#1ReasonWhy: Female Game Devs Speak About Marginalization in the Industry

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:

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.

Further reading:

#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.

About Alex

Alex posts some of her sewing projects and cosplays on her Tumblr; you can also find her babbling about sewing and games and Parks and Recreation on Twitter.
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5 Responses to #1ReasonWhy: Female Game Devs Speak About Marginalization in the Industry

  1. Twyst says:

    #1reasonwhy if you speak up, you are a troublemaker.

  2. Kimiko says:

    Hah, just last week I was starting to consider looking into getting into game programming as a job (yes, that tentative). This week, things are looking a little more serious, so I’d like some advice on what languages and software to get experience in, how to start building a portfolio and stuff. I think I’ll see if I can contact some of those tweeting folks at #1reasonmentors. Yay for fortuitous coincidence :)

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