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 3)
on Nov 28, 2012


Quoting Fistalis, reply 26
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.

That brings up a wider issue, much of which I'm not at liberty to discuss yet.  But broadly speaking, I don't have a lot of tolerance for people who try to force their definitions down other people's throat.  It has nothing to do with whether someone's a male or female. 

Regardless of your sex, if someone says or does something you don't like, say something about it. Be specific. But don't make some insulting, generalized description of unspecified behaviors and expect them to change.  If you tell your boss that they need to quit telling "stupid jokes" don't be surprised if they respond "Well I guess I'm stupid and I won't change that." People don't like being insulted.

This is especially true if you're dealing with someone (in this case a female) with the ethics of a troll who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to objectify a TV host and ridicule their (Olivia Munn in this case) "nipples on TV" and then later cry foul if someone says "but hey, your nipples look better on TV than mine" as a continuation of the same conversation. Sometimes even seemingly non-subtle messages are lost on people. Terrible behavior is not confined to one sex.

The problem I see online is that the counter-reaction is sometimes just as patronizing and sexist as the dregs they're fighting. Many men in the games industry need to grow up and stop objectifying women.  At the same time, people should not view women as defenseless victims in every confrontation with a man.

What our industry needs to do is to quit objectifying women. They're just as capable as men in gaming. I know this for a fact having had decades of benefiting from first rate work from both men and women. 

on Nov 28, 2012


Quoting Fistalis, reply 26
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.

 

Well if someone doesn't act on a particular aversion to other people in the workplace, then how is it an issue? That was brads point.. only more from the "job creator" point of view. Ones personal feelings/opinions shouldn't mean anything to their co workers if they don't air them/ act on them in the work place.

At the point you say it should.. you are suggesting that mere thoughts make it an issue. As I was alluding  to earlier, really people only care about the symptoms.. and rightfully so, since the disease itself is incurable. You will never eradicate sexists, racists homophobics etc. The best that can be hoped for is to get people to not act on their aversion for other members of society.

A rather lofty and impossible goal if you consider people's general freedoms,. However in the workplace this is generally achievable and should be sought for exactly the reason Brad has stated. That is, anything like that in the workplace is likely to get in the way of business.

... bah take the time for a well thought out elaborate post and I was ninjad by one sentence posts that explained just as well..

 

(never have been one to be succinct)

 

Frogboy

-Snip-

What our industry needs to do is to quit objectifying women. They're just as capable as men in gaming. I know this for a fact having had decades of benefiting from first rate work from both men and women.

-/endsnip

 

As great as that sounds.. its not as if the gaming industry is an island. These attitudes etc are things that permeate society. That certainly doesn't justify it, but does allude to the larger issue that no amount of changes in the game industry itself are going to solve. I mean its all great to discuss a perfect world, but "reality bites" and the game industry does, and will continue to reflect the society it belongs to.

 

Edit: next time you sit down at your local restaurant and have a female server feel free to ask her about being objectified to make a living (and far less money than any woman in the gaming industry). I'm sure you'll feel much better that you work in the games industry rather than food service. Or is that being a low wage job based on tips that are easily altered by how much a person objectifies you not applicable to the discussion because it doesn't involve women making enough money to be able to afford to complain about it in a public way.

on Nov 28, 2012

Sucks that Brad will probably wear the albatros of stereotypical misogynist bosses in game development forever, even though it's far from the truth.  

on Nov 28, 2012

Vallu751

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.

Well, two entities that are different cannot have the same value in all sitations, now can they?

It's like in chess - bishop and knight has roughly the same nominal value, but if if you play an endgame with blocked pawn chains, you will lose if you have bishop against knight. Why? Because bishops suck in closed positions. And vice versa.

Therefore, even though equal no some "nominal" term, there are sure lot of roles where women (or men) just suck. A female woodcutter would suck, for example, because strength is the most important here, and that disqualifies women. On the other hand, for babysitting, I would prefer a woman. 

My point is, it's entirely legitimate to openly express the opinion that women make poor managers/coders/chess players/woodcutters or whoever.

Which is impossible due to current "gender hysteria".

on Nov 28, 2012

TorinReborn
Since average gamer is much younger then average software buyer this is almost "normal". Well not normal but expected with how women are shown in western society. Young men are taught to sexsualize women everyday through mass media. And it is only going to get worse. Women are shown as pretty brainless people. There are many good documentaries about this.

 

I dont know about you, but every show I ever watched as a kid portrayed the women as the tough smart people who made all the decisions in the family, while the men were always portrayed as mindless buffoons who only act selfishly.  The Cosby show, and Home Improvement were both like that. (I can't remember any other shows I watched growing up) I will admit that I haven't watched TV other than sports in over a decade now, so it may have changed, but the 80's and 90's stereotyped women as strong smart providers, and men as dumb selfish buffoons, which isn't fair either.  We are all equal, but there are plenty of people on both sides that don't act that way, and that has always frustrated me.

on Nov 28, 2012

Lord Xia
Sucks that Brad will probably wear the albatros of stereotypical misogynist bosses in game development forever, even though it's far from the truth.  

I think that unlikely. I think what is more likely is that it'll be a case study of the excesses of Internet "justice" when the facts come out. I don't plan to be quiet regarding the outcome and highlighting the hate and abuse that's been thrown my way.

 

on Nov 28, 2012

As great as that sounds.. its not as if the gaming industry is an island. These attitudes etc are things that permeate society. That certainly doesn't justify it, but does allude to the larger issue that no amount of changes in the game industry itself are going to solve. I mean its all great to discuss a perfect world, but "reality bites" and the game industry does, and will continue to reflect the society it belongs to.

I very much disagree with part of this.

While I can agree that the world is not a perfect place and that far more work needs to be done. The game industry is exceptionally full of misogyny. The game industry is peculiar in a lot of ugly ways from other industries. It seems particularly effective at attracting uniquely hateful people with a lot of excess energy to expend.


on Nov 28, 2012

Lord Xia

Quoting Xan, reply 26
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.  

 

 

Yea but Brad never keeps his opinions on anything private. He publicly broadcasts them. In this very post he implies he might be racist and homophobic. Some people are going to take that quote and run with it just like they did when he sarcastically replied to an employee that he was a sexist, vulgar, embarrassing person.

Even if you agree he has the right to say what he wants it allows people with an agenda to marginalize him even as he is, obviously, doing good things for the industry.

Wouldn't it be better if Brad used some, i dunno, some filter on the things he puts out there?

on Nov 28, 2012


Quoting Lord Xia, reply 30

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.  
 

Yea but Brad never keeps his opinions on anything private. He publicly broadcasts them. In this very post he implies he might be racist and homophobic. Some people are going to take that quote and run with it just like they did when he sarcastically replied to an employee that he was a sexist, vulgar, embarrassing person.

Even if you agree he has the right to say what he wants it allows people with an agenda to marginalize him even as he is, obviously, doing good things for the industry.

Wouldn't it be better if Brad used some, i dunno, some filter on the things he puts out there?

I think that it's a case of a double edged sword. Stardock is extremely transparent. That's why they're so beloved in the industry. No philosophy has perfectly positive or perfectly negative outcomes.

on Nov 28, 2012

Frogboy
I very much disagree with part of this.

While I can agree that the world is not a perfect place and that far more work needs to be done. The game industry is exceptionally full of misogyny. The game industry is peculiar in a lot of ugly ways from other industries. It seems particularly effective at attracting uniquely hateful people with a lot of excess energy to expen

I can honestly say you have Never worked in food service. Have a chat with a female server next time you go out to eat.. you might just learn something.

The game industry is no more full of it than the rest of society. It simply has a better sense of self as an industry as a whole which makes it seem as if its worse than others. If other industries were so quick to start wide reaching public conversations on such topics you would quickly learn that Gaming is not special in this aspect of social ills. It is special in its willingness to address issues like this as a whole without firing the women and replacing them with new ones. Not to mention the creativity involved means that there are generally different ways the attitudes may come to light. But that certainly doesn't make it better or worse.

 

on Nov 28, 2012

Frogboy

Quoting Lord Xia, reply 34Sucks that Brad will probably wear the albatros of stereotypical misogynist bosses in game development forever, even though it's far from the truth.  

I think that unlikely. I think what is more likely is that it'll be a case study of the excesses of Internet "justice" when the facts come out. I don't plan to be quiet regarding the outcome and highlighting the hate and abuse that's been thrown my way.

 

 

You shouldn't be quiet.  This shit comes up on every forum I go to when a stardock game is brought up.  

on Nov 28, 2012

Lord Xia

Quoting Frogboy, reply 37
Quoting Lord Xia, reply 34Sucks that Brad will probably wear the albatros of stereotypical misogynist bosses in game development forever, even though it's far from the truth.  

I think that unlikely. I think what is more likely is that it'll be a case study of the excesses of Internet "justice" when the facts come out. I don't plan to be quiet regarding the outcome and highlighting the hate and abuse that's been thrown my way.

 

 

You shouldn't be quiet.  This shit comes up on every forum I go to when a stardock game is brought up.  

 

/sigh.

 

I've avoided this specific topic and it comes up alot so let me just say it once and be done with it.

 

I don't give 2 sh#Ts about that ordeal. I don't know anyone involved personally so I think it would be a waste of time and rather inane of me to attempt to form a personal opinion on a personal matter which has no bearing on me in anyway what so ever.

 

I disagree with brad on so many things I stopped counting.. but on this one.. its just not worth my brain power. I pay my taxes, let the courts figure out the he said/ she said B.S. and leave me alone about it so i can discuss something of actual importance.

 

Edit: We can discuss it if it makes it to the supreme court and will set some grand precedent otherwise its just some stupid lawsuit I don't give a rats arse about.

on Nov 28, 2012

I can honestly say you have Never worked in food service. Have a chat with a female server next time you go out to eat.. you might just learn something.

The game industry is no more full of it than the rest of society. It simply has a better sense of self as an industry as a whole which makes it seem as if its worse than others. If other industries were so quick to start wide reaching public conversations on such topics you would quickly learn that Gaming is not special in this aspect of social ills. It is special in its willingness to address issues like this as a whole without firing the women and replacing them with new ones. Not to mention the creativity involved means that there are generally different ways the attitudes may come to light. But that certainly doesn't make it better or worse.

I'm not suggesting the game industry is *the* worst.  I am saying that it is a lot worse than other industries like -- the software industry.  I see it played out side by side.

My wife was a waitress and she's told me tons of stories.  

The problem with the game industry is this...frankly, bizarre attitude that women can't program as well or aren't interested in games when it should be obvious that that's false.

on Nov 28, 2012

Lord Xia

Quoting Frogboy, reply 37
Quoting Lord Xia, reply 34Sucks that Brad will probably wear the albatros of stereotypical misogynist bosses in game development forever, even though it's far from the truth.  

I think that unlikely. I think what is more likely is that it'll be a case study of the excesses of Internet "justice" when the facts come out. I don't plan to be quiet regarding the outcome and highlighting the hate and abuse that's been thrown my way.

You shouldn't be quiet.  This shit comes up on every forum I go to when a stardock game is brought up.  

Most of those people are just displaying an ignorance of the real world. I.e. Once your company starts to be similar in its make up to mainstream companies are you're going to run into mainstream issues such as frivolous lawsuits. At the same time as this lawsuit is going on, there's a trademark lawsuit (the Rebellion one) going on and there's also a couple of patent lawsuits going on. And if you read ONLY their side's filings, you would think we were a bunch of malicious thieves bent on stealing IP and being just generally horrendous. Lawyers are paid to create the most damning narrative possible and if you only read one side's releases - along with selected pieces of the other side to give a false "balance" you can easily get suckered.

But we have courts for that and that's where it belongs. And when it's over, those who were quick to assume the worst about people they don't know but should know based on actual incontrovertible deeds will get plenty of light shown on them.

If someone can pick a single piece of email in 3 years or represent spam emails as being from a person or outright fabricate events that never even happened and simply not include the context in which they happened (like someone getting fed up by a constant stream of snotty behavior and shooting back a mean email) you can create pretty much any narrative you want. And then people who already have an axe to grind can use that to perpetuate it.

But getting back to the issue is that the *attitudes* towards women in the game industry are often disgusting and that there needs to be come sort of effort to clean house.

It does, however, work both ways: People who think a person, based on their sex, race or orientation is automatically victim is, obviously, a bigot themselves even if they think they're a "good" bigot. They're still a bigot.

on Nov 28, 2012

Hey, I've lurked on brokenforum and somethingawful in the past. All the light in the world won't change their minds. You're thinking that if they knew "the truth" they'd stop being douchebags? Sorry Brad, that's naive.  What makes them douchebags keeps them from changing. That's why they're exiled out into the fringes of the net. They are oblivious that they're the problem.

Instead.......stop giving them ammo. 

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