Do I stay or do I go?
Do I stay in “triple-A”, tolerate the missteps and insensitivity, waste my breath voicing my displeasure, rationalize the indifference, work to shore up eventual executive influence 15 years down the line and hope to force change then?
Or do I leave now, strike out on my own, go outsider and find a willing audience, take the activist route and try to create better examples, perform mentorship on my own terms and become a full-fledged indie, not caring about the mainstream?
“White Mouse” is a female developer working at a “AAA” company, who has chosen not to be identified publicly. As someone who cares about issues of diversity, industry practices, and better games, she writes powerfully about her feelings of conflict regarding whether or not change can happen from within the system, and where to go next with her career.
It has been awhile and I didn’t really know where to re-begin this letter correspondence, especially now knowing that people are looking (I hope they are looking). I have decided to make this something of an update on the inbetween time, highlighting some of the writings and events during the down-time and collating because during our 5 month hiatus gender issues in games have really been brought to the fore. A LOT has gone down, some good some bad and some worse, but mostly there has been a promising burst of attention to pervasive misogyny and inequity that can only contribute to a growing awareness.
Emily and Mitu are your curators, whose original letter series birthed this site. Emily continues their ongoing correspondance with this latest installment, summarizing all that has happened in the arena of gender issues in games in the last five months. Read on for more.
Around the turn into the 20th Century, there were many questions about women. One of them was “Why aren’t there many women writers?” The typical answers ranged from men’s predisposition to artistic ability to women being too fragile and unintelligent to push through the rigor needed to be a writer. Writers are usually men, in a male artistic culture, and that’s just how it was; any woman who became notable was seen as performing something masculine.
Mattie Brice is a games critic and academic who focuses on narrative design and social justice issues, such as the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. She has given us permission to re-post this article, originally published on The Border House Blog, entitled ‘An Escape of One’s Own’.
Back around the turn of the century my great grandmother was part of the Suffragette movement. She ran afoul of Asquith’s Cat & Mouse Act, in and out of prison on hunger strike. She was a campaigner for women’s rights, and the medal her part in the struggle earned her has passed down through the family since then. I guess you could say then that I’ve got “feminism” in my blood, but to an extent I’ve not paid a lot of attention. Even a year ago, when female gamers and game developers would complain about the portrayal of women in games I frequently was one of the people justifying and rationalising. “Sex sells”, “This is what appeals to teenage boys” and so on.
No one thing turned me around on this, but a sequence of events helped to really change my mind.
Luke Dicken is a specialist in Game AI, who shares his own perspective and journey so far as a feminist ally.