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New game design contest for women

New game design contest for women

Fri 28 Mar 2014 8:29am GMT / 4:29am EDT / 1:29am PDT
Development

The Fine Young Capitalists want your pitches by April 14

A new video game design competition for women has launched today, and the winner will see their game produced, digitally distributed and its profits given to charity.

Those interested in taking part need to put forward a proposal of up to 1,500 words pitching their concept. Professional concept artists and writers will then refine the top five ideas before they compete online for votes. Only one game will be made. Submissions must be made by April 14 the official site.

"In 2011 the video game industry took in over $16 Billion dollars but despite women representing 45 per cent percent of the game playing audience they directed less than 2 per cent of the Games," said the collective.

"In combination with the production company Autobotika, The Fine Young Capitalists is running their first production initiative, allowing any women to have a crack at creating a video game."

The scheme has been put together by The Fine Young Capitalists, a partnership between Colombian transmedia production company Autobótika and the Canadian company Empowered up.

28 Comments

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

230 89 0.4
Hmm.. How discriminatin, a design contest only for women...

Posted:4 months ago

#1

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
I don't think that's fair Andrew, I'm sure it's an equal opportunity competition that men are as capable of winning as women. It would defeat the whole purpose if they were to discriminate based on gender.

Posted:4 months ago

#2

Brook Davidson
Artist / 3D design

62 93 1.5
@Tim
It says "for" Women. Men are not capable of winning if they are not allowed to enter because it isn't "for" men.

Not sure how you didn't understand that.

Posted:4 months ago

#3

Robin Clarke
Producer

26 50 1.9
Oh, is this actually going ahead? It was heavily criticised when it was announced.

You don't need to ask anyone's permission to design and develop a game, and you can decide what you want to do with the proceeds. Working for free isn't empowering.

Posted:4 months ago

#4

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
@ Brook, I don't think it would be legal for them to run a contest that discriminated based on gender. We're a better society than that, this isn't Mad Men.

Posted:4 months ago

#5

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

241 805 3.3
Popular Comment
Looks like some of y'all would like to read the FAQ which observes that yes it's legal to run a contest aimed exclusively at women(and the website clarifies that transgender women are of course welcome) in Canada and no the winner of the contest isn't working entirely for free - they get a share of the profits, as do the developers, and the rest goes to charity. Post-launch profit share isn't a great way of paying people for their work, but I suppose some feel that the exposure and the experience of producing their own game alongside seasoned professionals will be worth it.

It's an interesting idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 29th March 2014 9:16pm

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Oh, Canada. I suppose they still have a ways to go on civil rights.

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

241 805 3.3
Popular Comment
Contests aimed at women exclusively are not unheard of in other countries and industries so don't worry, you can sigh at plenty of places besides silly old progressive Canada. Goodness, even the EU itself isn't immune to the outrageous idea of promoting the efforts of women in industries where they are often marginalised.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 29th March 2014 11:21pm

Posted:4 months ago

#8

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
And that's fine, so long as it doesn't discriminate. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to participate.

Posted:4 months ago

#9

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Don't worry, I doubt this one contest can tip the balance into marginalizing men.
Well I don't think anyone is arguing that it would, we aren't talking about society as a whole here, we're talking about this one contest. Still, if one man did have something to contribute and wanted to participate, he shouldn't be discriminated against just because of his gender. Check your privilege.

Posted:4 months ago

#10

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

241 805 3.3
That one man still has far more opportunity for recognition in literally every other game design contest out there. I think your theoretical guy will be okay.

Having a serious Poe's Law moment with that last remark, wow.

Posted:4 months ago

#11

Chris Reeves
2D Artist

7 35 5.0
Popular Comment
Still, if one man did have something to contribute and wanted to participate, he shouldn't be discriminated against just because of his gender. Check your privilege.
How about checking yours? Men and our ideas and influence utterly dominate the games industry and this contest is actively looking for the ideas and viewpoints of women and yet you would demand men be allowed entry into this explicitly-intended woman-only space as well?

Asking for perspectives other than men in a white straight male dominated industry is not punching down on a minority, therefore it is not harmful discrimination as it would be if a male dominated industry asked only for the views of men. Your one man with something to contribute has a million other avenues to do so.

Posted:4 months ago

#12

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

634 239 0.4
Your one man with something to contribute has a million other avenues to do so.
Are you so sure? Then why did the indies grow so quickly?

Posted:4 months ago

#13

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
That one man still has far more opportunity for recognition in literally every other game design contest out there.
No he doesn't. I've never seen a design contest that discriminates against female participants, so any woman that entered one would have an equal chance of winning it as any man. It all comes down to the strength of their entry.
How about checking yours? Men and our ideas and influence utterly dominate the games industry and this contest is actively looking for the ideas and viewpoints of women and yet you would demand men be allowed entry into this explicitly-intended woman-only space as well?
That's what I was referring to about "privilege". Apparently women are allowed to have "women only" spaces, and it's actually considered sexist to even question that, while any time men set up a "men only" environment that is also considered sexist. If there is a more textbook example of a double standard, I can't imagine what it would be. I just think it's more fair for all content and areas be opened up to all participants, and have the results be judged based on skill, not gender. If the contest organizers are looking for a female-centric concept then a man would be at a distinct disadvantage at winning, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have an opportunity to compete, or to have his entry judged on its merits rather than on the gender of the entrant.

Posted:4 months ago

#14

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

174 537 3.1
Popular Comment
I sort of promised myself I wasn't going to bother, but you really don't get it.

Your entire argument seems to be based on
I've never seen a design contest that discriminates against female participants, so any woman that entered one would have an equal chance of winning it as any man. It all comes down to the strength of their entry.
When this has been shown to not be the case. People see female pronouns, or a woman's name, and immediately the entry is biased against.

There are studies that have tested the existence of these gender biases in the workplace. For example showing someone CVs and saying "how likely would you be to interview this person for the available role?", showing the exact same CV but with genders swapped results in the woman's CV getting a lower number of interviews. People don't even realise they're doing it, they're not thinking "pft, what's the broad doing, a chick can't do this job with her tiny brain", the sexism is just another little cognitive bias that subconsciously changes their behaviour.

In a perfect world that wouldn't be the case, but unfortunately me & you don't like in that world and that's why women-only opportunities exist.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anthony Gowland on 30th March 2014 8:43pm

Posted:4 months ago

#15

Chris Reeves
2D Artist

7 35 5.0
Popular Comment
Apparently women are allowed to have "women only" spaces, and it's actually considered sexist to even question that, while any time men set up a "men only" environment that is also considered sexist. If there is a more textbook example of a double standard, I can't imagine what it would be.
It is a double standard to correct a systemic gender imbalance. You need Women Only spaces because the status quo is de-facto Male Only already.

Here is your fundamental misunderstanding: You think the playing field is level and that women aren't systematically discouraged - by a variety of social and institutional factors and gender roles - from partaking in the game development industry and subtly (or less so) marginalised during their time in industry. Things are improving, but we are a million miles from Peak Equality, we men need to get off our arse and join in work to reverse the gender imbalance that is our status quo.

It's crucial to cultivate women-only spaces (and LBGT and Racial issue spaces too) because it's just a fact that the voice and influence and perspectives of White Straight Men will otherwise dominate, you can see it in our politics, our media, STEM and our games industry. The ratio of men to women in our industry is obscenely stacked in favour of men and the subtle tyranny of a systemic demographic majority being allowed into a minority space would stifle and drown out any attempt to draw on the feminine perspective and ideas that women designers may offer - and that the contest organisers are looking for.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Chris Reeves on 30th March 2014 9:29pm

Posted:4 months ago

#16

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
You aren't causing me any problems, and of course you have every right to pursue happiness and speak. I wish you all the best in your future career and have never expressed otherwise. Everyone else is afforded those rights too though, and a man who wanted to participate in the contest should have as much right to pursue his happiness as you do. The "privilege" I was referring to is how "discrimination" is apparently just a one-way street, it is only considered a problem when it's leveraged against women, but never when it is leveraged in the exact same way against men. It shouldn't be used against members of either gender.
Yes, I'm sure that a "mens only" contest would garner all sorts of positive press. I have no interest in that, all I'm suggesting is a "best game wins" contest, in which neither gender is barred.
You are sexist, but you are also completely convince that you are NOT sexist, which makes you think you are being wrongfully persecuted anytime the subject is presented.
Why do you believe that I am sexist for pursuing equality between the genders, while you do not believe that you are sexist for defending special privileges for your own gender? How does that seem reasonable to you?
You deny women want to be in games because they don't play games....to a woman gamer who is currently studying to be a programmer of video games...then implied she was sexist against women.
That is not what I said. I noted several times that women ARE involved in all aspects of gaming, I know several personally. My point was only that there were no "ghost women," no women waiting in the wings, unaccounted for because they don't currently make or play games, but totally want to. That's the myth that is often cited, that there are all these thousands of "ghost women" waiting to take the industry by storm if only people were giving them the right opportunities and making the right games for them. I don't believe there's any more evidence of that than for Nessie, Big Foot, or Mokele-Mbembe.

What there are is the existing number of women games and professionals, who are perfectly fine at what they do, but they are accounted for, and games targeted at them are made in quantities relevant to the numbers that actually exist. They make up roughly 50% of the audience, but more leaning towards casual games than AAA titles. They make up something closer to 20-30% of those markets. I do not believe that's an aberration, I believe it's the natural settling of differing mindsets. Some women like to game, some women don't, just as some men like to game and some don't, and that's ok, it's not something we need to hammer into a different shape.

I would never claim that women don't belong in games, much less that they aren't already a significant part of the community, I just reject the notion that there exists a significant number of women who aren't in games, but that would be under different circumstances. I'm sure there are some that fit into that category, but there are plenty of men who do as well, so in the end there would still likely be a gender imbalance just based on interest.
When have I ever suggested any such thing? I think you are just making up arguments to try and boogey-man me. You go and make whatever games you want, I wish you luck. I just don't believe that the audience for such games is as large as for the current AAA games. I think there's a lot of risk involved in that path, but it could pay off if the games are good enough. Whatever games you do make, I don't believe they would be likely to broaden the audience in any significant manner, your options would involve best targeting the market we've got, not in creating an entirely new market that doesn't exist.
There are studies that have tested the existence of these gender biases in the workplace. For example showing someone CVs and saying "how likely would you be to interview this person for the available role?", showing the exact same CV but with genders swapped results in the woman's CV getting a lower number of interviews. People don't even realise they're doing it, they're not thinking "pft, what's the broad doing, a chick can't do this job with her tiny brain", the sexism is just another little cognitive bias that subconsciously changes their behaviour.

In a perfect world that wouldn't be the case, but unfortunately me & you don't like in that world and that's why women-only opportunities exist.
That is sad, and obviously should be avoided whenever possible, but if the contest couldn't reliably be balanced with names and gendered pronouns involved, then the simple solution would be to remove such names from the judging. Instead of offering the judge "Bioshock Infinite by Ken Levine et al,," just offer them "Bioshock Infinite by Contestant G5." Could be a man or a woman, they would not know so it could not impact their decisions.
The ratio of men to women in our industry is obscenely stacked in favour of men and the subtle tyranny of a systemic demographic majority being allowed into a minority space would stifle and drown out any attempt to draw on the feminine perspective and ideas that women designers may offer - and that the contest organisers are looking for.
But that implies that there is such a thing as "the feminine perspective and ideas that women designers may offer," which is inherently sexist. There may be viewpoints that a woman would be more likely to express than a man, but there's nothing to say that a man could not express the same positions. If a man could participate, and his offering best capitalized on their goal of finding a "the feminine perspective and ideas that women designers may offer," then why should they turn that away based entirely on his own gender? I would think that a female developer would have natural advantages in that competition, but that doesn't mean a man would be incapable of doing it.

Posted:4 months ago

#17

Chris Reeves
2D Artist

7 35 5.0
Why do you believe that I am sexist for pursuing equality between the genders, while you do not believe that you are sexist for defending special privileges for your own gender?
Because like I already said, you think a marginalised group are not being marginalised and receiving some attention and promotion due to their lack of representation in games means they are getting "special privileges" which aren't open to you. This is a viewpoint spewed by any dominant group (White men, Evangelical Christians, Rich people) and distinctly lacking in empathy for the struggles in games and other areas of life that women face.

Equality of Status and Equality of Treatment are two very different concepts.
But that implies that there is such a thing as "the feminine perspective and ideas that women designers may offer," which is inherently sexist.
In the strongest terms I can I will suggest there absolutely is.

No male designers have the life experiences of a woman, none have experienced growing up as a girl with all the expectations and societal demands specific to women placed on her, No Ken Levine will admit they were discouraged from computer science as a teen because they should do something more suited to their gender like teaching or nursing, no Hideo Kojima ever survived rape or domestic abuse, no male developer will ever face the question of losing bodily autonomy over a pregnancy that may be illegal to terminate in their own country. Men will not have the worry of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in public and the workplace, and as much as we're getting so many games now about Fathers, no male developer will know what it is to be a mother. They - we - cannot know any of these things, because we are men, we can only guess and if Metroid OtherM is to be considered, we get it horribly wrong. Equally, men will not be privvy to the dreams and aspirations of women and it is these as well as the above examples that the contest acknowledges are unique to women

This is the perspective of half of the world's population which up till very recently, was totally ignored in our industry, with very different demands and pressures placed on them throughout their entire lives that have shaped, broken and built them.

And the contest organisers wish to tap into that wellspring. Male designers have an entire industry sympathetic to their ideas and pitches.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Chris Reeves on 31st March 2014 12:04am

Posted:4 months ago

#18

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Because like I already said, you think a marginalised group are not being marginalised and receiving some attention and promotion due to their lack of representation in games means they are getting "special privileges" which aren't open to you. This is a viewpoint spewed by any dominant group (White men, Evangelical Christians, Rich people) and distinctly lacking in empathy for the struggles in games and other areas of life that women face.
But I'm arguing that nobody should get special treatment, not men, not women, nobody. The goal should be a level playing field, not to have peaks and valleys all over the place where individual groups have staked out personal fiefdoms of privilege. If you see an example of an uneven playing field, you shut that down, not build another uneven playing field elsewhere.
No male designers have the life experiences of a woman, none have experienced growing up as a girl with all the expectations and societal demands specific to women placed on her, No Ken Levine will admit they were discouraged from computer science as a teen because they should do something more suited to their gender like teaching or nursing, no Hideo Kojima ever survived rape or domestic abuse, no male developer will ever face the question of losing bodily autonomy over a pregnancy that may be illegal to terminate in their own country.
This is a horribly sexist list. Maybe guys are less likely to be discouraged from computer science specifically in favor of teaching or nursing, but they might be discouraged in favor of things like sports, or metal shop, or other activities. They're also further discouraged from pursuing things like cooking or health care, but there are not significant efforts to coddle male chefs. Everyone of both genders stands a chance of being discouraged from their chosen paths, that means we should be trying to prevent people from discouraging dreams, not that we should be providing special opportunities to people who are perceived to be disadvantaged (who may have never faced such discouragement at all, but are happy for the free lunch regardless).

And no man has ever had to worry about sexual or domestic abuse? How ridiculous. While women are more often the victim in those crimes, there are millions of men in the US alone that have been the victim of rape, and millions of men each year are the victims of domestic abuse, they are just far more stigmatized for it and are much less likely to report it. To consider rape "a women's issue" is highly insulting.

Women may on average have different experiences in life than men have on average, and that may impact the stories they can tell, but that doesn't mean that a man cannot accurately emulate the female experience, or that a women could not accurately emulate the male experience. I thought Rowling did a pretty good job with Potter, for example. Mistakes also happen, of course, going both ways, and including in cases where men write men and women write women, such as when Rhianna Prachett wrote Tomb Raider, but still came under flak for not making her flawlessly feminist enough. If this contest's goals is to find a game project that does carry a strong feminist voice, then men participating should be no threat to that. If you're right that a man could not possibly deliver that material, then they would stand no chance of succeeding, even if given the opportunity, so why shut them out from the start?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Ogul on 31st March 2014 1:06am

Posted:4 months ago

#19

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,153 1,070 0.5
Oh, good gravy. Just boogie on over to sites like Twinery, RPGMaker.net, slimesalad and so forth and so on to see (and play) ALL sorts of games made by guys and gals alike. No gender contests or rolling on the floor there. Just games galore for all (and free for the most part).

Posted:4 months ago

#20

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Equality of opportunity for gender, race, sexuality, religion and disability is something we should all demand and expect throughout society, not just in making games.
Expecting or demanding equality of outcome is just plain stupid. Socialism and political correctness at their worst.

Posted:4 months ago

#21
I'm looking forward to the games being made. This doesn't discriminated against men but rather encourages women which is positive.

Posted:4 months ago

#22

Chris Payne
Associate Lead Programmer

37 104 2.8
Reverse discrimination is a contentious beast, but in this case I think it's totally applicable. The point is not to ALLOW women to make games, which all the existing gender-neutral contests already do - it's to ENCOURAGE women to make games by creating an event where they are not only welcome but essential.

I hope that the entries produced for this competition will be a fantastic example of the ideas and talents we're missing out on by marginalising women. Also it's not just about the women who actually enter - it should be an inspiring example for all women with an interest in games. I look forward to playing the games produced...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Payne on 1st April 2014 1:10pm

Posted:4 months ago

#23

Bryan Robertson
Gameplay Programmer

86 210 2.4
But I'm arguing that nobody should get special treatment, not men, not women, nobody. The goal should be a level playing field, not to have peaks and valleys all over the place where individual groups have staked out personal fiefdoms of privilege
But the assumption that this is giving people "special treatment", is based on the assumption that men and women are starting off on a level playing field of advantage to begin with.

To put this in very simple terms:
Imagine there are two groups of people, one group starts off with 50 gold coins each, and the other starts off with 30 gold coins each. I give the second group another 10 gold coins each, so they now have 40 gold coins each, instead of 30. Am I suddenly giving the second group "special treatment"? Is this unfair to the group that still has 50 gold coins each?

Replace coins with privilege, and you'll understand why people find the cries of "discrimination" to be ridiculous.

Posted:4 months ago

#24
Just because women only make up say 10% of the workforce it doesn't necessarily mean that they have less chance individually than a man. It probably just means that there are less women in general who are applying for those jobs. By all means do whatever you can to encourage more women into the industry (like these kinds of competitions) but don't discriminate against people.

Bryan - Do you honestly think that if two candidates, a man and a woman who have equal skills and abilities apply for a position in your company that the man would have a better chance?

Posted:4 months ago

#25

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