I Can Be Just As Capable. Let Me.

I Can Be Just As Capable. Let Me.
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.


When I sit down at a computer, my left hand falls automatically into the inverted-V shape known well by all of you; middle three fingers arched across W, A, S and D. Pinky hovering over left-shift, my thumb resting lightly on the space bar. There’s a poetic comfort in this for me. I do it without thinking. These letters are the ones I always come home to.

I’m protective about my natural gravitation to those four letters. They’ve opened up huge new worlds for me: I’ve been to Rapture, Azeroth, the cutting cliff-faces of Dear Esther. I spent three and a half years working towards a games degree. I write about games now. This year, I flew to Los Angeles for my first E3.

Those four letters on my keyboard define me: I am a gamer, they say. This is what I do, what I know and what I love.

So last week at E3, it wasn’t disappointing press conferences, my ruthless appointment schedule, not having time to eat, or even the nightly drinking that broke me. It was my forced separation from those four buttons.

***

So I sat down, fingers falling perfectly across the keyboard. Before me, yellow grass swayed in the wind, and leaning on the W, I began to move slowly through its blades, watching the brush give way to glimpses of crumbling buildings and battered vehicles. It was a meticulously detailed scene and I wanted to absorb all of it.

This was how the PR representative found me a few minutes later, though it seemed he mistook my marvel for a slow-witted lack of comprehension.

“Do you play PC games?” he asked, frowning.

One of the publications on my media badge was listed as PC PowerPlay. It shouldn’t have been necessary for him to ask such a question, but I answered. “Yes.”

“Well, OK.” I sensed a disbelief in the guy’s voice. “But do you play shooters?”

I remember the silence that filled this space beyond this question. I was horrified that anyone could even ask such a thing. Here I was, sitting with my fingers spread across WASD, admiring a game world — and somehow, for some obtuse reason, being assumed to be someone who didn’t know anything about the world or how to interact with it.

“I think I better play it for you,” he said finally, prying my hands away and turning the keyboard towards himself.

And so there I was, hands twisted awkwardly and uselessly in my lap as a guy walked me through his game. In laboured detail, he explained to me simple mechanics that any shooter player would be well-acquainted with. He avoided the gameplay due to some apparent strange belief that I was not there to learn about shooting things in a shooter game, that perhaps my delicate girl senses might be offended by killing with guns and missiles. He pointed out rabbits in the grass with all the condescension of an adult trying to distract a noisy toddler, as if my interest in this simulation-grade shooter lay in some wildly misguided assumption that it would be full of adorable, fluffy animals.


I looked down the booth and saw gamers at the other computers playing their own games, their own hands controlling the avatars. No PR representatives were hovering at their shoulders, pre-empting that a lack of knowledge would lead to them playing the game “wrong”. I felt ridiculous and unwanted. I felt it ridiculous that I should feel unwanted.

I left that booth having learnt very little about the game, beyond that it apparently wasn’t a game that should have interested me. I was evidently a nuisance to these people because… because what? I had made the appointment because of my own curiosity. I had rocked up of my own accord, eager to play what I believed to be a game interesting enough to write about. Instead my presence was underestimated, and I was brushed off as not wanting to truly be there. I couldn’t figure out why — besides perhaps that I was a woman in a pink skirt.

It continued to happen through the next few days of E3. Upon checking into a booth, I would often be asked by the PR rep whether I wanted someone to play my “hands-on” demo for me. During booth tours, I would more often than not be guided towards the Facebook games. Following demonstrations, I was often offered fact sheets just in case I didn’t “understand”. People would regularly take note of the publications listed on my badge and say, “But you don’t really play, right?” I was assumed to be eye candy, the pretty face of a publication whose content was provided by people with actual talent. Every time I protested, the offender would say — as if it were a proven fact — “Well, girls aren’t usually into this stuff, you know.”

And you might say that it’s silly that I might still find this so hurtful. After so many years of getting underestimated for being a woman in online games, in a games degree, in games journalism, why would it seem that I’m still not used to this? Why am I not tired of it already? Why have I not yet learned to shut up and realise that things will never change? If I’m so offended, why am I not determined to just keep my head down and prove the unbelieving wrong by producing good work?

And honestly? It’s because we’re f**king beyond this already.

So to be undervalued by the people promoting the games that I wanted to cover — games that I personally chose to cover — was a hurtful underestimation of my capabilities, both as a journalist and as a gamer. I wanted to accurately write about the games that I saw; instead, it was too often assumed from the outset that I would not be able to do this as a woman, and PR representatives took it to task to feed me condescension-laced spoonfuls of their games, lest my apparent black hole of knowledge sucked their product into the empty deadness of inaccurate, female-penned games journalism. And such behaviour on their part only confirms what they assume based on my long hair and my mascara — of course my hands-on recount is not going to be accurate, not when my own hands are batted away from the thing so that someone more “capable” could take point.


It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that being prevented from playing a game myself leads to only shallow coverage of it, and to have it bylined with a woman’s name only reinforces the idea that a woman might be no good at covering games anyway. Why this, when we’ve made such progress? It’s not just an insult to me — it’s an insult to my editors, to the publications I write for, to games journalism, and to gaming.

It’s unbelievable that this is still happening. If this is how PR people feel about women’s capabilities, no wonder the promotional side of games is so sexist. No wonder marketing people still think it’s, on some level, OK to have a trailer feature a man ripping into a band of sexy nuns. No wonder we’re seeing it filter down into the developers, who implement in-game achievements for looking up the skirts of 19-year-old women dressed like schoolgirls. No wonder we’re watching it filter down into the gamers, who tell the ladies amongst us that they can’t possibly know anything about the online games that they play. After all, what proof is there of that when women are not allowed to speak on an authoritative level?

When we’ve come so far, to have a woman be underestimated at such an internal, integral point of the games industry tragically diminishes what the medium can achieve, and undoes so much of what we’ve worked to overcome.

***

When I sit down at a computer, fingers automatically fanning out over WASD, I shouldn’t have to be made to feel as though it’s not my place. As if I’m a fraud, or wasting the time of the people who develop, promote, or publish games. I can be just as capable as any other writer or gamer. Let me.

Comments

  • “I think I better play it for you”.

    Perhaps one of the worst things you can say to anyone as a developer/PR.

    If you have to “play it” for them, then you’re game is failing and as a developer they should be rethink what they are doing wrong.

    • I think it’s just one of the worst things to say to anyone even outside of this context; its condescending :/

      • Yeah, that was a really horrible article to read. Not because it was poorly written, the article in and of itself was great. But wow, the content blew my mind. I jsut had this sinking feeling in my stomach the whol way through.

        I really didn’t think people actually on the “inside” of gaming journalism could still be perceived as not appreciating the medium based purely on their gender.

        I see in some of the below comments people are saying “well, stand up for yourself! Take the keyboard back!” but realistically, you think the PR guys are going to view you any better for it? Being the “bitch” who gets all uppity because she’s not being respected in the man’s world?

        I personally would have walked away, then written my article about how the relationship between the PR company and the audience, but I realise that’s not really good advice either.

        The level to which there are still people thinking like that in what is probably the most progressive and quickly evolving entertainment medium out there is just awful.

        • First, when you are representing your company at a convention, you put your best public face on. The customer is always right and that is the WRONG time to be a pushy domineering know-it-all. Second, the thing a lot of men don’t get is, —any— time a woman sticks up for herself, no matter how not-bitchy she’s being, she’s likely to be called a bitch. If Katie had simply said, “excuse me, I know how to play, I’ve literally written books about this,” he’d likely have called her a bitch, if only in private. Why is that? Because that’s how sexist asshats respond to being called out. Nobody likes being called out, and so especially if a woman does it – especially if she’s right – she’s a “bitch.” So, to heck with it, let’s be “a bitch.” Call him out, stick up for yourself. The only man who thinks you’re a bitch for that is an asshole himself, so why even care what he thinks?

          • Part of the problem here is the kind of guy that isn’t going to call her a bitch for that is likely the kind of guy who wouldn’t assume she was pants on head retarded in the first place, eg. someone with even an ounce of intelligence.
            Misogyny, hard at work in the 21st century.

      • It is SO condescending. I have played shooters for years-and every other “GUYS GAME” out there-I’d have a REALLY HARD TIME keeping my tongue-and I’m as feminine as you can get-blond-long hair-the whole thing-but I can play with the best of them-I really want to go to E3 nxt year-but it makes me wonder………

    • This made me feel absolutely awful, I feel incredibly remorseful for Williams, how rude and condescending of a PR individual. Had you been struggling, sure, but to instantly assume the worst, that’s hurtful.

      I want names! Names of the people and of the games!

      This article left a disgusted feeling in my gut, for all the right reasons.

      • I feel like this ‘fake’ personality, in terms of women, is perpetuated by the fact that E3 has half naked, attractive women at almost every booth in the building that know almost nothing about the games they are ‘representing’. This gives off the vibe that any woman attending E3 is also there for the same purpose, to be eyecandy and not taken seriously.

      • That’s stupid. She’s wearing a damn journalist badge for KOTAKU. A known gaming website. It’s ridiculously sexist to assume she can’t play, just because she’s a girl. (And don’t tell me this isn’t the case, because no other journalists were asked if they wanted someone else to do it for them. Also, are you really suggesting that by wearing a pink shirt, she was creating a persona that can’t play videogames? If you believe that, you’re just as sexist as the PR people at the booth.

        “Dress for the job?” There were no male journalists walking around wearing suits, were there? How is wearing a pink shirt any different to a guy wearing a t-shirt? She probably should have corrected them, but that doesn’t change how sexist this situation is, and the situation should never have arisen anyway.

      • You don’t get to define what her job is. She knows what her job is far better than you. No journalist at E3 can see every demo and play every game at the show. They see/play what they are assigned by their editors, or they seek out titles that seem interesting to them or to their readers.

        You write, “she was dressed with a pink skirt? what was she expecting?” This is AMAZINGLY sexist. You are making unwarranted assumptions about the competence, character, and professionalism of a person based on superficial details. It is clear that in your mind, pink skirts are for “girly” women, and according to your prejudices, “girly” women are bad at games and unprofessional.

        “I think everyone should dress what they like, but if she is a journalist she should dress for the job.” You contradict yourself quite obviously here. Everyone should dress how they like — but not female journalists? Your belief that a pink skirt cannot be professional attire has no basis in reality. Pink garments of all kinds (for both genders) are acceptable attire for professionals. Skirts are also commonplace and entirely appropriate for women, except if the skirts are so short that they cause distractions for others. (A lot of games journalists cover E3 in baggy cargo shorts and stained T-shirts, and no one gives them any guff about their unprofessional attire.)

        I agree that she should have politely objected when the PR jerk took the keyboard away from her. Everything else you wrote was nonsense.

  • I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

    The PR people come to expect exactly the type of person they assumed you were instead of being respectful and acknowledging that you might actually be a legitimate PC gamer. This is because many companies do send attractive girls with superficial knowledge because they will get attention and can manipulate the reps.

    I liked your article for other reasons though, when I read the first paragraph it made me cognisant of what my hand does subconsciously when I sit down at the computer.

  • Maybe this is the wrong thing to do and i dont know the whole story about what happened, but if someone starts making assumptions about your experience with games you should correct them. If someone snatches the controls away snatch it right back and tell them you can do it yourself. Also dont be afraid to name names, unless you’ve signed some confidentiality agreement name the companies with sexist behavior and what that behaviour is, this might be the first step to them getting their act together. Gamers should treat each other like gamers regardless of sex or whatever other irrelavant thing, and it sucks that you were treated like that.

    • What it said above me.
      Confrontation is the best way to overcome stupid things like this happening. Given that you might not have realised the first time the PR dude said, “maybe I should play it for you” why it happened, but it was clear that you understood by round 2 what was going on. Just shut the PR guy up and tell him to keep his hands off and just talk. Call me aggressive but I can tell you from personal experience that it works a treat. It also helps that I’m bigger than them and my father can probably beat theirs.

      • Confrontation is often the first option… for men. A man who fails to confront or stand up for himself looses face and standing and is seen as a wimp. When a woman does that, we get labeled ‘bitch’, and then everything we say and do can be ignored. Ignore the hysterical bitch, she’s just hormonal. It’s a horrible trap, because it means that even when we have a legit complaint we can’t get angry about it and still be taken seriously.

        And this sort of thing? Is something to get angry about, you’re right. When the issue is being treated differently because of our gender, falling into the traps around gender can just make things worse. I’m a gamer, and believe me, online I pretend just as hard as can be that I’m male. Yes, yes, letting down the side and all that, but my own personal sanity is more valuable in that moment. Until you’ve had multiple sex offers, rude and gross statements made about your body, mind and self and been told that because of your gender you must automatically be incompetent and/or stupid (or good for nothing more than sexual acts), you wouldn’t understand. It’s something about being a woman gamer that… isn’t inherent, but is a fact to be dealt with.

        Until game companies realize that gamers can be chicks too (anyone see that WoW commercial with the dude’s girlfriend who wound up playing Horde and dumping him for being a bad boyfriend? that commercial got me to re-up my account with World of Warcraft.) there will be massive misogyny in gaming. Trickle down effect in full force. And I tell you what, I find a game that treats women like humans, that doesn’t have us in stupid skimpy outfits all the time, lets us wear actual armor, the other players respect us for our skills in the game and no one makes innuendo laden comments? They get all my money.

        • Now you’re coming off as sexist. If you politely say “no, seriously, I’m a gamer. I know how to control an FPS and if I wanted to I could write a design document more complex than this game” you wouldn’t come off as a bitch. Don’t say things like that with that bitchy tone of voice my younger sister likes to talk in and say it more like my older sister. Guys only label chicks as being bitchy when they’re bitchy. Most chicks can’t recognize when they’re being bitchy, but it really doesn’t seem hard to me. I’m a tall, strong guy and I am as nice as I can be with people who deserve it. I wouldn’t have attacked this guy, I just would’ve laughed(not in a cruel or sarcastic way, in a “haha wow you just took the controller from me” way) and explained to them that I am, in fact, a “real” gamer.

          For the record I can’t stand when game designers have female characters in skimpy “armor,” but I am a little… okay, VERY envious when chicks are portrayed in attractive outfits. Guys are usually treated as unattractive oafs compared to chicks in modern entertainment, it makes me want to play games designed by chicks with objectified male characters. I’ve actually read quite a few complaints coming from females in the past about when male characters are treated objectively in games and movies and stuff, about how men are soooo evil for making themselves look so attractive. Yes, men should treat female gamers like they’re part of the club, no, guys who insult women just for being women in multiplayer games do not deserve to live. That still doesn’t stop chicks from being sexist against men in modern culture and it being the popular perspective to have. Again, I want more objectification of men in my entertainment. I actually actively support chicks watching movies like Magic Mike *shudder* just because they focus on attractive men being attractive in a product specifically aimed at chicks. I love that, as long as I don’t have to see it. I’m more of a Keanu Reeves guy, myself. xD

          nohomo, all that.

          • She didn’t sound bitchy or sexist at all. Her comment was a straight-forward description of the experience of playing games online as a woman.

            “Now you’re coming off as sexist. If you politely say “no, seriously, I’m a gamer. I know how to control an FPS and if I wanted to I could write a design document more complex than this game” you wouldn’t come off as a bitch.”

            Her whole point, which she explained in simple words in the first paragraph, is that a man is able to say things like that without worrying about coming off like a ‘bitch’. A woman is not able to say things like that without worrying about coming off like a ‘bitch’. It’s like you didn’t even read her comment.

          • see my comment above. She wouldn’t “come off as” a bitch to reasonable, non-sexist men. It’s completely untrue that “guys only label checks as being bitchy when they’re bitchy,” how can you seriously say that? “Bitch” is thrown out at a woman for any number of deserved and undeserved reasons – some guys seem think any woman who doesn’t give them what they want or who opposes them in any way is a bitch.

        • Confrontation doesn’t have to be direct, in-your-face., especially not for this particular case You can calmly say “No, it’s cool, I’ll play by myself, thanks”. The rep can take a hint and might hover over your shoulder, just muck about and try things out. He isn’t going to wrestle the keyboard away from you while you’re playing.

          You don’t need to be aggressive or passive. Just resistant to such silly reasoning.

      • yes, but women who shut men down are not accepted as being assertive, they’re always seen as overly aggressive bitches. it’s just a ridiculous situation because, you’re right, she should be able to just say back off and have the PR guy respect that, but in reality that is a very unlikely scenario

        • Simply untrue… and frankly sexist to males.
          CAN it happen? Sure, DOES it happen? Often even? Sure. ALWAYS? That’s the same thought pattern that caused this whole article to exist,
          1. Sexist PR guy sees female
          2. PR guy assumes ALL females are stupid and can’t play vidyagames
          3. PR guy proceeds to what it written in the article.

      • To add to your point arent we blaming the wrong people? When PR guys say “girls are usually not into this stuff” isnt it just based on his experience having worked with many women who aren’t into games as much as the writer?

        Im not too familiar with the women that companies send to cover games but if ur repeatedly facing the same prejudice at all the games ur covering, then th problem might lie with the companies that keep sending non gamer girls to cover these events. Lets call out these companies and get them to stop doing that

        • Is that actually a problem? If you’re talking about PC-Game-Lovers.com it makes sense to have a dedicated game reviewer/previewer go down there and do a hands on, but if you’re talking about Fancy Lady Magazine where they do light coverage of a handful of games a year they’ll just send one of their regular staff down to relay and give impressions to their readers.
          That person may not know much about games but ultimately they don’t need to. The majority of what they do is based on their journalistic skills rather than knowing who Bowser is.

          • You would be right….if Fancy Lady magazine actually existed.
            Just think about it realistically rather than theoretically. Have games ever been covered in any small time media which doesn’t have at least one gamer journalist working for them? I’ve not seen a game coverage in Cosmopolitan ever. Have you?

            Plus, your point about journalistic skills and gaming knowledge is precisely my point. You can send someone with fantastic journalistic skills to cover a game, but if they have no knowledge of it in the first place…it further propagates the assumption that girls can’t play games.

    • Don’t you think she might be a bit tired of doing that? There’s only so much you can put up with before any standing up for yourself starts to feel a bit pointless. Those are not the words of someone experiencing this for the first time, they’re the words of someone who feels a bit hopeless about the state of things.

      • i agree with this in part but consider what happens if people STOP standing up for themselves and others.

        • I’m with Richard, she shouldn’t have to. The onus of changing things should not be on the person who is being victimised, since she didn’t do anything wrong. It should be on the people who are doing things wrong – the marketers and demonstraters and the industry as a whole that sees itself as the sole domain of men.

          And anyway, what is this article if not standing up for herself?

          • again i agree, but the wrong doer isn’t named, A. he may never see this so he may never hear katies frankly 100% correct view, and B. the wrong doer probably doesnt even think he’s done anything wrong so he will never consider changing his behavior, you are right, katie doesn’t need to change, he does, but if he doesn’t know to change he never will

          • Don’t you think it’s a little narrow to focus on changing this one person when it is clearly a systematic problem in the industry? This person has been indoctrinated into the idea that women do not play shooters. This is obviously incorrect to us, but he has been taught this by the prevailing messages in gaming culture. We need to change those messages rather than change that one person.

            Anyway, if we knew who it was, we all know that a lot of abuse would follow him in true internet fashion, and that isn’t the answer here. Abusing one person for being wrong will not change anything, and probably wouldn’t change his opinion anyway.

          • I KNOW its not just one person. I KNOW that the whole industry needs to change. But the industry IS made up of INDIVIDUALS and each INDIVIDUAL needs to make a change. The more individuals that chage the better off we will be. (sorry i keep using caps words but i cant underline)

          • I agree that individuals need to make a change. However, asking her to try to make that change for them is not fair. It is not her responsibility to make up for someone else’s ignorance. Particularly at this point where she is sick of standing up for herself just to be confronted with it again and again. Individuals need to want to make that change for themselves.

            I think that is where an article like this comes in – it reaches a larger number of people, and might give a few people that push to start to change. I’ve seen that a lot recently in comments – people saying they watched Anita Sarkeesian’s videos or have reconsidered using the word rape in a non-sexual assault context. Articles like this provide the impetus for change in a larger number of individuals, which is more productive and less futile and exhausting than trying to convince one person who clearly doesn’t want to listen that they are wrong.

          • Well for females this is basically a lose lose situation. No matter what you do man still say whatever they want to say because its a mans world. No matter what way she goes about this nothing will probably change because you have to go through man to make it happen. These things are to small scale and by the time things do change the video game market will be gone by then.
            I agree with the article I only posted what I did because this is a sad situation that she’s in. It doesn’t help that every female isn’t cooperative as well so that makes things worst. I’m glad that I wasn’t born female I don’t think I could take it without being a tom-boy.

          • You’re right – she shouldn’t have to. But in this case (and by the sounds of it, in most cases) she did have have to – and she chose not to.

            Writing an article two weeks later isn’t standing up for yourself, it’s the equivalent of shouting a comeback when the other person is halfway home.

            Again, you’re right, she shouldn’t be underestimated, but let me put it another way – if every female game journalist sat there and let controllers be snatched off them, let others walk them through a game, where’s the momentum for change? Where’s the ‘Oh shit, that girl’s damned good’, followed by ‘Oh, another good female games journalist’, followed by ‘Dammit all these girls are stealing the good game journalism jobs!’?

            To be honest (and I hate to go ‘there’), your comments me of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. You’re right, black people should NOT have needed rallies and protests, but unfortunately they did. And thank god MLK was there. Maybe Katie Williams will speak up for what she believes in next time?

        • Have you ever had someone say something so flabbergastingly stupid to you that you just can’t say anything back? Imagine hearing such things every day. It gets exhausting, and it takes a rare person to continue being gung-ho about it after the fibe hundredth time.

      • She shouldn’t have to say it. Absolutely agreed. But see, that’s the thing about inequality. You shouldn’t have to say it. People should know better. If you’re ever saying that you ‘shouldn’t have to say’ something, then clearly you do need to say it, because people are not acting in the way they should. What you want is a situation where you don’t have to say it.

        Clearly in this case it does need to be said. Again and again. Radical changes to such an entrenched culture are not going to happen overnight, they require perseverance. And the people at fault need to be told they’re at fault, otherwise they’ll never know. Much better and more polite to tell them at the time. If they’re stupid enough to ignore that, then follow it up higher.

    • I think you might be missing the point here a little. It’s not that it happened, it’s that the culture of gaming is so entrenched, it happens almost as a default.

    • This is a very easy thing to say in hindsight as someone who isn’t a female dealing with the oppressive sexism of a gaming industry event.

      • So what can we do about it then? Talk about how bad it is on the internet? It’s clearly something that needs to change, but what can gamers actually do about it? Which publishers are the worst offenders, should we stop buying their stuff?

        If speaking up about it isn’t possible, and it’s not possible to name the guilty parties and put pressure on the publishers to hire better PR, what’s the solution? The bulk of the people reading this are not going to be female games journalists or work in games PR. What can we, as gamers, actually do about it? Find another hobby?

        • How about actually discuss it and spread the knowledge about this? I get confused when people make points like this for a situation like this. This is a social issue, and like many other social issues, you have to actually discuss it and make the masses aware that there’s a problem. Luckily we live in an age of technology where this can be done on a greater level and, in turn, allows people to band together and come up with constructive ways to solve the problem. But again, the problem doesn’t really get solved unless you actually address it and make people aware that there’s a problem to begin with.

    • Some people aren’t confrontational. They don’t find it easy to tell someone to stuff off, even when they are really frustrated. I know I myself would let things slide unless I was pretty pissed off (in this situation, being told they could play it better than me would be classified as pissing me off).

    • Agreed. In reality, there are not a lot of gamer girls and the majority that do play games such as Farmville and Plants vs. Zombies. You should stick up for yourself more and beat them at their own game. 🙂

      • i’m a girl. i don’t play either farmville or plants vs. zombies. saying that “In reality, there are not a lot of gamer girls and the majority that do play games such as Farmville and Plants vs. Zombies” is just about as dumb as the pr guy taking the keyboard away from the author of this article. you can not assume that just because it’s a certain type of game, “girls” don’t want to play it. just… read for comprehension and think before you post.

    • This isn’t just to you, but to all the men saying this:

      Yes, I too wanted to read that she grabbed the keyboard back, said “watch and learn, little boy”, and proceeded to kick arse. But I know why it didn’t happen. I don’t think you realise how hard and stressful and often, completely non-productive, “sticking up for yourself” for a woman in this sort of circumstance can be.

      When shocked and stressed, we tend to fall back on what we’ve been trained to do. And, unfortunately, women (yes, some men too, but not quite so much) are trained that we have to be nice, and compliant, and not make a scene, because if we don’t, a bad situation will get even worse. And sadly, that last part is often *true*, a man who may genuinely have believed he was being helpful and doing the right thing, may get defensive and unpleasant if it’s pointed out he was achieving neither. More people may get involved, you may have to escalate even *more* to be heard, the risk that *you* get seen as the one with the problem increases, and then as others have pointed out, you get painted as the crazy bitch who lost at some hapless fellow who was only trying to help. In the moment, you have to make a very quick judgment of whether it’s worth it and you may be correct if you feel it’s not. Even if you DO think you should complain, sometimes getting yourself to override all that “be nice” training is practically impossible.

      I’ve been in a far worse situation, when I thought I was in actual danger, was screaming at myself “For God’s sake, don’t just stand there, do something!” and found I simply COULD NOT override that compulsion to be polite *to the man who was scaring me*, that apparently some part of me thought that not making a fuss was more important than keeping myself SAFE. And you know, I thought I was a fairly tough, opinionated person who was never without an answer; finding all of that could desert me when it most counted was pretty terrifying.

      On the other hand, in less high-stakes situations, I’ve complained about sexism, *ultimately* been taken seriously, but not before I’ve taken so much flak and been accused of so many things that I was emotionally exhausted by the end of it. I spent a long time feeling like I’d made a terrible mistake in speaking up before it really dawned on me that I’d actually won.

      Of course, not every woman always goes passive and compliant every time someone acts like a dick to her, not every man relishes conflict or is validated if he complains. But just realise that what you’re asking is more difficult than it would be for you (obviously, because, as a man, you wouldn’t get this treatment in the first place), could easily end badly for the woman, and even if it doesn’t, the emotional cost of victory could be steep.

      • This is well put : )
        The underlying issue is with the generalizing of what gender constitutes a “serious gamer”. Rebuffing someone for inferring you don’t know how to play games properly isn’t going to help either party get their job done. Ideally everyone should be more aware & less inclined to treat women as special needs cases when concerning stereotypically male media.

        The point of the article may be getting somewhat lost in the driving example.

      • People keep saying (on here) “you should have taken the keyboard back, and not just wrote about it 2 weeks later.” which is like saying “You should have steered that car away from the other car, instead of emotionally complaining about it to your friends 2 weeks later”

        It happened. And when it happened, it was probably one of those moments where she was so taken aback by his dickishness that she felt like a bystander, watching the event unfold in slow motion.

        If she were a male, writing this, I think the response of “hey this is what you should have done” might be more appropriate — we males tend to focus on empowering ourselves through information so that we know what to do if things happen again.

        But I think, for the author, writing about it now is /probably/ a means for her to both share her pain, her experience, as well as get some closure and take control of something that was really eating at her. The fact that she waited two weeks could simply be because she thought that her displeasure at the incident was wrong, or that she thought it wasn’t really a problem or thought that it didn’t really bother her. But after gnawing at the back of her neck for two weeks, she decides “fuck this, I have to say something to get this out.”

        Writing the article doesn’t take the physical keyboard back. But if you read between the lines up there, she’s talking about how she feels like her RIGHT to play games (via her peer-acceptance to use the WASD keys) was usurped by the jerk that stepped in; his actions may have made her feel INVALIDATED; in writing this article, she can both cathartically move on, and also re-assert her RIGHT to use WASD (and, by extension, play games)

        I’m a guy, and so I only see this stuff from the outside, but one thing I’ve learned in trying to understand our differences as genders is that men and women process crap like this differently. Armchair suggestions about what she should have done are pointless and not the kind of validation she’s probably looking for. (And are also evidence of a lack of understanding of the female gender, which is the greater issue facing the gaming industry, right? Women don’t need to be represented as men-with-vaginas, they need to be represented as women.)

        If I’m wrong about my assessment, please correct me. I want to understand.

        • This was beautifully written, and a good assessment of the situation (so I believe). The idea that men are “fixers” and women just want to work it out (ex. through validation) is perhaps a bit too simplistic, but yea, in my experience it does tend to work out that way.

          “It happened. And when it happened, it was probably one of those moments where she was so taken aback by his dickishness that she felt like a bystander, watching the event unfold in slow motion.” Loved this.

    • Name and shame them and their PR departments will certainly pay attention. It is one of the best things about the internet. And it seems like several companies could benefit from having a diversity and inclusion discussion with their reps.

    • I agree with NegativeZero’s point but perhaps not the way he conveyed it. Those guys behave that way because of past experiences. It needs fixing, and I’d invite Katie to participate in changing it – in future – by responding like a gamer: “Do you want me to play it for you”, “Hell no. You touch this keyboard and you’ll find out why my toons are always Sith not Jedi…”

    • were NOT saying its katies fault, were saying that these sexist people need to be stood up to, and if these people remain nameless or aren’t at least corrected in person then nothing comes of it.

      • It is not an individual problem that can be solved by addressing one person’s misconceptions, it is a cultural problem that needs to be dealt with on a number of levels. Kotaku’s excellent discussion on gender in recent months is certainly a step in the right direction. There needs to be positive input from developers and marketers. And the market itself will have to evolve to be perceived to accept a broad audience and varied and complex characters of all genders, races, sexualities etc.

        • I agree. It’s not as simple as a girl standing up to herself. Katie shouldn’t have to defend herself and telling her to stand up for herself isn’t going to help much either. If we’re going to do things that way, a girl will have to tell a guy to stuff off pretty regularly and I’m pretty sure that would just get tedious. This culture needs to change and it’ll take a lot more than a few girls standing up for themselves. We need to grill into people’s minds that these preconceptions about gender (and everything else for that matter) need to die.

        • This isn’t a reason individuals shouldn’t stand up to other individuals, your making a good general point, but it in no way refutes cyberxenomorph’s claim.

    • Whooo. Victim blaming. Gotta love it.
      I imagine that the majority of those comments were made by men. Men who don’t get systematically victimised, brushed off, told they’re not good enough, talked down to, and have sexual advances made towards them when they’re playing a game. Women constantly have to prove themselves as gamers and it’s not ok.
      It’s easy to say she should stand up for herself when you’re speaking from a place of privelege.

    • I think that’s a bit unfair. The people saying she should have stuck up for herself aren’t blaming her. They just aren’t gaming journalists, so they don’t know that often in the ‘biz you have to keep your mouth shut for diplomacy’s sake. At least they’re backing her up, and not being like “LOL serves you right go back to the kitchen hurr durr”

  • “And you might say that it’s silly that I might still find this so hurtful.”

    Not at all.. but I was waiting for the part where you tell the guy off for taking away your keyboard and making sexist assumptions about you….. but that part didn’t come.. you just allowed him to take the keyboard away and you were politely submissive about the whole thing…. and then later, after the fact, after the time you could have actually done something about it.. not just for yourself but for all future girl gamers and journos that interact with that company… you could have stood up for yourself. But you didn’t… why?

    “It’s because we’re f**king beyond this already”

    Clearly not. And why should you be? It’s not just sexist.. it’s disrespectful and certainly not the behaviour a PR company should be performing.

    Again though.. why didn’t you speak up when it mattered?

    • I think you missed the point.

      It’s not cool that the PR guy was in all truth being a dick, but I definitely agree there could have been a chance to say ‘No I’m good here’ and keep on going.

  • “Gamers should treat each other like gamers regardless of sex or whatever other irrelavant thing” – you obviously haven’t played Halo or Call of Duty.

    You should have let the PR Rep know of his preference to play with himself, rather than let a woman take his play-thing into her capable hands.

    • i meant gamers as in people who treat others with respect and just play games, not gamers as in douchbages who just want to rage (i do not class these as gamers i class them as douchbags)

  • And two more while I was writing my response. I’m sure more will come along and ask the same old question “why, Katie, why didn’t you just say something?” (never mind that in your story you clearly indicated that you did say something on at least one occasion.)

    That’s not the point though.

    She Should Have To.

    It’s not her fault.

    • you’re right she SHOULDN’T have to, but considering the way katie was treated someone obviously HAS to

    • No she shouldn’t.. but that is not the point. In a perfect world everyone would respect everyone and not make assumptions.. but this is not a perfect world and those that do that stuff need to be put in their place..

    • We shouldn’t have had to declare that slavery is wrong, that a person’s worth isn’t derived from the color of their skin, that women should be allowed to be educated and vote, and so on. The fact is that people did and still do have to fight for these things to be accepted. They shouldn’t have to, but if everyone simply sat around saying ‘I shouldn’t have to do this’ then change would never happen.

      • What Katie did or didn’t do is irrelevant. Even if every single one of these people had been called on their behaviour, it wouldn’t diminish the point of the article at all. Lets focus on what really matters here, the constant exclusion and mistreatment of women, not on what you think Katie should have done.

    • She shouldn’t have to write this article about it either, but she did. And she likely did so for the same reasons that people are saying she should have spoken up at the time.

      You want things to change? You need to speak up in at least one way or another. Yes, she did that by writing this article. But speaking up at the time would have also helped. Even better – do BOTH.

      Of course, there valid reasons why she wouldn’t have spoken up at the time. Maybe she doesn’t like personal confrontation, or maybe she was just to stunned to respond when the PR guy physically removed her hands from the keyboard. Maybe she just didn’t think of it at the time. Or one of potentially hundreds of other completely understandable reasons.

      But the people saying “you should have said something” aren’t laying blame on Katie. They’re giving advice on how they feel she could better handle the situation in the future, as it is a situation that – unfortunately – is likely to happen to her again. Dismissing their honest advice as “laying blame” is just as blind as the PR guy assuming she needed help with the demo.

  • Bleh – what disgraceful behaviour from these PR guys – even by PR guy standards, which are pretty damned low to begin with. I can’t believe we’re still having to deal with idiots like this – it just makes me embarrassed and ashamed to be part of this industry.

    To the author I’d just like to say that the vast majority (i.e. outside of marketing) of us aren’t this shallow.

  • Can’t believe the dumb arsed attitudes they gave you. In this day and age, that’s a joke. Obviously they’re too used to women only being either Admin, or booth babes. Should have told them to get stuffed instead of letting them continue to perpetuate their crap.

  • Name and Shame, please.
    I assume “Well known military shooter” is codename for Call of Duty. I haven’t bought from that franchise for a few years now – maybe I’ll write them an email telling them I’m still not buying their stuff.

    Also, my fingers now fall to QWER – I guess that’s the result of leaving many shooters behind.

  • Can I just point out to people a much better (IMO) keyboard position for playing, well, pretty much any PC game. It takes a bit of getting used to, but your hand is far more relaxed and you have so many more keys at your disposal. Here it goes. pointer on the U, middle on the Y, ring on the T, pinky on the D, thumb on the space next to the right Alt.

    The way I do it is the U is actually forwards, T and Y are left and right, space is backwards and D is your alternative (activate, alt fire, etc).

    Try it now. Look around at all the keys you have easy access to! Your pinky can easily reach 8 keys without having to think where it’s going, your pointer 7 or more, the list goes on! And how much more comfortable is it than that cramped WASD?!!! I’m telling you, it’s gaming heaven at its best 🙂

  • Just write the feature of the game for PC powerplay based on what you experienced.
    User interface is difficult and even the PR representatives acknowledge that the games controls are difficult and clunky to use which is why they insisted he take over during the demo. So on and so forth.
    If game devs start getting that sort of feedback about their game, maybe then they would look at training their PR staff, otherwise some nameless dev for some nameless game have no business case to change their behavior.

    • That’s a good point, make the write up reflect your experience, so something very similar to this article will do well to shake things up, or at least get it started. You (Katie) have to power to reach a lot of people through the magazine platform and writing a scathing article that directly references your experience related to the games you were supposed to cover then it should be an eye opener for the gamers AND the industry people.

    • But she was doing fine, as she said. There was nothing to indicate that she was struggling beyond her taking in the scenery.

  • The contention that “Katie should have said something” is flawed on a few levels. Firstly, yes she shouldn’t have to. Secondly, look at sexism in the workplace. If an employee speaks up about about being offended by sexism they’re usually the ones made out to be trouble-makers or fun-killers. Being told you’re not wanted here doesn’t fill you with confidence about your grievances being heard and respected. She’s already been told she’s basically not supposed to be there, what makes you think they want her to have an opinion too? It’s not an environment conducive to speaking up.

    Which brings me to the power dynamics. In this kind of situation, the power dynamics are really bizarre. The journalist requires the co-operation of the PR person in order to get access to the game and write their story (and get paid). But the journalist has the power to tell the public about the game. So the PR person while needed by the journo, fears the journos response. It makes for really fucking awkward scenarios sometimes, and this is one of them. Was he super nervous and projecting his fears about the game’s coverage onto Katie? Possibly. Did he say those things because he didn’t appreciate the shift in the power dynamic and didn’t know how to ensure good coverage of the game when a woman was covering it? Maybe. Was he super unprofessional? Absolutely.

    Blaming Katie for not speaking up is not directing your attention to the right place. It should be directed toward the completely unprofessional approach taken by this PR guy, who should be thanking his lucky stars Katie hasn’t chosen to name and shame.

    • Yes, yes, and yes. I also feel like if someone springs something like that on you, you’re often too surprised to defend yourself. Or you don’t realise right away that he’s asking you these questions because you’re a woman. And then slowly, it dawns on you, but at that point it’s too late.

    • What even is PR? I thought it stood for public relations… clearly the 101 lesson is forgotten very quickly.

    • @Leena – this doesn’t really have parallels with in workplace sexism – if anything, the power dynamic shifts the other way, with the PR representatives (mostly) being concerned with showing off a game in a good light, I really doubt there would have been any contention if Katie had of said, “no its okay, I’ll give it a whirl. You could talk me through what I’m seeing though”. PR people dont ‘fear’ the journos response, unless they are a new developer and are yet to even make a name for themselves, but E3 isn’t a review – its about showing off the most features (explosions, etc) of your game as you can.

      Jesus, the amount of coddling in this comments section is nigh-on appalling.

      • I sure as shit hope you’re basing this observation on your lengthy experience in the journalism world. Although since I will be basing the following rebuttal on mine, I’m inclined to doubt it.

        A PR person’s job isn’t to present the game in the best light, it’s to try to ensure that the image a journalist puts out is as close as possible to the one their company would prefer. That makes any interaction where a PR person think you’ll react in any other way into a very uneasy compromise (for example, have you ever tried to cover a political campaign when the spokesperson thinks you look young?) Plus, as a journalist, you aren’t at an event you cover as yourself, you’re there as your publication. It’s so rarely acceptable to make a personal stand on professional time that I’ve done it only twice – once when a battery suspect took a swing at me.

        A journalist covering a gaming conference is indeed in her workplace. This is exactly workplace sexism, with all of the attendant shades of gray. She did what I would have done – stay professional, get the job done, then do what she can to call the event and the culture that produced the response on what she saw.

    • Exactly. Blaming the victim is the wrong approach. Blame the shitty culture instead that grows these attitudes.

      I heard of similiar stories from some female gamedevs at E3 too – that it was assumed that they were booth babes and couldn’t possibily be game developers because they were young attractive women. It frustrates me that this happens.

    • The first thing that popped into mind when I read this was ‘yes… this is horrible and shouldn’t be happening but at the same time, Katie decided to remain passive awestruck and let the PR guy take over rather than growing some ovaries and demonstrating confidence.’ Fun fact: the passive awestruck female is pretty much a trope.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m a male feminist, in the truest sense of the word, but let’s stop this ‘gender roles and opinions should become equal immediately’. This takes time. I’m fighting for equality as much as you, but it’s exactly that: a fight. Katie could have changed some minds and made an impact, but she chose to be tacit, and reconfirmed those stereotypes.

  • Just say the words, “PC Powerplay” and follow it with an maniacal laugh. That’s all he needs to know.

  • I can’t help but wonder if this was honest miscommunication. I often find myself correcting players, male or female, if I believe they are inefficently placing their fingers on the keyboard.

    • You should probably stop that shit in general unless you are asked for help. Maybe, just maybe, their fingers are different from yours? They have different dexterity than you do? Or they don’t give a f**k and like keymashing for the fun of it.

    • Ugh, that’s messed up.

      I worked a game publisher’s booth at E3 this year as well and we had plenty of female guests (relatively speaking). It makes me sad to hear that this is still a problem, but hopefully the perception is changing. During a break I walked the show floor with a model friend from Nintendo and we played Borderlands 2. At least those Gearbox guys left her alone.

  • Not having a go, but you’re a journalist – tell us who he worked for, and what game he was advertising!

    Hell, if the developer got wind of it, there’s no way it would happen again.

  • This is beyond disgusting.
    Mainly because if someone is there for E3, generally they’re passionate about games. PR should never take the controller away unless the person asks for help, no matter what gender they are or what they’re wearing.

    • I wouldn’t blame them if the person was wearing a Borat Mankini. I’d hope they’d then wipe the controller thoroughly with anti-bacterial wipes.

    • So the PR guy isn’t sexist because he “probably” deals with a lot of women who don’t actually get into gaming? Even female journalists who are there specifically to get a hands-on with the game? Ones who start playing and don’t ask for help?

      What about the rest of the article, where they just assume she’s not really a gamer and tell her that straight to her face? Or when she lines up for a “hands on” then gets offered the opportunity to watch, based purely on her appearance?

      You don’t think there’s sexism there? Guys who see a female and assume that like all the other women they know she has no idea what she’s doing?

      Get out.

      • Erm, why would someone with no experience with games go to a convention solely about video games? The assumption should be that you know your shit – and not the other way around just because the journo happens to be female.

          • Surely accusing the author of flat out lying crosses a god damn line, even in a comments forum! Congratulations for being the worst person.

          • Thank goodness we have you, the only man left on earth with his eyes open, who know’s what’s REALLY going on.

            *overly dramatic eye roll*

          • Hahaha so the guy who wouldn’t question why girls don’t play games based on his own experience is telling other people they’re sheep for believing an anecdote from a journalist? Hilarious.

        • Precisely what I’m saying but … I was trying to avoid dumbing it down to the piont where, it had to be explained piece by piece like a children’s story book. Unfortunately it seems, that’s what is required to get through to people, that label everything they possibly can as discrimination.

    • Xristos, you’re saying ‘I know several women who I don’t think are good at games, therefore it’s not sexist to assume that all women are poor gamers and need male help.’ Come ooooon, listen to yourself! Have you ever thought that maybe it’s attitudes like this that are stopping them from playing games?

        • First paragraph – “He’s thinking women are shit gamers”
          Second paragraph – “You guys all act like he’s thinking women are shit gamers”

          And we’re the ones completely void of reason?

          • “Most of the sexism that is constantly raged over, is fabricated by paranoid fools. A person cannot simply speak, without some drongo screaming “SEXIST” “RACIST” etc…”

            Clearly you’ve never been on Reddit then. Or youtube. Or pretty much anywhere else on the internet.
            Parading your opinion as fact makes you more of a cyclops than anyone else here. I don’t see ‘raging’ here, I see pretty reasonable discussion. You’re the one going around calling people cyclopses and sheep, and getting your comments deleted for inappropriate, so I would think that shows who’s having the rage around here, sweetie-pie.

    • Oh, of course. Your extensive experience with female family members who coincidentally don’t play games is obviously a more reliable source than, say, the multiple studies that show that, as of 2010, approximately 40%+ of gamers are women. And the numbers keep rising. http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_Essential_Facts_2010.PDF I know what you’ll probably think next. ‘Oh, but those aren’t REAL games. I bet like 5% of those girls actually play shooters. I bet the only game most of them have ever played is Farmville. ‘ And right there, we have an inside look at what female gamers deal with every day – being underestimated and undervalued because of our gender. We are invisible because sexism, and people like you, make us so. It’s a common occurrence BECAUSE IT IS SEXISM and it is inherent in both society and gamer culture, to the point where gamers like yourself are blind to it.

        • Hilarious. Guy who says men are more technical and pay more attention to small detail than women puts his email in the box where his name should be when commenting.
          You amuse me. you shall come dance for me and my court. I have a costume with bells which you can wear. Oh yeah, and advising a guy to ignore a lady? You stay classy, bro. NOW. DANCE. *claps hands*

      • “We are invisible because sexism”

        You re invisible in certain genres and platforms because you generally aren’t there.

    • I’m female. I play all types of games. My mother plays games. My older sister plays games. My younger sister plays games. My best female friend plays games. My daughter plays games. We’re all actually quite good at games. And we’re all very pretty. These things are not mutually exclusive.
      He’s a PR guy for a games company. If he’s being stupid enough to assume that pretty girls can’t play, or don’t want to play games then he’s not the right person for the job. His job is to make the game look good to ALL types of potential consumers, regardless of appearance/gender.

        • He didn’t go up to her and show her a demo. She, as a journalist had booked a demo and as soon he saw her his attitude changed and he took the controls off her and started to talking to her like she didn’t know how games worked, even though he knew she worked for PC PowerPlay. And if you read the whole article, he wasn’t the only one. She even mentions attempting to set people straight but them not believing her.

    • OK So because you don’t know any women who are gamers, means we’re all shit or at the very least, that should be the default assumption? Not to mention, by assuming that women aren’t gamers and treating them in such a patronizing manner, not only are you missing the opportunity to introduce someone to gaming, you’re also turning off actual fans who are just SO used to hearing crap like that all the time. It gets tiring to have to “prove” you’re a real gamer when you’re a woman, sometimes it is easier to walk away.

      You can pretty much tell misogynists right off the bat when they start using the word ‘female’ instead of ‘woman’. You are sexist. Your assumptions are sexist. That PR guy was sexist and the gaming industry is sexist.

  • This shouldn’t have happened, it’s sexist and condescending, there’s no question about that.

    If something is going to be done about it everything needs to be taken into account without hyperbole and exaggeration, it’s no good saying ‘It continued to happen through the next few days of E3’ WHO did it? WHAT publisher? WHAT games? it’s not helping anyone’s cause by using blanket terms like that, we need to know who these morons are so they can be named and shamed and be dealt the consequences of their ignorant actions. Articles like this highlight the problem some people are facing in the gaming industry, but without specifics it’s just generalised complaining that goes nowhere, in order for anything to be done we need facts to act on.

    People like this PR guy are douches that need to be put in there place, if they and their behaviour are to be stamped out EVERYONE needs to help. The people being victimised need to let them know it’s not ok (yes they shouldn’t have to, but for now unfortunately they do) and let others know what’s happening and other people outside of the direct situation need to be aware of it and not tolerate it as well.

    • Naming and shaming will result in a torrent of abuse towards those people, which is not the most productive way of dealing with this. No one deserves the abuse that the internet can deliver, for whatever reason, and it is liable to make someone defensive and more set in their views. While their views are reprehensible, addressing the industry that has made them think this would surely be more productive. While Katie could report the PR people to their companies, the message of gaming culture will remain the same.

      • So name the game, or name the publisher, not the individual. The publishers are the ones that need to stop hiring jerks for PR anyway.

        • I hate to bring it up, but that Ocean Marketing moron was named and shamed, and while he did cop it from some over zealous individuals, it showed how people are willing to rally behind the cause of someone being treated unfairly by a bully. It really made an impact on PR in this industry in general and made companies realise just how damaging it is to have someone like that even just associated with your company.

          I’m not saying the exact same thing has to happen to the guy mentioned in the article (or guys, it’s not clear how many people she was talking about), but it’s an example of someone getting what they deserve, because of and how negatively everyone felt about his actions.

          • That was the exact example I was thinking of of why she may not have wanted to name and shame. The Ocean Marketing guy was a complete douchebag, but the amorphous “Internet” did not know where to draw the line. The guy was receiving rape threats towards his wife and death threats. This is not an appropriate response. It turns the victimiser into the victimised and does nothing to right a wrong or change his opinion. He certainly deserved to be reprimanded and fired, but that could have been done without the absolute abuse he and his family faced.

      • Ok fair enough there’s lots of idiots out there who will just be idiots, so what then? Write I vague article saying someone did something bad? What good is that? How is anyone supposed to do anything with that?

        Don’t mind me for being blunt, but how do you address an industry exactly? By writing vague articles that probably won’t get seen by the people who need to see them? If it’s a problem that is entrenched in the industry, as people keep saying it is, then why not involve everyone in that industry, consumers included. Write articles on websites sure, but if you want EVERYONE to help stop this kind of behaviour then give us SOMETHING.

        People are ready to complain at the drop of a hat, but things aren’t going to change by themselves, it takes time, effort and education.

        • Katie clearly did not write this article in order to target and take down the people who had treated her so poorly, else she would have named and shamed them. She is raising awareness of an endemic problem in gaming culture. There is no single solution to this problem. One article is not going to change the attitudes and opinions of an entire industry. But this article is another drop in the pond of recent articles commenting on gender in gaming culture, of which there has been a huge number. And maybe, with people thinking about these issues, and their coverage on mainstream gaming media, the culture of games can change, both from the consumers, by making the environment more open and accepting, and developers, by catering to a more broad audience.

          This is obviously a very optimistic view, but there has been a huge upswing in discussion lately on gender issues in gaming, and I can’t help but feel some wheels may be turning. There is no one solution that Katie can recommend at the end of her article for you to do. There is nothing more that an individual can do than remain educated and aware of these issues, and actively try to create a safe environment for gamers who might otherwise be subject to abuse. The culture as a whole has to change from all angles, and that is going to be a slow process, and cannot be done by even a bunch of individual consumers.

          • I see what you’re saying but the reality is ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. I’ve had enough of people saying they’re ‘raising awareness’ awareness has been raised already, now it’s time to act. A whole bunch of vague articles circulating around the net does not a revolution make, you need positive action.

            If Katie didn’t write the article in order to target or takedown these people who had treated her so poorly then why did she write it? It doesn’t give anyone any information other than ‘something bad happened because a guy (or guys, again it wasn’t clear how many times it happened, which doesn’t help) was being a douche. It’s deplorable that it happened, it shouldn’t have happened, but it sucks to say that there are still people like that in the world (in every industry mind you) so unfortunately it has happened i am am not condoning it in any way. So by writing this article it has changed nothing, it has let people know that something happened but that’s it, nothing to go on, no names, no links, no suggestions, no course of action. If the writer and people reading/commenting on the article are not happy about it (understandably) then why not do SOMETHING about it? And don’t say ‘oh but she shouldn’t have to’ because that is bullshit, if you want something done unfortunately have to do it yourself, these douche bags aren’t going to wake up one day and realise they are morons. You can’t sit around complaining that no one is doing anything while you sit around and not do anything about it. if you want change then YOU BE THE CHANGE.

            Why not start an online campaign against the matter? Setup form letters so that people can send them to publishers/PR firms/etc to respectfully inform them of the situation and demand some action? Bring higher up people from the industry in to interview/discuss the topic in a public forum like Kotaku/PC Powerplay etc. Make it easy to involve EVERYONE. Yes change is a slow process, but there’s not going to be any progress at all if all people do is complain about something on the internet.

            Remember the r18+ rating campaign that has just now become successful? Why not apply the same tactics? It seems to have worked, it took awhile but it worked. If anything it’s a good place to start.

            I’ve already done more than most people commenting here, i’ve come up with some ideas and possible solutions to the problem.

          • Dude, it really isn’t as simple as that. Quite apart from the fact that anyone discussing sexism in the games industry tends to get absolutely shut down, PARTICULARLY women, it is not as simple as a petition. R18+ was overwhelmingly supported, and it was also a piece of legislation in one country. This is a muc broader issue of attitudes that is not specific to the games industry. Western culture in general is on the whole very sexist, so it’s not surprising that that is reflected in the attitudes of participants in it.

            I definitely think more discussion with everyone in the industry would be a great idea, but that assumes that they would be willing to talk. Do you think Suda51 for example would be willing to discuss sexism and objectifying women in Lollipop Chainsaw? In addition, I think one thing developers could do is to hire more diverse teams, in terms of sexuality, gender, race, ableness and everything in between. Bioware has a more diverse staff than many others, for example, and it shows.

            Also, if you’re asking why Katie wrote it, go check out her personal blog, where she offers a fantastic insight into her motivations – she is pointing out a problem in the industry, and not trying to lynch one man who has been taught by the industry that women don’t game.

            One person standing up to one PR guy will do nothing. You cannot ask a single woman to stand up against all the sexism the industry can throw at her. But she can write this article and raise awareness. Which will get more people involved in her cause, like you. Make more women who aren’t gamers aware of the problem. Make more men who are gamers aware of how much better they are often treated. And once there is greater awareness, there can be a wider movement, speaking to all developers, to tell them that this is not acceptable. The change cannot happen with one woman standing up, but it can start with her if she makes the community aware and enraged.

  • I thought this would be a grim article about how some new scheme is replacing WASD in games and that we would all have to deal with it, nerd(s). Instead it was a terrible article about sexism. Terrible not in quality, but that in this shit shouldn’t still be happening.

  • To everyone who thinks that she should have simply told the PR rep off, or that she shouldn’t have been so submissive, were it only that simple.

    For every person who can reasonably accept that they acted out of line, there is another who will get snippy, passive aggressive, or outright aggressive. Telling someone off, or even mildly implying that someone is acting wrong, is frequently an invitation to start trouble. This would be fine occasionally, but when the problem is systematic, this solution would have you constantly invite conflict into your life to be considered as least as human as everyone else. You also get the reputation for being bitter, unpleasant, angry. A bitch.

    And doing that won’t necessarily change their impressions. It might galvanize them further. Telling someone that what they are doing is not cool, especially a person you do not know, is just as likely to have them react with “What’s the big deal?” “Why are you taking it so personally?” “Stop being so histrionic.” “It’s not that important.” All of a sudden, they’ve rewritten the interaction in their head: They were just acting normally, and you are the aggressor. “Don’t tell me what to do!” People subconsciously go to great lengths to defend their own viewpoints, and calling them out can have all the wrong consequences. (feel free to prove me wrong)

    It’s not that anyone saying ‘why didn’t you take it back’ is bad or on the wrong side of things at all: She certainly could have chosen to say something, but she certainly isn’t wrong not to. You can’t always place the burden on the person/people who are already experiencing the insulting, (intentional or not) discriminatory, crap treatment. That is exhausting. It is so exhausting to have to be the one who has to push against others all the time. Reading the other comments here show that there she has your support, and that is great: no one is pushing that away. But it just isn’t as simple as getting back in someone’s face.

  • Perhaps those of you who are saying Katie should have said something need to recognise that not everyone is comfortable making a scene in a situation where they have already been made to feel that their experience and opinions are worthless.

  • Why didn’t she protest, put on an authoritative tone and tell the guy that she’s perfectly capable of doing this herself?

    • The cynic in me says that it would have been harder to write about.

      Disclaimer: The PR guy was completely in the wrong, and I don’t agree with what he did.

  • The PR guys are being dicks. First lesson of getting someone to enjoy themselves, hands off, otherwise no-one learns.
    Unless the keyset has moved to the centre of the keyboard to make better use of the alternate letters, there’s no reason for this, other than rep boredom and desperate to get 5 minutes on the game they’ve been spruiking. And that’s no excuse.
    Unless you were repeatedly falling off a cliff or jumping on the spot, the rep should have been telling you about what makes the engine different, not pandering.
    In short, especially at a place like E3, assume everyone knows what they’re doing, talk up to them, not down to them, and never, ever take over the controls unless specifically asked to.

  • I agree with the larger point of games marketing being still too focused on men, but I don’t think PR guys were fully doing this from a place of sexism. I’m not trying to second guess you and pull a “blame the victim” here, but I (a straight white male) had a similar experience covering a few games at PAX East last month.

    Dude comes over and asks me if I was familiar with the genre and the game, I tell him I am. He proceeds to explain everything v e r y s l o w l y for me anyways, then gets annoyed when I’m “taking too long” and holding the other people up. While my situation most definitely didn’t have any gendered charge behind it (I won’t doubt you there, I wouldn’t know how that feels), I do think that the majority of their concerns are with keeping the flow of the event running. As you know, lots of people go to these things, and their asses are on the line if somebody doesn’t get to spend adequate time with the game.

    I won’t be ignorant and tell you to “stop whining,” and I won’t deny the problem you’re dissecting is very real, but I genuinely believe anyone who gives a damn about gaming culture these days knows that women do not deserved to be talked down to by default in instances like these. Maybe I’m just too optimistic, but I think your guy is more ignorant than most in the biz.

  • Thanks Katie, really. I, as a fellow human being, just feel sorry that the comments always have to erode the foundation of the article and the point you are trying to make.

  • Great piece, Katie.

    We still have a problem within the industry wherein women are made to feel like either they shouldn’t be getting invested in games (there are even studies suggesting that some women purposely hold back when playing in social situations because proving their prowess would be embarrassing) , or that if they do play games they have to be pigeon-holed into one of the groups that women gamers are ‘allowed’ to occupy. It’s horrifying that anyone would assume that you couldn’t have possibly understood the game, especially in an environment like that when you’re wearing a press pass and not actively asking for assistance. It’s a self-perpetuating attitude – these people are claiming that women don’t game, but when a woman tries to prove them wrong they tell her that *she’s* wrong because she doesn’t conform to the sterotype they have in their heads. Disgusting.

  • Its easy to sit back in your chairs and go “Why didn’t you stand up for yourself?” but, its more stressful in the moment. I am not much of a gamer, but I know those situations where someone mistakes your level of knowledge and experience and instead replaces it with the general cliches of “oh, you are just here to be a pretty face” which, is just a bad assumption on the PR. I think what Katie did, is what I would have done in that situation, and she chose wisely. Getting all upity and bitchy about it isn’t going to solve the problem, but nor is ignoring it which she vented her frustrations on Kotaku.

  • I am male. I am also a former games journalist. Let me tell you in every single demo i had during my writing career not once (aside from when it was publisher sanctioned and no one got hands on) was i asked if the PR person should play it.

    It’s disgusting. And sexism to the core.

  • She should have brained the douche with the business end of the keyboard (especially if it’s mechanical, those things are built to take a beating), what a fucking tool.

    Every time I tell myself that this level of sexist bullshit (which as a dude living in a well balanced community of people, don’t really have any business talking about) is rapidly disappearing from modern society something like this pops up.

  • Having cerebral palsy I can somewhat identify.

    I speak a bit weird, I shake, walk with crutches but my brain works just fine. Yet quite often people assume I’m mentally not all there. They speak slower and simpler around me and generally treat me like a child. Correcting them generally makes them praise for thinking you’re normal, “that’s right buddy, your brain functions just fine like the rest of us”. Don’t get me started on trying to enter clubs except that no matter what I wear, I’ll never have the right shoes.

    I’m a gamer too. Not the best at shooters for obvious reasons but I am quite a decent medic in TF2 if I say so. Again, people think because it’s not easy for me to play, that I don’t.

    You keep on trucking and find people who accept you for what you are. Haters gonna hate.

  • “Naming and shaming” sounds great, but would also lead to anger being directed at specific companies – which in an article asking people to consider a prevalent cultural problem would not have been so helpful.

    It also isn’t very helpful to say in hindsight that the author should have acted more assertively. I’m a chick, I play games, and I like 50s style vintage clothing and makeup. When I go into game stores to look at games I am frequently confronted with disbelieving sales clerks, and each time I go to buy a new console I seem to have to run through a gaunlet of “are you *sure* you want this much memory…” type questions. Thankfully, I have noticed a decline in this sort of behaviour in the last 8 or so years, but from personal experience I can say that even if you act assertively as much as possible, the next time you walk into a store you’ll still be faced with people directing you towards the Sims expansion packs. And acting assertively against sexism is annoying – it’s a delicate balance of wanting to prove a point but not act offensively (and when you are a representative of a company/magazine it’s especially hard). You’re also up against the way that stereotypes work inthe brain: when we meet an example of behaviour that doesn’t fit in with what we consider normal, it’s far easier to consider it an exception than it is to confront our own pervasive ideas about correct behaviour. So what if she’d told the rep she likes games – it wouldn’t change the way he thinks about girls and games, he’d just consider her special.

    I think this article is excellent and somewhat disturbing and uses one of the best weapons Katie has (her journalistic voice) to point out a cultural problem.

  • Just a bit of context for the “you should have yelled at him!” crowd:

    This E3 was my second, and I can still clearly remember the self-doubt I felt at my first E3, last year. Attending an event like that and asking for people’s time is a weird experience. On the one hand, you know that it’s their job to talk to you, arrange interviews, show you demos, and all that. On the other hand, especially when you’re there for the first time, you really want to go along with it and make a good impression. There were 40,000 people in that building, so what kind of loss would just one journalist be?

    Put yourself in that position, wanting access to interview subjects and exclusive closed-door demos, knowing that if you don’t get enough material to write about then maybe your very expensive trip to Los Angeles will be wasted. Imagine the fear that if you snap at one condescending wanker, maybe you’ll find an entire publisher closing its doors to you.

    I don’t know what kind of worries were going through Katie’s head, but these are the kinds of things I stressed about when I was over there. Luckily I am not guilty of the heinous crime of gaming while female, so I didn’t have to tolerate that kind of patronising attitude. Just think a little and try some sensitivity before declaring “Oh, everything would have been fine if you’d done THIS!”

    Stating that you could have handled the situation better sounds awfully like stealing the keyboard off her, after all…

  • …oh, and great article, Katie. It sucks that you went through that bullshit, but at least you wrote up the experience in a wonderfully readable way.

    • I have to agree with you.

      The PC-ness in the comments of kotakuAU has gotten ridiculous – girl essentially diaries her experience with a single PR guy at E3 (not saying he was in the wrong, or right, or anything) and how it shows a larger sexist issue, and the comments are awash with cries for the PR guy to be hung, drawn and quartered. And in the same instance, those people will verbally attack other writers for the ‘quality’ and even more astonishly, their choice of article subject.

      I strongly urge everyone to look up ‘framing’. It might help you before you put on your shining armor and jump in. Take a step back – yeah, the PR guy probably didn’t have to do that, but a simple ‘I’d like to get a feel for the game for myself, and then afterwards perhaps you can show me some of the features’ would have negated this whole situation.

      Jesus, it’s not like Katie is a 17 year old girl – we don’t need commenters propagating the already prevalent ‘play videogames so cant interact with people’ stereotype.

      • Why should it be incumbent on the journalist to tell the PR person to back off? Why would he say ask if Kate had played PC games, or shooter games, or needed help in the first place?

        “People would regularly take note of the publications listed on my badge and say, “But you don’t really play, right?” I was assumed to be eye candy, the pretty face of a publication whose content was provided by people with actual talent.”

        You *seriously* don’t think this is a problem?

        • Sure, that’s a problem – but the majority of comments weren’t even addressing that.

          This isn’t a cut and dry situation, when you say ‘why should it be incumbent on the journalist’, you’re implying that there is some kind of structure to these playtests at E3 – there isn’t. A little social back and forth is needed in every conversation, no matter how trivial, and it certainly stands to reason that by just saying something it would’ve mitigated the circumstances.

      • You know, there’s two sides to this issue. Some people are on Katie’s side. Some people are on the PR guy’s side.

        If people backing Katie are just “white knighting”, then is it safe to assume that people backing the PR guy are just lusting after him? That’s the logical progression here, isn’t it?

        • I feel like taking neither persons side. I cant believe anyone read this and thought it was eye opening. This kind of thing has been going on for ages. I also believe that Katie isn’t a real gamer or she would have called him a faggot and hit him with the keyboard when he tried to take over.

          Lastly I am incredibly cynical and think she purposely didn’t say anything because this article was guaranteed WAY more hits than an article about the crappy game she was looking at.

          That last one could just be because of my hatred and distrust of most media though.

          • I just realized, I should add that I think the PR guy is massively in the wrong over this, I just didn’t say it before because I figured there was nothing I could say that hadn’t been said already however with this being the internet I felt I should clarify my position.

          • See, that’s not an unreasonable position to take – thought I’d only feel inclined that way if this were a US article. The AU articles tend to be more genuine.

            But I can’t deny that Katie’s article, while maybe not a “surprise” in content, did make me appreciate how awful it must feel to be placed in this unfortunate situation. You make a career out of something, perhaps build a reputation for years, and then someone just sweeps that aside for no discernible reason than your outward appearance?

          • I just cant help but shake that feeling you know when they purposely haven’t mentioned the company so people can lodge a formal complaint or anything. There doesn’t seem to be any form of action for us to take other than going “Oh poor you, how terrible” and for some reason that just gets under my skin.

          • My takeaway from this article was that we should continue to raise awareness about this kind of problem. Does it need to be anything more than that?

  • Oh wow, Katie. I thought this was going to be an article about a move away from PC gaming within the industry, or something. I certainly didn’t expect sexist PR morons.

    You shouldn’t have to deal with that. No one should, let alone an actual games journalist. It really is horrifying that this goes on and while I like to imagine I may have handled things differently, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have had the courage. All my enthusiasm for these games would have been beaten down rather quickly, and I would have become more timid, and resigned the more it happened.

    Thanks for writing this. The more we’re made aware of disgusting behaviour like this, the more we can try and get it changed.

  • My gamer fury is tingling at this nonsense.

    I’ve played games since the time my hands were big enough to reach all the keys at the same time, and not namby pampy Facebook game worth less than the code that made them. True games like original Call of Duty, Dungeon Siege and Spyro. 15 years later, I still get stared at for doing an IT degree and poking in on conversations about GTA and Saints Row and laughing about gory ragdoll physics and ridiculous weaponry. It’s offensive that this can rise so high to be at prestigious expos such as E3.

    I’ll understand if you attempt to correct me on things, but do not think of me as a mere covergirl. I am a gamer, and I’m damn proud of it.

  • Sometimes I worry that I have some sexist tendencies, that I might be a terrible person for reasons I’m partly oblivious to (I found the achievement mentioned humorous, for instance). But reading through some of these comments and having my eyes bulge in disbelief at least made me feel a little bit better about myself. >_>

    Thought this was a really great article about a pretty appalling piece of behaviour, by the way. I hope that with discussions like this such behaviour will become less common.

  • Great article. The first half carries her usual beautiful tone but the second half is much more gritty and less eloquent (not like Katie at all), which I’m sure is deliberate to highlight her continuous frustration with this unfortunate dynamic.

    I’m shocked at the number of comments expecting Katie to have revolted. First off, how is this even relevant? I wonder how many of them would have been able to react in the way that they have dictated that Katie should have. Katie is a human being, not some robot or character, with programming or a script ready to respond appropriately to every subtle action of discrimination. It’s just victim shaming and completely misses the point. Second, the publication of this article is much more purposeful and influential than opposing a couple of PR agents.

    Kotaku has quite a few of these types of articles which usually lack much substance or a point but this is a refreshing change of pace when I was getting tired of ‘real life’ articles on this website.

    Thank you Katie for sharing.

  • OK, now try being a PC gamer that doesn’t use WASD.

    It’s bordering on ridiculous the amount of games, modern games, that do not allow people to rebind mouse and key functions away from WASD.

    Sucks about the way you were treated. You could’ve pulled an Aisha Tyler on them instead? =)

  • Next time I suggest the following:

    “I came to E3 to play games. You clearly came over here to look at my ass. I’m going to play me some games, feel free to keep looking at my ass.”

    As a female in a male dominated field I’ve found humour and letting a sexist male make a fool of himself by reasonably questioning why he feels you clearly need help (and yes if you keep asking ‘why’ they will eventually say something stupid) are by far the best ways to deal with the situation.

    And yes for those never having experienced anything similar you do get incredibly tired of having to defend your gender, your hobbies, and your position. Maybe one day new (male) workers won’t wander into my office demanding I fetch the site engineer like I were my own secretary. But I don’t think I’ll be seeing that day for some years to come.

  • Holy crap. I mean, it was one thing when he did the whole “are you sure you know what you’re doing?” thing, but then to physically take over from her?

    That truly deserved a swift kick to the balls imo. Great article, I feel completely awful now.

  • Great article Katie!
    I hate that this type of thing is still happening in 2012. C’mon nerds, can’t we be more inclusive of everyone? :/
    Reading about this makes me even more determined to help change this in our culture. Games are for everyone. Not just the nerdbros.

  • Wow… on behalf of my gender, I sincerely apologise. Seriously, what happened to you is just wrong… you have a right to be so much more angry than you are. I kind of want to slap that PR representative, and I hope that people like that will actually read this article and will stop being bigoted pricks.

    • Get over yourself, why should you apologise for what someone else has done? And on behalf of your gender? Because all men are sexist morons right? So I guess that includes you.

      What happened was one (or more, not sure) individual acted in a sexist way, it’s not the fault of an entire gender. Don’t lump me, and all the other men who are against any kind of ignorance, in with this douche bag.

    • It just arrived today, my wife and I look forward to palying it when I get home from work tonight.

      Why do you ask? Did you think it was relevant?

  • Having been playing, following and teaching in games for many years this saddens, but doesn’t surprise me. Unfortunately I’ve seen many articles like this over the years, so many in fact that I sometimes feel that while gaming technology is moving forward at a rapid rate, games culture is either stagnate or in retrograde. We all know how bad it is; what we need now is a strategy for shifting the culture not just of the industry, but of the players as well.

  • just because you’re wearing mascara and a pink skirt doesn’t mean you can’t shove the guy aside and say “get your own machine and watch me kick your ass in slow motion!”
    The fact that this kind of sexism exists sucks indeed,but I can’t help but think maybe things would be different if all the gamer girls in pink skirts stood up to this bullshit instead of moving on to the next booth …

  • Holy crap, it’s like you can see me.. I start reading this and it’s talking about where your fingers/thumb are resting and my hand is in exactly the same position.

  • Why didn’t Kate just politely tell them to fuck off, and continue to play it herself? “No thank you, I can do it myself” isn’t that hard to say. I’m pretty sure a firm rebuttal and a chastising comment would make them think twice about their misconstrued perspective on ‘female gamers’. No?

  • I’ve opened this post more than a few times to read it and respond. Every single time, reading your first paragraph, I’ve gravitated towards MY favoured position.

    Pinky on the A, Ring Finger over W, and D is covered by Middle Finger. I too feel strongly about something like this and stranger still, I’ve been called out on it before too.

    To be settling into ANY game for the first time, no matter the number in its title or its genre, and to have somebody make a comment about your interaction with it (a priceless feeling, always) breaks everything. I remember not being able to shake the ‘oh, so you’re going to do it like that?’ comment for a very long time. Yes, it was a LAN night, to which I was a newcomer.

    I cannot nor do I want to say anything about Ms. Williams’ gender, I’m not equipped to do so. The modern videogame industry was built upon flights of fancy; fleeting and cyclical pieces of escapism that for years were celebrated as ‘our thing’. This was our refuge, our down-time, our own personal little big worlds for us and nobody else.

    This industry has a technical beginning, but like Leena once said on a podcast I listen to, there has been a shift away from this.

    Car shows and the Motor Industry are the obvious template on which the publishers, the ESA, and everybody else behind E3 et al have based their greedy hopes on. Come for the product, stay for the glitz and glamour.

    I personally see “videogames” as a young and vulnerable child growing up too fast, being taken advantage of too soon.

    Cinema was allowed to develop itself as a craft and a science while being decried as the poor cousin of theatre and books. Games were not allowed this period of introspection and self-discovery when they needed it.

    Now, it’s easy to say it’s too late. That’s a cop out though. You’re too late.

    I don’t have any point to this, it’s been a bad bad year for videogames on all fronts after the past few so-called “glory years” and back-slapping we’ve been doing. We’ve gotten high on our own supply and think we’re different from people. We are not.

    You feel strongly about something, you do something about it – maybe you want change, maybe you don’t want things to change. I don’t want to resort to binaries or sides but however you feel, stick to your convictions and Make Yourself Heard.

  • For what it’s worth as a lifelong console gamer, WASD is what is holding me back from enjoying PC games (well that and the performance of my PC!)

  • Thats your fault for being a scrub and not challenging him to a 1 v 1 money match, it sounds like you were just passive about it and went along with whatever, you should have poped off.

  • That was pretty rude and some shoddy PR work there. Feel bad not only for Katie but also for the games she tried to partake in. Now the image of those games have been semi tarnished because some idiots let their preconceptions get in the way. I wonder if they were like that to anyone else?

  • Bloody hell. I can’t believe I just read that. First thought is immediately, “It’s wrist-slapping time.”
    Second thought is: Now might be a time to start reading up on the names of female game developers, particularly in lead roles, and the famous titles they’ve worked on. Spout a few of those indignantly, asking if the PR guy knows who they are and/or what they made… Bonus points if it happens to be the game they’re showing.

    I know there are a few, because I read some interviews on PA report and Medium Difficulty. I just can’t remember their names. Of course, this is how things SHOULD be. Game developers do not always do so well in the ‘rockstar’ persona. For every Warren Spector there’s a John Romero (she’s so pretty, though), or Richard Garriott (“Stop crying about Tabula Rasa, I went to SPACE, bitches! Hey. You should totally invest in my new mobile social gaming ideas.” Nah, I’m not bitter.)

  • Kate, that was a fascinating read about what must have been a most frustrating and insulting series of experiences at E3. Thank you for sharing this eye-opener with us.

    I sincerely hope that your article has also been shared with those in a postition to institute a change in attitude at all the relevent publishers etc. Senior management, heads of PR, and even HR need to know about the behaviour of their PR teams on the ground at events like E3.

    I hope this article makes a difference, and I hope Kate, that you have a better experience at future events.

  • How can you argue that women should be treated equally, and then complain about Agent 47 defending himself against a band of female assassins because they’re female in the same breath?

    I’m all for sexual equality, anyone who isn’t is a stone-age neanderthal, but you totally contradicted yourself there and that ruins your credibility as a journalist.

    • They WERE NOT complaining about him defending himself against female assassins; if you’d bothered to read any of the articles concerning the subject instead of just reverting to your default butthurt paranoid teenager defense position, then you would’ve seen people were talking about the sexualized violence. That and it was just shit.

  • Razer Lycosa, Saitek Eclipse II, MacBook Pro (non-unibody). Long live WASD!

    I’d like to say I’m amazed that people are still this stuck in their stereotypes, but unfortunately, I think it’s a trait of its generation, by and large.

  • This is pathetic.
    This doesn’t happen in any other demo situation? Employee’s at a Liquor store for example don’t pull the bottle of wine out of the customers hands to read the label condescendingly at them regarding alcohol content. This is no different. He should have asked politely if she wanted a hand and when told no, perhaps asked to offer some information on the game in a non invasive manner.

    As well as sexist, its unprofessional.
    People like that should be in a different line of work.

  • It’s my understanding that Katie was at e3 on behalf of PCP to collect information about the games. As far as I see it, if a PR guy was stopping Katie from getting better information then she wasn’t doing her job well, regardless of whether any sexism was involved. Surely she should’ve also been asking questions about the game, which would have also demonstrated she knew what she was doing. Additionally, it was the PR guys job to facilitate the demos. He made a call that his involvement would make your demo easier. Whether this judgement was based on sexism or not, if that call had been helpful in most cases then it was a logical thing to do.
    I think the more valuable learning experience here is the need to be more assertive. It’s incredibly important in the Journalism industry.

  • Actually, she may have provided one of the best responses she could have. Can anyone tell me from this article which game’s PR reps treated her this way? Nope? Epic PR fail. Even though it happened more than once, and I’m sure you went to be able to write reviews of the games you experienced, the lack of information about those games means the PR guys and their employers wasted their time and money.

  • Sorry to tell you, but I am really mad at you! You missed lots of opportunities!

    When somebody, especially a male person treats a woman in a way she doesn’t want to be treated, she has to speak up. A few well-chosen words, a few decisive keystrokes on your beloved WASD — and you would have been in the game, quite literally speaking.

    And you might even have set some male brain cells in motion.

    I assume that you are still quite young. So I can only ask you: get into the habit to speak up, to speak, act and play for yourself. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favour, but also all of the female gamers out there!

  • Not gunna lie, I found myself tracing the hand position on my keyboard as you described it.
    Kind of made the rest of the article feel extremely personal.

    Very effectively done… I am intimidated by your witchcraft and trickery.

  • Everyone, not just women, has to deal with being underestimated from time to time.

    In my industry, I get it because I’m 30 years younger than the average. You just have to tell them to piss off, as politely as possible. Learn to make a spectacle of people being assholes. There’s no reason you can’t have fun and teach someone a lesson, while still getting your way.

    • You cannot compare ageism with sexism. It is and never will be the same. To imply that it is? It’s undermining to women.

    • I say let them underestimate you, especially when you’re in a competitive company and then do well and f**k them over.

  • Personally, there is a point where you let this happen. I am not saying that the PR guy is right, but if he ask “I better play it for you” you need to answer back, you are gamer and periodist… if the idiot things that you can’t play the game right, well show him otherwise. If you can do something and let it happen, well then its not only their fault for being ineducated morons… but yours because you can say “no, I will do it myself, thank you.”

  • The nerve! I’m sometimes ashamed to be a male. Because it’s people like that douche who give us a bad name! People could at least have some common courtesy these days… I don’t go around telling women what they should do and how they should do things! If anybody tried manipulating people in such a way, I wouldn’t stand for it!

  • A lot of people are commenting saying that she should have just stood up to these guys. But here’s the thing – she was there as a professional. She was representing her employers. And in our society, when a woman acts aggressively in the workplace, she is often labeled as a bitch, harpy, shrew etc. On the other hand, men are often labeled as strong or called leaders when they speak up for themselves. I’m not saying every workplace is like this, but it is a double-edged sword and most women are aware of it and carry ourselves accordingly.

    • Yeah but that just shows that they’re arrogant dimwits that deserve no respect. If no one speaks up, nothing is going to happen. Ignoring the problem is not the solution. We need to let people know that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable in society. I always encourage my girlfriend to speak up against unfairness and now she does and people have shown her more respect ever since. She’s more confident since then as well.

    • Yes, this. She was there as a journalist. Many journalists will tell you “don’t become the story.” That’s not their job. She ended up writing about it here, but it names no names, and she didn’t give a story to anyone else at that booth.

  • Ah yes and the games industry isn’t misogynistic at all. *eyeroll*

    Personally I use rdfg because it gives more options for keybindings near it.

  • It’s not victim blaming to say she should’ve stood up for herself, it’s putting the blame on the person who was at fault in this instance: the PR guy. Not his company, not the industry, just that one guy.

    If you the only place you complain is in an online publication where people already agree with you, you will change nothing. Simple as that.

  • Well this explains a lot. For example, why publishers have to spend so much money figuring out “how to reach women.” It’s because, even if they get someone interested (whether female or male), they ignore any information that does not meet their a priori assumption about “the market.” How sad. With research like that, who needs ignorance? With marketing like that, who needs to throw a bird at the customer?

  • Thinking back on how many women I’ve heard say how stupid games in general are earlier in life (while watching Jersey Shore), this story makes me smile.

  • While the experience noted was undoubtedly unpleasant…i don’t think it’s that atypical for any 1st time e3 reporter. Great reporters build their stories both out of their own experience and perceptions, but also out of a network of contacts that take time and energy to build.

    Yes, the misogyny here is one disadvantage, but it’s not insurmountable. Being direct w/ the PR guy in the example about who you are, what your experience is, and what you were trying to do is one way. If he still is a dick, go over his head and make contacts w/ the actual developers.

    Ideally, being an E3 reporter shouldn’t be as hard as say, doing an investigative report on illegal committee to re-elect the president activities – the subject wants to give you all the info, in this case. But it shouldn’t be a walk in the park. Cub reporters have to wear out some shoe leather making contacts w/ the right cops and people in the neighborhood. So be it for E3 reporters.

  • This sickens me. Who was this PR guy anyway.

    I’m surprised that you didn’t but in with the words “Stop patronising me! I know what a shoot em up is. I play them all the bloody time.”

    Keep up the good work. Don’t let patronising people belittle you.

  • 1. You’re an adult and a professional journalist. You’ll have to face idiot flacks for years. Get used to it. This is just one flavor of bullshit incompetence. Your job is to get what you need to tell the story. If you need to tell some bigot to get their paws off your keyboard, you tell them. If they are wasting your time, tell them to fuck off and you’ll ping them when you’re ready for questions. If they are the wrong person, task them with getting you the right person. Think diva-demanding-customer-service attitude and you won’t be far off.

    So, do your job; don’t let pissant PR people keep you from the story.

    As for making the world a better place?

    Your post made a dent, at least in game PR. Three more things you might try if you’re inclined and have the time:
    1. Critique. Personally report the gender bias to the CEOs of offending companies. They’ll want to know so they can train staff, do better and avoid lawsuits.
    2. Organize. If enough people kvetch, things change. CES used to have more booth babes than staff until a small, vocal contingent of men and women made a stink. In two years the whole show became the more professional event it is now.
    3. Speak. This has the makings of a great SXSW talk or panel and application time is coming up.

    Love your writing, btw. You spin a good yarn.

  • Ms. Wilson,

    Thank you for you article. Thank you for being willing to write about sexism despite all the vitriol you are getting here and from Hacker News. Don’t let the jerks saying things like “you should have stood up for yourself!” or “they weren’t being sexist, they were just responding to statistical truths!” get to you. Keep forcing people to challenge their assumptions about geek women. Keep making people uncomfortable. It sucks that change has to be so incremental, but the more articles like this someone reads, the more likely they are to think twice before assuming someone in a skirt can’t be a gamer, programmer, scientist, etc. Keep writing, and keep gaming.

    -k

  • Just to chime in, I think sexism in gaming culture is a little awkward to debate, sort of like sexism in the automotive industry etc. The target market is primarily male. The market itself is primarily male. The trends are that women play much more casually than men, and gravitate towards consoles such as the Wii and far less FPS.

    While there is definitely some sexism in gaming culture, from my experience this tends to come from the younger gamers, adolescent boys under 20 and the games marketed to them. This is only my experience of course and although I like to think that most men over 20 or 25 aren’t inherently sexist there’s always a few idiots.

    To everyone saying Katie should have said something – its quite easy to say that as a male gamer in a male industry where you aren’t spoken down to. I’m a female gamer and have been for 10 years – and a good one at that, ranking among the top in Aus in a few FPS games. Still, when I walk in somewhere looking for a game I usually get directed to Wii games, or ‘pretty’ games. When I ask for Diablo, or CoD, or BF, or Assassins Creed the look on their face says it all. I’ve even asked for MSpoint cards and been handed Zynga game cards. No thank you.

    I’m a woman in my 20’s and I love shooting shit, driving shit, climbing shit and solving shit. And I like looking pretty. Just because someone reacting in perhaps the wrong way, doesn’t make sexist; it makes them look a bit like a deer in the headlights.

    Take sexism out of some of these discussions and replace it with ignorance. There is a craptonne of ignorance in the gaming commnuity. Its not neccessarily sexism – a 60 year old guy walking in and asking for the same things as me would probably be met with the same reaction as I have been. Not always sexism – but almost always ignorance.

    • “Still, when I walk in somewhere looking for a game I usually get directed to Wii games, or ‘pretty’ games. When I ask for Diablo, or CoD, or BF, or Assassins Creed the look on their face says it all. I’ve even asked for MSpoint cards and been handed Zynga game cards. No thank you.”

      Holy crap, I’ve experienced exactly the same fucking thing. It’s weird, because all the girls I know play the kinds of games you mentioned. I haven’t met anyone who plays Sims or Wii. Maybe just the people I hang out with. Either way I think more girls are starting to play the traditionally “male” games, the industry is just in a weird transitional phase where the old blood is clashing with the new.

  • i’m drawn to hijk in the same way, which has made my clan tags in games pushed to be exactly that, i could identify with hijacked but not with wasd would be wased????

  • I suggest that you write this as the intro to any games you have to review and then state that the game is terrible from your experience. In fact, go out of your way to put this into every game review that treated you like this. People need to know. If you can’t do that because of your editor/publisher, I’d just give horrible reviews to all these games. Let the market weed them out. They’re probably terrible anyway. Seriously, if someone needs to be taught a lesson are game developers cranking out the same old garbage over and over again. Best of luck!

  • I too find myself wishing you had reacted more forcefully to these idiots. Please understand that this is NOT a criticism of how you handled the situation. It’s merely encouragement to react more forcefully in the future, should you be inclined to do so.

  • Love this article. Well written and a spot on description of the experience of many women in gaming.

    Another fun E3 Story: I work in the game industry as an artist on PC games. My first E3 I was approached by multiple men while I’d be playing a game, and would be asked if they could take a photo with me, because they assumed I was a booth babe. (I wasn’t even dressed in bootyshorts)

    I’ve developped a pretty defensive attitude over the years spent in the gaming culture/industry. I came in shier and nonconfrontational, but now I’m just plain abrasive. I would have wrenched the keyboard back from that guy and probably snapped at him. I don’t feel that’s a more “correct” approach than yours, but is one that’s just borne of years of frustration and repressed anger at being treated differently.

    I thank you and all other writers who continue to write articles like this that shed light on the problem of gender unequality in the gaming world. It takes courage to do so, be cause there is so much resistance from men who from their positions of privilege do not see the issue, and would like to sweep it under the rug.

  • Very silly i think this has gone far enough and need to step back and relax all over reacting over something so minor life is too short about stressing and whinging over things like this

    • You can call this silly because it doesn’t affect you – you’re presumably a man. Women don’t have the luxury. We have to deal with this crap all the time. So if we don’t say something about it? Life is short – and will continued to be filled with crap like this where we’re treated less than..

  • My reaction to the article: Not surprised and have experienced the exact same thing too many times to count. Thank you for writing about your experience.

    My reaction to the comments? Is NOTHING good enough for male gamers? By writing about her experience, Katie has hopefully made some of you more aware at how pervasive this is – but that isn’t enough? She has to start petitions and call for boycotts? Why? So that the women who agree with her (and I’d guess it’s almost every woman who is a gamer) can sign it and agree with it – and then what happens? Nothing, because these gaming companies still cater to men, they still treat women as a secondary consumer, they don’t design games with us in mind, and there’s still the misogyny that permeates almost every level of gaming. If we started a campaign against these game companies, that’s not going to solve the problem that virtually every woman experiences when playing any game with an online component – sexist comments, threats, violence, etc. Why is it that whenever a woman calls out the industry, it’s always thrown back on her? ‘Then don’t play those games if you don’t want rape threats thrown at you.’ ‘Then why don’t YOU do something about it?’ ‘Then find games that are more suited for women’. There is no magic bullet. These changes need to happen from the highest levels. We can complain and boycott all we like, but until systemwide changes happen and the actual culture of gaming shifts, it’s not solving anything.

    • Exactly what kind of game would result from designing games with the female in mind?
      Give me some bullet points on things that would be in a game designed for a “female”…

  • “And you might say that it’s silly that I might still find this so hurtful.”

    Actually, I’d say it’s very generous of you to have left those people with neither broken fingers nor a concussion and broken keyboard.

  • I can understand this assumption in day to day life; to be blunt, I know few female gamers my age. But, c’mon, at E3? I was actually shocked at pretty much everything written here.

  • She could’ve just explained to the PR guy that she could play the game herself. I guess just sitting there and taking it seemed more logical to her.

  • That sounds very frustrating. 🙁 I hope on the day, you did tell those people to get f**ked.

    I mean, in a better world, you shouldn’t have to, but this isn’t a better world yet. Some people still need to be informed.

    • How is what she’s wearing relevant?

      Even if this is meant to be tongue in cheek, it’s not particularly funny. Her clothing is not relevant to her skill as a gamer.

      • Easy. If I walk into an NRA meeting in assless chaps. Expect to be treated differently from the gun-loving crowd. Attend E3 dressed as eye-candy , expect to be treated like you have no idea.
        What you are wearing and where is EXTREMELY relevant to how you’re perceived and treared in societies all over the world.

        Yes, its relevant.

        • Are you KIDDING me with this? You are literally using the ‘she was wearing a skirt, she was asking for it’ argument.

          • Wrong. Thats not the argumentnim using at all. And im not trying to defend the persons behaviour.
            What im trying to is establish is that what she waa wearing may have had a great affect on how this person perceived her. But it hasnt been clearly established yet.
            The article just glances over at what she was wearing, being vague-ish.
            A pink skirt? How pink/how short/ did you look like the hired bimbos at
            hose car-racing-game kiosks?

            Context has not been established thoroughly here. Apart from what best supports the agendas of article.

          • My argument supposes also that the issue has not been looked at from all angles, just the ones that support her conclusion. May have been an isolated incident too, as many women claim to have not been treated as such.

            In response to the blog post by Katie about this article:
            Extrapolating your own experience to claim industry-wide problem…
            What percentage of the industry would you say treat women as such?

            Also: your a woman whos probably attractive, you’re gonna get hit on, get over it.
            Getting checked out and hit on are the least of your worries.
            What if you were ugly and couldnt find a date to save your life?
            Rest my case.

        • You’re right it is extremely relevant, because clothing and attire has been a huge part of human culture and customs since the dawn of man.

        • “A pink skirt is one of the first steps into perceived bimbo territory…”
          So what, you’re a fashion guru now?

          “If I walk into an NRA meeting in assless chaps.”
          Fallacious comparison.

    • This comment is disgusting. Women aren’t allowed to wear skirts now for fear of being perceived as a bimbo?

      Get a clue.

      • Katie was on the job, you wouldn’t see anyone wearing a pink skirt in an office, she’d obviously get weird looks. That’s not being sexist, any man would get funny looks too if he wore something strange. E3 obviously is alot more casual, but IF her attire wasn’t really professional you can’t really blame the guy. Again, we don’t really know what she wore or how she looked that day so it’s somewhat pointless to guess if the PR guy’s reaction to her was based on what she was wearing.

        • Check out pictures of E3 attendees – what you’d define as “professional” wouldn’t be the dress of the day. If people wearing baggy shorts, combat trousers, sweatpants, XXL game shirts and sneakers could play demos without being hastled by PR reps, I doubt the skirt has anything to do with it.

  • Don’t let yourself be walked on, stand up for yourself and tell the “demoer” that you’re perfectly capable of playing for yourself!

  • im going to take a guess and say it was that Beyond game.
    shouldn’t take it. take the controller off them and tell them what to do.

  • Where the f**k do they find dolts that keep making dim-witted conjectures like this? How do they even get hired as PR people in the first place? Is it an easy field of entry? Companies should be responsible for lecturing the people who are going to be writing about their games some respect. Lest more s**t like this occurs and emphasises the cold burn of humanity even further.

  • As a woman and being into games, we’ve all been there and it’s so damn hard to break out of it as you’re often ridden completely speechless of their actions and not really ready for their behaviour. Like getting that “extra help with finding the right category of games” you didn’t ask for when picking up or browsing for games, getting that sympathetic or even condescending look when entering a store that you obviously should have no interest in (says who? perhaps I’m in need of a power drill, how should you know?) or hear that sugar coated baby-talk as if you weren’t just slightly lost but also completely helpless and in obvious need of guidance. But writing this article is just the right thing to do I believe, to raise the awareness that even if we’ve gotten far, we’re not really “there” yet either. How else are we going to rid ourselves from these shallow, superficial minds? Keep up the good work Katie and keep reporting on those games.
    /Fellow gamer, Sweden

  • I’m a girl and I really wish you had written about they games that you were trying to try out so we’d know what they were. You can’t expect a fan base to lash back at sexist PR if they don’t know WHICH Developer or WHICH game we’re even looking at. Plus, if your publisher allows you could use sarcasm in the describing of said game so at the least we could laugh at how stupid it was that you had to go through it, and be shocked at how little you learned about the game when we go and play this part of the game you were shown when the game comes out.

    And man, if the PR guy was showing me cute bunny rabbits instead of gameplay I would have at least said something like “yes, but can you KILL them?” or “can we get to killing people already?”

    It’s terrible that a woman would have to show any aggressiveness to get them to get the point but PR needs to know that even if you are a ‘sweet little girlie’ that it is wholly inappropriate to treat you like that. I would talk to your employer to tell them that it is a huge issue and to ask what defences would fall in the realm of professionalism that you can use to actually get your job done. I’m sure if you take inspiration from the polite ways of letting someone down if they’re hitting on you, you can find some ways to get these morons to back the Hell off. Good luck in the future

  • Wow, you have no idea how much this makes me want to go to E3 next year! What these PR reps needs are more women gamers at these events to show them games are not just for men. Perhaps the PR guy in this story isn’t a real gamer and felt intimidated by gamers and thought he could teach a “non-gamer” a thing or two…. Great article though, and thanks for representing women gamers everywhere. As for all the comments about what Katie should or should not have done… this is NOT a blog article about confrontation, this is an article about gender issues in the gaming industry, so let’s stay on topic shall we?

  • Congrats on finding a sexist – It’s like one of those achievements you get for figuring out how to walk your character forward or push a button. These folks are everywhere, including the games industry.
    A female friend recently approached me about helping her with the mowing… without knowing anything about my actual gardening skills, my penis ownership was all she needed to assume that I was deeply skilled in such things. She’s a nice person, I like her.. but she still stumbled right into employing a gender stereotype without even thinking about it.

    And every time I go through Spotlight scrounging for project supplies, I feel the eyes upon me.

  • It says so much about the the lack of public awareness let along lack of public relations skills of so called PR people. Really they need ot open their eyes and look at the real world where about 50% of the population is actually female. The heads of these companies should purge these ignorant people as they are costing the company money. Just goes to show that the old axiom about assume making an ass out of you and me still rings true. Sadly its not isolated to the gaming community/industry but is still widespread in PR and advertising in general.

    I still remember the time a friend was buying a new car and the male salesmen always assumed she knew nothing because she was an attractive very feminine looking woman. She just happened to be a successful stock car racing driver and self taught mechanic that would have made any of them look like the idiots they were.

  • reading comments obviously some people have emotional issues and taking it far too seriously, violence, verbal abuse is not the answer you should never care what others think and let if affect you cause you will become bitter and scare everyone off, people have a right to their opinions even though some are wrong and some are right but you keep it to yourself.as long as your happy with yourself thats all that matters and dont give the satisfaction of letting them upset you or reacting to them just ignore them. she should of just ignored him and taken keyboard back or just said im fine thanks how he took it from you you take it back he would of said ok and walked away

  • Katie, your articles and interviews over the past several months have been some of my favorite games journalism. You seem to cover a lot of the great developers and issues that I personally find most interesting, as an indie developer, and as a bit of an older player (now 34). Not sure how you do it, but whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right!

    And it’s really disappointing to hear that it is sometimes a struggle. That people are not responding to your appropriately at places like E3. I think this article addresses the issue in a unique way, and I hope the gaming world at large responds to it in positive ways.

    Viva!

  • Theres no excuse for what happened here, it makes me very dissapointed in the gaming community to hear that shit like this is STILL happening.

    The thing that made this extra frustrating for me though, is that you stood there, and let this guy tell you these things and take over the game for you. So as others have said, if you feel so pasionatly about this (as you and everyone else should), then stand up for yourself and say something. Otherwise these retards are just going to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

    Its one thing to write a blog post about it, its another to take action during the ‘moment’.

  • I love this article. I have the same issue when i talk online most male gamers are incredibly immature about ‘female’ gamers.

    It quickly turns from advanced combat tactics to…simplistic talking and a feeling of being treated like a complete and utter idiot.

    Example: “This is the bomb, we need to defus eit when it beeps. Now, this bomb site is called A and this one is called B. When we call out A we need you to run towards A and-“

  • Wow, this was a really great article. Well, up until the end, when the PR guy’s thought that the author of the article might be a delicate little flower easily offended by gameplay was actually more or less proved correct.

    Remember, the PR guys job is not to be a good person.

    His job is to protect his brand.

    Imagine how you would have written about his game when you got to the scantily clad women in it on your own. (Sure there might not have been any scantily clad ladies in this game, but some people are also very, very offended by violence in First Person Shooters. Oh, and I think they have just as much right to be offended by violence as “fan service,” as long as they don’t take it to court. That includes trashing games for being “sexist fratboy fantasies” or “violent misanthropic bloodfests” in their reviews. Even if I believe those reviews are wrong. The PR guys job, though, is to make sure those reviews don’t get written… even if they are right.)

    So, not a good person, but apparently he accidentally did the right thing for his job by making a “profiling” sexist assumption about the author. I was outraged through most of the article and then by the end I said, “Ok, other PR guys (and ladies) read this. Trust your instincts, even when they seem sexist.”

    Which is unfortunate, because otherwise this would have been a comment outraged at your unfair treatment.

    I feel a bit like when the proved that the witch weighed as much as a duck in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “It was a fair cop.”

    If it’s any consolation you are probably better at First Person Shooters than me, as I’ve never master WASD and prefer to remap to the arrow keys when I’m given the option.

  • Ok, having read all of the comments on this article, on top of my own opinion as a 23 year old male, I wholeheartedly agree that the PR guy was incredibly rude and unprofessional towards Katie. Also I agree that sexism towards women in video games (both the fictional characters and players) is still a problem and should change.

    But as an individual, who tries to see things on a person to person basis (I’m an introvert and always try to read people when I meet them to figure out what is going to annoy them or piss them off so I don’t make a fool of myself), I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t ANY way to defuse the situation with this one PR guy and the other similar situations without falling into the gender trap of looking like “that bitch.”

    Something simple like “no thank you, I’m fine” and then just continuing to play, making sure what you are doing on screen is very evident of someone who is very familiar with video games. Most non-gamers (male and female) I know have trouble even moving around in an FPS with mouse and keyboard.

    If you were slowly walking forward through the grass in the game, and he thought you were having trouble with the controls, asked you if you were familiar with first person shooters, you said yes, and then continued to walk slowly through the grass at the beginning of the demo (for what I assume was a fast paced game, considering you say it was a military FPS). I can easily see how he would have continued thinking that you didn’t play video games.

    I agree you shouldn’t have to do that to make it clear you know what you are doing, but I think there is a middle ground for making it clear that you know how to play video games without it turning into an argument or having to make sure you humiliate the other person to show them that they are wrong. That doesn’t mean that women should accept the way things are and be prepared to always have to defend themselves in these situations, but it helps the issue to be more of an ongoing discussion rather than a battle.

  • I couldn’t finish reading this article. There was way to much talk about her fingers “falling across WASD”. Her writing’s too fluffy for me.

  • ““Well, OK.” I sensed a disbelief in the guy’s voice. “But do you play shooters?”

    I remember the silence that filled this space beyond this question. I was horrified that anyone could even ask such a thing.””

    And your response after being “horrified” was to just sit there with your hands in your lap? How could anyone respect you really? Playing a victim for good journalism is pathetic.

  • Stupid and disgusting PR people.

    If I had the chance (which I wouldn’t being male and not going to gaming cons anyway), I would after a bit of this ask if I could try the game for myself with the PR guy as an in-game guide, then turn around and pwn him as soon as possible. Repeatedly.

  • I’ve had similar things happen to me, too. Not at E3, as I have never been there, but when playing demo games in shops or anything like that. I guess the difference with me is I don’t let them take over for me. If they take the controller/keyboard off me, I take it right back, smirk a little bit and continue to play. They won’t take it twice.

    You can allow yourself to be judged this way in the gaming world or you can make a stand. I realise it should be unnecessary to make a stand but in a world where the rights of men and women are not yet equal it is an unfortunate necessity. Men are never going to learn that women can be gamers too if we continue to allow them to take the controllers off us while we sit there and gawk.

  • Sorry if someone else posted this.
    I see you like a sister.
    Big brother advice: “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
    Walk away.

  • Interesting article but I feel like much of this could have been solved by just speaking up. You can’t judge someone else for making a judgement about you if you arent prepared to correct them. “Thankyou, however I am more than familiar with FPS games. If you don’t mind I would like to play your demo myself. Shoo!” Lets be honest as well. It is not rediculous for an individual to jump to the conclusion that a woman may not play certain games. Its not that women don’t play them its that not many in the global scope of things neccesarily do. It is kind of like going to France. Sure many French people speak english and well, but we attempt our half ass high school french to communicate because it is very possible they don’t speak english. If they do understand my english I will revert to my normal tongue. That said if I read an article talking about how ignorant I was because I attempted to cater to the most probable solution to communicate I would be offended. Not because the guy doesnt like my people but because all he had to say was “I understand your english, your french sucks”. This is Merry Christmas all over again… I mean happy holiday! Dont shoot!

  • I’m sorry you experienced what you did/do. As a man, a gamer, and a father of a 10 year old girl, I feel bad. I feel bad for us all when I think of the future of this industry if this behavior, this treatment of women professionally and in the games themselves, doesn’t change. Ignorance is so easy but being non-judgmental is, for some reason, so difficult for people to demonstrate.

    Katie Williams, keep your head up. Keep encouraging change.

  • Just take the keyboard from the guy, smile, and say:

    “My K/D is top 100 on battlenet”

    They just need to be educated, they don’t do it to be hurtful. Turn it to your advantage, make it fun, enjoy their surprised faces as you inform them, then watch their dumbfounded and slightly expressions as you game on.

  • As a woman who has worked as an Electrical Engineer for more than 25 years and been a gamer a much longer than that, I have to echo some of the other comments and say you should have spoken up. The vast majority of misogyny I’ve encountered (and given my profession, my hobby, and my age I’ve seen much worse than what you’ve described) hasn’t been malicious, it’s been ignorant. Guys, in general, like to help gals and like to impress us, and sometimes that comes across as condescending. I’ve found the best approach is to just tell them directly and promptly that they’ve made a bad assumption. It doesn’t have to be confrontational, although what most women consider confrontational is just normal communication to most guys.

    You let the PR agents or whomever take control away from you. You didn’t get the story you came to get. That is your failing, not theirs. As a professional, I’ve had to put up with a lot of crap, especially when I was a 22 year old, really smart girl working on engineering projects with some 60 year old, very experienced gentlemen. You have to earn their respect. You don’t do that by sitting quietly with your hands in your lap while they walk all over you. You will be treated differently as a woman -not worse, just differently. You will have to overcome obstacles to be successful, just like a man would have to – they’re just different obstacles.

    For most women, the highest hurdle to being successful in a male dominated industry is communication. We aren’t raised (in general) to be direct. We worry too much about offending people. We assume that men are just as sensitive to body language and tone and word choice as we are when they actually have no clue that we’re reading meaning into it.

    The reality is that most women gamers don’t play shooters, and when you were asked directly if you did, you didn’t respond. The question was for information so he could change up his sales pitch, not to offend you. Your reaction was the problem, not his question.

    • You bring up a very interesting point. As a fellow male engineer, I am glad you enjoy Engineering and people respect you in your profession. I have a questions, I think its awesome that you are a girl gamer, its pretty impressive. What made you want to play games? When all the other girls avoid games, what made you play games? When I was young, I was amazed by tanks, planes, and guns, so I was naturally attracted to FPS Counter strike.

      • So in other words – you have to act like a man to survive in a man’s world? I’m sorry Colleen, I disagree with you.

        I work in archaeology with mining and construction companies where rape jokes and sex competitions are still institutionalized. It doesn’t matter how vocal or forceful you are, as a woman, you will always be questioned and infantilised, and you have to work twice as hard for half the respect of men. And you will be hated for it.

        The problem is the industries attitudes toward women – not the individual.

  • You should not have to speak up for yourself, men should recognize you as their equal…but they won’t so you need to. If you want equality you have to demand it, you have to show them that you aren’t who they think you are, if you don’t want to write a fluff piece on a game, if you want to play for yourself, you have to insist, demand, and condescend.

    None of those fools are going to give you respect that you don’t ask for. As far as they are concerned it’s their world, not yours, and they aren’t going to give up a single piece of it willingly. If you want a part of it, you have to take it.

    • “You should not have to speak up for yourself, men should recognize you as their equal…but they won’t so you need to.”, I will not accept anyone as my equal, be it man or woman before I know that person at least a little bit. And this seems to be the default attitude of most men. Equal rights in this context means no special treatment for woman, so you are absolutely right, no one will give respect until convinced it is deserved.

  • I’m a software developer. Went to university for it back in 93. Still coding today (when I’m not team leading).

    There was a girl back in my class who dropped out because “computer science is too men-dominated”.

    Yeeah. It was. BUT SHE EFFING DROPPED OUT. I didn’t.

    Just verbally slap those jerks, and keep doing what you do best. I don’t mean – complain. Instead, it would be nice to hear about how you put them in their place instead.

  • Pretty interesting read, although I skipped the title and author line and just started reading and wasn’t aware the author was female until halfway through the article where “besides perhaps that I was a woman in a pink skirt.” appeared! (A female gamer appears!)

    Maybe next time actually start playing the game sooner rather than marvelling at blades of grass. Despite how marvellous they are, it’s still just a shooter and you’re supposed to shoot things.

    Best response to PR guy would be “Can’t talk, shooting.”

  • I don’t understand why you just couldn’t take the keyboard back into your hands and say “I’m pretty sure I know my way around a keyboard, thanks”. Guy was obviously an idiot and it wouldn’t have taken much to make it apparent to him and embarrass the hell out of him by being assertive in the process.

    Ideally you shouldn’t have to say something but unfortunately there’s still a lot of ignorance in the world, and regardless of industry you’ll always find men that underestimate the capabilities of women and that’s when we have to speak up for ourselves.

  • This has opened my mind to my ignorance of woman playing games. I often play call of duty games online and when I notice a girl playing I’m confused. I think to myself, “why would a girl be playing this?” I never thought of it but that’s sexist.
    I enjoyed reading this, the words flowed so well, I had to read the whole thing and I wasn’t disappointed when I was finished. You could write a book or something, if you haven’t already. By the way every time I put my hands on the keyboard they go straight to the WASD and I never really think anything about it. lol

  • To be honest this doesn’t exactly surprise me, for whatever reason girls REALLY generally don’t get the gamer thing, or maybe they’re just not very vocal about their feelings if they feel to support it. I have been a gamer all of my life and have always been scorned by women for it. They simply didn’t care to understand and didn’t care to empathise. I don’t know where this narrow-mindedness comes from, but it could explain the PR guy’s distasteful, you might even say repulsive, behaviour.

    Otherwise I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’ve been treated with condescension innumerable times myself and I know how awful it is. Chin up, soldier on.

  • Hello Katie. I really like this article because it brings a very interesting question to mine. Why arent there more gamers like you?? Because I think it would be pretty awesome for me to sign onto BF3 and shoot with girls. Imagine how much guys and girls can get to know each other while ending a virtual terrorist attack? screaming and yelling and laughing over the microphone. sooo awesome.

  • This is horrible. One thing to keep in mind is, a lot of PR people are idiots. They are very clueless people. I have had PR people treat me similarly because I have mainstream credentials rather than gamer credentials, and that’s pretty annoying, but I understand why it happens. But to assume someone from Kotaku can’t play games is not simply sexist, it is incompetent. I will say flat out; no really good PR person would do this, and that fact that it happened repeatedly tells you how rare really good PR people are (although there are some wonderful ones out there).

    The other thing I want to mention is, it’s kind of hard to snatch the controller away from the PR person who is treating you like an idiot. It is very easy to say, you should have just told him off and taken back the controller, and that’s the first thing I thought myself. And then I realized that I have never done that. It’s just really hard to say, “give me the controller you jerk.” There’s a power dynamic in which you’re essentially in their spot using their equipment, and you’ve got to be pretty pushy to get past that.

  • In this article, Williams raises the question of why she hasn’t simply gotten used to the prejudice and resigned herself to accepting that prejudice as the status quo despite so many years of experience with that prejudice. I think the answer is applicable to all types of prejudice we encounter in life. In our younger days, we do try to find ways to tolerate a little soft prejudice in the interest of trying to get along. But, as we get older, all those years of being the target of such prejudice begin to weigh you down and you finally come to the realized that, as Williams says, we should be beyond this already. And you rightly get angry about it. More and more, I’m seeing people getting sick of this, getting angry, and making it clear that they are not going to just quietly accept it anymore. That is how we will change things.

  • Its troubling to me that there are still people in the game industry that think women don’t play shooters. 7 or 8 years ago when I was into HALO PC, there was a trio of sisters in their 30’s/40’s with families, that were absolute terrors. You did NOT want to be in their gun sights. All thru the last decade I’ve run into women gamers online who know there stuff and are way better at it than I am. Even now playing Team Fortress 2, there’s one woman that when she’s on the opposing team, I know I’m going to be set on fire at some point and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    Just based on my own experience (and I really only play a few different games), I’d have to say anyone who hasn’t run across quite a few ladies who play games very well, cant have played a whole lot or really wasn’t paying attention.

  • Perhaps a list of the games these guys were pushing might be in order. That way I’ll know not to buy them. Money talks, after all.

  • As a gamer and developer myself, I find this sort of thing appalling, and I say that as a heterosexual male. So many people joke around about how rare girls are in multi player games and never seem to grasp why. It’s a shame, and something I hope changes.
    My team is doing our small part, having made the decision that female characters will have protective, realistic, looking armor, not some skimpy 2 piece metal bathing suit. That doesn’t mean we’re making their armor ugly, we’re taking care to make sure it’ll still be clear that its a female – you know… have curves and stuff – but it’ll be done tastefully.

    I hope when the time comes you’ll give Embers of Caerus a chance – I promise you, no one will swat your hands away at our E3 booth. 🙂

  • The only two reasons to have a floor show is to
    1) Have people EXPERIENCE your product and
    2) To observe how people EXPERIENCE your product.
    The gentleman at the booth sounds like a terrible PR person.

  • I have been a gamer since I can remember. One of my favorite companions/opponents has been my female friend Erica who I’ve shared this hobby with for 16 years. And I have never taken a control from her hand to help her unless she asked for it, and believe me that’s not often. I got sick reading this article at just how stupid those PR people are.

  • I am a female that works in apartment maintenance and I get the same thing. I knowmits going to happen, and it still bothers me.

  • I get this every time I even walk into a games, electronics or IT shop. You spend 30 seconds browsing or reading packaging and the guys on staff immediately treat you like a small child or an idiot. The most frustrating thing is that when I’m with male friends, they’re treated far more respectfully, even if they know less than me, and they themselves tell me I must be making up the fact that I’m treated differently – they can’t see the difference.

    If it were racial, rather than gender, people would be outraged into action. As it is, we’re told, “that’s a pity.” And that’s it.

    • If it would be racial, people would still say with a pity. Sexism is no beautiful unique flower, its just one more ugly face of prejudice, misconceptions and ignorance.

  • Next show, bring an honest to goodness clipboard with a notepad on it. The first time (or any time) one of those chauvinistic clowns start in, you hold up a hand, say “one second, please” and start writing while speaking what you’re writing out loud, as if distracted – “PR Rep for X games just as condescending and annoying as the others. Won’t believe women are gamers. Remember to try to not let this affect scoring.” Then hesitate for effect and add: “… much.”

  • I am a male gamer, and I feel offended now. Why?

    Because you did not stand up right against those pseudo gamers. No Video-Game-PR men are not gamers per default, even when they promote games at E3. And to use the true Scotsman facility , no real gamer would denial a other gamer an impression of his game. Watching someone else play does not give you an impression, as you do not feel how responsive the game is, how it feels, how immersive the game is, and so on.
    The only conclusion we can have here is that the PR puppies you met, are themselves no gamers, as they would know this and let you play. And you should have told them so! You should have told them how bad they play, you should have told them to aim for the head, you should have told them to adjust the fov , you should have told them that you want to load your own keyboard configs, as every pc gamer has there his own preferences. You had the perfect opportunity to ask all this questions while that dude was playing, all those questions why are ask not often enough …

    … and now I could start a real rant about bad console ports, bad fov configs, etc

    Back to topic:
    In my humble opinion your situations sucked, but you could have used this to your own advantage, because actually many pc gamers are interested in such stuff that is not directly related to the game, but makes all the difference to the gaming experience, and in the case of field of view all the difference of the need of painkillers after playing a long gaming sessions.

  • That’s a damn shame.

    Don’t let this discourage you. You’re clearly a talented writer and you love games. There’s a lot of us guys in the industry who welcome you and your perspective.

  • Just a quick note, Those fact sheets that are handed out after a presentation/ demo experience are you so can quickly reference a game’s key points, or often times even find the web page for the game.

  • Oh hey! Isn’t that a Razer Lycosa in the first image? I have one…. But the touch pad glitches out sometimes.
    You shouldn’t be so surprised about the industry being so sexist though, considering many of the people in that industry grew up in a world where calling a gamer a girl was considered an insult.
    But look at it this way: If they think you can’t be a gamer because you’re female, just find them online and own them at all their favourite games.

  • I’ve played against some hardcore, bloodthirsty and downright bloody annoying* gamers in TF2, and only found out they were female when they joined in the voice channel with comments. If I learn something from another player, I’m always happy to see them in the players list.

    It doesn’t matter to me what gender the other player is, so long as I can depend on them in my team, or take their heads off in opposition.

    “Oh, they’re gonna ‘ave to glue you back together … in Hell!”

    *dominated my butt.

  • Look, I agree with you against the few idiot guys out there who can’t comprehend a girl playing games, but this article was just cringeworthy for me to read. Do you want to ruin girls reputation in gaming?
    “I looked down the booth and saw gamers at the other computers playing their own games, their own hands controlling the avatars. No PR representatives were hovering at their shoulders, pre-empting that a lack of knowledge would lead to them playing the game “wrong”. I felt ridiculous and unwanted. I felt it ridiculous that I should feel unwanted.”

    It wasn’t playing the game wrong, but you did something embarrassingly wrong – why didn’t you assert yourself, why did you just answer “yes” when he asked if you played pc games? Why did you say nothing when he asked if you played shooters?
    TELL HIM
    If you don’t tell somebody they’re wrong, how are they going to learn? Don’t be sarcastic or put him down, but for goodness sake don’t essentially tell him he’s right, sit there and let him help you to confirm he’s right, and then write a spiteful article about how wrong he was!

    If, rather than confirming somebodies stereotypical view of you, you had been the confident gamer you claim to be and said “yes, I play a lot of games actually and I’ve been looking forward to this one” then hey presto, you’d have been the single most wanted person in that room. Girls who accept and even take an interest in the hobbies they share are most of their dreams, and it can be hard for them to really believe they exist til you tell them, it’s not all because they think women are useless!

  • Sexist behaviours and patronizing are viewed as unidirectional, from males to females of our beloved human species. That is so, mostly, but sometimes it goes the other way (would that be “matronizing”?). When I buy 8 one-liter-packs of milk and 1 liter-pack of cream (sorry, I’m metric) at the small store close to my home, I’m always told by the cashier (a 30ish woman): “hey, that’s cream, not milk”. I’ve never saw her tell that to a female customer. When I buy diapers for my kid, I’m always reminded that I should see if they’re the correct size (as if by having a penis I can’t know which diapers I have to take for my kid). When I buy ANYTHING for the “Universe-of-Cooking / Cookingdom”, I have to listen to advice I never asked for and I have even to endure suspicion, like “hmmmmm… what are you going to use that for? Are you sure you need this? Why won’t you take THAT instead?”. As if by being male I am deprived of any knowledge or possibility of cooking. Last week I had another great example. Someone calling at our door. It was a nicely dressed middle-aged woman who offered free samples of some new formula Skip Intelligend Washing Powder (or maybe it was liquid, I can’t recall), but she was to give it ONLY to women. As if men wouldn’t know what’s that about and wouldn’t know how to do the laundry at home. Not to mention old ladies always telling me (when my kid was even younger) that my kid was crying because he was hungry (“why don’t you give him some milk?”) or that “he should have a jacket on, it’s cold”, or that… etc. No one ever told those things to my wife. And there are more examples, but this is too long already. And sorry for my engish (it’s not my native tongue).

  • Yeah thats the difference between america and here, most hardcore gamer girls over there weigh 200 kilos and live in their bed, you’d be hard pressed to find a hardcore gamer over here that even exceeds 80, why? just the lifestyle i mean cmon they got places like heart attack grill, and stuff over there weigh over 350 pounds… eat free, and i believe we can agree that gaming is not conducive to exercise… and is conducive to fast food XD and not just aus, but china, korea, an a whole bunch of other countries have the same hardcore gamers without that problem. But once again like a narcissist ‘merica rears its ugly head and believes the stereotype there is the stereotype for all places.

  • I am curious. I will try this myself on the next Gamescom in Cologne. I will go there and ask them to explain the game and I will dress up with mascara, a sexy shirt and a skirt. I am super interested what these people will tell me and on which aspects of the game they will focus.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!