Developers protest intolerance of diversity

Almost 1400 devs sign an open letter calling for an end to harassment and death threats

Hundreds of game developers have added their signatures to an open letter calling for a more balanced and equal industry, and greater level of understanding in the face of different points-of-view.

The letter was circulated by Andreas Zecher of Spaces of Play, an independent studio based in Berlin. It calls for people to take action when they see "threats of violence or harm" or "hateful, harassing speech."

"We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened," the letter reads. "It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish."

At the time of writing, the letter had been signed by nearly 1400 developers from a wide variety of backgrounds - from indies and academics all the way up to huge companies like Nintendo, EA and Riot Games. There are plenty of famous names in there, too, for anyone who takes the time to read the whole thing.

The timing of this letter is no accident, following as it does a couple of very dispiriting weeks for the industry. At this point, the public abuse and death threats received by Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian need no introduction, but the fallout has reached far beyond the games press and into mainstream media.

To add your support, follow the link.

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Latest comments (17)

Craig Burkey Software Engineer 7 years ago
Diversity, and choice are great, more games, more different games has got to be a good thing, just because you do not like a certain type of game, it's no reason to attack the people that do and the makers that have created it.
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Alex Hutchinson Creative Director, Ubisoft Montreal7 years ago
Also, let's not forget the death threats against Treyarch design director David Vonderhaar and his family, or the horribleness visited on Phil Fish and Polytron.
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Ben Mathis Art Director & Co-Founder, Snjohus Software7 years ago
I see you (Craig) are still confusing criticism, a valid form of expression, with "attacks". An attack would be, oh I don't know, tweeting a person's home address with threats to rape and murder them and their family. Oh wait, that's what Anita faced. You are talking merely about her pointing out a pernicious trend of man-children portraying women as sexual objects as a legitimate form of expression that needs protecting from critical thought at all costs, because of "reasons".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ben Mathis on 2nd September 2014 4:59pm

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Show all comments (17)
James Berg Games User Researcher 7 years ago
Craig, Sarkeesian isn't saying "don't make these games", she's holding up a critical lens to the games we're making. It's nothing more than is applied to art in any other form - movies, books, etc. If all we make are games that portray this kind of thing, that should be considered a problem by our industry, and I'd argue given their preponderance, we're close enough to that point that it's a very valid criticism.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I'd say penalties for this sort of behavior need to be upped across the board. If you say, walk into your real life job or up to a random stranger and make a death threat or some other sort of threat NOT seen as a mere joke between a few pals, you're probably going to see the law come get you at some point. That needs to extend into the online space.

We get it, People have strong and often negative opinions (and how!) and some are very vocal about them BECAUSE that have that cloak of immunity the internet allows them. But at this point, it's like a bus full of rowdy asshole kids with no guardian present to shut them down when they misbehave and some still defending them even after they've set the bus they're on aflame as it careens down a highway to a steep cliff. Bleh.
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Frank Trottier Analyst programmer 7 years ago
In "Women as Background Decoration: Part 2" I can't believe some of these game scenarios/scenes have been approved. God of War never really inspired me and now I have a better idea. The scene shown is unexcusable. Makes you want to say where are the heroes ?

It's about time women come and help clean this video game market because is it becoming a refuge for casual violence against women. And the thinking must go deeper than "yeah but she is a prostitute".

To put things in perspective I have nothing against nude scenes but the woman's beauty must be respected. Again it must go deeper than "background beauty is useless". I love sunsets and mountains and "they are doing nothing". I understand that not everyone is thinking like I do.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 7 years ago
This is a great idea and I wish non-developers could sign it to.

@Alex Hutchinson--Let's also not forget Adam Orth. No I didn't agree with his controversial statements but they are no reason to make threats against him and his family. And the samething goes for all the various online networks. People need to try and learn to get along better. After all, the whole point of playing video games originally was to have fun.
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Roberto Dillon Associate Professor, James Cook University7 years ago
I'd have signed right away if I knew of this earlier but the letter is already closed...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roberto Dillon on 3rd September 2014 6:07am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
@John: That is where the problem is if you ask me, precisely there.

This kind of threats can get you to jail easily (and not just one or two months. No; a lot more. At least in most of European countries) the problem is exactly that. In the majority of cases it turns into "is a child thing videogames" and that is enough to even ignore things like how the guy throwing threat even had the address of that person.

Another example: if this kind of things were taking more seriously, crap like this moronic "Swatting" trend would not be happening no more.
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Maged Hamdy Studying Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology7 years ago
Wait a minute where is he support for the people NOT making death threats yet are still abused as if they did. We have boogie being fat shamed, several female developers getting doxxed BY 'feminists' and being called a slut for criticizing the denial of voice by 'gamers,' you have Leigh Alexander spewing hate on twitter then demoting a man two hours later for writing a blog "why can't we all just get along."

THAT is hate too.

A lot of these developers have said some horrible things.

They separate themselves (who identified as gamers 3 weeks ago) from 'gamers' which they've re-defined as misogynist monsters. They then use THAT as an excuse to call them 'fat virgin man-babies.'

And this is NEVER reported on. Ever.

All we care about is Anita Saarkesian and Zoe Quinn, but we don't care about the professional rank female game devs that hate this is happening, speak, and then get abused, or the youtubers trying to post video's that get DMCA'd without any usage of copyrighted material, or the twitter users harassed, or the fact that we've automatically re-defined two entire forums as monsters DESPITE them donating $17000 to charity and creating a sex free, equality loving, video game character (which was then called an anti-feminist monster.)

Is this ANY way to behave?

We need to acknowledge the horrors of the other side as well, I don't care WHAT your reasoning is for harassment, just because you champion a movement DOESN'T mean you're free of guilt for harassing another person. Which. Has. Happened. A lot.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Maged Hamdy on 3rd September 2014 7:06pm

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Maged, the open letter this article is about condemns harassment and threats no matter where it's coming from or aimed at. I think your outrage is, putting it rather mildly, somewhat misplaced.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd7 years ago
@Maged: Go away.
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Dan Pearson Product Marketing Manager, Genvid7 years ago
As we've said before, GamesIndustry.Biz is against harassment and bullying of all kinds by anyone, exactly as the petition above is.
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Christophe Danguien games developer 7 years ago
@Alexis, you're spot on dude !
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My name is in the list of signatures, for what that's worth. I oppose harassment and abuse of members of the games community, and while I'm aware many of y'all take issue with my tone when I'm addressing the attitudes of sexism and misogyny that plague our industry I make no apology for being uncompromising in my approach. Funnily enough, being told that the industry I work in and the games I like are 'not for me' because I'm a woman can be somewhat upsetting, so if I seem angry, don't worry: I am.

Personally, I felt that Maged's comment was addressing a variety of straw-people not present in either the article nor any of the comments, in a particularly outraged and unfocused way possibly more suited to a YouTube comment, which is why I observed it seemed misplaced. I also felt that his attempts to defend the unnamed internet forums which I am sure we are all aware of were more than a little insensitive since users on those forums have been instrumental in organising attacks against many developers, journalists and gamers in the past few weeks. I could have been more forceful in my objection, but we've had issues on GI before with students saying embarassing things that they later apologised for and I don't want to ruin any careers before they begin by blowing up at someone inexperienced for behaving inappropriately.

Personally, I think the hypocrisy in this situation is that the people currently coming out of the woodwork to 'protest journalistic ethics' by attacking women like Zoe and Anita and Jenn Frank and Mattie Brice(those two have just quit games journalism as a result of their harassment, by the way) didn't seem to feel the need to crusade in quite the same way when Doritogate or Gerstmanngate happened, and those were far more serious breaches of whatever you could consider ethics with huge financial ramifications than, say, a game developer sleeping with a journalist who never actually reviewed her work.

I give a damn when women are attacked under the guise of 'ethics' or 'conspiracy' when those are clearly flimsy excuses for a misogynistic crusade against women who make interesing, different games or women who do not speak pleasingly to support the status quo. I give a damn because women who work in games have to put up with far more shit than men who work in games simply because our gender makes us targets for the small-minded pond scum of the Internet and those who are foolish enough to follow in the ideology of that pond-scum.

I also give a damn when men in games are attacked for similarly petty, stupid reasons, but what Anita and Zoe have had to endure goes far beyond anything that I am aware any man had had to. When Adam Orth was attacked and sent death threats, I didn't feel a need to step in and say 'Well, what about Anita?!' When Phil Fish was attacked I didn't shrug and say 'Oh, but what Jennifer Hepler had to put up with was also terrible!' I supported and sympathised with those men, I didn't feel a need to drag women's pain in 'for equality' or 'balance'.
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Dan Game Developer, Jagex Games Studio7 years ago
I find it interesting that people have this notion that Quinn and Sarkeesian (sp?) went through more than any other person has been subjected to, when in fact there is a strong likelihood that they joined in the worse abuse that was directed at people such as Jack Thompson.

Sure, he upset a lot of people, but the death threats, family threats, abuse etc were just as real.
The internet certainly does love a good double standard...
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
I would have signed - glad to see more and more people being vocal about this issue.
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