The Crap Women In The Games Business Have To Deal With In 2012

Here's a Devastating Account of the Crap Women in the Games Business Have to Deal With. In 2012.

Over the past 24 hours or so, a number of women working in the game industry (and some male colleagues) have taken to Twitter to share their stories via the hashtag #1reasonwhy. They're not motivational tales. Instead, they're accounts of the rampant sexism and discrimination many have faced in the past and are still facing today. The volume of the confessions, not to mention the important and prominent role of many involved, is sobering.

The tag's name is meant to suggest people are listing the #1 reason why there aren't more women making games. The scale and variety of responses obviously make a mockery of the whole "#1" bit.

If you're a guy, and have never really "got" why women face an uphill battle in many parts of the game industry — or why people make a big deal out of it — try and imagine it's you facing this kind of crap in your workplace. See how insignificant it would be then.


    #1reasonwhy cause game news sites on one hand try to be deep with articles about the industry with regards to females but on the same site will post 'lawl boobs' any chance they get to ensure hits.

      I agree with this to an extent.

      Like most entertainment or journalistic media, one group of people might be striking a great blow for strong, independent female characters (or creators), but their marketing team still hasn't found anything that sells better than sex...

      (or worse, the business itself will have in place traffic-dependent metrics that determine salary, which means that if you want to get paid, you occasionally have to post about skin).

        I have wondered about the number of hits different articles get. Do impressions increase significantly when there's something NSFW implied in the title?

        It would explain all the cosplay and slightly-related-to-gaming porn industry articles.

          Without any solid data to back this up, word-of-mouth evidence suggests yes.
          Also, 'most viewed' on the sidebar often has the less-age-appropriate articles featuring.

      Agreed. If you want to be a mouthpiece for change, Kotaku, you need to put your foot down and be consistent about it. It's great that you're fighting the status quo, but when you also allow Brian Ashcraft to post his articles full of scantily clad women, or even giving games that are heavily focused on fanservice the time of day, it only sounds hypocritical.

      As That Teemo said, you do it for the hits, and the hits are for advertising money. The fact of the matter is, you have to make a choice. I'll make it easier for you: the animated ads on this site are so obnoxious (and make scrolling in my browser clunky and slow), that we all use Adblock Plus on here anyway. The advertisers are wasting their time and money. Those extra hits won't help them.

    The first tweet is sexist. It demarcates war, sports and cowboy games into being only of interest to males. Do not women also enjoy these games?

      This is a valid point from a point of view, but also bordering a tad on the naive side. She's saying that the developers market these to males specifically. Women are depicted as giant breasted, slim waisted (Ninja Gaiden? DOA? Streetfighter? Tombraider originals?) games in these, where the action is specifically aimed in the past at a definite demographic (Gears of War 1,2,3, Quake 1,2,3,4, Doom 1,2,3, COD 1 - infinity, MOH all of them, Dead Rising 1 and 2, Lollypop Chainsaw). To nitpick over it and say 'Suuuure but women can play too!' misses the point. It's like saying 'Barbies baking toy set might be aimed at little girls but it really CAN be played with by boys!' sure in theory, but the reality is, its not designed, focus tested or marketed in that area at all?

        I disagree there is AAA investment in 'other' games e.g. Mario , pokemon, animal crossing, guitar hero, also wake, lego. I agree with your remarks about marketing etc but these thoughts are nowhere to be seen in the tweet. She is reinforcing said demarcation by saying these subjects are for boys and hence NOT for girls. This is incorrect. Language is powerful.
        Your Barbie analogy is interesting in that now in some northern European countries - toys r us are now advertising in catalogues - girls playing with guns and boys playing with 'dolls'. The fact is that by demarcating genre into gender you are reinforcing stereotypes and tropes rather than examining or dissecting them.

          When you view a game, like DEAD OR ALIVE, or GEARS OF WAR, the fistpumping, Bro-fisting games like ARMY OF TWO, or the CALL OF DUTIES out there, by and large they are aimed at the male populace, there is no doubt. More and more studios are these days, starting to wake up to themselves and realise there are indeed females out there that don't need to be pandered to, but that not all males need to be marketed to like this as well. Some northern european countries may advertise like that but I can assure you, if you tried doing that in cornbelt middle America, or even Australia, you'd have people screw up their noses saying 'Wait, what?' While sensible people like you and I have no issue with it, there are still the morons out there who think 'Gurls must have gurl stuff, boys have boy stuff herp derp!' Unfortunately this stems into the gaming industry as well. As many of the women, with a constant theme running through a lot of those tweets said, the 'female games' oriented towards 'women', are often condescending in nature compared to the male oriented games. Essentially what I'm saying and I'm not arguiing with you, is that for all this crap to stop? We just have to stop marketing to 'men', we have to stop marketing to 'women' and we just have to market to 'people'. But like that's ever gonna happen eh? :)

          Now back to Xcom! Where my 50-50 male and female team awaits!!! (Seriously this game is *amazing*)

        It's funny that she mentioned games about cowboys, because the most prominent game I remember about cowboys is Red Dead Redemption, which was one of the more thoughtful games in regards to how it depicts women.

      As a side note to the bigger, and very sad picture, I agree with this in principle.

      As one of the tweets said though, why can't we all be more considerate.

      Last edited 28/11/12 8:49 am

    Some depressing stuff. Sadly I think that a lot of this stuff are the sort of things women suffer in most work places and industries, not just gaming.

    These reasons are why I get scared every time my 11 year old daughter tells me she wants to work in the games industry.

      The Australian Games industry is a lot better from my experience. Most places are happy to employ women based on their skill level. As I said, i knew a few people that work/ed in the games industry that were female, and some of them were treated as pretty much equals.

        Except when it came to equal pay, right?

          I wouldn't know as I don't know their colleagues pays.

          Edit: Also, isn't that the same for every job? Women are always paid less so that's not just the video game industry.

          Last edited 28/11/12 10:19 am

            I wasn't suggesting only the games industry pays women less, I just don't think you can really use the word "equal".

            Don't be too disheartened. I know several industries first-hand where pay is not gender based.

            Only if you disregard the laws that are in place where people are paid based on their position in the company and not by gender... Seriously, the "pay" argument has been invalid for at least the past 20+ years.

              Except that it isn't, as there are many ways around it, and you have to prove to extremes that it is based on gender. Basically, unless you can get them to say it in writing, it is going to be a very hard road to travel to actually demand it, and you will not work in that industry again.

              Laws make people feel good and like the problem is dealt with, and are a good step, but they are not the same as a problem actually BEING dealt with. As with any discrimination claims, anything in gray areas, or whatever, the benefit of the doubt is the default, and unless you can show hard documentation, you are screwed.

              But then, I'm just a transwoman who stopped trying to get work because people just don't hire transpeople in network engineering in Australia. So I opted to stay at home with the kids, which it turned out we needed due to problems with the school system so we've ended up having to homeschool.

        Unfortunately you are roughly 10x more likely to get a gaming job overseas than you are here.

        Since our games industry consists of Half Brick and Team Bond...ahh...

        Consists of Half Brick :S

      If you're seeing these messages, then by the time your 11 year old daughter enters the game industry, things will have improved. Only silence perpetuates inequality.

    I have good news. I have a few female friends in the Australian gaming industry and they've never encountered anything like this.
    I think it's just sad. We complain that our games have grown up, but really, we're still quite stuck in the 1990's. Especially when it comes to female characters. A lot of the time, it appears to be a PR problem. They don't seem to realise that strong female leads could be quite popular.

      I've heard a few stories about the Aus game industry. The stories tended to focus on a small number of bad eggs, who just happened to regularly change companies. Then founded their own companies, and ran them into the ground in short order.

      A few years back Sony ran an event at the GCAP conference in Brisbane. They hired models in short shorts and tight shirts to wander the showroom and converse with attendees, along with burlesque dancers as the main entertainment for the evening. It was embarrassing, though nothing compared to some of the conversations I had with the developers in attendance, one of whom ended a conversation with me by saying "Well, I'm going to follow that girl to try and see her c**t".

        Yeah, the only bad story I heard was Red tribe (I think). The guy interviewing my friend was incredibly rude and ripped apart her design document (not literally).
        However, I heard Big Ant, Torus and Blue tongue treated their members well, whether they were female or not.

        Wow. That's... that's pretty special. Did anyone tell Sony they were totally out of line?

      I've had female friends in the gaming industry who have, so does that balance this whole issue out? :)

        Really? I am very sad to hear that. Are those companies still going?
        I think it's going to depend on who you get as a boss and the attitude of the company.

          Oh it definitely does depend. I would be remiss to claim they were close friends at all, just some people I knew as part of a guild on WOW many moons ago who served some time on the frontlines, one was at the old Melbourne House and I THINK from memory one might have been at Pandemic? I used to vs her on BURNOUT 3 on the original Xbox Live as well. She was pretty damn good too. Just regaled us with some stories while we played about having to prove herself to her superiors and 'the boys' regularly. It was definitely interesting hearing this stuff, but it was 2004 back then I think and it would hardly be a surprise in those days to hear those stories I'm sure.

          Last edited 28/11/12 5:17 pm

            The people I'm talking about, 2 of them are still in the industry now. One left to create their own games (like Goalkicker). So hopefully things have changed for the better.

    First, the article title should probably be changed to "The crap 'that' women in the games industry have to deal with in 2012"
    Second, and call me jaded but: There will likely never be a perfectly equal treatment of all employees in the workplace in "any" industry. Men will almost always be chauvinistic and women are almost always going to be more sensitive, it is a vicious cycle when it comes to equality. We can take examples of where this is not true and claim them as fact but as a whole, society does not treat each other equally. It doesn't in any way make it acceptable and it would be great if it wasn't the case but it is and we are still a good while off it being any different

    That thing about only art being for girls sure feels like it's true sometimes. I think at (game) school there's only male programmers, save for just a single one in second year I think. Whereas all the art classes seem to have just about a half/half makeup though.

      That's not necessarily due to external pressure, though. For one reason or another, there just don't seem to be that many women interested in programming.

      For those rare few that are, employment seems almost guaranteed. I've worked at a couple of companies that have done anything to hire female programmers, including ignoring a lack of qualifications and offering to train them just so that they could increase the diversity of their staff.

        No, it's definitely a cultural thing. Programming, when it started, was considered 'women's work' back when that concept had currency, as an extension of the typing pool. When it was realised that programming was actually hard and required engineering, suddenly they needed men doing it, marginalising the existing perfectly capable programmers they already had.

    This saddens me. How this can continue in this day and age, particularly amongst adults.

    Can we not have a way to name and shame these jerks that treat their staff (male or female) in this manner? I feel that without any consequences they will continue to act like this.

    When it comes to men dismissing women and their opinions and interests, it makes me very curious. What DO they think women are interested in? Considering that games are becoming more cinematic everyday, do they not think that women like films too? And for the male devs, and even consumers, who love to put down female creators and gamers, any chance they get; I hope that the irony really sinks in when you play Tomb Raider and Beyond: Two Souls next year.

    Although I cant ever fully appreciate how much this behaviour must suck for its victims (is that even the right word), I do know a tiny bit about how much (even innocent) sexism can sting.

    I worked in childrenswear in a high end department store for a few years as a young straight male, and every time a customer assumed I knew nothing about baby sizes, or a co-worker thought it was inappropriate for a young man to help with sizing a child or when a manager thought it would be best for a completely inexperienced female employee to be in kidswear (instead of me - who had been working in kids for a year or so) it sucked a lot.
    Even those tiny issues made me furious - so I can only imagine what these women are going through, just to work in an industry they love.

    While it is clear that the overwhelming majority for game development is men and they clearly have issues bringing equality, one thing I'm a bit concerned about how all these articles are correlating "game dev = sexism."

    There are some real sexist pricks out there and they'll be sexist no matter what industry they are in. Unfortunately as soon as we know they're a game developer we all get up in arms that this is typical and unreasonable for game dev where other industries are somehow not suffering the same sexists. I mean when somebody acts sexist it's bad because they're a game developer? No it's bad because they're a human being.

    We should all be mature and treat people with equality, not because game development needs it, but because everybody needs it.

      The thing is, we aren't on sites about accounting and finances and whatever, We are on a site about games. We are part of a community that identifies as gamers. THIS is the world we have an impact on. It isn't singling out gaming, so much as it is that while there are pushes in many areas, we see it most because it is where we are.

      And in frank honesty, gaming is and has been pretty unpleasant to and for women for a long time, and we're just frankly tired of it. We want to be able to enjoy the cool fun toys and gadgets and games, and get kicked at every turn. Be it in development, playing, commenting, anything.

      I'm trans, and let me tell you how great it is most of the time! I have been supported extremely well by the gaming community. But I also know that is a privilege I've been extended, for whatever reason, and it is atypical both for women and for transgender people. Overall, gfaming has been quite toxic to non-male, and often non-white-male, gamers, especially any time there's a hint they might have to give up their tits and ass a little.

    The "overly sexualized" argument annoys me to no end. If you make a female character the media definition of "sexy" (eg Big Boobs, slim with curves) then women will complain. If we had a female character who was smart, aggressive, talented and had a "few extra kilos" then women would be complaining about how "she's too fat, she doesn't look good at all". If we combine the looks of the "sexy type" character with the smarts, aggression and talent of the "larger" lady, then we go back to the "she's unrealistically sexy" complaint. Face it people, YOU CAN'T WIN THIS. On the other hand, for every "unrealistically sexy" female in games, there are several guys built like brick shithouses with six packs.

    Go see a movie with one of the women here; say for example... Twilight. And every time she drools over Jacob "I take my shirt off all the time" Black (You know, that werewolf guy with the "perfect body") you point out how sexist it is and how it sets an unrealistic expectation on how a male is meant to look. I bet you $20 she'll either laugh it off or say "It's completely different".

    After the age of the "sexual revolution" we have a generation of women who believe that "equality" for women means that they are the ones in control and dominant over their male counterparts; where the roles are reversed and they are freely allowed to treat men like slabs of meat (And honestly, listen to any girls on a night out clubbing and you'll hear this anyway) and throw them in the dirt. Today "women's equality" is a term that means "revenge for our foremothers generations".

    And one last thing, I'm all for proper treatment of women in the workplace, but don't expect to sit there and complain and expect change to happen. Change only happens when you get off your ass and make it happen. Respect needs to be earned in order for it to be given; plus if you want to be truely "equal" then don't expect to be treated special, expect to be treated like everyone else for good or for bad.

      Yes, you can win. What about some kind of middle ground like Jill Valentine in the first Resident Evil game? She's smart, fit and tough. Her outfit is not ridiculous, it's appropriate for her job but it's still fitted and nice. You don't need to have either a fat chick or a stripper, there is some kind of in between you know. It's just lazy writers who can't strike a middle ground.
      Also saying that you bet someone would laugh off your quite reasonable Twilight parallel doesn't really add to this debate. Just because there is a double standard there doesn't mean that either side is right. It's not ok to sexualise women just because some stupid women think it's ok to sexualise men. Neither thing is good characterisation and both are sexist.
      I don't see any of those ladies on twitter asking to be treated special, but that is something people bring up a lot when arguing against feminism.
      My point is that the same women who want real equality, like these female game developers are asking for are NOT the same women who are sexualising men, or thinking that women should be the "boss" of a relationship.
      I feel like when I bring up these genuine issues like in the tweets above, I get someone else's arguments thrown back at me, the arguments of these stupid women and people asking me "WELL IF YOU WANT EQUALITY WHY DO YOU DO/THINK THIS?!?!?!" and the answer is that I don't!

    Wow the mod deleted my comment because I was referring to "a woman author in kotaku". It is not a personal attack nor name calling as it is the truth. Every reader of Kotaku knows and I'm sure you authors and mods know about how bad her articles are. Including "infamous male bad author" and "infamous male bad author wannabe".

    It is not that women are dealing with crap. It is the crap they did that made everyone generalise them. I've see some great women doing their job better than men and I respect them. But crap like "a woman author in kotaku" 's article is so horrible I don't know see any reason to treat her the same as better journalists like Mark.

    Hopefully this wont be deleted this time for any name calling. There are no names :)

    Last edited 28/11/12 1:01 pm

      There are plenty of bad authors on Kotaku US without dividing them up by gender.

      I can't help but feel your fixation on "certain female author" is an indicator of a larger attitude problem.

      "It is not that women are dealing with crap. It is the crap they did that made everyone generalise them."

      "She's asking for it." - Letrico

    I think an important point was made about the men in games as well. There are not a lot of average men portrayed in games either. I mean Duke Nukem was hardly mr weedly nerd was he? I mean Gordon Freeman wasn't a big guy but he just happened to have degrees that most people will never ever earn. The extra-ordinary and the super powered are things which games have always had.

    Men and Women characters tend to be sexier in gaming just as they tend to be sexier in films. Give us some fat nerds with glasses as playable characters, but I suspect most people will still try to play average to better than average looking characters. That said I think this campaign is a good thing and they should do more to stamp out workplace discrimination and sexism. It is stupid that people have to fear being groped at conventions and some of the stories of boss and workplace harassment are intolerable. People should be being sacked over this stuff.

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