GDC 13: Standing ovation as women devs let loose on sexism in games

GDC 13: Standing ovation as women devs let loose on sexism in games
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

March 28th 2013 at 3:18PM

Emotionally-charged session encourages women to chase success and inspire the next generation

A number of leading women developers have let loose on sexism in the game industry, resulting in a standing ovation for the panel at GDC 2013.

As reported by Venturebeat, during the ‘1ReasonToBe’ session, Brenda Romero, Journey exec producer Robin Hunicke, Microsoft Games Studios game designer Kim McAuliffe, Storm8 designer Elizabeth Sampat, game critic Mattie Brice and Gamasutra journalist Leigh Alexander took to the stage to discuss how to make it as a woman in the game industry and the problems they face.

The panel echoed the Twitter outrage last year sparked by the #1ReasonWhy hashtag in which women developers opened up on their shocking experiences of rampant game industry sexism.

In an emotional atmosphere, Brenda Romero inspired a standing ovation and caused a number of attendees to break into tears as she spoke of her daughter’s ambition to make a game with her mother, while going on to lament booth babes at E3 for giving the wrong impression of women in the game industry.

Romero said she felt unable to take her young daughter to the exhibition, which sees many of the biggest game industry announcements each year, because the booth babes made her and other women feel uncomfortable and “gazed upon”.

“I want her to feel safe there and not gazed upon,” she said.

“That is all I am asking.”

Microsoft’s McAuliffe said that while “not everybody” had faced sexism so openly in the industry, she was annoyed by the assumption that many developers only target male gamers, with many stating that “girls aren’t out target audience”.

“Minecraft came along and showed us the gaming audience is way more diverse,” she said.

“It is no longer the small subset of hardcore players.”

She went on to say that if developers were encouraged to expect a large number of girls as their players and tailor more content toward them, “they will naturally grow up to be part of the industry”, rather than feeling sidelined by a male-dominated sector.

Hunicke meanwhile encouraged women developers to speak up more and evangelise females in games, stating that, given the rarity of women CEOs, if you should come across a glass ceiling, form your own company, and help spark a new generation of role models.

Image credit: GDC

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