I Can Be Just As Capable. Let Me.

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.


It happened during one of my first appointments of the show, a half hour I'd booked to check out the sequel to a well-known military shooter franchise. I'd checked into the publisher's booth as media and had been told to wait at a computer for the next available PR person to assist me.

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.


    Ahh Razer Lycosa...

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      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.

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

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                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.

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          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?

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          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?

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              "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.

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          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.

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          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.

      Were all of those people you listed at E3? If not, then why bring them up?

      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.

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    Marvellous, enraging piece, Katie. Thanks for sharing.

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      Were you born with a subnormal intellect or did the government intervene to prevent you from harming yourself?

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    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.

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      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.

      I was hoping it would be an article about the a shift towards PC gaming. Was not what I was expecting.

    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.

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    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.

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