During one of my internet meanderings, I came across this Open Letter to the Gaming Industry. The letter, signed by a group of games industry women, points out the neglect that many women feel as gamers by the industry and by gaming communities.
We are the women who play, write, design, create art for, and love your games. We play video games from first person shooters online to Wii Fit. We have top of the line gaming machines and old play stations we keep running with gum and shoe polish. We know every game coming out next month and we have been playing the same copy of Doctor Mario since we bought it years ago, used. We are also table top players and LARPers. We have invested thousands of dollars in collectible card games and miniatures for war simulation games. In some cases we are 40% of the market, and we are 50% of the population.
Despite all that, there are times when many of us feel neglected or forgotten. We have been harassed in your stores, rejected in your communities online, and treated with disrespect on your online services and your advertising. We have seen commercials and art that some of us find offensive. We often feel that our stories are not well represented in the stories the games we play. Sometimes we speak up and are met with a remarkable lack of decorum. Sometimes we are too afraid to speak up at all for fear of alienation, abuse, or difficulty finding work in the industry because we might be seen as ‘hard to work with,’ when all we were doing was trying to have a discussion and change things for the better.
The letter then goes into a series of points that discuss sexist advertising, the lack of stories about and for women in games, under-representation in the industry, and the effect of sexist advertising on games culture. The letter ends with a note that it is a living document and will evolve over time.
What do you think of the open letter? Do you agree with its points? Is there anything it didn’t cover?
Side note: The comments section in the open letter is a text book case example of a dude defending the status quo while still trying to say he is against sexism, and women trying to point out where he is wrong. Some highlights include: the “You’re just asking for special treatment” argument, the “tone” argument, the “Sex sells” and “It’s a business decision” defense for sexism in games, the “I have a woman gamer friend and she doesn’t have a problem with sexism in games, therefore it must not be a problem” argument, the “There are a lot of strong women and games, so why can’t you be happy?” argument, the “What you want will come at the expense of the enjoyment of games by men” argument, and the assertion that a man’s male-privileged opinion and purely theoretical knowledge of sexism carries more weight than a woman, who has the lived, daily experience of discrimination against women, while being a woman. If you read the comments, get out your bingo cards.