This week, I’ve been following a really interesting campaign on Twitter called ‘#1reasonwhy.’
For those of you who aren’t aware of what this is about (and, admittedly, not all the Tweets are making it very obvious to outsiders), influential video game designer Luke Crane asked “Why are there so few lady games designers?” What came next was both interesting and shocking.
Lead Narrative Designer for Halo 4, Lindsay Lockhart, pointed out that “Disparity between average pay for men v. women was… staggering.” While we know that the pay divide between sexes is not exclusive to the gaming industry, it is highly disappointing to see that this issue has not been resolved within what is a relatively modern and still developing industry.
Another Tweet that made me see various shades of red was from Tara Brannigan, the Community Marketing Manager for Popcap. Within her Tweet she stated: “I busted my ass to get a promotion. First response to it happening was that I only got it because I ‘have nice tits’”
So, a woman who has worked hard to succeed is reduced to having her physical attributes valued above any effort, education and love for the industry. Personally, I find this upsetting, not just because this was said to a female in an industry I love, but because it is inexcusable to say this to a woman in any situation. To diminish her to nothing more than the quality of her breasts is disgusting. I’ve been on the receiving end of being told I’ve been hired for my looks, and it wasn’t flattering at all; it just made me want to work my arse off to prove I was capable of more than “looking pretty.”
I only have to browse through some of the more popular Tweets to see that there are other women out there, passionate about gaming, but frustrated and even angered at the treatment of women within every aspect of the industry, not just in designing.
Author Rhianna Practchett not only brought up a saddening lack of acknowledgement within the industry that yes, females play games too (“I still have to keep saying: “But what if the player is female?”) but has, in support of the movement and also to expand on what Luke Crane started, made her own hashtag: #1reasontobe.
The latest statistics show us that 47% of gamers are women, but within the industry itself, only 12% of jobs within the gaming industry are taken by women. The statistics look shocking, but is this a surprise considering the very obvious hostility faced by women either in the industry or wanting to break into the industry?
This is not to say that men within the industry have not openly supported this campaign. Journalist/Podcaster Justin McElroy stated: “Dudes: Let #1reasonwhy wash over you and accept that maybe a lifetime as a dude hasn’t made you an expert on what life is like for women.”
Why do I love this Tweet? Because men acting as though they know what it’s like to be a woman really pisses me off. Men can sympathise with certain aspects of womanhood but should never begin to insinuate that they know what it’s actually like. Justin hit the nail on the head with this Tweet; male writers, designers, developers, etc. can never fully appreciate what it means to be a woman in the same industry, which is why they should actively seek to promote a friendly, non-sexist working environment for both genders.
Little-known fact for all our readers: I was offered a job within the game industry this summer and, due to so many circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to take it. To this day, I still wish I’d been able to take it so I could tell people that the industry is changing for the best or, better yet, I could try to change it as much as possible. However, reading the many accounts of women within the industry has also made me think that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. Regardless of the outcome (and my future plans to get into the industry to promote and support the often-ignored 47%), the industry needs to change in a positive way. I will never say it is every man in gaming who is a sexist pig, but while it is apparently excusable to call a woman a bitch, a whore, a cunt, fat, or a lesbian for playing and wanting to make games, things need to change fast.
Written by Becci Yare