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#1ReasonWhy - The night Twitter took on the industry's sexism

How a simple hashtag spawned a mentor movement for female game developers

Sometimes Twitter is just about what you had for lunch and why you hate Monday, but last night it became a forum for women and men who had faced sexism in the games industry. Using the hashtag #1ReasonWhy developers and other industry figures spoke out about some of the reasons there weren't more female game developers.

Mattie Brice pointed out one of the most basic problems: "I had to make my own game in order to see someone like me as a main character." While Austin Ivansmith's ‏contribution explained why that might be.

“Because 'It's too technical' or 'We ran out of time' to make a rig for a playable female character," Ivansmith wrote.

[Note: Ivansmith has contacted us to clarify that the origin of his tweet "was in regards to excuses made by publishers in the last few years as to their lack of inclusion of female playable characters (which I find to be a ridiculous excuse, as I pointed out in the comments of your website)."]

"Men like me are badasses, so cool and hilarious. I'm a disrespectful loud-mouthed bitch"

@leighalexander

LM Lockhart gave the difference in salary for male and female game developers as a reason, something echoed by other tweeters, whilst problems even getting hired in the first place were issues for others. People shared stories of potential employers losing interest when they found out an employee wasn't single, or questioning their abilities. And when they do get hired? Being accused of being doing so for their physical attributes alone.

There were darker stories too, of inappropriate behaviour from colleagues, of tips on how not to get stalked passed between female co-workers. And outside their offices, at industry events, the problems only became worse.

“Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me. Really. I've been groped,” said Filamena.

“Because I feel like I am not welcome at E3 even though I have been making games for 31 years,” added Brenda Romero while Irrational Games' Beth Beinke, a level designer, revealed she had been mistaken for a booth babe while representing the company at events.

And then there were the women who tweeted to say they were too scared to give their reasons, that they worried it would hurt their job prospects or simply attract too much abuse.

”Because you can't just be a 'game developer.' No, you will always be a 'female game developer'”

@reynoldsphobia

“I don't talk about the crap I've gone through in the indie RPG community so new women designers think they're alone. So I'm #1reasonwhy,” admitted Elizabeth.

Some of the tweets from men also helped to give wider perspective on the issues, with one of the bravest and most startling coming from Jace Proctor of San Franciscan developer Fifth Column Games.

“Because when we hired a female engineer at my company, I was skeptical. She's talented and awesome. I'm part of the problem. #1ReasonWhy”

In fact it seems that the source of the #1ReasonWhy tag was a simple tweet from Luke Crane, who simply asked “why are there so few lady game creators?”

Harvey Smith of Arkane thanked all those women who faced the problems highlighted by the hashtag for keeping going, while other men like Zach Brosz pointed out that they can face abuse simply for addressing sexism.

“Because just for sticking up for female gamers I'm seen as a "traitor" to the male gaming society. That or a white knight.”

And Remedy CEO Matias Myllyrinne used #1ReasonWhy to encourage women to join his company.

“More diversity will only help us all make better games. Please apply.”

”Because if I succeed, I'm exceptional. And if I fail, I'm proof that women shouldn't be in the industry.”

@sweetpavement

And with the confessions and debate came the backlash. While there's little point in feeding the trolls here, it's good to see a snapshot of what women experience when trying to make their voices heard on the issue.

“#1reasonwhy B/C some are derailing the discussion & engaging in the same misogynistic behaviour that originated the hashtag in the 1st place,” pointed out Regina Buenaobra, North America's community team lead for ArenaNet.

Dillon Paradis, a “game creator in the making”, was one of those who posted, apparently without irony, using the hashtag. ‏

“I look at #1ReasonWhy and I laugh at all the feminists who think they matter. If you were good in your field, you wouldn't be misrepresented”

But #1ReasonWhy has achieved more than just raising awareness among Twitter users. As the conversation continued another hashtag was born, #1ReasonMentors, which saw developers step forward to help each other.

Beinke was one who offering help to women interested in design, and Brie Code, a lead programmer at Ubisoft, also stepped up. (If you're interested in joining them, this link will take you a complete list of tweets using the mentors hashtag.) The list is growing, with more and more developers, male and female, from studios big and small, joining. It seems that as well as highlight the issues faced by this generation of female developers, it could change the future for the next one too.

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Latest comments (61)

Liam Farrell8 years ago
Brilliant
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The global clique of narrow-eyed old dudes who run gaming are busy driving it off a cliff into irrelevance. The mobile sector, clearly the future of the industry, has much higher count of women AND of brains. Coinkydink? I think not. The future is bright.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
As a female PC gamer/developer, I sure hope mobile isn't my only future.
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Show all comments (61)
@Jessica I'm a PC man myself, for 'mobile' read 'anything not on console' including Indie & PC etc. Was just too lazy to type.
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Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games8 years ago
I wonder what Roberta Williams would say about all this, and what her personal experience was.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
It is fairly common in the games industry that you have to make your own game if you hope to fundamentally change the product you are working on.
We are not paid to implement our own games, we are paid to do what the marketing/publisher (etc) wants.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 27th November 2012 4:38pm

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Neil Sorens Creative Director, Zen Studios8 years ago
I certainly hate for any qualified and motivated people to avoid the game industry, whatever the reason and whatever their gender. At the same time, we have to realize that certain professions attract different demographics. We don't have Self-Flagellate day on Twitter over the paucity of male teachers in lower education or of Norwegian samba dancers. That's not to say that sexism - and, perhaps more commonly, weirdness and unwanted behavior arising from some geeks' inability to interact socially with women - doesn't exist in the games business - it does. I just don't think that the choir preaching at itself is going to have any practical effect, dramatic self-congratulatory headlines notwithstanding.
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Benn Achilleas CEO and Founder, Playabl8 years ago
The sad thing was that I knew this would be Rachel's article before reaching the bottom. As soon as I read the headline and intro I bet myself it was not one of the main male writers on GI. This is in NO WAY a diss to Rachel (who I think is fab) but it echo's the fact of sexism: why is this article not coming from one of the male writers?
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@Neil

I'm sorry you don't want to hear about this, I guess? Discussing the negative experiences many women who work in games have(and that is what the hashtag is for; provoking that discussion) is an important step in identifying the issues discouraging women from enriching our industry. The dismissive comment that 'certain professions attract different demographics' is just trying to shut down the conversation, it's not helpful.
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Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 8 years ago
Reminds me of what happened with Jade Raymond when AC1 came out.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
@ Benn, you're reading way too much into it. I'm the US guy, but in the UK I know that both Matt M and Matt H weren't available and so it was between Dan and Rachel at the time it was spotted. It's merely staff availability. None of the male writers would have a problem covering it.
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Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham8 years ago
It's shocking that some of this stuff goes on, in this day and age. It upsets me that the industry as a whole is getting tarred with the same brush. Most people I've met in the industry are great people who treat everyone equally regardless of gender, race or sexuality.

That said I have been witness to some pretty shocking behaviour, but not from people that I choose to associate myself with. I just can't get into the heads of the people who behave like this. Do they not have any common sense or guilt? More importantly, how do we stamp it out? A campaign of naming and shaming?
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Ian Pickstock Senior Designer, Arooga!8 years ago
There was a documentary on BBC about women in business. It was presented by Hilary Devey. Amongst the various issues of equality, was a section on how studies have shown that teams with a good gender balance perform better than those dominated by one sex or the other. It seems to go across sectors (male and female dominated) and at all levels. So whether you're a board of directors or the factor floor, have a good mix of men and woman improves productivity, performance, efficiency etc.

If true, then it puts a reason other than simply establishing or maintaining equality in the workplace as a reason to get a good gender balance in your workforce. The challenges in achieving that are not simple, but one I think every industry will benefit by working towards.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 8 years ago
@Neil - I've found a lot of guys make this assumption: men are the only ones who play games, so there can't be any women trying to develop them.

But neither of those things is true. There are HORDES of trained, talented women out there who have been beating at the industry's door for years and eventually crumple after the umpteenth time someone spends 2 hours interviewing their breasts and then dismisses them as "Not technical enough" - even when they didn't ask any technical questions.

It's improved massively over the last 5 years or so, at least in the parts of the industry I have contact with, but the memory of the early days still leaves me with an urge to scrub all my skin off in the shower.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Professionalism. Our industry is sorely lacking in this department. I feel a greater emphasis on professionalism will go a long way to benefiting all disparaged minority groups in the industry. It won't out right solve it them but it will help a lot.

Too many men look at the video game industry as an extension of their G.R.O.S.S. club when they were 6.
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Neil Sorens Creative Director, Zen Studios8 years ago
@Bonnie - Yes, my best friend, a female game developer, has had negative experiences that range from uncomfortable to unfair to shockingly vile. I know what it's like.

However, from my personal experience in the classroom and in the workplace, the biggest reason that there aren't more women in game development is that our culture - educational, professional, societal - steers women in other directions. (There's an argument that biology plays a part, but I'll skip that for the sake of everyone's sanity.) Progress on the cultural front will create a critical mass of female developers that inevitably causes the other dominoes to fall.

Like you said, it is getting better. There are more girls who grew up surrounded by games and technology, and thus more who decide to pursue a career in those fields.

I also think Twitter is a horrible way to conduct this kind of discussion. Since it's hard to provide reasoning, context, and details in 140 characters or fewer.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neil Sorens on 27th November 2012 6:47pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend8 years ago
As a man I obviously cannot comment on treatment of women in the games industry, but as an employer I can reflect on the way we do things at ChaosTrend and to us this has never been an issue. We hire people based solely on their current skills and potential.

There is no difference between male and female employees in my eyes; if someone isn't good enough then they aren't good enough. Being male or female should have no bearing on decision making, but I do understand that we are a small independent company and this is probably more of a problem with large companies (could be wrong though).

We have had female employees and they got on great with the team and visa-versa. If the job paid X amount then this was across the board, which does make me wonder why some companies pay women less than men. Surely if the employee is good at their job then they should be paid the same regardless of sex? I could never understand why this happens.

I will have to add though, I have had far less females applying than I have males and at the moment we are 100% male team simply because we generally don't get females applying or sending CV's. Maybe it's all the stories of bad treatment, lower pay etc.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
I never thought the issue of women being employed in games was an issue of sexism per se (not the employment part perhaps some public perception), I do think history and culture is the main issue.

There have been so many discussions, panel debates and questions over why there aren't more girls in games. But we're forgetting, its not that long ago in the grand scheme of things that the industry in terms of consumers were dominated by boys and men. A little bit before that, a lot of people viewed video games as a specifically male past time more so than something girls are interested in.

Thinking back to school, thinking back to uni, the number of girls actually interested in going into a video games career was slim to none depending on the scenario, and it was because they didn't have a high interest in the field or the subject matter. I knew almost none at (any of several) school(s) and there were a few (2-3) on my games technology course, despite the almost 50-50 number of girls to boys on informatics courses. Other female friends I have studying or looking for a career in games are a lot lower than the numbers I can pick out for males, and this is considering I have a very large proportion of female friends.

I've said before that women aren't a special case, they're 50% of the population they should not be viewed as a completely different species and shouldn't necessarily be singled out. HOWEVER, studying women is quite important in this context, and I really want to know personally, how we can get a much higher percentage of this 50% of the productive, working population into the country's number 1 entertainment industry (and a fantastic creative industry itself) from a careers perspective and find out the cultural or personal reasons preventing this from happening.

Right down to school age, why is it that the sexes may branch off into different fields? I do also wonder looking at the very high percentage of female gamers now, up to 50% depending on the statistics, if this will have a major affect on women choosing games as a good career path.


The Tec Guy ~AC
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I'm sure lots of guys in the programming and engineering departments would be ecstatic to see the opposite gender around more often, espectially if their company don't have an art department (which is where the girls had gone to, most of the time). You also can't have a good well round game design without a female's voice of opinion. I'd of thought a girl should have gotten a higher pay, if slightly, in programming position. Seeing as there're so few of them around.
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Austin Ivansmith Director, wayforward8 years ago
Hi Rachel. I feel like what I added to the discussion last night might have been misinterpreted a bit, or at least is coming across wrong in the juxtaposition in the article.

I wasn't speaking directly to Maddie's point, or making an excuse as to why there aren't more female playable characters. I was actually quoting ridiculous claims by developers on some shooter games who only feature male playable characters. It isn't a valid reason to not have a playable female character in a game, as proven by Volition with the Saints Row series, and having gender neutral animations working on either male or female characters.

There were a lot of men responding last night and giving their own takes on why things are the way they are, I was making a satirical statement on things actually said by devs in the past.
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Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 8 years ago
Not related so much but I would love to see an AAA game studio with only women working in it. See what they would come up with.
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Robert Kist Technical Art Manager, Virtuos8 years ago
I've only seen two studios here in China, but the thing that struck me even at the first studio was that there were a lot more women working there than in any western studio I've been at, and these weren't mobile or casual games studios.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ8 years ago
I love the idea of the mentors, and companies encouraging women to apply to improve the quality and breadth of their games. This acts as both support and encouragement for women wanting to get further involved in making games, and for everyone to continue to address and transcend the issues. Great stuff!
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I don't think even the most vocal feminists truly know where to draw the lines at what they want.
All we want is equality; to be treated and valued and respected the same as male devs. Judging by far too many of the comments on this subject both here and on other news sites though, that's way too big an ask for some people.
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Nick Parker Consultant 8 years ago
Not really an expert in human resources trends among developers but is it not a question of chickens and eggs? There is a smaller pool of qualified women to select for positions in dev because women find it tough to get into studios to learn the skills to become candidates.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Parker on 28th November 2012 4:25pm

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Sheri Ray Studio Design Director, Schell Games8 years ago
Where they in positions of leadership or in decision making positions? Team or discipline wise?
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
@Sheri

Considering the lower % of women in games, I've seen them in leadership positions at all three games companies I've worked for and there are some more high profile out there in the industry i.e. Jade Raymond, Amy Hennig, Corrine Yu, Lucy Bradshaw.

I'm not sure if it was a question based on the idea you hadn't seen many or just a general question. As always, could be more I guess, but I honestly don't know the statistics relative to the the proportion of that gender within the industry to compare!


~AC
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
When we want someone to fill a job function we advertise on Gamesindustry International and post about it across the social media. Because employees are the most important thing in any company our CEO is totally involved in the whole recruitment process.
From the CVs and covering letters we select the best candidates and bring them in for interview. From these we select the best person for the job. Irrespective of gender, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other irrelevancy.
You can see the results here: http://www.kwalee.com/people/

If more strong female candidates applied for our jobs then we would employ more females.
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Bruce, please don't say 'females' unless you're writing a scientific report. It comes off a bit dehumanising; we're women.

I think the issue of women not working in games starts quite a bit earlier than the application stage, to be honest... Many game developers will tell you this is the job they dreamed of as a teenager(I certainly did), but I would suggest that it is at that stage that young people start really feeling the weight of societal expectations to fulfill their mandated gender roles. 'Nerdy computer stuff' like programming or playing core videogames is still seen as the preserve of young men - and thus they become developers and make games for young men who become developers who make games for young men because 'that's where the money is', ad infinitum...

Meanwhile, nerdy and geeky girls have to face not only the general disapproval that comes from refusing to toe the gender dichotomy line, but also find themselves forced to 'prove themselves' to the insular and often fiercely elitist and competitive communities they wish to join - simply because they're women. It's tough, and many give up and look for somewhere they don't have to fight so hard to be allowed into the clubhouse.

Basically it's a societal problem, rather than something unique and born of the games industry itself.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 29th November 2012 10:25pm

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Danielle Masek Graphic designer/Illustrator 8 years ago
I would love to get into the industry. I was the only female in my graduating class (getting my SECOND BFA) in Game Art. Unfortunately two degrees and 29K (before interest) in debt doesn't cut it. (And of course that includes talent--I'm assuming that's a given). I used to think I wasn't up to par yet. I didn't even THINK it could be b/c I'm a woman. Gee I feel SO much more confident now...
Most guys I meet are ECSTATIC when they hear I'm into doing art for, and playing, games. So why when it comes to hiring, are they asshats (of course, NOT all--just the ones with no brain and are stuck in 7th grade)?
I agree with Jessica all the way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Danielle Masek on 30th November 2012 4:25am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
One of my friends has a female offspring who is very clever and very geeky. She has used a computer since she was a toddler and her parents are tech journalists. Video gaming is part of her life and she prefers things like Guild Wars to the current FPS obsession.
Nobody I know of thinks that this is at all unusual, just that she is a very bright girl. Who is pursuing a career in astrophysics.

Both my sisters got a science education way back in the 1960s. One went on to become a biologist, the other a doctor.
And my wife is a doctor who is currently doing a science masters. Many of her female friends have similar academic backgrounds and jobs. And nobody I know thinks that this is at all unusual. Just bright people following sensible careers.

But males and females are different and have different strengths. This is because there was evolutionary advantage in performing different roles. So for example females tend to have better interpersonal skills and manual dexterity. Males tend to have greater physical strength and spatial awareness.

Creating a game and bringing it to market takes a very wide range of skills. It is evident that males will tend to have an advantage at some of these skills and females will tend to have an advantage at others. This is a consequence of our evolutionary differences. And to deny so would be patently absurd.
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Creating a game and bringing it to market takes a very wide range of skills. It is evident that males will tend to have an advantage at some of these skills and females will tend to have an advantage at others. This is a consequence of our evolutionary differences. And to deny so would be patently absurd.
Really. And which game-making skills would you say men are just physiologically better at, Bruce? Because I'm pretty sure there'll be a woman out there who can do it better than a whole bunch of dudes.
a female offspring
Do you even read what you type? Or what I said in my last comment? You sound like you're talking about livestock or drosophila or something, it's damned creepy.
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Tom, it's absolutely true that getting into the games industry is hard work. But consider all the effort you went to, and think about a woman in your position who faces all that and the additional hurdles of some people not taking her seriously simply because she's a woman.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
A developer would be stupid not to employ the best talent available regardless of gender, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other issue not pertaining to the job.

At Kwalee we have employed some very tall people, for instance.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
People not taking her seriously simply because she's a woman.
This is not specific to the games industry.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
Bruce @ post # 33, you say people can see the results of your recruitment on your people page. I see 22 people, only three of whom are women, and one of those is "in the family". I'm not sure what you were trying to get at with your comment, but whatever it was, I'm not sure you hit home.
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@Tom

But it does happen, and it's a bad thing. I'm having this conversation on several different forums right now so I'm starting to lose track of where I said what, but sexism is not a unique problem to the games industry. Nor even is the hugely unbalanced male:female employment ratio(I imagine truck drivers or similar industries have pretty bad ratios too) - but the point is that we should be looking for ways, within our industry, to encourage more women to consider working in games and to try and eliminate sexist practices and attitudes. More women means more diversity of experience and hopefully then a greater diversity of games being made.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Hi Jessica, maybe females evolved to be less good at maths, a key game development pre-requisite.
Look here for supporting evidence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
Jesus. Bruce, you're an idiot.
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My sister is studying for her Masters in Maths at Cambridge and graduated her theoretical physics(a subject involving a lot of maths!) degree at Trinity College Dublin after coming top of her class every single year and winning more awards for excellence than there are days in the week. I would hazard a guess that evolution had jack-all to do with her being better than all of the other men and women on her degree course.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
@Jessica
There was this: http://www.essortment.com/bobby-riggs-vs-billie-jean-king-44759.html
But Wimbledon singles are still not mixed. :-)
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Danielle - don't give up! Despite some people seeming determined to live in the past and read more into physiology than sense, you are every bit as good as a guy and any company worth their salt will recognise that. I know quite a few ladies working in games, and we've all had our 'did I really just hear that??' moments, but most of the time this is the best job in the world. Good luck! :3
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Oh look: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/2833/poor_self-image_cannot_explain_maths_gender_gap

Evolution has made females better than males at some things and males better than females at some things. It is true of lots of species.
And it is why there are no female players in the premiership. There is a whole science about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_humans

And no amount of political correctness will undo evolution. We are what we are.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
I'm pretty sure you're just flat out trolling now. You're saying you completely believe the reason there isn't a single women in the Barclays Premier League is because every male player in it is better than every woman in the world at football?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
If more strong female candidates applied
Bruce, please don't say 'females' unless you're writing a scientific report
One of my friends has a female offspring
My sides hurt from laughter. My head hurts from Bruce.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
I think pretty much everything Bruce says is trolling. I'm sure he does it on purpose - nobody could be that stupid for real.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Laurens, the problem isn't just sexism in the hiring process, it's sexism once they are employed too. It's not like it goes away once they do have their foot in the door. Many times, it becomes worse.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 8 years ago
@Laurens

One way of identifying sexist hiring practices is the "Blind CV Test": a bunch of CVs are provided to employers with identical academic qualifications and years of experience, but different sex of applicant. What such studies have found in nearly every case is that an applicant with a "feminine" name is universally regarded as less capable and offered a lower salary, despite the CV being identical in every material aspect to a more highly-rated male one. For an example (not from the games industry but from academic science, but it's the most recent one I have to hand): http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/09/19/scientists-your-gender-bias-is-showing/#.ULkuSYOYneK

Such decisions don't even seem to be conscious; it just seems to be the world's subconscious default that a straight-acting white male gets a 25% perceptual bump to his capabilities (which I don't say with intent to insult - I'm sure you all *have* the skills, it's just that people see them far more easily).

As an aside, I also get why Jessica reacted to "females." It's a very common thing with some incredibly nasty sexists to use "females" like we're some bestial species. "Females are only interested in money." "Females are only good for one thing" etc etc.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
I will stick up for Bruce (it's blue moon kind of day) in that I don't think his phrasing was intentionally stated to be negative..

"If more strong female candidates applied"

If retyped as "If more strong women candidates applied", it would read odd. If he were regarding the opposite sex, the same would apply.

"If more strong male candidates applied" reads better than "If more strong men candidates applied".

Bonnie is correct that the term is often used intentionally to disparage women but I don't believe that was the case here given the context.

However, "One of my friends has a female offspring". Yeah, that was intentional.
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'Female' is fine as an adjective of course, but as a noun it's awkward and has dehumanising overtones - fine in a research paper, but in conversation/discussion like this it sounds either stilted or creepy. Hence my request that Bruce try and use a more human term like 'women' or even say 'one of my friends has a little girl'.

Bonnie, I read about that report when it surfaced a few weeks ago and it's dismaying reading :(
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Liam Farrell8 years ago
Guys may not see overt sexim take place where they work, but the overall way woman are treated in gaming -especially by a vocal minorty of out right women haters- has to stop if we all want gaming not to be either a bland tide of dude-bro shooters or endless "tickle this bunny" mobile games. We only get diverse and original games if we have a diverse and original industry behind it. You only have to see some of the arse-backwards abuse some male gamers aim at female writers or developers (or dragon age script writer) . Idiots who will bully anyone not deemed worthy of being in the video game club, but play the victim card at the drop of a hat. In part the game industry has fed this with years of booth babes and ridiculous portrayals of women. The game industry has to lead the example. So when women in the industry have something to say, maybe we should actually listen?
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Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media8 years ago
Laurens, any time you need example of sexism in the games industry, i will provide you with one. For today the story is about my concept artist (female) friend who was told at work by the art manager that she should learn using Flash, because girls are not good at drawing and doing graphics design is simpler, even girls can do that.
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Tristram Defries8 years ago
I'm not denying [sexism] is there and I know I'm the typical straight white male, but where I'm from, I just don't see much blatant sexism, racism, or any other -ism.
Maybe because you're a reasonably well-off white male, mate.

Just sayin'.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tristram Defries on 2nd December 2012 5:49pm

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Tristram Defries8 years ago
My point is solely that a reasonably well-off white male (throw 'heterosexual' in there too), based in Europe or the USA, is unlikely to experience the usual -isms, and therefore won't have the same perception as someone who has experienced them. This doesn't mean you can never assess any problems other than your own, but rather that you shouldn't dismiss or actively doubt the evidence from those who claim to experience such problems.

You want to reach an informed opinion and you believe you can only do that with something more convincing than anecdote, e.g. a study or three, which is all perfectly reasonable - although you don't seem to hold your current view (that sexism isn't a significant problem) to the same standard. But why dismiss or actively doubt the personal testimony from women? It's symptomatic of what they are complaining about / commenting on!
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Tristram Defries8 years ago
It seems to me you confuse evidence with someone saying something. I would never doubt evidence, but someone claiming something to be true is simply not evidence.
Someone saying something might be insufficient evidence on its own to reach a reasonable conclusion, but it's still evidence.
I don't see how I do not seem to hold my current view to the same standard, because I explicitely asked for evidence that sexism is a significant factor in the fact that there aren't a lot of women in the games industry - which is what we are discussing here, not sexism in general - which have reasonable explanations apart from sexism. You can convince me to take a different stance in this issue, but you are not doing that with anecdotes, and I can't say I'm sorry for that.
I think you missed my point there. It's my understanding you have the opinion that sexism is not a significant problem (you aren't sitting on the fence or holding a strong opinion either way). Did you reach that opinion after looking at a similar standard of evidence you requested from people in this thread?

If my understanding of your opinion is wrong, I'm sorry for misinterpreting your comments.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
Laurens, you say your wife's sisters are a doctor and a lawyer, and they don't feel as though they've been held back. I'm not surprised - both professions are very female friendly now, and the majority of young lawyers have been women for some time now. I'm not quite sure how what they think is really relevant to an industry that still has a lot of growing up to do.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
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Juan Vaca Studying Interactive Media, University of Southern California8 years ago
Thanks for providing an article that properly sums up the #1reasonwhy movement from the cause, the voices, and the aftereffects. It is sad that such an important problem goes on unaddressed simply because it is the unintentional “way of the industry.” I really think that the primary way to fix the problem is by changing the way we make and perceive games. We, the game makers, are responsible for the products we make, and the games we create are what moves us forward as well as holds us back. I wish that we were in a better position to say that we respect girls and women as players, but the games that we make targeted towards the female gender clearly show that we are looking for an easy solution for a much larger problem. I think we damage the perception of women in games by either making them sexual objects or assuming that the demographic will be interested in pink, domestic gameplay. We are stuck in a cycle that lacks respects and understanding.

In order to change the player, we need to change the game. In order to change the game, we need to become better game makers. We have spent millions on research and technology to improve the quality of games but what good is it if we do not tap into the human element. We have the opportunity to use an interactive medium, literally at the peak of technology, to inspire and change the world. If we make better games, we will make better players, and that generation will learn and continue to spread the positivity that we as developers intend to share with our audience. We should not have to respect one another because of a twitter movement; it should be something that we do because we are decent human beings. I am proud to be a game developer, I am proud to move the industry forward, but more importantly I am proud to positively influence the next generation. Whether it is through my games or my actions, I want to leave a positive mark in this industry. As the world progressively evolves, games will eventually catch up and I hope that one-day will be able to look back in disbelief at the way we acted. I would like to clarify that I am not advocating that we change the business model, but rather the business practice. If games are supposed to be about creating inclusion, why don’t we follow that methodology while making them?
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Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media8 years ago
Hi Laurens, unfortunately the story I wrote down happened that way, although it was a Greman person speaking in English, but i have multiple people hearing it. I was also told in Denmark by a Danish person in English, that girls cannot draw, so he doesn't want to see my storyboards, which was OK, I was hired as an animator and I storyboarded for my own sake to help creating cutscenes.

The whole issue is this: There aren't many girls in the industry, because of many reasons, of which one of them that the industry as such doesn't have a good publicity when it comes to overall atmosphere around women.
And to make it worse, when you actually get in and have a job, you have a good chance in Western Europe to meet people, who are less the civilized when it comes to behaving in a work environment.
Now we can say that it is only because these particular individuals are not nice, and so this is not sexism, but rude people being rude. And sometimes that is true. And I also worked in places where men are great and polite and you know, all in all normal. But after 13 years in this industry I wonder if porn mags in the toilette, naked pin-up girl pictures in my mail box and the frequent mentioning of my or any other girl's monthly period can be taken as a humorous thing.
And you know what? Staring at my boobs instead of looking into my eyes is also weird. Even if I am told that my fellow colleague is a male and thereby it is not his fault.

Obviously all these things never bothered me enough to leave the industry, and I was told by other women that we shouldn't talk about these things, we should only talk about the 'good' stuff. Only these women were usually in positions, where they actually had very little interactions with the working developers.
But I am not going to act like it is not there and I am not going to let people belittle what sometimes you have to go through. And Laurens once again, maybe you are fantasticly polite and open-minded person. Good for you. Not everybody is like you. And I don't actually think you have the right to decide if sexism is a problem or not when it comes to women in the industry, because you are not a women, so you probably have no experience.
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Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media8 years ago
Oh and the articles.
I did start with lower salary than any of my co-workers. They were all males. That was also many years ago. All our salaries grew during the years, but because they started from higher, they always had higher salaries.
That is a kind of gender gap.
The other is that we talk about the games industry. I frankly don't care about teachers and doctors salary, that the their own problem to fight for. But all the women I worked with stayed the same long hours, sometimes even longer, than the men. And yes, sometimes people get families. And in the US, where the social benefits are not really beneficial, probably the women would stay home with sick kids, but as we all know, Europe is a bit different.
So blaiming the fact the women work less hours because they have family and so they should get less money is just stupid. Mostly because men cannot give birth the last I checked. So based on this, are we punishing women because they can?
I think those articles are not representative of the overall opinion of the female workforce.

So my article back to you is this:
http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/980/game_developer_salary_survey_.php

and please don't tell me that every single one of those women work less and have families...
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Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media8 years ago
Hi Laurens,

i don't exactly know where to start, so lets get rid of the article question first.

I hope you understand that what people write down many times is only their opinion rather than a factual, objective thing. The lady in the Forbes is a known anti-feminist conservative republican (you know, they are the ones who say that women don't get pregnant when raped because their body shuts down). She belives (wrote a book about it) that women should stay home and be housewives because then everybody would be happier. So I decided, that while she has right to her opinion about how much women work in the US, I also ignore it as a factual thing. Especially, because in the Republican (Bible-belt) part of the US men don't really help with household duties, so the less-working wife after 8 hours of work can run home, pick up the kids, do the dishes, cook food, clean up and probably can expect no help from her 'better' half. Meanwhile in Europe we are better off as our better half actually help with the chores at home. I had no time to look into the other article's writer. But I have written articles before and I bloody hope nobody will use them as factual proof for anything.

Porn mags at work. Yes, it has happened in the beginning of my carrier, stayed with us for a couple of years, then after a while they disappeared. Same happened with the strippers at the Christmas parties.

In England I had very nice experience with everybody I worked for, meaning, it is not always that you run into people who have problems with girls or have bad sense of humour. Cos I want to believe that most of these things happen because some people try to be funny. Else I would have to believe that they are malicious, I that would be terrible.

I was molested by one of my former co-workers. It also happened many years ago. I didn't do anything about it that time for many reasons, to name a few: I was the only girl at the company and for a while the only foreigner too, I wasn't sure that they would have believed me. If they did and they lets say fire the guy, how would I have been able to keep working the same place with the same people when they knew that I spoke up about something like this? If they didn't believe me, I would have have had to leave, because I was 'false' reporting somebody. At that time this country (Denmark) had only one big company, which by the way I really liked working for, I would have had to move. To another country. Which is no fun, I did it a couple of times. Since then I wondered if I should have done it anyway, because this person is still in the industry doing God knows what to other girls. I know, it could have happened in any other industry, but that doesn't make it right.

Which you seem to not believe in. I worked for big companies with lots of people. In small companies I think people are much more visible and maybe mind their language better. Also I don't claim that it only happens in our industry, far from that. But I have learnt something from a guy, who used to be my lead for a while, which was this: What you feel is always true. Anybody can come logically explain that nobody hurt you and you are thin-skinned and you are misinterpret things. But if that is what you feel, nobody can make you not feel it. So it is the truth for you. If any person feel mistreated because of their gender, religion, skin colour or shorter left leg, then it is an issue, because for those people it is very real.
I spent 7 years working as a lead animator. So I can ask for promotion and more money too. Obviously as a girl, it takes me extra effort: [link url=""]http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/01/22/he-s-not-as-smart-as-he-thinks.html[/link]

My answer to your last article is that I totally believe that girls can make it in the industry. I was only reflecting on why we think the industry can get better attitude towards girls. But let me ask this: Lets say you have two equally qualified, talented and nice applicants both with family. One is a man and the other is a woman. Who would you hire? Cos what runs through most people's head is this: I can hire the girl and thereby make the procentage of the gender ratio better and I can use that to get more publicity. Or I can hire the guy, who will not stay home pregnant, and don't miss days because of sick family members. A woman with a family is liability. A man with a family is a settled and responsible.
Now lets remove the family from the equation... Does it get better? No. Why? Cos even if they are both single, people have the preconception that the guy is a nerd but the girl will have a family eventually.

Last thing is the article I sent you about the wages. There is a comparison between what men and women make in the same category. Lets look at the artists, as that is what I know most of. So by this somewhat at least factual survey, women make $13k less a year than men. So it can mean two things. Or actually three. One is that most women in the industry have less than 3 years of experience (in order to get the right numbers), two that they work almost 20% less than the guys. Which knowing a bunch of female artists and myself, sounds ridiculous. That would mean a whole day a week women don't work. Or three, they get paid less. Mostly what is possible, that it is a mix of all and some more. But the lower wage is still there.

Now we can go on forever bringing up articles pro and con. But I think the biggest problem is still this: There are fewer girls in the industry than it would be beneficial. And some part of the industry ( I guess this is where you belong too) simply doesn't want to accept the fact that it can be partly blamed on certain gender specific behaviour. And by not accepting, there is no change.
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