balance in the industry's products - that sometimes someone draws a male character purely because they are male too, and artists often work in their own image.

Reddy added that the industry is at a crossroads, and dealing with a lot of emotive issues, but the fact that these discussions are happening at all was hugely positive.

"It's this growing female audience that's going to be very influential on how games are made and how they are made in the future," she said.

She encouraged women to simply refuse to work at studios where they feel they aren't listened to, or where they find themselves working on games they hate.

"Some people will still make really overly violent male characters and overly sexualised female characters," she said. "We have to show our distaste for that by not buying them and not working on them and by not supporting them."

Those interested in joining Women In Games can find more details at the official site.

17 Comments

Techni Myoko Programmer

40 75 1.9
But demanding is so, rude.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
I wonder if woman made an action game or a fighting game. Would it be all that differant from what has already been done. Even switching roles, like make a woman go out and save a guy, would it make things all that differant? With so many people making games, I refuse to believe that nobody has looked into making games that would appeal to girls. And she may hate working for a game she doesnt like, but then again as a creator, as the person making the game, wouldnt you hate if someone stuck there finger in your creation and demanded it be a certain way or changed an aspect from it in a demanding manner?

She demanded the main character be female over a personal gripe a personal agenda. Thats what i dont like. However in this case maybe it didnt affect the objective of the games design, so the change was smooth. Or maybe at times a person may suggest a change that the team actually finds it as an improvment. That can also happen.

What I dont like is when a person sticks there finger in persons creative project, because of a personal agenda or personal gripe or a frustration they may have and.... not because of design aspects related to the objective of the games design.

In anycase, if she is the head boss of media molecule and she has these issues about females in games, she can have her people create a game from the ground up with this in mind.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

461 172 0.4
Popular Comment
I really couldn't care less what demands were made. I honestly don't care if the protagonist is male or female. I care if the game is good or not. I buy games because they play well and I like them, not because they have male characters. I think females should do the same.

I guess the end point I wanted to make was that if her investors had turned around and said 'this doesn't fit the game, make the protagonist a male or lose your bucks' it really wouldn't have made a shade of difference to my opinion of the investors. I wouldn't be walking down to their office road waving picket fences... but to me this has been in the press so much that I'm really starting to feel like every single woman who feels the need to publicly announce to the press and/or crowd of an event that she fought for a woman to be the lead in her game is just making a pitiful attempt at trying to get some free marketing.

Studio heads fight over decisions all the time. Wether it be the decision to make a game an RTS or FPS, turn based or real time, bullet time or stop motion, Unity Engine, Unreal, CryEngine or self-made. Brooding old pessimist lead or young adventurous optimist lead. It really doesn't warrant an article that she got a female when we all know that every female related decision, story and/or occurrence has been jumped on and milked by the media for nearly a year now. It's a sound marketing move that generates free press now. I bet if it was a man that argued for a female lead this article wouldn't be here.

Plus, my favourite game (I can think of in the 10 seconds I devoted to it) with a female lead - Beyond Good and Evil - never had any feminism related fanfare... all because this is just a flavour-of-the-month marketing exercise and it wasn't back then when there were even less male leads. Bore off.

Oh, and one more thing.... with her statement about females not working in a studio where they feel they aren't listened to. Doesn't that apply for everyone... or is she insinuating that they should leave if they can't get female characters into a game because A. it's not their job to cast and storyboard or B. They are one person in a room of 30 and therefore they make up a very small portion of the overall vote and can't take the fact that the majority is opposed to the idea for one reason or another. That statement looking at it in different ways seems to either encourage bratty behaviour, or simply encourage the embracing or a right that both sexes have yet excluding one sex from that right because it is assumed that they already have it (which is often not the case if your job is to do a job).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 25th September 2013 11:03pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Christophe Danguien games developer

70 83 1.2
She sounds like a feminist.....and putting a female character just because you're the boss and wants that is really childish, and in a way an abuse of her power.

Posted:A year ago

#4
Popular Comment
I really don't understand this negativity here. Women like playing games and have had to put up with a majority of games where their gender wasn't represented OR represented in an offensive / derogatory way.
we ve always been told: if you want things to change, go change them.
that's exactly what Shioban did. It will lead to greater varieties of gaming experience. Yay!

Posted:A year ago

#5

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Lara Croft was a good female game character.
Also Princess Peach, Princess Daphne, Candy Suxxx, Chun-Li, Tifa Lockheart, Anna Williams, Cammy, Christie Monteiro etc etc
In fact 123 female game characters have their own Wikipedia pages!

Posted:A year ago

#6

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
really don't understand this negativity here. Women like playing games and have had to put up with a majority of games where their gender wasn't represented OR represented in an offensive / derogatory way.
The negativity is not for the gender or the issue, its about an opinion expressed by a person with no track record of creative skills in a merit based industry. In what way would be a game appeal more for the females by swapping the main character? If they want to tell a story, use a different medium. Games are about primarily about gameplay.
I wonder if woman made an action game or a fighting game.
Assassin's Creed counts as such (Jade Raymond)..

Posted:A year ago

#7

Ian Lambert UI Developer, Ghost Games

17 18 1.1
Popular Comment
@Tom: "an opinion expressed by a person with no track record of creative skills in a merit based industry"
Studio Head. Media Molecule, i.e. Little Big Planet. No record of creative skills, despite leading the studio that made a game that was more creative, and more encouraging of creativity in others, than almost any other I can think of? No, sorry, the negativity is largely knee-jerk sexism, as usual with this type of story, even on this supposedly professional site.

@Rick: "And she may hate working for a game she doesnt like, but then again as a creator, as the person making the game, wouldnt you hate if someone stuck there finger in your creation and demanded it be a certain way or changed an aspect from it in a demanding manner?"
Again, studio head. She isn't sticking anything anywhere - it's her project, and she wanted to "...investigate a female lead on Tearaway." Investigate. Sounds to me like a leader with a clear direction working with her team to see whether they can achieve a goal she has for the project. How dare she.

And finally @Andrew, bear in mind the audience; this isn't setting out an agenda for the industry, or the world, but discussing an experience on an issue-specific panel. So maybe think twice before suggesting this was a marketing ploy. If she wasn't talking about her experience as a woman in games at a Women in Games conference, would you be happier?

Great studio, great track record, and a decision made at a creative studio that (and here's where I agree with some of the sentiments above) won't alter whether the game is good or not in the least. So let's stop criticising her for having an opinion.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,182 972 0.8
She's speaking largely to a female crowd, at a 'Women in Games' conference for that matter, so I'm happy to see her push and inspire women to make a difference in the industry. Nuff said really.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
despite leading the studio that made a game that was more creative, and more encouraging of creativity in others, than almost any other I can think of?
She has been credited with multiple games according to Mobygames, but either in management or QA roles.Production and management are not creative roles (in my opinion). Little big planet had creative and art directors, too.

Posted:A year ago

#10
In what way would be a game appeal more for the females by swapping the main character?
Example: Take Dragon Age. You can play a male character or a female character. You can have a romance with the opposite sex or same sex! Dragon Age is a superb example of a game that caters to both audiences without losing out! Same for games like NWN, Baldurs Gate, Baldurs Gate 2, Oblivion.. the list goes on. The common theme here is of course RPG. I realise that. They're fun, but shooters are fun, too. Good thing there are games like Mass Effect that are somewhat shooter-like (but not quite if you know what I mean) where we only have to put up with unrealistic body armour. But more on that later.

My point is: any story oriented game you play, you want to identify with the main character. somewhat. I love GTA V - playing it. I wish there was a female playable character, but playing it, I can see how that would be difficult to fit in. You'd have to completely write a different story and I like the current story (if somewhat repetitive). Maybe we'll see it in GTA VI. Maybe because someone, male or female, puts their foot down and says: BORING! Let's try something new! Let's add a new angle!

I do agree with you somewhat though that the main character isn't always important, it depends on the genre.
I couldn't care less about orcs must die (fun! don't care much about the character, its about killing orcs!) for example. It's all (as you say) about the game play there. But then other things can ruin the game-play for you. Imagine playing a game where most of the characters are stripped down super-attractive men. exclusively. All women are covered up and not that interesting to be fair... Where's the eyecandy in there for you? Unless you're interested in the same sex, there is none. Just may be a bit irritating. Even if its not, that's where a lot of women currently do take offense. If you want to understand why, I invite you to read:
http://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com
She focuses mostly on what ruins gaming for her. She's just one of many angry female gamers out there who want a change.
Her best demonstrations include, but are not limited to:
http://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/blade-and-soul-youre-doing-it-wrong/
and my favourite: http://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/league-of-legends-so-much-character-design-fail/
(I still play League of Legends, and as with any LOL gamer, more than is good for me).
I'd like gaming to be inclusive - not to irritating.

@Christophe
She sounds like a feminist.....and putting a female character just because you're the boss and wants that is really childish, and in a way an abuse of her power.
Wikipedia: Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
Nothing wrong with feminism. Every woman with half a brain is a feminist. whether she realizes or not
Regarding the second part of your comment:
She's not putting a female character in there just because she's the boss. but because of all I've said above. She's making sure to widen her target audience. Given she's probably responsible for the game's success, its her good right.
.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ

199 72 0.4
There's some whiny men on here. Acting as if the Studio Head can't make a crucial decision about their product?

She is the Head of the Studio, of course she can make that decision. And whether a lead character is male or female is often quite arbitrary, so choosing a female character is a great idea, seeing there aren't so many of them. I don't see why the first 3 or 4 comments are all guys saying, "She's rude, she's demanding, she's stomping on people's work."

She's a Studio Head making decisions for the company's product, just like any other Studio Head might do.

It really surprised me to find any of these strange undermining comments at the top.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
@Murray The reason why people are "whining" is because her decision comes across as childish rather than a thought out adult one.

@Barbara Feminism has nothing to do with equality, if you're a champion of equality then you'd be a humanist.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
Hey Paul, feminism wants to help men as well as women you know. Patriarchy hurts everybody except the guys at the very top.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Susan N Mortimer Studying Computer Games Art, Anglia Ruskin University

2 11 5.5
She's a female member of the gaming industry who had the ability to place a female character in a game, for other female gamers to enjoy and relate to, and that makes her a feminist? For wanting more suitable female representation in a mostly male dominated industry?

Also, she's doing exactly what every other male commenter on articles and discussions about this issue are telling female members of the games industry to do! They keep telling women to stop 'complaining' and make their own female characters and/or games, and that's what she's done!

Posted:A year ago

#15

Laura Hutton 3d Artist, Ubisoft

2 3 1.5
Great article. If I was working on a game with an offensive treatment of women I would speak up. If I got a negative response I would look for work elsewhere - I'd never let myself become affiliated with something upsetting, or work in a place where my opinions are not valued or listened to at all.

Posted:A year ago

#16

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