This has happened to me a fair number of times. Someone made an assumption, and although it wasn’t necessarily insulting, it certainly made me raise an eyebrow because I can make a pretty decent bet that it was based solely on my gender. I tweeted as much during the storm that was 1Reason. Oh, but wah, wah, boo, boo, you say? There are worse things to be mistaken for besides the receptionist! Which is completely and utterly true, but this is a common occurrence for many women in the games industry.
And this is just the barest tip of the iceberg, like a delightful scratch and sniff odor of something off-putting below the surface. As a participator in the 1ReasonWhy hash tag, I am ashamed to admit that I am scared of sharing everything; I’m scared of sharing the worst of it. I am fearful of delving below the surface. Talking about this subject in public is terrifying because frankly you never know when retribution is going to rear its ugly head and what sort of consequences will come about because of your words. To tell all, in many ways, either means having nothing to lose, anonymity or extreme bravery, none of which I possess.
And I most definitely have a lot to lose because there are people depending on me. And frankly, I love this industry and I want to stay here for a while.
That’s the thing; I really do love this industry. #1ReasonToBe was brilliant, because as crap as things can be sometimes, there’s way more about this community that is positive, uplifting and fantastic. There is nothing out there that I would want to do more than make games. I love going to work and being with my teammates: joking around, expressing ideas, bonding over hard work, and well, playing games together. All of that makes the other stuff I’d rather not talk about – the stuff that makes me shift around nervously and teary eyed – completely and utterly bearable. The bad is dwarfed in comparison to the love of making games.
So, I have a secret wish. Whenever I’m in the public eye, whether it’s doing PR or giving a talk – and this is going to sound amazingly corny — I hope that there’s a little girl out there that sees me and thinks to herself, “Oh look! Girls make games too.” I say this because this problem isn’t going to change on a dime. A grown adult isn’t going to change their mind about their inherent beliefs or their personality because someone gave them the stink eye (or an Internet reaming).
Kids however are impressionable and full of those innocent hopes and dreams that may one day turn into reality. I was one of those kids that dreamed of making video games one day. When I looked at the gaming landscape and browsed through Nintendo Power, I didn’t see a person with two X chromosomes that I could point and go ‘Yes, if she did it, so can I!’ Thankfully, I lucked out with some insanely supportive parents, but without that I doubt that I would be making games right now. And so when I blather endlessly about a game I’m working on until my eyes bleed, in the back of my head, I hope that there’s a little girl out there that realizes her dreams are achievable.
So here comes my point. This is a numbers game, people.
If you want diversity in gaming subjects:
If you want a more fair, unbiased workplace:
If you want the industry to just plain grow up:
Then we need to change the makeup of our industry, because games are a reflection of their creators.
So I see the solution to this problem coming not a year from now, not five years from now, but twenty. When this current generation of kids sees the good example that we should be setting now. And though we may not be able to tell it completely like it is just yet, there’s still plenty we can do to help future generations of game developers. So ladies, my call to arms is this:
Be everything that the younger versions of us could’ve pointed to and proudly said:
“Girls make games too.”