Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on November 27, 2012 By Draginol In PC Gaming

GameSpy’s Katie Williams has a terrific blog on the real misogyny that exists in the game industry.

You can read it here: http://alivetinyworld.com/2012/11/27/too-many-reasons-why/

In the article she writes:

I’ve been watching the #1reasonwhy hashtag on Twitter with an anxious kind of understanding. Like, part of me wants to jump right in and post a dozen of my own experiences, but I’ve also learned what happens if you say that shit publicly: you’re berated, blamed, dismissed. I’ve been there.

And she’s right. People seem to like to indulge their most base instincts and turn total strangers into warped avatars of everything they despise.  If they see a young woman making observations they don’t like, some will instantly berate her based on their own preconceived notions.

Our company operates in both the game and general software industries. We’ve had the opportunity to see the drastic difference in the way female PMs/PR/Developers get treated by users/media.  It’s not a pretty picture.

For example, Stardock’s lead game developer is female (Cari Begle).  I don’t know if I could say she personally wrote the majority of the code in Galactic Civilizations but it’s possible she did.  She wrote a huge chunk of the code in Galactic Civilizations II and subsequent (Metacritic >90 game) expansions. She worked on Impulse::Reactor after Twilight of the Arnor until she came back to work on Elemental: Fallen Enchantress.

And she’s not alone. In fact, I think Kael would agree that over 50% of the lines of code in Fallen Enchantress were probably written by women and a sizeable chunk of the artwork players see.

On one gaming forum, a user talked about a gaming dinner I attended where I arrived with 3 women and implied I must have brought them to "look cool" (or something to that effect) ignoring that two of the three women were managers (with male subordinates) and the other was my planner (basically the person who tells me what to do and where to go on trips). In other words, important positions at our company. I don't even think the person realized the misogyny they were displaying so publicly.

And yet, it doesn’t take long to go online and see the abuse hurled at women by male gamers.  It’s bizarre and disgusting. We’re in Michigan so I don’t know if our game studio is set up differently from other game studios but I wonder how many people hurling insults at female gamers have any idea how many of their favorite games were actually made by women?

Meanwhile…

Our main business, software, does not suffer these issues.  I have no worries that our PR manager (a woman) or our marketing manager (a woman) and a given female PM could be sent out to a conference or a tech site and be taken seriously.

At our company, we don’t intentionally hire people because they’re male, female, black, white, etc. (I’m equally obnoxious to everyone I deal with). Perhaps it’s because of our location in Michigan that we don’t have the luxury to indulge our baser instincts. That's because we simply don't "get it".  We're far enough away from the core gaming industry that we don't have a "game culture" here that encourages that kind of thing. It's alien to us.  I could be the most sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-puppy bastard in the world but it wouldn't occur to me to let it get in the way of business even if I were that way. That would be insane. You have to wonder what some of these people out there are thinking (or perhaps they’re just not thinking).

Regardless, I do share the same fears that Katie brings up. The kind of crap I’ve seen thrown onto female gamers has not made us very excited about subjecting our staff to the abuse out there. I always leave it up to the individual on how much “exposure” they want. Most people (male and female) wisely choose privacy. They just want to make games in peace.

What I can say is that I’ve seen the same crap that Katie has seen. I’d like to think it’ll go away in time. My oldest son’s generation play games universally. So there’s hope for the future. In the meantime, what we can do is make sure people know that gaming and game development is not nearly as male dominated as some people seem to think.

Update:

I think there is a lot confusion on what misogyny is. At least, that's the impression I get from reading the comments.

Specifically, what I'm talking about are men who really have contempt for women.  Some men are blatantly unaware of it and others will try to rationalize it.  In either case, I find it ugly.

Misogyny is NOT when a person gets insulted or trolled and that person happens to be a woman. If you let that become a narrative, you will have an endless parade of cynical people who will exploit this to get attention for themselves. 

I see both men and women confuse the issue in different ways.  A man being mean to a woman in itself isn't misogyny. I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity jerk.  I've read enough forum trolls over the years to know there are plenty of cubicle drones out there that live to crap on people who run businesses but lack the fortitude to, you know, actually start and run a business where they have to hire and fire employees. Nothing throws cold water faster on braind-dead but feel-good policies than a bit of reality. If someone thinks they can run a business without ever being "mean" to an employee than go have at it. You can run the world's politest bankrupt company.

The point being, I wouldn't want to see the public awareness of the misogyny in the game industry being turned into a "treat women with kiddie gloves" movement because that's a form of sexism as well.  The problem comes in when men simply make sexist assumptions about women without even knowing them. That's one of the things I've seen. The assumption that a woman doesn't know how to program or know games or what have you. That's nonsense.  Have female coworkers who could absolutely destroy most DOTA2 players.

My pet peeve gets a little political, if you'll forgive me. I see men who decry misogyny but don't do a damn thing about it but think merely "creating awareness" in itself is something.  I've been to a lot of game studios over the years and it's a little absurd to see guys being sanctimonious while they work at a studio where the only woman there is the receptionist or maybe a graphics designer.

Awareness of the issue is a good thing. A better thing is to actually do something about it.  Run a game server? Kick off the scum. Run a forum? Get rid of them. Are in a position of authority? Fire people who demonstrate a problem.  Long before this issue became a popular discussion topic, I fired an employee who showed contempt to his female manager. No warnings. She didn't even complain to me about this employee. I heard about it, brought the guy into my office and fired him on the spot. Words are cheap. Don't just talk about it, do something.

 


Comments (Page 2)
on Nov 28, 2012

Let's face a few simple facts.

Men and women are specialized. Long milenia of evolution decided that it's the best chance to survive. Women are specialized to on raising children, men are specialized to support them by fighting, hunting and leading. 

Therefore, I can see employer preference towards male employees - reproduction is such a demanding task that once a woman conceive a child, she has much less energy and time to spare for anything else. Also, even before that, women channel a lot of their effort and energy to find the right male to mate with. If you don't believe, just make a survey about what they talk and write about most of the time.

Male involvement in reproduction and child care is much smaller, therefore a man is more free to pursue other affairs. Men perform better in abstract games like chess (just check the ELO ratings), and are usually more productive in sciences and other intellectual pursuits.

Oscar Wild said: 

“My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."

on Nov 28, 2012

Therefore, men and women are not equal, never were, and never will be. They are different, specialized. 

 

However, the national sport of Americans is hypocrisy. If there is a problem, let's behave like it does not exist. If we are sad, let's just smile all the time. There is of course a lot of racism, because racism is a natural notion, but people pretend it does not exist. The whole "gender equality" is similar. 

We all know that the genders are not equal (because they are different), we act accordingly, but we never admit it and invent a whole system of lies to cover it up.

on Nov 28, 2012

In a way, for more enlightened developers, this is a business opportunity- because female talent in the gaming industry is really undevalued due to all of this BS.

 

The folks who understand this will make more money in the long run.

 

 

 

 

on Nov 28, 2012

Kamamura_CZ
Therefore, men and women are not equal, never were, and never will be. They are different, specialized. 

 

However, the national sport of Americans is hypocrisy. If there is a problem, let's behave like it does not exist. If we are sad, let's just smile all the time. There is of course a lot of racism, because racism is a natural notion, but people pretend it does not exist. The whole "gender equality" is similar. 

We all know that the genders are not equal (because they are different), we act accordingly, but we never admit it and invent a whole system of lies to cover it up.

Wow.

You really don't get the concept of equality, do you?

From a dictionary: "The fact of being equal, of having the same value"

Equality is not about being the same, it's about having the same value.

on Nov 28, 2012

It cracks me up while I watch people become more and more specialized in their careers because it's more efficient, and then watch as gender roles are become less and less specialized. 

on Nov 28, 2012

Alstein
In a way, for more enlightened developers, this is a business opportunity- because female talent in the gaming industry is really undevalued due to all of this BS.

 

The folks who understand this will make more money in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

I agree. Of course, mind you that companies that genuinely don't discriminatwind end up with near parity in representation will end up having a few bad apples who will exploit the system. Something I've endured first hand. But the larger point is that businesses that hire on merit will have the advantage. 

Hence, fallen enchantress is a game where the majority of c++ lines were written by women. its website designed by a woman and most of the implementation done by women. And the only hiring policy we have is to ignore their sex, race and orientation. 

Words are cheap. Deeds are what solve problems.

 

on Nov 28, 2012

Ugh, next you're gonna suggest we give them the right to vote.

 

 

Wait.. what century is this again?

 

Seriously though, this has less to do with gaming and more to do with society and human psychology as a whole. The sad truth is it is the actions and psychology of members of both genders who continue this trend. While calling attention to the situation in gaming may reduce symptoms in that part of society. The truth is you're simply treating the symptoms rather than the disease. A disease that is arguably genetic, chronic, and incurable.

 

I'm sure that's not very comforting, and certain that's not what you wanted to hear.. but the truth rarely is.

 

Edit: Ya I know shoot the messenger right?

on Nov 28, 2012

Kamamura_CZ
Let's face a few simple facts.

Men and women are specialized. Long milenia of evolution decided that it's the best chance to survive. Women are specialized to on raising children, men are specialized to support them by fighting, hunting and leading.

Therefore, I can see employer preference towards male employees - reproduction is such a demanding task that once a woman conceive a child, she has much less energy and time to spare for anything else. Also, even before that, women channel a lot of their effort and energy to find the right male to mate with. If you don't believe, just make a survey about what they talk and write about most of the time.

Male involvement in reproduction and child care is much smaller, therefore a man is more free to pursue other affairs. Men perform better in abstract games like chess (just check the ELO ratings), and are usually more productive in sciences and other intellectual pursuits.
The scary thing is, I have no idea if this is trolling or not.

on Nov 28, 2012

It certainly seems like we are on a route towards gender equilibrium in most professions but its slow going.

I personally think there is a shortage of women in the programming and design areas (perhaps writing as well?) for video games.

Especially when you have a whole team of developers who are the same race, gender, culture, and sexuality... you get a very biased game experience IF the game is designed around story and narrative. 

Obviously a game like GalCiv or even FE doesn't really have any of these problems since there is no opportunity to explore those issues, I guess xenophobia is as deep as you get philosophically. (And that really long thread about bikini chainmail in Elemental... remember that?)

The thing that intrigues me the most I suppose is how there is a huge amount of women in HR and other ancillary positions but very few on the core teams. I think its great that female producers/ CEOs are doing well across all industries but there seems to be a hole in the middle of the corporate ladder.

Diversity is very important when creating a game, since the audience is so wide these days. I hope that in the next few years we will at least see more female designers who can bring new ideas and character concepts to the table. I strongly believe that as a society we may inherently doubt the capability or maybe just the value of having more women on the team. I mean at best... they should be just as good as men, not better right?

I am not an expert here, but I know for sure that more females actually shaping the content and feel of the game would lead to lots of new experiences for gamers... and maybe the best way to inspire a new generation of girls to enter the industry as developers would be to have a kick ass team of females or at least an icon that could be looked up to.

on Nov 28, 2012

I could be the most sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-puppy bastard in the world but I wouldn’t allow that to get in the way of business even if I were that way. That would be insane. You have to wonder what some of these people out there are thinking (or perhaps they’re just not thinking).

For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?  

Isn't that the problem with the industry in the first place?

on Nov 28, 2012



For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?  

Isn't that the problem with the industry in the first place?

What you're saying is there isn't enough thought police in the industry?

(to be fair 0 is kind of a low number)

on Nov 28, 2012

Fistalis

Quoting Xan, reply 26

For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?  

Isn't that the problem with the industry in the first place?

What you're saying is there isn't enough thought police in the industry?

I'm not saying that. But Brad does have a tendency to say things for shock value and it's bit him in the ass. The infamous "I'm a sexist, vulgar, embarassing person and I won't change that" comment has given plenty of people the idea that he's part of the problem.

on Nov 28, 2012



For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?  

Isn't that the problem with the industry in the first place?

The problem I've seen in our industry is what people actually DO.  I can't read people's minds.  My point is that people who have disgusting attitudes shouldn't be given the green light to express those attitudes.

Most people who behave badly do so because they think it's acceptable. I think the first step the games industry needs to take is to make it clear that that sort of thing isn't acceptable.  

 

on Nov 28, 2012


I could be the most sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-puppy bastard in the world but I wouldn’t allow that to get in the way of business even if I were that way. That would be insane. You have to wonder what some of these people out there are thinking (or perhaps they’re just not thinking).

For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?  

Isn't that the problem with the industry in the first place?

 

I think the point is, that even if he was that way, "business" wouldn't allow him to express it.  He would care too much about hiring the best people, keeping them happy, so they can work hard and make him money.  He could be sexist, homophobic, and racist, but his employees wouldn't know because that could damage his business and cost him money.  

 

 

on Nov 28, 2012


For the sake of argument are you saying that it's ok to be sexist, racist and homophobic as long as you "don't allow that to get in the way of business"?
If he kept his views private (not in the way of business), we would have no way of knowing them. Q.E.D.

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