Yesterday, a Twitter user asking that tired question of “why aren’t there more female game creators?” launched the hashtag #1ReasonWhy, which quickly grew as women and men in the game industry shared stories of sexism and marginalization–reasons there aren’t more female game developers. Here are a sample:
Art,and much in settings, for straight men, tells me that I’m in gaming by invitation only, and I don’t actually belong here. #1reasonwhy
— filamena (@filamena) November 26, 2012
Because I feel like I am not welcome at E3 even though I have been making games for 31 years. #1reasonwhy
— Brenda Romero (@br) November 27, 2012
#1reasonwhy Because I was told women are lazy workers/leave first during crunch, and asked if I was going to cry during stressful periods.
— Kate Craig (@koalaparty) November 27, 2012
#1reasonwhy B/C women have been speaking out against sexism in games culture for YEARS; when men speak out, THEN suddenly ppl pay attention
— Regina Buenaobra (@Brinstar) November 27, 2012
Because you have to worry when you make even one game for women or kids, that you have now lost any credibility in “real” games. #1reasonwhy
— Laralyn McWilliams (@Laralyn) November 27, 2012
A sister hashtag was also spawned: #1ReasonMentor, which is allowing women who aspire to make games to connect with mentors in the game industry.
The fact that the game industry isn’t 50-50 men and women has nothing to do with women’s nature or work ethic or passion. It has everything to do with sexism and discrimination. Thank you to those who are able to speak out about this; I hope this is the the beginning of something that will make things better for those who can’t.
#1ReasonWhy: The night Twitter took on the game industry’s sexism – Rachel Weber, Gamesindustry International
Too many reasons why – Katie Williams
I’m starting to suspect she likes abuse – Ashelia
Twitter hashtag “#1ReasonWhy” exposes sexism in the game industry – Mike Rose, Gamasutra (This article was originally illustrated with a stock image of a woman’s feet wearing high heels standing next to men’s feet in black shoes and trousers, but that image was replaced, kind of hilariously, with Rosie the Riveter after I tweeted about it.)
Update: This story has been increasing in scope and attention all day, being tweeted about by popular gaming podcast The Indoor Kids (which is a pretty great show, by the way) and even online teen magazine Rookie Mag. When I started tweeting about my own reasons for not getting into games, I realized that sexism is not the only issue keeping women out of professional game development:
Because it’s not worth the crunch time and low pay to work on boob physics at a “frat house”. Because even if I do get a job at a studio with a good environment, I will probably end up getting laid off post release. Because the game industry is a mess that takes its talent for granted, in addition to all the sexism.
Quality of life is still a huge problem in the game industry, and issues like crunch time and low wages hit marginalized people harder than it does the most privileged. This is another big reason why only the most privileged–straight, white, class-privileged men–can get into and stay in the game industry. If we want the game industry to be more diverse, it is not enough to stamp out sexism, racism, homophobia. We need to make the game industry a good place to work.
This hearkens back to the first blog post I ever wrote, which was about a conference panel on using game development projects in the computer science curriculum. The most compelling point to me was that there are plenty of other kinds of projects–websites, using social media, mobile apps–that are just as engaging for students without the baggage that games have, so why bother with games? And the same is true for the industry at large. There are plenty of tech companies that do interesting things, that are cool and welcoming places to work, without all or as many of the problems the game industry has, so why bother with games? This is the place I have found myself in, personally. I love games. I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t. But it is not worth working in a soul-crushing environment for bad wages and having to deal with sexism every day.