A Long Way To Go

A Long Way To Go
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Former Kotaku contributor Alice Taylor responds to Game Developer magazine’s choices for The Game Developer 50, which highlighted gaming’s “important accomplishments of the last year (give or take)… in the categories of art, design, programming, business and evangelism.”

Gamasutra have just posted their “The Game Developer 50“: a list of the most exciting games people to Gama right now: “the most important contributors to the current state of the game industry – from indies to AAA, from business to art, design and beyond. Naturally as it’s an American publication, there seems to be a bit of a skew to American people. But all of them seem to be men.

Not one woman. Not even one?

So obviously I have to post something about this. Lists are a wonderful and terrible thing: magazines do them for precisely this kind of response: ATTENTION. Discussion. Shouting, complaining, agreeing, etc. It’s magazine crack. But I have to stick my oar in, because having 0 per cent women on that list is straight up appalling (and I adore Gamasutra).

Off the top of my head, without doing any research, here’s a handful of women working in games who I think Gama could happily have included in that 50. And I could actually add a whole bunch more ladies doing amazing things with games (Jen, Diane, Cat, Sophie, Robin, Heather, Sarah, Claire, Rita, Susan, Merci, Regina and Tracy, for instance and for starters).

Meggan Scavio
Runs GDC. Runs GDC. Gama are probably being modest or something because Meggan’s an employee of its parent company.[imgclear]

Kim Swift
Designed Portal. Portal, no less. Gone to do a start-up: if that’s not fuck-yeah exciting, I don’t know what is.[imgclear]

Paulina Bozek
Wonderful, incredibly talented, invented Singstar. Doing some secret, very interesting things right now, but I’ll let her tell you what they are.[imgclear]

Margaret Robertson
Living legend. Annual packed event at GDC, an incredible games designer and oracle, and, well, I’ve said it all before.[imgclear]

Babsi Lippe (Chief Designer) & Claudia Kogler (CTO)
The creative & technical team who produced Papermint, with a titchy team and a titchy budget. [imgclear]

Rhianna Pratchett
Wrote Mirror’s Edge, Heavenly Sword and Overlord.[imgclear]

Like I said, I could go on and on.

If it were up to me, in creating any list, I would take a number – say 50, and a field – say games, and then pick out the top 25 men and the top 25 women, highlighting whatever it is they’re doing. Because that’s called fairness.

The reason women aren’t currently making up 50 per cent of every field is not an intellectual issue, but a cultural issue, and the longer we continue to publish lists containing all-men or nearly-all-men, the longer we propagate the broken image and insulting idea that women aren’t as good, or as important, as men.

Many women just haven’t had the chance yet: they haven’t had the encouragement, the education, the freedom, the support, the role models, the contacts, the friends in high places, the opportunities and the finances that their male counterparts often get by default, by tradition and by homophily.

It’s not right and it needs to change. Monocultures are evolutionarily a dead end: game people, take note.

We will simply note that we regret not having women game developers on the list, and the list was the people we felt had major accomplishments in the year to somewhere around October 2009, divided into those categories. In addition, we do have a record of feature-length articles and charts on women in the game business, and indeed, our 2008 Top Deck list – this list’s previous iteration – featured multiple female honorees alongside male.

Alice Taylor is Commissioning Editor, Education for Channel 4, where she is developing a number of informal learning projects involving ARGs, casual gaming and other interactive entertainment formats. Taylor is a former Kotaku contributor and blogs at Wonderland.


  • How is it fair and merit based if a certain number must meet a specific criteria?

    That said, there are some I would fing more influencial this year than Tim Schaefer… unless he got in for the whole lawsuit thing.

    Unrelated: that Paulina Bozek girl is stunning.

  • Great article Alice. This list was simply shocking. I couldn’t believe that they had not picked a single, not even one, woman. My sister is a game developer, a brilliant one and contributing to one of the most revolutionary game recently released, and she works for a company that is composed of around 50% of women. Strangely, when going out of the game dev companies’ door, this reality of who is making video games vanishes and we get things such as this full male gallery. It’s very reminiscent of what I know about the scientific research world, and one would hope that the society would have progressed more than this, but this list just reminded us that it’s far from being the case.

  • and Jane Jensen, responsible for one of the greatest adventure series Gabriel Knight, as well Kings Quest VI (arguably the best of the series) who is currently completing Gray Matter

  • While there were certainly a few people on that list that made me go ‘huh??’, this is about people who had made a significant contribution LAST YEAR, and people like Paulina and Kim made their contributions in years well past. (sure you can argue the lasting effects of their work, but then the same can be said for a hell of a lot of other people in the industry that weren’t on that list) Similarly, aside from the fact that this was years ago as well, what aspect of Mirror’s Edge had more impact on the industry and consumers, the writing or the gameplay?

    To claim one or more of these women deserve a place over someone else in the list BECAUSE they are women is even more disingenuous than leaving them off the list in the first place.

    Aside from that, the rest of the article is so lol-tastically sexist and ill-conceived, any message has been completely covered by facepalm…

    Why is it so hard to entertain the possibility that maybe women just aren’t interested in the games industry? Its like compiling a list of the top 50 coal miners and then claiming its all a misogynistic glass-ceiling conspiracy because of the lack of women… (The implication that we men just get a free pass through the industry and don’t have to work our fucking asses off to get there isn’t going to win over any of the people you think are the problem, either)

    Having said all that, the quality of Gamasutra’s articles is generally MUCH lower than it used to be anyway, I often wonder why anyone takes them seriously at all anymore…

  • (sorry to double-post – I meant “maybe women just aren’t AS interested in the games industry” – my point being that you can’t blame an industry for being full of men if there are loads more men than women interested in that type of work)

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