Dear Ada, From “White Mouse”

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?

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?

I find I am too impatient to be a sleeper cell. On bad days I interpret my continued involvement in a broken system as an endorsement and I hate myself for it. It is a valid route. It’s a safe route. I’ve survived this long doing what I’m already doing but I want to do more and I’m not allowed, not if I stay within the family. Not yet, at least. But I don’t like feeling so frustrated all the time and suffering the anxiety. Everyone tells you there’s no better alternative because everywhere sucks in its own special way. You are labeled as an ungrateful whiner if you express wishes for things to be better. They tell you things will never change and you just should accept it.

Meanwhile the indie side is no Elysian field. I’ve seen my friends take that jump and they don’t always make it to the other cliff-face. I’ve also heard tale of the horrid amounts of harassment that can arise when predators aren’t under the legal all-watching eye of a corporate human resources department.

I dearly want to improve the lives of all the women who have eked out what they can in the current climate. Furthermore I want to improve all developers’ quality of life, men and women, so that our industry practices are no longer an abusive joke and even more talented people from all walks of life are compelled to join. I want to break up the all-white-male brain-trusts, throw in some diversity and bring them out of their comfort zone. All for the sake of better games. Evolution doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Other days I just feel the doom closing in around me and think that if things haven’t changed already then they never will and I should stop being so annoying and leave the club house like they want me to.

Some days I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t trade it for anything. On those days I’m content to apply what small changes I can and deep down I know that eventually those small efforts will build up to better portrayals and standards within our games. Other days I just feel the doom closing in around me and think that if things haven’t changed already then they never will and I should stop being so annoying and leave the club house like they want me to.

I know it’s frowned upon to complain without providing solutions but I just want other like-minded developers to know that they’re not alone.

Thanks for listening, Ada. I don’t expect you to make my decision for me but it was nice to sort things out into text. And I apologize for being so vague. I’m just scared.

White Mouse

“White Mouse” is a female developer working at a “AAA” company, who has chosen not to be identified publicly. We invite you to respond, and share your thoughts on her letter, by contributing your own. Please do get in touch with us.

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