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 6)
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.  

Well, here's the thing.  My wife tends to have better things to do than play games.  There are other women like her.  If I see a woman playing games, I don't think, "Hey, you shouldn't do that, you have better things to do!"  If a woman wants to program games, I don't think, "She shouldn't be doing that!" 

I simply look at my wife and that she doesn't always play games with me, and never video games anymore, and realize it's because she's doing something she thinks is more important.  And a lot of women are like that in my life, and not a lot of men are.  *shrug*

on Dec 05, 2012

Jythier
And a lot of women are like that in my life, and not a lot of men are. *shrug*
And therein lies the problem.

on Dec 05, 2012

Scoutdog
Quoting Jythier, reply 76 And a lot of women are like that in my life, and not a lot of men are. *shrug*And therein lies the problem.

What problem?

on Dec 05, 2012

One of the main reasons why we have an issue with misogyny in gaming: there's a cycle wherein video games are seen as a male pastime, allowing the dregs of the community to feel safe in their stupid, sexist behavior, which drives away female gamers, and causes gaming to be seen as a male pastime.

 

The best way to break that cycle is to make sure the dregs of the community don't feel safe, and call them out on their behavior.

on Dec 06, 2012

http://t.co/XtSWAPqp

Stuff like this from places like G4 just reinforces stereotypes that others are trying to fix (even if the right game won)

 

That said, stuff does exist in that community.  A female game journalist who is a personality (realistically: she isn't a top player, but she is decent and tries hard, like 90% of us) was at EVO last year, and broke down in her second match and screamed.   If it was a guy, it would have just been a "salty moment"- instead you hear all sorts of "crazy cat lady" comments and other stuff.   Honestly, given what happened and how she lost, I might have screamed myself. 

 

I really was unsure what was the best thing to do- so I made fun of the moment as salt without any gender references, and kept saying that's all it was.   Sad thing is this community is one of the "nicer" communities out there.   I hope that was the right thing.

 

Also, what do you do when a female player just isn't good, and is continuing to try, but isn't willing to do it right?  I don't want to patronize, but I don't want to destroy (especially since I am interested in this person).  I'm terrible at these sorts of games yet I can win every time easily.   I really shouldn't.  It's frustrating because I know that becoming good would make her so happy, but she's doing it wrong, and I don't know if she can do it right.  Large numbers of men can't either, including myself.

 

thankfully there is little crossover between the tournament-going FGC and Stardock games so I can say stuff here and it won't get read by a couple of folks. 

on Dec 06, 2012

Alstein
That said, stuff does exist in that community.  A female game journalist who is a personality (realistically: she isn't a top player, but she is decent and tries hard, like 90% of us) was at EVO last year, and broke down in her second match and screamed.   If it was a guy, it would have just been a "salty moment"- instead you hear all sorts of "crazy cat lady" comments and other stuff.   Honestly, given what happened and how she lost, I might have screamed myself. 

If a guy did that he would be labeled as having issues... I am pretty sure women get a lot more slack towards public displays of insanity.

on Dec 06, 2012

Throwing sticks and getting mad salty is part of the FGC- it really is similar to baseball in this regard.  You should hear what players say when they pop-up (Brian McCann is one of the saltiest players out there), some pitchers are like that also.

 

I don't know about other pro sports.

on Dec 06, 2012

Alstein
Also, what do you do when a female player just isn't good, and is continuing to try, but isn't willing to do it right? I don't want to patronize, but I don't want to destroy (especially since I am interested in this person). I'm terrible at these sorts of games yet I can win every time easily. I really shouldn't. It's frustrating because I know that becoming good would make her so happy, but she's doing it wrong, and I don't know if she can do it right. Large numbers of men can't either, including myself.
Given that in the previous example you seemed to be able to tease someone for being hyperbolically frustrated without getting into the gender dynamics (a conversational tightrope I have been unable to master), I'd suggest treating her like the standard noob and letting things play out as they will (if you see other community members harassing her, as I said above it would do a world of good to call them out, but do it in a way that makes it clear you want to bring them down, not try to save the poor damsel in distress).

on Dec 06, 2012

I never said I mastered it- and she probably just wants it to go away, though it never will, as it was captured on youtube.

 

That's pretty much what I've been doing, kinda telling her that she's being predictable.  I'm kinda a bad teacher since I don't do things right myself, and I'm kinda oddball in how I solve things.   Newer players should learn orthodox approaches, not weird ones.

 

on Dec 06, 2012

Then consider articulating how you play, and how you win.  Write it down--that will help let you refine it, and make it easier for her to refer to.

 

But I don't really see how this has much to do with discrimination against women in gaming and game development.  No offense meant.

on Dec 06, 2012

Came from that X-Play award last night, where the first comment out of Morgan Webb's mouth was that the FGC was a cesspool of misogyny- which was out of nowhere.   Some truth to it, but she wouldn't dare say that about one of the games that pays her bills.

 

I just think the FGC gets picked on and used as an example, when there are others who are at least as bad if not worse.

on Dec 06, 2012

Alstein
Came from that X-Play award last night, where the first comment out of Morgan Webb's mouth was that the FGC was a cesspool of misogyny- which was out of nowhere.   Some truth to it, but she wouldn't dare say that about one of the games that pays her bills.

 

I just think the FGC gets picked on and used as an example, when there are others who are at least as bad if not worse.

 

There are certainly a lot of bad ones around, but much of that has to do with a dilemma faced by site owners and their moderators.  It's easy to pick out people who are abusive or engaging in talk you don't want (praise of pirating, for example), but what do you to with a bunch of players who exhibit the characteristics of a self-reinforcing culture of misogyny?  Do you ban the lot?  Do you tell them no bigotry against anybody?  How far do you go, and what steps will you take?

 

My remarks are not meant as a justification for allowing misogyny to be expressed online. Just an attempt to define at least one expression of it, and the problems relating to its control.  Ultimately, online conduct creates its own culture, separate from home, school, and work, and just as likely to create its own self-referential behaviors.

on Dec 07, 2012

Glazunov1

 but what do you to with a bunch of players who exhibit the characteristics of a self-reinforcing culture of misogyny?  Do you ban the lot?  Do you tell them no bigotry against anybody? 

Yes.

on Dec 07, 2012

Lord Xia

Quoting Glazunov1, reply 88
 but what do you to with a bunch of players who exhibit the characteristics of a self-reinforcing culture of misogyny?  Do you ban the lot?  Do you tell them no bigotry against anybody? 

Yes.

 

Well, yeah--that's my take, too.  The only way to break up self-referential crap like that is to break open their window and let the light and air in from the outside.  Show them that what they believe doesn't makes sense, and will lead to their being ostracized.  But our opinions of how to treat this are far from universal among forum owners, and there are a lot of other issues that enter into how this is dealt with.

on Dec 07, 2012

Lord Xia
Yes.

With an asterisk. I would ignore little or vague things, give them warnings first, etc. Basically as with any problem/opinionated user who isn't an outright troll. Ultimately, it has to  be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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