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 4)
on Nov 28, 2012

 

I wonder how many of the those folks are playing Capcom games- where there was actually have a case of a female worker being driven to suicide by harassment in I believe 2010.

 

That said: "being better than Capcom" is about as much of a standard to hold as "having more academic integrity than UNC". 

 

 

 

on Nov 28, 2012

Nobody ever seems to bring up Capcom for some reason. 

on Nov 28, 2012

 Well since I am tired of brad's threads degenerating into a discussion about the THAT topic again... i'll just thank him for his honesty and his desire to highlight a problem in his industry.

Not only does he chime in with his experiences and opinion, but also gives us another small but valuable insight into the development structure of his company. 


I was hoping that the "boy's club" thing was inherited and mostly due to ignorance... I hope that there aren't too many people who look down upon women (though i've met such people before).

 

 

on Nov 28, 2012

I look down on most women.  Most Asians too.  What?  They tend to be much shorter than I am...

on Nov 28, 2012

Lord Xia
I look down on most women. Most Asians too. What? They tend to be much shorter than I am...
Using this (ironically) as a segway to get the thread back on topic, I've noticed that while the Computer Science department here at CWRU is around 30% female, ALL of said females are of Chinese descent. I'm wondering if the gaming industry is at all similar.

on Nov 28, 2012

I find that many women are busy making an actual contribution to the world, and so they don't have much time for gaming.  Obviously some of them find gaming to be fun, and find time to do it.  Shrug.

on Nov 29, 2012

Martimus

Quoting TorinReborn, reply 1Since 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.

While you were watching Cosby show 95% of young men were watching Baywatch. 

on Nov 29, 2012

Jythier
I find that many women are busy making an actual contribution to the world, and so they don't have much time for gaming.  Obviously some of them find gaming to be fun, and find time to do it.  Shrug.

Like how gaming is helping develop cures for cancer and aids?

http://techreport.com/review/11022/a-closer-look-at-folding-home-on-the-gpu

Also, even as "mere" entertainment, it is contributing to society by giving people something to push them towards working harder. (once we have food and shelter, working harder/smarter is justified by all those cool things we could spend our money on)

on Nov 29, 2012

TorinReborn

While you were watching Cosby show 95% of young men were watching Baywatch. 

Bay Watch came later, but that is a good point. I never did watch Baywatch or Jerry Springer since they were really dumb. A bunch of people acting stupidly.  I just see that mass media still pushes women as the superior sex in quite a few shows, even if it does objectify them in others.

Although most AAA games I have played lately do more objectifying. I just started Dishonored, and it is horrible about this. It is like the developers never met an actual woman in their entire life.

on Nov 29, 2012

Martimus
Although most AAA games I have played lately do more objectifying. I just started Dishonored, and it is horrible about this. It is like the developers never met an actual woman in their entire life.

Did you feel like dishonored accurately portrayed men?

on Nov 29, 2012

Martimus
Although most AAA games I have played lately do more objectifying. I just started Dishonored, and it is horrible about this. It is like the developers never met an actual woman in their entire life.
I've never played it, but from the ads I've seen it didn't seem like the sort of game to deal with women one way or another. Care to save me a review search?

on Dec 01, 2012

Jythier
I find that many women are busy making an actual contribution to the world, and so they don't have much time for gaming.  Obviously some of them find gaming to be fun, and find time to do it.  Shrug.

 

I suspect as much could be said about men.

 

I also suspect a truly large number of gamers are male pre-teens and early teen players (though the userbase is so vast these days that even small niche markets can yield pretty large dividends).  If you'll recall some of your male peers when you were that age like I can, they had very skewed, bizarre stereotypes about women gathered secondhand from older relatives, tv, and films.  This may account for a lot of the disgusting misogynistic behavior in these forums, at conferences, conventions, and the like.  That it doesn't account for all that misogyny may be due to the fact that at least some gamers spend more time walled off in tiny communities instead of interacting with the real world.  Game designer Chris Crawford told me a couple of years ago in an interview that some psychological studies he'd seen only confirmed what he'd believed for some time: that most of the programmers in Silicon Valley are autistic.  This may be going a bit far; possibly not.  But if you do spend almost all your waking hours working on something that puts you out of touch with people, your link to people in general will probably suffer, and you'll likely relate to them less as individuals and more as stereotypes.  That seems like common sense.  Whether the reverse is true--whether those who are socially out of touch tend to prefer fields like programming, that minimize social interaction--is another matter.

 

Personal anecdote, and therefore worth no more than my ramblings, above: when I worked for a company that had for its day a very large MMORPG, we had meets every year.  It really shocked the shit out of some of the players that I tended to hang around a lot with my wife.  She's my best friend, has been since long before we got married more than two decades ago.  I've seen films and read some very, very earnest blogs that brood over whether you can have friendship and sex with a single partner without one or both suffering.  Which strikes me as odd, because of course you can.  It's all in your outlook, the respect you give to every person initially whom you come across, until they repeatedly act like an asshole (as opposed to just tripping up occasionally like the rest of us, who try to do better next time).  But I have to wonder whether a cultural attitude among heterosexual men that precludes sex and friendship in this way would also tend to see women as sex objects and not as good friends.  Just a thought.

on Dec 01, 2012

Glazunov1


Personal anecdote, and therefore worth no more than my ramblings, above: when I worked for a company that had for its day a very large MMORPG, we had meets every year.  It really shocked the shit out of some of the players that I tended to hang around a lot with my wife.  She's my best friend, has been since long before we got married more than two decades ago.  I've seen films and read some very, very earnest blogs that brood over whether you can have friendship and sex with a single partner without one or both suffering.  Which strikes me as odd, because of course you can.  It's all in your outlook, the respect you give to every person initially whom you come across, until they repeatedly act like an asshole (as opposed to just tripping up occasionally like the rest of us, who try to do better next time).  But I have to wonder whether a cultural attitude among heterosexual men that precludes sex and friendship in this way would also tend to see women as sex objects and not as good friends.  Just a thought.

 

I like to view friendship and partners like a career: if you can find one that you are both good with/at and enjoy doing (rimshot), you're one of the lucky ones. Not everyone gets to work at a job they really enjoy, just like some people will not be able to be best friends with their romantic partners. If you have a job you can look forward to every day and a best friend for a wife, you lead a charmed life.

on Dec 01, 2012

jackswift85

I like to view friendship and partners like a career: if you can find one that you are both good with/at and enjoy doing (rimshot), you're one of the lucky ones. Not everyone gets to work at a job they really enjoy, just like some people will not be able to be best friends with their romantic partners. If you have a job you can look forward to every day and a best friend for a wife, you lead a charmed life.


I suspect you're right.  You would seem to agree, though, that the two--friendship, and love, with one person--are not incompatible.  I guess I was saying that there's a mindset that seems to have more prevalence than I used to think, that genuinely believes in this incompatibility.  And that if you can't at least be friends with a sexual partner, then it does create a certain atmosphere around the kids.  Maybe a distrust of the other sex?  I know I'm reaching, but I can't help thinking the home environment sets the tone for the way we interact with others.  This may change later, but often enough, I don't think it does.

 

Another useless personal anecdote: my brother-in-law's second generation Irish-American.  His parents and grandparents were very polarized in the way the spouses treated one another, and he (at the start of his years with my sister) used to make all kinds of sexist remarks that he genuinely meant.  These vanished after a while, no doubt thanks in part to my sister, but their son, who was influenced greatly by him, is the only one of their three kids that has never been able to form a stable romantic relationship for any time.

on Dec 01, 2012

Glazunov1

Quoting Jythier, reply 51I find that many women are busy making an actual contribution to the world, and so they don't have much time for gaming.  Obviously some of them find gaming to be fun, and find time to do it.  Shrug.

 

I suspect as much could be said about men.

 

Yes.  But I don't hang out with those people.