Fluffy Logic's CEO on the misogynistic treatment of women in - and outside - the games industry
The title of this article has been edited so as not to cause offence.
It is a quote from a comment on an article by a female developer discussing games, and is, unfortunately, fairly typical of many of the comments there and elsewhere where women talk about games.
And when I say ‘talk about’, I actually mean ‘having anything to do with games in any way’.
I have been involved in the games industry for a while now; at least seven years. I must admit to having once been pretty naive in terms of gender and the games sector. I knew that there probably wouldn’t be so many women working in the industry, but seriously, once you leave out marketing and office support, women actually involved in development drops way down.
I first started to question my career choice at E3 about five or six years ago when I went to the toilet and found myself surrounded by semi-naked booth babes. Apparently, I had wandered into the toilet they were using as a dressing room.
At a games conference I went to recently, the first night started by being invited to a strip joint. I wasn’t shocked, just a bit disappointed, and it was enough for me to decide that I should probably take myself off to bed.
Like I say, shock isn’t the response. Let’s face it, I’m a grown-up. My real response was to compare my assessment of the games industry with other creative industries I have been involved with before; the TV sector for example. My conclusion seems to be the same as a lot of people’s at the moment – it’s time to grow up.
The title of this piece comes from just one of the items to come to my attention recently.
Computer games are entering the public’s consciousness at an increasing rate. Hardly surprising since they are responsible for generating absolutely staggering amounts of money; around $48.9 billion by 2011, and an estimated $66 billion in 2012.
However, the industry itself remains apart from other mainstream creative industries. There certainly isn’t the level of exposure afforded to Hollywood actors or even directors.
There are, I am sure, many reasons for this. We may not all be as glamorous as some other industries. But up there as one of the major reasons is the overwhelmingly juvenile, unpleasant, and in some cases, I have to say, plainly misogynistic attitudes of some of the gaming world.
In a recent fighting game competition called Cross Assault a male player called Aris Bakhtanians made offensive comments about fellow competitor Miranda Pakozdi, including guessing her bra size, talking about her body parts and speaking about sniffing her. He, and much of the gaming community, then defended his right to ‘trash talk’ – such as using horrid phrases like ‘rape that bitch’ – within fighting games. He later apologised to her on Twitter.
It is by no means the attitude of most people involved in either development or actually playing games. But what is interesting is that it pervades the whole culture of video games like a puerile bad smell.
It is evident in the portrayal of women in games, and has been experienced by any woman that has had the temerity to venture into MMOs. The litany of abuse that women are regaled with when venturing into the online gaming world is jaw dropping, incredible, and sad.
WE CAN DO IT!
I work within an industry that I find exciting, fast-paced and fun. The behaviour discussed above does nothing to progress games as a medium and, I would argue, is one of the main things currently holding it back from being a true part of mainstream culture.
In an interview with Jade Raymond by Simon Parkin for Eurogamer, Raymond spoke about her vision on games; something ignored by many of the people who chose to comment on the article. They instead opted to abuse Raymond, resorting to the familiar stance of insulting her, and any other woman who dared to venture out of the kitchen and into the ‘frontier world’ of gaming – see title for further details.
Forty-two per cent of gamers in the US are women, 31 per cent in the UK. Whilst women may have a preference for social gaming currently, who can say what they would be playing if they felt welcome?
As an industry interested in making money we should be considering how to deliver products to delight all people, all genders, ages, whatever. It makes financial sense. It also makes creative sense.