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 5)
on Dec 01, 2012

jackswift85

Quoting Glazunov1, reply 58

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.

 

Why did you marry them if they weren't your best friend, and second, why did you not go way out of your way to make them your best friend once you did?

Marriage is a life long commitment - I can't afford to not want to be best friends with my wife, and I can't afford to not go out of my way to make sure it stays that way.  She does the same thing.  So we're best friends.  I have men that I am also friends with, and they're my best guy friends, but they're way below my wife on the friend scale.  They're great but I'm not committed to sharing the entirety of my life with them.

Communication and trust is key.  I communicate to her and she communicates with me.  There are some secrets, but they are only surprises for each other, like gifts or birthday parties.  We know how each other feel about any issues that come up.  We disagree on some things, and we don't always have the same hobbies, but really, that's not what friendship is really about.  The intimacy of being in a marriage has to make them your best friend.

I think one of the problems these people who can't have sex and be friends with someone is that they aren't really friends with anyone.  They have buddies that they're not honest with, and then they have their relationship they're not honest with, and when their relationship wants intimacy they shut her down and so they can't stand to be in the same room unless they're being physical.  That is going to kill a relationship, and you know they're not going to invite her out with the guys... their seeming friendship qualification.

I don't know.

 

I'm probably way off about most of them.

on Dec 01, 2012

The sad truth seems to be that males have a talent for condescension.  Or maybe it's not gender linked at all, but size linked? I am remembering some high-school experiences here...

And perhaps a part of the problem is that the people dishing this out are barely aware of the consequences of their choices, for other people.

But how do we manage to raise our children this way? I am tempted to blame the school environment, where mostly the adults leave it to the children to sort issues out among themselves, only taking action when things get really out of hand (which is pretty much the same approach that gets used in prisons).

Anyways, I totally agree that something has to change.  This is awful.

on Dec 01, 2012

Jythier

Why did you marry them if they weren't your best friend, and second, why did you not go way out of your way to make them your best friend once you did?

Marriage is a life long commitment - I can't afford to not want to be best friends with my wife, and I can't afford to not go out of my way to make sure it stays that way.  She does the same thing.  So we're best friends.  I have men that I am also friends with, and they're my best guy friends, but they're way below my wife on the friend scale.  They're great but I'm not committed to sharing the entirety of my life with them.

Communication and trust is key.  I communicate to her and she communicates with me.  There are some secrets, but they are only surprises for each other, like gifts or birthday parties.  We know how each other feel about any issues that come up.  We disagree on some things, and we don't always have the same hobbies, but really, that's not what friendship is really about.  The intimacy of being in a marriage has to make them your best friend.

I think one of the problems these people who can't have sex and be friends with someone is that they aren't really friends with anyone.  They have buddies that they're not honest with, and then they have their relationship they're not honest with, and when their relationship wants intimacy they shut her down and so they can't stand to be in the same room unless they're being physical.  That is going to kill a relationship, and you know they're not going to invite her out with the guys... their seeming friendship qualification.

I don't know.

 

I'm probably way off about most of them.

 

Just to clarify: the last paragraph you adressed in your quote above was by Jackswift85, not me.  I am best friends with my wife, but find it a bit surprising how many married couples barely or even tolerate one another, with a lot of cynicism about the other sex.  As you point out, nothing beats communication.  And a healthy relationship has to be founded on mutual esteem.  Great sex helps, but you have to have the esteem to make a relationship last.

on Dec 02, 2012

Jythier


Why did you marry them if they weren't your best friend, and second, why did you not go way out of your way to make them your best friend once you did?

Marriage is a life long commitment - I can't afford to not want to be best friends with my wife, and I can't afford to not go out of my way to make sure it stays that way.  She does the same thing.  So we're best friends.  I have men that I am also friends with, and they're my best guy friends, but they're way below my wife on the friend scale.  They're great but I'm not committed to sharing the entirety of my life with them.

Communication and trust is key.  I communicate to her and she communicates with me.  There are some secrets, but they are only surprises for each other, like gifts or birthday parties.  We know how each other feel about any issues that come up.  We disagree on some things, and we don't always have the same hobbies, but really, that's not what friendship is really about.  The intimacy of being in a marriage has to make them your best friend.

I think one of the problems these people who can't have sex and be friends with someone is that they aren't really friends with anyone.  They have buddies that they're not honest with, and then they have their relationship they're not honest with, and when their relationship wants intimacy they shut her down and so they can't stand to be in the same room unless they're being physical.  That is going to kill a relationship, and you know they're not going to invite her out with the guys... their seeming friendship qualification.

I don't know.

I'm probably way off about most of them.

I guess it all depends on how you define friendship. When I think of what a "best friend" means, I think of somebody who I can connect and share anything with and expect equal reciprocation of that back. As a completely subjective way of putting it, how much you "click". I love my partner, we are honest with each other and she has a great time with my friends and I hers. We don't hide things from each other and make sure any problems are talked about and solved. However there are things that we just don't "get" about each other and I'm not sure we ever will (completely silly example, she loves fullscreen format movies and I love widescreen format). We understand each other's feelings but at the same time, know enough that there's no sense is forcing the other person to change their views (especially when it doesn't affect our happiness). I'd say we "click" 90% of the time. That's better than any other romantic partner I've had (there was one who thought video games were a waste of time and she couldn't understand why I played GalCiv 2 so much... let's just say that didn't last long). I do have two friends though that I "click" with 95-99% of the time. I consider them my best friends. I'd love it if I'd be able to "click" 100% with my girl... maybe we'll get there down the line, who knows. But for those of you that do, you're the lucky ones.

on Dec 02, 2012

jackswift85

I guess it all depends on how you define friendship. When I think of what a "best friend" means, I think of somebody who I can connect and share anything with and expect equal reciprocation of that back. As a completely subjective way of putting it, how much you "click". I love my partner, we are honest with each other and she has a great time with my friends and I hers. We don't hide things from each other and make sure any problems are talked about and solved. However there are things that we just don't "get" about each other and I'm not sure we ever will (completely silly example, she loves fullscreen format movies and I love widescreen format). We understand each other's feelings but at the same time, know enough that there's no sense is forcing the other person to change their views (especially when it doesn't affect our happiness).

 

But what makes you think best friends must think alike about everything?  Or even find everything each other does appealing?  It's not about being carbon copies, but about trust, esteem, and a general similarity of views, if not temperament.  Even the similarity of views isn't always necessary.  This is the person whom you'll share with knowing you'll be accepted for what and who you are, even though what you say may not be accepted.  You may have very different political views and musical tastes, religious views and reading preferences.  Doesn't matter.  If you're best friends, it works out.  Now to be partners and best friends living together requires either more similarity or negotiation or both, but it can still be managed.  My wife and I aren't identical in tastes, beliefs, etc, but that doesn't stop us from knowing there's one person we can trust when times are great or all the shit comes down.

 

 

on Dec 02, 2012

Glazunov1

Quoting jackswift85, reply 65
I guess it all depends on how you define friendship. When I think of what a "best friend" means, I think of somebody who I can connect and share anything with and expect equal reciprocation of that back. As a completely subjective way of putting it, how much you "click". I love my partner, we are honest with each other and she has a great time with my friends and I hers. We don't hide things from each other and make sure any problems are talked about and solved. However there are things that we just don't "get" about each other and I'm not sure we ever will (completely silly example, she loves fullscreen format movies and I love widescreen format). We understand each other's feelings but at the same time, know enough that there's no sense is forcing the other person to change their views (especially when it doesn't affect our happiness).

 

But what makes you think best friends must think alike about everything?  Or even find everything each other does appealing?  It's not about being carbon copies, but about trust, esteem, and a general similarity of views, if not temperament.  Even the similarity of views isn't always necessary.  This is the person whom you'll share with knowing you'll be accepted for what and who you are, even though what you say may not be accepted.  You may have very different political views and musical tastes, religious views and reading preferences.  Doesn't matter.  If you're best friends, it works out.  Now to be partners and best friends living together requires either more similarity or negotiation or both, but it can still be managed.  My wife and I aren't identical in tastes, beliefs, etc, but that doesn't stop us from knowing there's one person we can trust when times are great or all the shit comes down.

 

Oh I get that, we do trust each other completely. We have plenty of disagreements and differing viewpoints, and we always end up at least understanding each other if not solving the problem. It just seems like we define friendship differently. There's things we just don't connect over that my friends do. May have something to do with the fact that I've known my friends for 25 years and my partner for only 5.

on Dec 02, 2012

jackswift85

Oh I get that, we do trust each other completely. We have plenty of disagreements and differing viewpoints, and we always end up at least understanding each other if not solving the problem. It just seems like we define friendship differently. There's things we just don't connect over that my friends do. May have something to do with the fact that I've known my friends for 25 years and my partner for only 5.

 

Well, yeah.  That would make a difference.  My wife and I have been together a bit longer than the friends you list, above, so on top of the trust, respect, sex, etc, there's a ton of shared experience, good times and bad.  Even if we hadn't be best friends a long time ago, all that would tend to do it, now.

 

But to get back to our theme, if people hold to making blanket judgments about a sex, and very negative ones at that, they simply won't be able to grow normal relationships with them.  I think this stands to reason.  Misogyny is based on maintaining a specific set of lies to oneself, for whatever reason.  Until the lies are broken apart, there can't be any progress, and a lot besides tends to get warped in the process.

on Dec 03, 2012

I think it is slowly getting better in real life,and that it will slowly leak into the fantasy world that is the Internet in general, let alone the fantasy-obsessed fantasy within a fantasy that is the gaming community.  It is easy to mistake the Internet for reality, when it is actually a hyperbolic mirror, distorting and exaggerating portions of our lives and behaviors, often grotesquely.

 

But, speak out against the jerks when you can.  It seems to be the only true answer.

on Dec 03, 2012

There's so many generalizations going on in the replies here that when thinking about the point of Brad's message, the irony levels are reaching incredible heights.

on Dec 03, 2012

jackswift85
Quoting Glazunov1, reply 66
Quoting jackswift85, reply 65
I guess it all depends on how you define friendship. When I think of what a "best friend" means, I think of somebody who I can connect and share anything with and expect equal reciprocation of that back. As a completely subjective way of putting it, how much you "click". I love my partner, we are honest with each other and she has a great time with my friends and I hers. We don't hide things from each other and make sure any problems are talked about and solved. However there are things that we just don't "get" about each other and I'm not sure we ever will (completely silly example, she loves fullscreen format movies and I love widescreen format). We understand each other's feelings but at the same time, know enough that there's no sense is forcing the other person to change their views (especially when it doesn't affect our happiness).

 

But what makes you think best friends must think alike about everything?  Or even find everything each other does appealing?  It's not about being carbon copies, but about trust, esteem, and a general similarity of views, if not temperament.  Even the similarity of views isn't always necessary.  This is the person whom you'll share with knowing you'll be accepted for what and who you are, even though what you say may not be accepted.  You may have very different political views and musical tastes, religious views and reading preferences.  Doesn't matter.  If you're best friends, it works out.  Now to be partners and best friends living together requires either more similarity or negotiation or both, but it can still be managed.  My wife and I aren't identical in tastes, beliefs, etc, but that doesn't stop us from knowing there's one person we can trust when times are great or all the shit comes down.

 

Oh I get that, we do trust each other completely. We have plenty of disagreements and differing viewpoints, and we always end up at least understanding each other if not solving the problem. It just seems like we define friendship differently. There's things we just don't connect over that my friends do. May have something to do with the fact that I've known my friends for 25 years and my partner for only 5.

 

Fullscreen movies, seriously?   Kick her to the curb!

Seriously though that is a completely silly example, but even a more serious example should have come up in communication and talked about, at least, even if you never understand why your partner is the way she is, you could at least understand THAT she is the way she is, and make allowances for it.  I think a lot of people hide who they are due to fear of rejection until it's too late, these days, and end up with a divorce over those issues.  You should go into a marriage knowing certain things about the other person, even if you'll never understand the whys behind it.

on Dec 03, 2012

There's so many generalizations going on in the replies here that when thinking about the point of Brad's message, the irony levels are reaching incredible heights.


Perhaps you could condescend to bring some welcome specificity to the discussion.  I'm sure we'd all stand in awe of your efforts at epistemic rhetoric.  Show us all up.  You da man.

on Dec 04, 2012

I think there is a lot confusion on what misogyny is. At least, that's the impression I get in this discussion.

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.

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.  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.

This article got some attention at twitter and one guy who works at a game studio I'm familiar with that's >95% men was crapping on me because of the disgusting allegations that have been made about me -- the guy who owns the studio that is around 40% women - and that was done purely by hiring the best people we could - no outreach, just equal opportunity.  I don't buy the argument that there are a lack of qualified candidates. At the very least, don't try to preach to me.

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. I heard about it, brought the guy into my office and fired him on the spot.  

on Dec 04, 2012

We just had a female win our Dominions 3 tournament, and Dominions 3 is a hardcore game, it's top tier nerdy. Saying thing like women have better things to do than play games, is sexist because it imposes a preconceived notion, stereotype, that isn't true for a lot of women and that idea is what keeps people from hiring women in a very male workplace.  

on Dec 04, 2012

Lord Xia
We just had a female win our Dominions 3 tournament, and Dominions 3 is a hardcore game, it's top tier nerdy. Saying thing like women have better things to do than play games, is sexist because it imposes a preconceived notion, stereotype, that isn't true for a lot of women and that idea is what keeps people from hiring women in a very male workplace.  

 

What nation was she playing? Then we can make all sorts of stereotypes about people that play that particular nation in Dom3.

on Dec 04, 2012

Tien Chi.  It's for girls!