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

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?


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.


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

        Inversely, Christine Steimer, Stephanie “Hex” Bendixson, Audrey Drake…

          • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 😛

    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?

        • 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.

        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?

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

    • 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.

          • 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 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

  • Thanks for putting this down. I can relate to not wanting to discuss this issue. And being criticised based on your appearance/gender instead of the quality of your work rings true with me.
    One thing I’d like to add is my experience of finding it very difficult to find a writing style that works. I had a reader call me “hermaphrodite” because the content I’d presented confused him. Am I a man, a woman or a woman with male interests? Something like that.
    Over the years, I’ve solicited feedback from male readers and many initially came back with the idea that I sounded “flirty.” Being a naturally silly/flirtatious kind of person, I’ve never been sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. More recently, three people who I respect very highly have independently called my writing style “endearing” and I really like this compliment.
    The bottom line for me is, I actually am a naturally silly, self deprecating, overemotional kind of person. (Is it because I’m a chick? Without trying to appear sexist, maybe it is. Or, maybe it’s just me.) It comes out in the way I write, even a little bit in more analytical pieces, like reviews too, but I’d prefer not to see that as a problem.
    I think having a valuable contribution to make to games criticism goes beyond gender, or even how “good” you are at your job. I hope my style reaches some people, anyway. It’s a role I take incredibly seriously and I’m grateful for the support of the people (largely men) that I work with.

    • Just wanted to say, I love your work 🙂 This storm in a teacup made me think of you and I was glad to see your comment.

      I don’t really want to enter much into this debate except to say that I don’t believe there is some sort of deliberate sidelining of women within the industry from my experience. It’s more that feeling of being overlooked and undervalued. There are unspoken questions that come up everytime you might say ‘I prefer story-driven’ or voice your dislike of another WWII FPS clone because apparently only women have those opinions.

      I got a bit disheartened by the reception I received from a few places and even though I had great, supportive friends around me, I ended up prefering to just play games and not talk about them anymore just so I wouldn’t get those dismissive and disparaging comments. I’m not particularly upset about that – I saw it as a part of my life that I had to move on from. There was only going to be so long where I was happy enough to ignore it and keep trundling away.

  • Sometimes just for fun I ask my non-gamer wife what she thinks about a game, and her insight into how it’s put together amazes me

  • I am a big fan of AJ Glasser, Leigh Alexander, and Jessica Chobot, and if I were on the panel, I’d have answered such.

    Are we sure it’s not Freeplay’s mistake for having dumb/forgetful people on the panel?

  • You could say the exact same thing about the TV and Film industry. Sure you can’t forget names like Angelina Jole, Megan Fox, Drew Barrymore, etc.

    But I’m sure people don’t even know really successful woman like: Shauna Robertson (Knocked Up/Funny People), Jane Campion (The Piano) and so many others who are just as successful as the males in the industry; who probably don’t even know their names!

  • >Name a female game writer
    Uh… that woman who is did the Gears books, and is doing Gears 3. I managed to forget her name for the duration of this article.
    >Name a male game writer

    I think the real problem isn’t sexism, it’s that nobody thinks of writers.

    I agree with Jamesmacusedmyhandle there. Gender is a complete nonissue for me when it comes to writers.

    • We’re not suggesting that *everyone* takes gender into account, because not everyone does. For some people, gender doesn’t come into play at all, and I think the comments here on Kotaku AU so far have been incredibly encouraging and have shown that there are many people out there who will judge a piece of writing on its quality, and that’s an awesome thing – this is really such a fantastic community.

      Unfortunately, not everyone is like this, which is why Laura and I have decided to talk about it. Our intention isn’t to be pushy, to shout down at people or force them to accept our views, but we think it’s at least worth putting our thoughts out there for people to consider. 🙂

      • Thats why it was such a suprise to me. I just find it so hard to imagine, as I’ve never once decided the quality of an article over someones gender. It just seems absurd!

  • Not being a part of the industry I’m not ideally placed to comment, but I do know I welcome the views and opinions of female game journalists in PC PowerPlay and I enjoyed watching Tracy’s reports on Good Game.

    I can only speak for myself, but I have no issues with female videogame journalists and appreciate the differing perspective.

    I was dissapointed to see Hex agree so often with Bajo when they review games.


      Oh wait, no it’s not, because what you said doesn’t directly undermine females in a way that’s obvious to them.

  • I can’t even tell what gender writers are … HOW many transsexual writers can YOU name !!!! NONE!??? :O this my friends is AN OUTRAGE!

  • I am continually frustrated by the responses I get when I tell people my sister plays Brawl/StarCraft, especially when I mention that she plays them at a considerably high level. I feel this kind of negative attitude is the reason why you don’t see many female players playing in professional tournaments. What few female players are discussed with regard to their appearance for the most part, rather than their skill level in the game (which is unfortunately lacking, but no one cares if they suck, as long as they’re “hot”)

    In StarCraft, a major drama recently arose due to the addition of SlayerS_Eve, to the extremely celebrated SlayerS clan by their female manager, SlayerS_Jessica. This affirmative action to generate interest among women to participate in the pro-gaming scene was met with extreme prejudice, with most “positive” comments simply describing Eve’s appearance rather than being supportive of her position in a pro team.

    Sorry I realise the original post isn’t to do with women in pro-gaming but I felt it was a related issue.

  • The thing is, back in the late 90’s when a bunch of super important, landmark games were being released, gaming was a nerdy, male loner thing.

    Now that everyone’s playing games, regardless of gender, there’s an inherent assumption on the part of these nerdy males that female games writers (even just women who identify as gamers) don’t have the same knowledge-base, and haven’t experienced the same important titles, simply because it’s far less likely they were gamers at the time. And if they haven’t, their opinion is less valid, because they don’t have the experience to make informed critiques. This is where the immediate, reactionary sexism is coming from.

    • Gaming was just -perceived- as a “nerdy, male loner thing”. Even back then I was playing games, both PC and console, as were most of my female friends. And even male friends that were definitely not loners or even “nerdy”.
      “Everyone” was always playing games, it’s not something us girls or non-nerdy males have only recently discovered.

  • Women do seem to be under-represented in games development. They’re there, but that’s about it.

    A fair few years back I was doing some freelance programming work for a small games developer. I was invited to a conference. Out of probably about 200 people, I’d say 5 were women. One was the wife of the person who’d invited me and didn’t really do much on the game development side apart from, I think, sort out the finances for his new small start-up. Another one had been summoned by Orange to give a talk on upcoming mobile phone gaming trends.

    It is worth noting two exceptions, in my opinion. I believe one of the main people behind Skies of Arcadia is a woman, and also Violet Berlin – she of Bad Influence fame (and various other TV shows since).

  • Things will change, it will just take time. Remember, gaming as an industry is still in a very infantile stage of development compared to other industries.

    It’s good to talk about the issue though and hopefully, due to other industries having gone through the same thing, we can take something away from them and the situation will change sooner.

    I must say though, regarding some examples given in regards to booth babes and such, I don’t think they’re an issue at all. Look at the racing industry; you have grid girls and all kinds of things taking the “sex sells” approach yet women are also involved as drivers in all areas of racing whether it’s F1, NASCAR or even drag racing/burn out comps and such and they’re kicking arse.

    By all that I mean we shouldn’t be focussing on trivial things like “booth babes” and construing them as a negative. That doesn’t change anything nor does it help anything. The best thing to do is for people like Laura and Tracey to just keep doing what they do best that way no one can pull the “oh yeah let’s recognise them because purely because they’re female and playing the victim card”.

    Does any of what I said make sense? It’s late in the arvo, I’m tired, I have a pinched nerve in my back and all I can think about now is a cold beer.

    • The problem is that it isn’t going to change on its own.

      Yes, we’re younger than other industries but the other industries still haven’t got it right. Indeed their problems are not so far removed from games writing’s.

      Literary criticism has been around for an almost infinitely longer time than game criticism and Alison Croggon is still experiencing similar issues.

      We should be focusing on these things because if we don’t the status quo just continues on its merry way.

      • I didn’t say things would change on their own but rushing into the issue all headstrong is not going to help either.

        As for Alison Croggon, I have no idea who she is but a quick look at her wiki page shows why. What has she done that’s different from any other author that is mostly stocked by a Cheap As Chips or Target or Big W that means she should stand out and be recognised?

        In fact there seem to be plenty of women doing well in terms of all kinds of literature judging by the current NYT best sellers list.

          • Is it so unbelievable that it could be due to lower quality of writing, a niche type of writing and a smaller audience for that type of writing?

            Why does everything have to be 50/50? Certainly wasn’t like that when I got divorced!


            It’s quite clear that although this woman may be OK at writing, but she clearly isn’t at a level that is considered noteworthy. Woman have had no issue standing out in literature for over two hundred years. If you can’t make it to the spotlight as a writer of fiction now then it’s because you’re not good enough.

          • Are you serious? At what point did they start standing out, before or after they were using male pseudonyms because it was socially unacceptable for women to write AT ALL?

          • Mary Shelley, she used a pseudonym for the first few years then came out. Frankenstein was still regarded as an absolute classic. That was 1821.

          • Either way, it’s not exactly a recent phenomenon for women to be considered excellent writers. It’s the content that got them recognised.

            Hell, Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of ALL TIME.

  • I can name a female writer “Jessica Citizen” simply because I’d met her at a game convention but for the life of me the only male writer I remember is Tim Colwill and that’s only because of his comics.

  • I think it’s based on the age of your audience?

    I would say a lot of the “popular” websites (IGN, Gamespot) tend to have a majority of pre-pubescent boys wondering why their voice is getting deeper when they shout homophobic obscenties over Xbox Live. The minority are a little more intellectual and probably don’t care whether it was Cam or Patch who wrote the gibberish on their site.

    Tracey – you said “Unfortunately, not everyone is like this, which is why Laura and I have decided to talk about it.”
    But you should know as someone who works in the industry that not everyone is going see your point of view. It makes for an interesting read and discussion but will it change anything? Probably not – the pre-pubescent teens won’t read this as they’ll be too busy lolzing on Facebook and flaunting their gamerscores.

    Personally I do not care who writes what – male,female,transgender, hermaphrodite. To be honest I don’t read reviews as I prefer listening to podcasts. The only woman “games journalist” (god I hate that term) I can name would be Lara Crigger who appears on the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call (a GREAT gaming podcast) – I don’t agree with some of things that she says and not because she’s female – just because I don’t agree. If a male said the same thing I would disagree with them too. I’m 29 years old so I’m not lolzing or RFLMAOing.

    • Maybe it won’t change anything. But will doing nothing change anything? This series of email exchanges wasn’t meant to serve as the magic pill to fix everything, but I think it’s worth hearing about other people’s experiences and considering different perspectives. It may lead to nothing, but it may also lead to something. I think it’s a discussion worth having.

      • I think there is still a chance it will change something – you have the opportunity to change the views of some of the readers of this very site. This community is quite mature in Internet terms (provided you steer clear of TAY 😉 ) but there is still work to be done. This is illustrated by the sexist comments on your introductory article the other day, including those that were tongue in cheek, where the authors may not have even realised that they were contributing to the problem. Sorry guys, I love youse all, but a fair number of those comments were inappropriate and creepy.

        Hopefully articles such as this one, and your upcoming tenure on the site, will help these people to change their attitudes and behaviour. I know that I’ll do my part to report/reprimand the inevitable off-colour comments that are going to appear. The end result will hopefully be a more open-minded Kotaku community.

        Sure, you’re not changing the whole world, but it’s a start right?

        And for the record: I have been critical of some of your work in the past Tracey, but it has absolutely nothing to do with your gender. In particular, I thought that one of your last articles for Good Game was terrible – the one with your words being constantly animated on the screen – to the point that I went on the GG forums to rant about it (So what you ask? I had not done this before, nor since). Probably not your fault, but damn, it was probably a text-book case of how NOT to do a video article. By contrast though, I think some of your written work has been outstanding, some of the best in Australia.

    • Will it change anything? Who knows?!

      Certainly, the first step for change is awareness, and this article is a damn good way to raise that awareness. Even if people disagree with the points being argued in the article, they’re still made aware of the issues surrounding it. They are now thinking about it.

      Well, maybe not those lolzing Facebook pre-pubescent teens. Not everyone can be made to think.

  • Is it possible there’s a writing style at work here that just isn’t as appealing or sitting with male audiences? I remember reading an ad for a car being sold and it was written like the car was an actual person (please buy me, I have new shoes aka wheels, I need a good home etc).

    Just an example (obviously not a journalist) but I find most articles written by woman I have actually read always focusing on a sexist industry or maltreatment by men, which I guess I don’t particularly enjoy reading as I am a guy. I don’t want to read about how much of a jerk I am, I’m feeling un-acceptance as a reader by woman journalists as if I’m part of the problem period.

    The other stuff I have read was sort of full of personal jokes that I didn’t really identify with and I think a less serious tone was the result and maybe in my mind subconsciously, a less professional effort.

    Maybe someone at Kotaku could post some female writing that isn’t based around the usual topics as seen in this forum as I’m not one of those people that has more than a few places I like to look up gaming related media.

    Personally I would like to move my opinions so I’m open to suggestions.

    • Is it simply possible that you only *remember* the articles that are written by women to be the ones about a sexist industry or maltreatment by men? Because I think it may be likely that, all things considered, it’s pretty likely you’ve read articles written by women and simply never bothered to note down the identity of the person who wrote it, much less the gender.

      Just thinking aloud here.

    • I don’t think you’re looking particularly hard or far if the only female games writing you’ve come across has been about gender issues. There are SO MANY female writers out there writing about all areas of gaming, from news stories to big features, critical analyses and game reviews.

      You might want to look up Laura’s work on GameSpot AU – she broke so much news during the whole R18+ debate and has written some in-depth and insightful features about the games industry. Or you can click on my name and read my work, which has never touched upon gender issues. (At the beginning of this article there are links to stories that Laura and I won awards for – maybe read those.)

      And here are a few more female game writers you might like to do a search on because they do some fantastic work:

      Keza MacDonald (games editor of IGN UK)
      Ellie Gibson (former deputy of Eurogamer)
      Leigh Alexander (news editor of Gamasutra)
      Sarah Lamotte and Meaghann O’Neill (their work is in Hyper and PC Powerplay so it might be harder to find their stuff online)
      Katie Williams (Her blog is Alive Tiny World and she’s done some awesome pieces of criticism on Fallout: New Vegas)

      There are many more, but I think those writers are a good place to start. And if you’ve read a few samples of their work and don’t find them professional enough… well, I guess there’s no pleasing everyone.

      • That is true, there is no pleasing everyone. I think I was just honest here today and that’s whats important (for me at least) but I will read some these articles and how it goes.

      • She wrote for GameSpot…and it’s a wonder why she hasn’t been noticed?

        Write for sites that are worth reading perhaps. GameSpot, IGN, Gamasutra…these are the tabloid rags of the gaming world. PCPP hasn’t been a relevant mag for about a decade.

        As for blogs, how is anyone supposed to find them?

        No point in saying you’ve won awards if your writing is hosted on sites or printed in magazines that are about as useful as used toilet paper and only skimmed over by those in the same business…the gaming public ain’t gonna see that stuff. It’d be like a journalist writing for an NT newspaper complaining they’re being overlooked.

        Get involved in a decent publication and your work will be noticed. Writing for the equivalent of a toilet cubicle wall will not.

        • You’re utterly full of shit man. Do you have any idea of the pageviews etc that these sites you mention command per day? If those sites are the tabloid rags, what sites are superiour? Kotaku? Hate to say it but ‘the gaming public’ disagrees with your assessment.

          • So that’s why the so many people are able to name these female journalists…and all this time I thought otherwise…my mistake.

          • Just thought I’d add that web traffic for gamespot and that doesn’t mean squat. GameSpot or IGN could get more hits per day than all the websites on the internet combined, it doesn’t mean people are there to read the articles. Hell, every visit I make to GameSpot is purely to the forums and that’s when I’ve googled a problem with a game and someone else has had the same problem.

  • Heaven forbid, Laura and Tracey, that it is because you might be writing uninteresting journalism, therefore nobody seeks to remember your names. No no, it’s SEXISM!

    Awards mean nothing, the panels too are filled with mediocre journalists nobody remembers either. The only indication of quality jornalism is popularity among readers, which is indicated by the popular reputation of the journalist.

    Now I’m not saying you are bad journalists, but you cannot blame sexism for the discrepacy of having won awards and yet being unknown. Your reputation belongs to you and you alone. It is time to take responsibility for it.

    I hope my comment will not cause too many hurt feelings to prevent it from being published, which would be ironic considering journalists themselves are the subject matter.

    • Today Tonight is the most popular news program in Australia. Is that an indication of its quality journalism?

      • It is not journalism, it is entertainment. To follow on from your example, Alan Jones, the notoriously political radio presenter, recently admitted that he was not a journalist but in fact an entertainer. Both Today Tonight and Alan Jones are successful entertainers, because they resonate with millions of watchers/listeners.

    • They’ve won two Walkleys between them. That’s just about the pinnacle of journalism in Australia.

      If you read the article, the email exchange – and forgive me if I’m mistaken – was started because a panel of peers couldn’t name one female games journalists. Industry recognition, in this case, does matter and awards are important.

      Tracey’s RedAnt article was one of the best pieces of investigative games journalism I’ve ever read, and Laura practically single-handedly covered the R-18 debate for Gamespot over many SCAG meetings.

      If anything it’s as much about attitudes within the industry as those of the public.

      • As I said, awards mean nothing because they are distant from the real world. Would you rather be the guy who won a university medal for topping his business class and entered an ordinary job, or the guy that only finished grade 10 who self-made himself into a multi-millionaire?

        That being said, these two journalists are still young so the legacy of their careers is still in the making. As far as game journalism goes, they are above and beyond (though that’s not saying much). I just think it is particularly arrogant to say that lack of recognition is down to sexism.

        That arrogance has almost certainly been preempted by winning the awards and not gaining any of the TRUE recognition that they both desire.

        • So you deny that a problem exists, then accuse people who raise the issue of being arrogant and self-serving? Did you even read the article?

          Take a look around and get some perspective.

  • Bob, it’s not about being people being able to rattle off your name. (Not that I’m speaking on behalf of Tracey and Laura. For me, it’s not.)

    Just popping back in to say this. Although the, say, 25 or so hurtful (and gender related) comments directed at me over the past 4 years stand out, as do things that I also perceive to be gender related, including bullying, unfair comparisons and major moments of miscommunication, this shouldn’t detract from the 95% of (mostly male) PCPP readers who do interact with me in fabulous ways. (I love you guys – and gals, less frequently.)

    Also, thanks for the mention, Tracey. (I didn’t initially say that I’m a freelance contrib for PCPP, because of that deep seated desire not to draw any attention to myself over this. You guys are courageous.)

  • I should clarify further that the particularly bad journalists are remembered too – for being bad. The good remembered for being good, the bad remembered for being bad, but the mediocre not remembered at all.

  • How many people actually read the “by line” of an article in printed or online media these days?

    You want your name remembered in this day and age, get out there and interact with the public. Hell, I’d bet most of only remember Mark Serrels name because he takes the time to comment direct with the readers in the comment section.

    So to both Tracey and Laura (and anyone in general really), try changing your approach a bit. The days of getting remembered for just doing the work is over, interaction is the way of today

  • I had never thought about this before. I had realised the sexist and immature comments (mostly on youtube), but I always took that as part of internet comments.
    After reading the email exchange I can see why they affect both you personally as well as the image of female journalists.

    Next time I see anyone put down an article with gender related language, I will politely(no promises) point out that the article is bad because the content is wrong, and not because it was written by a woman (if that’s the case). I will also discourage any compliments based on gender language, as that also perpetuates the image that female journalists need to prove themselves to write gaming articles.

    tldr: Gender comments are bad.
    If it’s bad, it’s bad; not cause it’s written by a woman.
    If it’s good, it’s good; not good for a woman.

  • Biggest crock of… Biggest storm in a teacup for a long time. And being fuelled by a pretty small yet tight-knit bunch.

    If you’re looking for recognition on anything else other than your journalistic merits then that’s a problem with YOUR ego, not a problem with the industry.

    Male or female.

    • It sounds like they’re disappointed that they’re getting negative recognition for being women (insulting comments, focus on appearance etc) *instead* of getting comments on their journalistic merits.

      • Exactly.

        proto, the problem is that some people aren’t judging journalism based solely on its merits. They’re being deliberately insulting in comments solely based on the writer’s gender.

  • One of my favourite game writers is Karen Traviss. Some of my favourite games journalists are Did Cardoso and Tracey Lien.

  • I agree with what’s said here, as much as I can, given I’ve never experienced differential treatment to different writers, at least not in the games journalism field. Of course this stems from my refusal to read comments on almost everything posted, as most people seem only capable of talking drivel, but I digress.

    In terms of videos, yes, there is a difference in how people view them based upon gender. Should there be? No, but this is life. I’d like to think that I could judge something based solely on its merits as a journalistic piece, but to do so would be even more conceited than I generally am. Still, the democratic for readers of games writing is primarily male, though quite clearly not exclusively, and I feel that some of the problems stem from people’s opinions of my gender. I may have a biased view here, but when it comes to the people who I see talking about games, in a video format, I think there’s an over-representation of women, for lack of a better term. Of course, I don’t know the ratio of men to women in the games journalist industry (which I really need an abbreviated term for), but I’d put a random ballpark figure at 70:30(not that “random ballpark” makes any sense…). Instead, about 50% of the “Gamez Jarnalists” I see in video form are women.

    And my god.

    Some of them are the most insipid, bland, and sometimes even stupid people I’ve ever seen(Huge exaggeration, I’ve met people way dumber). Of course, do I think these examples make a bad name for all the journalists who so happen to be women and write about games? Yes. These people -so far as I can tell- seem to rely solely on some semblance of sex-appeal to gain an audience. Some producer somewhere thought “hey, why have journalistic integrity when we can pander to men with boobs?” And so a group of over represented women slid themselves into roles that by all rights they shouldn’t have.

    As a dude, I can look at a piece by a dude, and think “dude, that was good/bad.” When it comes to women, despite my greatest efforts to the contrary, if it’s bad I’ll end up thinking “dear christ that was terrible, but at least she was hot(unless she isn’t(SO JUDGEMENTAL)).”

    So what am I trying to say there? Good question. As it currently stands, someone will always attempt to make women look their best in video things because if it’s bad then they can get away with it. This is of course an unacceptable standard for journalistic integrity, but that’s how I view it currently. I can think of two decent solutions to this. Firstly, we could make all female games (or any media really) journalists really ugly for every visual appearance they make. Or, and this may sound a little crazy, we could actually try to uphold basic standards in visual journalism(yeah, like that’ll ever happen. HA HA HA).

    • On to point 2 (not sure why I’m bothering as nobody will read this).

      The issues of gender difference, and whether we should talk about it.

      Ok, so: Are Men and Women different? Why yes, I would say so, they’re fairly subtle differences, particularly from an overall biological perspective, but nevertheless, different.

      Should Men and Women be treated differently? Well, that’s a terribly worded question there, designed to make me look like a twat so I’m not sure why I phrased it as such, but yes. They should be treated differently. But not by much.

      Should there be different standards for their writing? HA HA HA. No.

      While it’s hard to give a definite definition of what I mean by standard, as to say “oh yes, in a 300 word article they used the same describing words three times, rather than a Synonym, what terrible writing *swigs some expensive drink… Let’s go with port*(I should have used insipid, dull and bland!). Still, I feel like you should understand my point. There’s a certain readability to be found in that which is well written, and all writers of all forms should aspire to reach those lofty heights.

      Now then, I’m hardly in a position to judge the writing of someone else, given the horrifically formatted mess that is my own work. But despite what I said all the way earlier, I have read some comments on pieces, and when people know it’s a girl writing, there’s usually some dropkick who feels the need to simply ask them about their personal life, which, excluding my own queries regarding Mark and pants, never seems to happen with male writers. So yes, the audience will use a female writer as a chance to prove some machismo bullshit and hit on a girl. But, I don’t think I’ve seen people judging the article itself differently. But, as mentioned, I’m hardly in a position to comment on that.

      So, women are viewed differently? What can we do about it. We could leave it be, and I imagine, over time, men would finally be able to accept the fairer sex as perfectly valid journalists, particularly in the male oriented field of games journalism. But that would take a while. A long while. I certainly wouldn’t go holding your breath. So, I’d say the problem stems from the audience. And, until they invent a way for me to hit people through the internet, it will be a fruitless endeavour to try and change the masses. So, for another piece of advice that wouldn’t help anyone, you could always post under a false name. But that’s giving in. And that never solves anything.

      I’m reminded of the massive debates that occurred when Carolyn Petit over on Gamespot first appeared in video reviews. People were going back and forth over whether it mattered, and whether it was okay, when the simple fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter.

      A journalist should be reviewed based on the work they put out, not some trivial detail about themselves. It irks me that anybody could be so shallow, but that is exactly the way the world is, and I honestly don’t know if anything can be done about it.

  • As long as a person has passion for the subject I am happy to read.

    I must say I do miss seeing Tracey on Good Game and not just because she’s attractive (and she is) but I liked her style of presentation.

  • Female writers shouldn’t be ignored. But do they really need a soapbox to talk about how great it is, because they happen to be both gamers and girls? No.

    The same way any minority group with a persecution complex doesn’t HAVE to rub it in our faces.

    • Where is anyone asking for a soapbox? From the article:

      “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.”

      Being defensive about the status quo, when that status quo is a piece of crap, is hardly endearing.

  • There are people who will disregard journalists based on gender… but then there’ll be those who disregard based on race, sexual preference, etc.

    I understand it’s frustrating and I don’t agree with the sort of stuff that goes on, but singling out broader social issues as being contained within one particular industry is a bit rich.

    • Err they didn’t single out the issue as being contained in one particular industry.

      ” 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 will not say something serious in my comment. The funniest part of the article was “bitches ain’t shit” (the subject line of the emails).

  • Maybe we should start commenting on how men look when they do videos. “Your hair is too short. Grow it out some, you look like a skinhead” “You should wear tighter pants, show off the goods more”

    It’s a really difficult problem to deal with because that gender divide is so heavily ingrained into every aspect of our culture. Women everywhere are judged more on their appearance than their abilities, mostly because men still hold the majority of powerful positions in society. If anything, writers have it a bit easier than most, because when someone is reading an article, they can’t see what the writer looks like and are forced to focus on the actual content being presented.

    The fact that it’s so prevalent in society is the root of the problem though; as mentioned in the e-mails, you feel afraid to call attention to it. This is because you’ve been trained to feel afraid to call attention to it; part of the issue is that everyone is conditioned to reinforce it rather than to really examine it. Men are conditioned that it’s okay to judge a woman solely by her attractiveness, and women are conditioned not to question it because if they do, men will find them less attractive and hold them back.

    Ultimately, I think it’s up to both genders to attack the issue. Women absolutely should speak up about it more, to challenge the men that think that women don’t really mind how the system works. Men need to work at it too, though; they need to start actually listening to women instead of just looking at them. The reason why it’s so difficult is that so few men actually care to try to change anything, because they’re the ones that benefit from the system in place.

  • I know I’m a little late posting but haven’t had a chance to as of yet. I agree with the comments regarding the fact that you’re a chick often getting used as an insult. Don’t know how many times I was playing CS and killed someone and got a barrage of “You stupid b*tch! F*ck you, you dumb sl*t!”
    I’ve also noticed looks inexplicably get bought into it, “Ugly b*tch”.
    This is something that has always bothered me, and while I acknowledge it’s not all gamers that act like this, there are quite a lot that do.
    I also agree with the people who said that games were for a long time almost exclusively the pass time of guys, notably many nerdy guys. Thus a lot of nerdy or more socially inept types get very touchy when they feel that girls are intruding on their sacred turf. Also, once again not saying this is everyone, a lot of the guys I have copped stuff from have seemed like the type of dudes who have had VERY limited contact with girls full stop. So it’s like we are somehow goading them in this respect by playing games. And woe betide you if you’re actually better than them at the games.
    I actually used to work at a games store and there were many occasions when I would approach a customer and be asked if there were any “men” who could help with the inquiry, *sigh*, despite the fact that I probably played a wider range of games than most of the guys there.
    I think things are slowly changing, and chicks are becoming more main stream in the video game world. In my opinion as long as someone writes a good piece and knows their stuff I think most people will enjoy it for what it is and not for who has written it.

    • Oh also, I think an example from The Simpsons always helps to demonstrate things well. In regards to people insulting chicks (or anyone for that matter)- “Well, animals are a lot like people, Mrs. Simpson. Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life, or have been mistreated…but, like people, some of them are just jerks…Stop that, Mr. Simpson”.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!