Speaking Up: Why Female Game Writers Shouldn't Be Ignored

The Melbourne Freeplay 2011 games festival did what it does every year: encouraged gamers, developers and writers to think deeper about the medium they love and the issues that surround it. So when a panel titled “The Words We Use”—originally intended to be a forum to discuss games criticism and writing—was derailed to the subject of gender in games writing, it drew attention to an important and contentious issue.

Here, two female game journalists weigh in on some of the ideas raised in an email correspondence about the role of female writers and critics in the games industry.

Laura Parker is the Associate Editor of GameSpot Australia, a finalist in the Walkley Foundation’s Young Australian Journalist of the Year Awards in 2009 and the winner of the IT Journo Game Journalist of the year in 2010.

Tracey Lien is the Acting Editor of Kotaku AU, a winner of the Walkley Foundation’s Super Media Student Award and a finalist in IT Journo’s Best New Journalist category in 2010.

From: Tracey Lien To: Laura Parker Subject: Bitches Ain’t S**t

I was at Freeplay this year. I sat in the audience during the “Words We Use” panel, in silence, as the chair of the panel said that he felt that there was a divide in gender in video games, and that he didn’t “tend to get a lot of critical, serious comment or articles from females in games”. I sat there as a member of the audience suggested that we move off the topic of female games writers because “the problem would solve itself naturally as the industry matures”. I sat there and I said nothing.

I said nothing for the same reason I have said nothing since I started writing about video games (unless we count the odd angry tweet). And that reason is fear.

At Freeplay I was afraid that had I said something I’d have been dismissed or ignored. I was afraid of being on the receiving end of sexist comments. I was afraid of hearing someone say (or tweet) that I should just suck it down and deal with it, that I’m making a big deal of something that means nothing to them, that no one cares, that my kicking up a fuss was just a sign of my weakness. As a woman, I felt that my gender somehow made me less qualified to speak about gender issues that directly affected me; that people, especially those who needed their views challenged, would be less willing to listen to a woman (yes, I see the irony). As a writer, I had long held the belief that if I worked hard and tried to not think about the gender imbalance in the games writing industry, I would eventually earn my credibility and be able to have an opinion and speak out, sans fear, about an issue so close to my heart. And there I was at Freeplay, quiet, still feeling crippled by my own gender.

When you contacted me about writing this, I hesitated for a moment, but ultimately decided that now is a good a time as any to stop being silent, and maybe even stop being afraid.

You’ve now listened to the recording of the panel and read the Freeplay tweets; I’m curious to know: what made you get in touch with me about this?

Tracey

From: Laura Parker To: Tracey Lien Subject: Re: Bitches Ain’t S**t

When I first heard about what happened at Freeplay I was amused. Female game writers are the minority. That much is true. So we're used to this sort of thing by now, aren't we?

I’ve always maintained that the majority of people in the industry have no issue with women, be it female writers or developers or gamers; as with any other part of society, minorities will struggle. I can see how getting drawn into yet another debate about sexism in the games industry is not a worthwhile venture. It's all been said before. Much like the "are games art?" question, most people are tired of talking about gender imbalance in the games industry..

My personal take on this is that gender will stop being an issue when we stop acknowledging that there is a divide.

But then I asked myself: "How would I have reacted if I had been present at the 'Words We Use' panel?" Would I have rolled my eyes and shrugged it off? Or would I have grabbed the microphone and shouted: "Excuse me? I'm right here!"

I know what you mean about being afraid to speak. The majority of gamers are not forgiving. We haven't yet learned how to deal with the growth and change of our industry; we haven't learned to accept difference of opinion or shifts in ideology. Minorities are not given the freedom to speak without the threat of suppression. You can blame a large part of that on the medium's naiveté. But how long do we go on excusing this?

You mentioned that someone in the audience said that things will change with time. This is true: in time the industry will grow, diversify, and learn to accept change. But this cannot happen without us driving this change. It cannot happen if people like you and me remain silent when things like this happen.

So I’ve chosen to speak up. The fact that not a single person on a panel discussion about games and the games industry could name a female games writer is not acceptable. This isn’t about asking for special treatment because we’re female; it’s about making sure the issue is addressed and corrected.

From: Tracey Lien To: Laura Parker Subject: Re: Bitches Ain’t S**t

Hey Laura,

We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re asking for equal treatment. When a male writer is criticised for his work, how often do people use gender-specific terms to put him down? How often do they talk about his physical appearance or blame his masculinity for his bad writing or the ideas that he expresses? We’re asking to be given a fair go. Being a woman is not a handicap.

Ignoring female game writers—as some people clearly do—means ignoring what the other half of the population has to say. We break news, write thought-provoking pieces of criticism and reviews that contribute something to the field of games writing, investigate stories that no one else is looking into, and have ideas worth sharing—just like our male counterparts.

What I'm trying to say is that we're not different from male writers; some women write absolute drivel in the same way that some men write absolute drivel. But you also have some really, really good female writers in the same way you have really, really good male writers, and if you choose to ignore female writers then you’re ignoring the voices of the people who make up the other half of the population. Diversity in opinions is important and the more types of people we have writing about games the more ideas we’ll be exposed to, and I can only see this as a good thing.

You've worked your way up to be associate editor of GameSpot Australia, which is a pretty big deal. I can imagine that some people might argue that being a woman hasn't stopped you from getting so far... so how would you respond to those who might say that you have nothing to complain about?

From: Laura Parker To: Tracey Lien Subject: Re: Bitches Ain’t S**t

Hey Tracey,

Well that's the thing: we're not complaining. This is simply about exercising our right to speak on an issue that directly concerns us.

When I first began writing about games I couldn't shake the thought that I had to prove myself. Coming into a male-dominated game journalism industry, particularly one as small and insular as Australia's, I felt the onus was on me to show them that even though I was a girl, I could write about games just as well as they could. After three years I feel like I have successfully proven myself, but the fear that people read my work differently because I’m a woman is still there, and it will probably remain there until this is no longer an issue.

Let's talk video journalism for a second, since we both have experience in that area. How worried were you, when you first started, about how people would react to seeing a girl talk about video games on television?

My work also includes a lot of on-camera video presenting. At least in writing I know I have proven myself enough to no longer be judged by my gender but by the quality of my work; in video, I am never judged on the quality of my work. I am constantly judged on how I look. "Laura, you know you would look a lot better if you cut your hair"; or "You should wear more lipstick"; or "Can you wear a shorter dress next time?" It's been three years and the comments have not changed. Comments that actually critique what I am talking about in the video, either in a positive or negative way, are few and far between. So what's the incentive for me to keep going? Why should I care about the stuff I'm talking about, researching and presenting, if all anyone else cares about is how short my dress is or how much lipstick I'm wearing?

If gender continues to be a problem in disciplines like theatre and literary criticism, which have been around for a lot longer than games criticism, shouldn't we find ways to ensure that our industry learns from past mistakes? Should we continue talking about this to make sure people understand that it is a problem?

From: Tracey Lien To: Laura Parker Subject: Re: Bitches Ain’t S**t

Hi Laura,

Oh man, video journalism... If I thought I was up against a tough crowd in my print and online work, I certainly was not prepared for the dismissive comments that followed each of my video stories. The short answer to your question is that I was quite worried about how I would be received when I started working in television was incredibly conscious of my gender. The more detailed answer is that the worry never really went away and it became increasingly frustrating having people ignore my work and critique my physical appearance instead of the stories themselves. I often found it unfair that the male presenters on the show were rarely criticised for their appearance - if someone took issue with an opinion they had expressed or disagreed with them, the comments and discussion would be reflective of that. This wasn't often the case when it came to female presenters.

The attitude that if we don't talk about it it will just go away, or that gender is only a problem because we make it a problem, is such an ignorant way of looking at things. I understand that this is a widespread problem and gender issues aren’t exclusive to the games writing industry, but just because something is widespread doesn’t mean it’s okay, and just because other industries are experiencing the same issues doesn’t mean we can’t lead the charge to bring about change. I agree that we have to talk about it, and that it's definitely a problem - when people like you and I are still afraid of being judged on being female instead of the merit of our work, how can it possibly not be a problem?

I don't know what the solution to this is, but an open dialogue, one where we don't feel afraid to speak up, seems to be a good start.

From: Laura Parker To: Tracey Lien Subject: Re: Bitches Ain’t S**t

Hi Tracey,

I think a lot of female game writers are just tired of the same old arguments, and more importantly, the same old reaction. It seems there’s little point in speaking out or maintaining this open dialogue if no one is listening.

Personally, I have never liked discussing this issue. This is the first time I have really done so publicly.

As we’ve both said during the course of this conversation, we don’t believe females in this industry deserve special treatment because of their gender; this is not what we are asking, nor what we are advocating.The whole reason we’re having this discussion is because someone chose to ask the question: “Well, what about female writers?” Someone chose to separate male writers from female writers. Someone chose to make this an issue.

There are times when the differences between a man and a woman are relevant. But this was not one of those times.

I asked Alison Croggon, a revered Australian theatre critic, fantasy author and poet who sat on the “Words We Use” Freeplay panel discussion, to give me her thoughts on how the discussion surrounding gender in the games industry compares to similar discussions in the literary and theatre world.

“There's obviously a whole lot of issues simmering beneath the surface and the panel worked as a catalyst for these things to explode.”

“I've been reading the follow-ups on the web with deep interest. It seems to me that there's a bunch of intelligent discussion out there, working against some entrenched attitudes that are equally present. We can't pretend literature or theatre are any better, given the figures, but it's rare to come across the raw sexism that you see in some comments. Addressing endemic prejudice is a deeply complex matter, which can only happen if there is the will and intelligence to address it. The first step, as always, is acknowledging that there is a problem.”

What are your thoughts? Is sexism an issue in the video games industry? And what can we do to help navigate those issues? Let us know in the comments below.


Comments

    to be honest, I'm not even sure what male games writers I could name.

      Me either. Maybe Mark Serrels? That's about it :P

        Greg Miller, Hilary Goldstein, Colin Moriaty, Ryan Clements, Daemon Hatfield.

        Inversely, Christine Steimer, Stephanie "Hex" Bendixson, Audrey Drake...

          Funny thing is, I only ever remember Mr. Goldstein because he has a girl's name....

            I think it's good that this discussion is happening.

            I agree with some commenters that not many journalists are known by name, and naming individual male OR female journalists can sometimes be difficult! That being said, a panel of "experts" probably should know a few more women journalists by name! (Even if the panel was not meant to be about gender issues).

            I've been working in the Melbourne games industry for about 11 years, and I'd certainly like to be part of a community with a more balanced gender ratio, partly for my own mental health (!), and even more so because I think that the sorts of games being made would be the better for it. :)

            Rei, I watched a few of your videos on YouTube. I had been wondering, while reading this article, about whether you "hammed up your feminine side" in your video features, only to complain about comments being all about your appearance. However your videos are totally free from such fanciful hypocrisy. Respect!

            All the best, one and all.

            :)

    Don't know about games writing. Never seen sexism directed at lady writers, but... I don't look at the thing and go to the places these two have gone to.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted

        Wonder what they said? Oh well, probably for the better

          It was a 'hilarious' 'stay-in-the-kitchen' joke, for the record.

        Seriously? That was reported???

    It has become abundantly clear since Sunday that we (by which I mean members of the games industry - fans, writers, developers, et al) needed something as depressing as what happened during that panel.

    The amount of outrage it has sparked and the coverage it has received around the world has highlighted an issue that needs to be dealt with.

    As Ben Abraham pointed out - it is not right and people should be angry.

    If folks feel embarrassed they can't name a female writer then so they damn well should. Yes, I would love more women in games writing but it is not as if there are so few that they are as invisible as many would like us to believe.

    Moreover, I'm glad that it has sparked a dialogue and that folks like Laura and Tracy feel compelled to speak on the issue.

    Reading the Gamasutra articles comments section revealed an almost male dominated discussion. I think it is clear that the fear mentioned in the above exchange is not unique to these two writers. I just hope that as more and more women speak up and say "No, it is not okay to dismiss our contributions based on gender" other women will feel increasingly empowered to do the same.

      Hope it all goes well for girl writers, they shouldn't be judged on their gender.

    I think I made a comment on twitter that the Industry while being largely to blame is not the whole issue. Its society, its the consumer. Too much of society believes that girl gamers only exist as hot yet somewhat ditzy fantasy creatures for nerd boys do drool over. As such the industry is afraid to market anything other than that ideal.

    Consumers do by and large dictate what things work from a marketing point of view , and they are perhaps threatened by the idea that women can offer a more in-depth and challenging intellectual point of view than the average gamer, while a good male journo could do the same piece without emasculating the reader or the "powers that be" themselves.

    Add to that the simple fact that in every industry there is still gender disparity in pay, work conditions and just every day life, its a battle that will not be won just by laying down.

    In short, as a male i say Carpe Juglum. Go for the throat, and show them you can be as good or even better than any male in the same role.

    Should be called Foreplay.

    GAIL SIMONE! ...Oh wait that's comics...

    I don't think I have actively checked to see who wrote an article or not.

    If it's a good article, it's a good article regardless of gender.

    An interesting issue, and an even more interesting discussion from the both of you.
    Thanks for sharing this Tracey and Laura.

    I have to admit I have yet to encounter any sexism that has really effected me on a personal level, but I have witnessed it being thrown around at other writers. It's not pretty.

    I think a lot of it stems from the fact that when a female steps into the role, there is this stigma that she has to prove herself. It's not fair but it's there, and I've witnessed it many a time when somebody goes out of the way to boost her 'gamer cred', for lack of better term.

    This is probably made worse by the fact that some of them come off as little more then a 'pretty face'. I'm not going to name names here, but they do exist.

    As for my part, well, I try to encourage others to not make such a big deal about it. The day when a female steps up into the role and nobody bats an eyelid or questions it will be a joyous one for me because I know we'd have made progress at last.

    but hey, if anybody has a problem with it then you're most welcome to COME AT ME BRO

      When Mark annouced that Tracey was going to be the editor for a while, I didn't bat an eyelid. I was genuinely excited because her pieces were the best part of Good Game. When Rei and Junglist weren't there anymore I stopped watching.

      (off topic) - Nothing against Hex or Bajo, I just preferred the Journalist style of Rei and Junglist. Junglist would go into so much depth. And Rei would always bring a fresh perspective. -

      I'm happy that Tracey and Laura are sharing their feelings because honestly I had no idea there was an issue. I've never read many game forums, I mainly just read Kotaku, and Kotaku commenters are usually pretty awesome.

      My last girlfriend was a gamer, and I thought that was so amazing. Not because girls shouldn't play games, but that she didn't see it as exceptional.

    Good read,

    the thing is that this is a problem in so many industries and in the media in general.

    Pick up a copy of FHM for instance.....first question "Why do you like to wear wet, white t shirts?"

    I'm not sure how I should feel - the only female games writer I would have been able to name before this was Tracey Lien.

    I mostly agree, am all for equal treatment, and I'm fully aware that I don't have your firsthand experience. I didn't witness the Freeplay discussion, but I don't think female writers struggle as a minority. In my experience on both ends of the hiring process, being a female is always a plus in the games industry. And if you think you're alone in receiving inappropriate abuse from commenters, think again :P

    But discussion about it is always good, and I'm happy you guys are speaking out. I think some communities are better than others… Here at Kotaku, for example, I think anyone firing off insults based on gender would be shut down quite quickly.

      It's not just abuse, it is lack of recognition.

      The panel struggled to name one single female writer. Considering most of the panel were writers themselves that's pretty damned disgusting.

        I totally agree, that's shameful - were these panelists games writers themselves? I just find it odd, because female writers aren't a total rarity. I don't read many sites or magazines these days and I can easily come up with 5-10 on the spot.

        I guess I'm cheating since I know some of them personally, but surely if you've been in the industry long enough to be on such a panel, you'd know a name like Leigh Alexander?

      I don't necessarily agree; while some of us may not have trouble getting hired, it does not mean we do not face challenges when it comes to being taken seriously or being judged on our merit instead of our gender.

      And this isn't just about receiving inappropriate abuse from commenters, it's about receiving gender-specific abuse. It's about being dismissed or ignored or criticised for being a woman. It's about people using gender-specific language when they put down a woman. I am sure you have seen a fair share of abuse in your own line of work, but I wonder if you have ever been criticised because you're a male, or if anyone has discounted your view or told you you were wrong because of your gender.

        Well you've got me there. I don't know if I'll ever know that experience. It must be infuriating to not be taken seriously by readers. At least as far as the industry goes, I don't know one person who would prejudge based on gender (even though some might target a gender for either eye candy or just plain diversity/chemistry).

        My attitude ever since being called a fag, jew, nub, pub scrub, etc etc on Counter-Strike servers is that internet trolls will basically use anything they can to get under your skin. God help you if you reveal anything about yourself, lest it be used as ammo against you. The worst I've had is elements of my past being dug up and used against me. I guess being a female is one more bit of ammo they automatically have?

          "I guess being a female is one more bit of ammo they automatically have?"

          Yeah.

          Great comment. I think there is much truth to it. People will find an angle when they want to intimidate.

          I'm not suggesting female games journalists just accept it, but maybe getting offended is not the best reaction. Intimidation is often best fought with confidence in yourself. Think of the intimidator as a child, and you as the teacher. That helps to put you in the right frame of mind to adequately handle the situation.

          Kudos to all female game journalists. It's nice to get a different perspective on my media format of choice.

    To be honest I don't usually look at who has written a review as I'm more interested in the review itself. Thinking about it now, it doesn't matter to me if the reviewer is male or female anyway as reviewers look at the game to review it on its own merits, rather than reviewing it from one perspective or another...

    Just thinking out loud here so feel free to shut me down.

    It could be said that the guys in the industry now are gamers from a generation where games were considered a pastime for nerds and so many of them, to be blunt, were or are loner geeks who never had a whole lot to do with chicks.
    Which might lend to an unconscious edge of overlooking the other gender at least.

    So perhaps if the issue is kept in the open and the industry gets filled with not only more female journalists and developers, but more males ones from a broader personality spectrum and more tolerant generation, then the issue will start to resolve.

      It's all anecdotal but I feel the games being a guy thing is actually a relatively new phenomenon.

      When I was a kid all genders gathered around the Atari VCS (I'm 34 to put that in perspective). I can only recall gaming being a 'guy' thing (at least as far as popular perception goes) since the late 90s.

      I don't know... what are other people's experiences on this?

      Regardless, the issue is not restricted to the game's press. It is indicative of a larger societal problem.

      One of the panelists was Alison Croggon, a highly respected literary critic and award wining writer. When she spoke briefly on the subject she expressed that the same problems exist within her industry.

        Disagree. Whilst consoles and computers were marketed to families this was done to justify the price tag. The users i.e. game players IMO were male. As mentioned -its all anecdotal - but I don't remember the girls in primary school copying c64 tapes or going crazy about which version of mortal kombat was better. Mega drive or snes. Thats just my memory though.

        I'm speaking from vey limited experience but I've noticed a hypermasculine attitude in a lot of (especially internet) commentary. It's much, much better in places like Kotaku, but the stupidity runs rampant elsewhere.

        Take the reaction to the transgendered reviewer at Gamespot, say. Awful.

        I'm with Nathan.

        If you look up old news reports on Youtube (1980-1985) documenting "that new videogame thing" there's no mention of "boys". It's all "the craze that's sweeping the world" and "the whole family's playing".

        Gaming got more male-skewed from the mid 80s onward, as many games became more masculine in both their content and marketing. eg: 1998's Barbarian. Gameplay = Muscular blokes chopping other blokes heads off. Print campaign = D-cup Page 3 girl in a tiny bikini.

        And whilst Barbarian didn't represent the whole gaming market in the late 80s, it certainly marked a change from the days of 'the whole family' playing Pacman.

        So - why did gaming 'go bloke' (to a large extent) from the mid 80s to the late 90s? My theory is based on the fact the majority of game creators were male from the very beginning. And initially - they were pretty much battling the technology to just MAKE a videogame. The marketing department said "we want the whole family playing!" So that's what they did. But as games became more popular, the programmers started to make games that they *themselves* liked, and as they were mostly male programmers...

          i still disagree - early 80s game packaging is distinctly geared towards males. Even frogger has a scary alligator on it. Whilst tv ads etc show the general marketing of video systems as being to - a family, this was not who was in reality using the systems. Even text games had zap. bam. kapow graphics plastered on them. As budgets and stakes increased - the use of marketing and marketing techniques increased -e.g. the purposeful use of maria whittaker in the barbarian campaign etc Having said that Im looking at an arcadia 2001 box of 3d bowling which has a lovely pastel drawing of a girl bowling.

            perhaps the moment it changed was -after the great video game crash - when they realised families were not buying space invader games. young guys were. so they specifically targeted them

      Assuming that all gamers are/where/have been closet gamers with little contact with women?

      If we're going to work through gender stereotypes, we may as well address that one as well.

      Then there's the question of why gender has to be an issue in the first place. If you can do your job well, then does it matter?

      I personally think the issue is a mole hill made into a mountain. The big issue people are pressing on is the lack of recognition female game journo's get, but I dare say most people couldn't name their favourite (or hell, any) male video game journo' off the top of their head.

        Most people couldn't, no, but this was a panel of game writers - and they couldn't name one from their own industry.

        With respect, downplaying the issue or saying it isn't a problem contributes to it. If we aren't talking about it, how will it ever improve?

    Quite an interesting read. When I see stuff like that happening where gender becomes an actual factor on attitudes towards good writers and video journalists just because they're female, it just stinks, without using inappropriate french.

    I pretty much agree with Harli's comment above. To me it just seems if a female gets into the role, it seems they have to do a lot more than their male counterparts to be worthy of the respect and attention they deserve instead of all this dismissive discrimination. It's not just here that this issue takes effect, sadly. It happens in many industries even as high as the government MPs.

    Thanks for taking the time to share it with us Tracey and Laura

    Good article.

    Even reading the responses to Ben's Gamasutra piece made me furious.

    People who say that it's a ploy for attention, or worse, that it isn't an issue and everyone's complaining, are either being absurdly ignorant or find the status quo acceptable.

    I don't check the name or gender of the author of an article unless I really enjoy their writing, and even then I'm unlikely to remember their name. Purely as a gamer and reader of game criticism it's hard to see this apparent sexism in games criticism.

    If I'm honest with myself I'd have to say that even though I'm female I've still been guilty of pre-judging female games journalists. I don't know why this is and if it happened to me I'd be frustrated to no end.
    For some reason there's just a general feeling amongst gamers that the female games journalists need to prove that they're "real gamers". Especially if they're pretty. Which really should be irrelevant.

    I have no idea how to change it on a larger level, but for me just being aware of these irrational pre-judgements is the first step to fixing the problem.

      I used to do this, and upon reflection it was fairly appalling. If another female games writer came along my first thought would be "Oh, but is she REALLY a gamer?". I never thought the same thing about any male, and I think it was because I got so used to reading things by men, seeing men on TV, playing games with men, and I somehow came to believe that ALL men were gamers and if a woman wanted to be taken seriously she would have to prove herself. Man, that was such a demented thing to think!

      I'm happy to prove myself as a journalist because I feel that it's something that everyone who wants to get into the industry has to do - but to prove myself as a gamer or a game writer when the other gender doesn't have to? In the words of the internet: GTFO.

        I remember when Hex was introduced to Good game. There was a video to introduce her.

        It came across, to me at least, like she was proving that she had gaming cred. It just seemed unnecessary to me. Because a segment for a male journalist wouldn't have been the same.
        http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/video/default.htm?src=/tv/goodgame/video/xml/20091026_2030.xml&item=2

        Hex is a good journalist, and the way she came into the show was probably not the best. But this video seemed a justification.

        I'm not questioning that the video was portraying a legitimate story. Building her own computer, playing text adventures, and mentioning this straight away... I wish instead they just introduced her as a person in a more general sense, not trying to show us hard core gaming credentials.

    What I've seen with females in the games industry is that when critique happens, it happens within the scope of females only, as if anything they do is not comparable to a male's work.

    The worst I've seen is female in-fighting, where arguments doubting credibility, and intentions (eg. "you're not really a gamer", "you're only pretending for attention") and other unicorn-syndrome like behaviours. How can girls be taken seriously within the industry when in some cases they can't even support each other?

      That's just it, it's not just blatant sexism from men that women are up against - it's internalised misogyny too.

    I think the general stereotype behind women in games journalism stems deeper than just the games journalism area.

    Things like booth babes, token 'hot female presenters' on game/tech shows etc all help to prolong and strengthen an incorrect perception of the female gamer crowd.

    When the genuine portion of female gamers and journalists are afraid to speak up (as Tracy was) and all we're left with is the airhead perception, perhaps it is no wonder it becomes the expectation and the status quo among male gamers.

    What we need is for more than just Tracy and Laura to speak up. I've seen articles previously on Kotaku where women are afraid to even note their gender on online games because of the flack they may recieve. Giving women the confidence to stand up and speak out is the first step to finally shifting these widely-held perceptions.

    I hope more follow suit in their wake. It would be a shame for people not to make use of this catalyst.

    Keep the snowball rolling.

      HI THERE

      Also, totally forgot about the booth babes thing. Great point.

    I haven't listened to the panel yet. From what I hear I should just stay away.

    How is it possible that they couldn't even name one female games writer?

    I think there is a bigger issue here, and yes, it's a cliche, but women in the gaming industry just continue to be hyper sexualised. Both within games and out of them. I doubt female writers can ever be taken seriously when E3 still prides itself on having booth babes stand next to platforms advertising games they know absolutely nothing about. And that's extremely sad.

    I think one of the problems is, back in the day there was a few high profile women in games journalism (overseas) that got in on looks but lied they were hardcore gamers and got busted. As much as looking at hot girls is awesome, people would rather have someone who at least knows what they are talking about.

      I find the idea of someone having to be "HARDCORE" to comment on games somewhat problematic.

    I agree with you, Strange.

    A good(or bad?) example in this aspect would be IGN's youtube shows. Most of the comments are not about the gaming news content, but rather sexist and abusive comments about the female hosts' appearance and body image. And I think IGN is trying to shove their stuff as sexually appealing, which proves to be popular, sadly (just look at the videos' view count).

    There's no way to take away the issue of gender difference in gaming journalism if objectifying women still proves to be a 'successful' marketing approach.

      IGN comments are the worst of the worst. Top rated comment on the daily fix is always something along the lines of "OMG shes so hot!"

      But, you can't really blame them. Anonymity on the Internet brings out the worst in people. Plus IGN would have expected that when they hired models to read the news.

        "Internet comments are the worst of the worst."

        Fixed. But I agree, IGN comments are the worst.

      I agree with you in theory, but I have to disagree in practice.

      Female newscasters have their appearance taken into question alongside their skills.

      The same is true of female actresses.

      If you are putting a guy on TV, he has to be handsome or funny (preferably both).

      If you are putting a woman on TV she has to be attractive.

      I didn't make the rules, but there is no reason gaming shouldnt be marketing itself just like everything else.

    I just don't get it personally, I've never cared what the gender of the writer or gamer is. And to be honest, I don't actually eveh know anyone that would treat a female writer or gamer differently. Maybe its just the people I hang out with... ?

    I enjoy the article/whatever for what it is, not for who wrote it

    Is all of this really necessary? I'm pretty sure nobody disregards female written reviews solely because they're written by females - rather, they're disregarded because they are, by and large, not good reviews.

    People read reviews to get an expert glimpse into a game by someone that really knows what they're talking about. Frankly, when I've read reviews written by females, they tend to focus on the art design, the characterization and the emotional effect of a game. Not something I'm interested in when trying to learn something about a game.

    Instead of writing essays about why females shouldn't be ignored, why don't you spend that time learning your craft to a point of expertise that deserves being championed, first?

    I'm sorry to be blunt and I'm sure initially people will react negatively to a comment like this, but I feel it's the state of the situation right now.

    tldr: Females can write well and there shouldn't be anything stopping them from being noted critics - but the actual content has always been lacking and isn't comparable to the larger pool of knowledgeable male critics.

      But what if I want to know about the art design, characterization and emotional effect of a game? Just because it's talking about things you personally aren't interested in doesn't make it a bad review. Furthermore, your logic suggests that a female-oriented review (women writing about things they are interested in) makes it by definition a BAD review. That kind of outlook is part of the problem. Women should be allowed to be interested by the aspects of games they like without being told that they're doing it wrong.

        "But what if I want to know about the art design, characterization and emotional effect of a game?"

        Then the majority of reviews will have you covered. Females tend to talk ONLY about these things, while males talk about everything.

        "t of a game? Just because it’s talking about things you personally aren’t interested in doesn’t make it a bad review. Furthermore, your logic suggests that a female-oriented review (women writing about things they are interested in) makes it by definition a BAD review."

        Frankly, the evidence doesn't prove otherwise. The blame doesn't lie entirely with the female, though. Most games are made by males, for males while you play as a male. Reviewing such games, as a female, already puts you at a disadvantage. And that's fine. Just stop pretending it doesn't.

        "That kind of outlook is part of the problem. Women should be allowed to be interested by the aspects of games they like without being told that they’re doing it wrong."

        So... because they're women we should blindly accept whatever crap they write? Sounds like the reason why women are sat in meaningless managerial roles throughout most of the workforce. Disregard whatever they say, just plop them somewhere and let them do whatever! Feminism, yeah!

        The focus should be on the work. The work; it sucks. Do I not want it to get better? Of course not. Fact, however, are facts.

          Wow. Just wow. O_O

            For me, one of the most difficult things is worrying whether my work is thorough enough, or whether my contribution is going to make people think that female games reviewers are airheads. Being that I don't want to inadvertently create problems for future or aspiring female games critics, that is. Is this an additional and unfair pressure. (Do you feel this Nathan? That your contribution might be detrimental to other male critics?)

              No it doesn't enter my mind although I obviously worry that my pieces come across as insightful and entertaining but that doesn't go beyond my own concerns as to my own standards as a writer.

              I honestly can't speak for women. It's a very different situation as this discussion is clearly showing.

            ... I don't think there's any reasoning with someone who thinks like that.

      Typical man's generalisation...

        I can't speak for women, either. Just myself. (But, people do generalise about "female games critics" as if we are all the same.)

    Everyone keeps saying "the panelists couldn't name any female journalists" but I think you guys should read Drew's response to Katie Williams' blog post on the panel here: http://t.co/hGufqoL

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