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Women Don't Want To Work In Games (And Other Myths)
by Elizabeth Sampat on 03/24/14 08:10:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Hello and welcome to “Women Don’t Want To Work In Games (And Other Myths)! Allow me to introduce myself: my name’s Elizabeth Sampat. I’m a senior game designer at a mobile game company called Storm8, and they’re kind enough to let me make weird personal projects in my spare time. I’ve been in digital games for about three or four years, maybe? And I‘ve been involved in the tabletop and hobby game industry since 2006. I’m also on the advisory board for the IGDA Women In Games Special Interest Group, which is why I’m doing this talk. I’ll get to my personal story as a woman in games eventually, but here: if you know me it’s probably because I yell on Twitter, or because I wrote a polemic about Penny Arcade that went viral, or because I was on the #1reasonwhy/#1reasontobe panel last year. 

The years I’ve spent as a game designer have been some of the most rewarding, most fulfilling times of my life, and it’s important to me that other people get the opportunity to discover all of the amazing things that this life has to offer. So as you might imagine, I am really and truly passionate about our industry, and about cultivating diversity among its workers. And now that I’m here, in front of so many people with such a strong interest in furthering our industry’s reach, it’s my pleasure to tell you that everything regarding the lack of gender diversity in the game industry is solved. I know! I’m just as surprised as you are.

I really am sorry that you came all the way here, but in doing the research for this talk, I came across a lot of really congratulatory glad-handing articles about how everything has been fixed, so I guess it HAS to be true, despite the fact that, you know, only ten percent of workers in the game industry are women. 

See, here’s the magical thing that has fixed the gender gap: right now, there are a lot of initiatives to get young girls to use computers. Heck, there’s even a game design badge in the girl scouts! With all of this interest in teaching our progeny how to code and hack and— whatever the kids are calling it these days— everything’s going to be juuuust fine. So instead of digging any deeper than we already have, we can all pat each other on the backs, say “Good job!” and just wait twenty years for the industry to fix itself. 

Or not.

Early outreach is important, definitely. But we need to start looking for solutions that work now. It may seem like the industry will be an egalitarian, gender-parity utopia by the time that we’re all playing Angry Birds Fifteen on the holodeck at the old folks’ home, but that doesn’t fix the homogeneity of voices in the games now, or the behaviors that have lead to an industry dominated by white men under the age of 45.

But even nurturing young women and girls interested in games isn’t enough to change our future. If we don’t change the attitudes, hiring habits and retention issues that have lead to the current gender disparity in the game industry, then no matter how much passion we instill in our youth— no matter how many proficiencies we teach them— all of that work will be for nothing.

The best ways to bring more diversity of experience and perspective into our industry is to face our mental barriers head on. Here’s a spoiler: the problem isn’t with the women who supposedly don’t want to be here. The problem is with us.

Myth #1: Women don’t want to work in games

This is the most common sentiment— we can’t FORCE women into the industry. We’re not going to put guns to their heads. We can’t make people do jobs they don’t want to do! Women don’t want to be here, there’s nothing to be done, so let’s just continue to have men make all of the first person shooters and all of the Farmvilles and all of the everything in between. I just have one question for those who think women don’t want to work in games: have you asked them?

I have. Using Facebook, Twitter, mailing lists and word-of-mouth, I polled a large number of women who are currently employed or seeking employment in the game industry about how long they’ve been here, what they did before, and how their priorities, experiences, and lives have impacted the paths that their careers have taken.   

On the surface, the numbers aren’t surprising. 45% of responders said that they “have always known” they wanted to be in the game industry! This adds an air of truth to one of the other forms of the “women don’t want to work in games” myth— that the game industry is ONLY for people who were born cradling their own copy of Chrono Trigger. The game industry requires passion, dedication, and true love— and anyone who doesn’t have those things from the get-go will be eaten alive. That’s the common narrative.

But let’s take another look at that number. 45% of responders to my poll said that they have always known they wanted to be in the game industry: that’s almost half! Or to put it another way, that’s LESS THAN HALF. 55% of responders got into the game industry in a wide variety of ways that had nothing to do with their lifelong aspirations of game-developer fame and fortune— and for some, all it took was being approached by a recruiter while they were in school. 

Just talking to someone— just asking someone if they’ve ever considered a job in games— is an incredibly potent recruitment tool. But it’s one few people ever think about, because it’s in direct opposition to the prevalent narrative: “Who needs to be given permission? Who would ever need to be ASKED if they want into this amazing industry we all love? If the candidate doesn’t already know how fantastic making games can be and how much of a privilege it is to even be employed bringing joy to so many people, this isn’t the place for them!”

Every time you perpetuate the myth that the only way to make it in games is to have always wanted to be in games, you’re reducing the potential talent pool you’re recruiting from by 55%.

And of that 55%, there’s a second demographic that is almost as potent as lifelong burning desire. Among the industry women in my poll, 41% of people became interested in games as a career because they either had friends, family, or acquaintances who worked in the industry, or else had someone directly suggest to them that they consider working in games. For a lot of women— even women who grew up loving games!— the leap from “enjoying games” to “making games” is one that is difficult to make without support.

It’s almost a Catch-22. Because only 10% of the game industry is made up of women, it’s a career that never even occurs to a large number of women who would be very happy here. And because so few women realize it’s an option, the number of women in the game industry remains incredibly low.

The best way to deal with this particular problem is fairly self-evident, then: actively talk to women about the game industry. If you yourself are a woman, be vocal to friends in tech and outside of the industry in general about what you do and why you love it. If you represent a company, sponsor game jams for people who have never made games before. When you’re in an interview, quit looking for lifelong dedication and start looking for curiosity and current interest. 

But Elizabeth! you might be saying. Are these hires— the ones who haven’t been burning with a passion to create new game titles since they were old enough to hold a controller— quality hires? Do we NEED people who lack that lifelong dedication? What could these dilettantes possibly bring to the table?

I’m glad you asked. In 2006, I moved to a small Massachusetts town about 10 minutes from the border of Vermont called Greenfield. I lived two blocks down the street from Vincent Baker— one of the most highly-esteemed tabletop roleplaying game creators in the independent hobby scene, responsible for titles like Dogs In The Vineyard and Apocalypse World. His wife Meg is also an award-winning tabletop game designer. Across the street was my friend Julia Bond Ellingboe, a fantastic tabletop designer whose critically-acclaimed Steal Away Jordan explored and celebrated the heroes she grew up with— escaping and runaway slaves in the antebellum south. 

A few exits down 91 was Northampton, Massachusetts— home to Joshua AC Newman, acclaimed designer of the tabletop roleplaying game Shock: Social Science Fiction, and the lego mech-warrior miniature strategy game Mobile Frame Zero, which blew past its Kickstarter goal by almost one THOUSAND PERCENT.

I hung out with these people, I played their games with them a few nights a week. And it wasn’t until I was aggressively pushed by my friends to try my own hand at game design that it even occurred to me I was capable of such a thing!

I eventually published my first tabletop roleplaying game, It’s Complicated, and brought it to GenCon— the oldest and possibly largest tabletop game convention in the United States. On the Saturday of the convention, a man came up, plopped twenty dollars down on the table, and announced he was there to buy my game— and hopefully talk to me. The man introduced himself as Ryan, and the first thing he said to me was “Have you ever considered going digital? This design would port beautifully to a computer game.” 

We talked for a long while, and he left me his card. It turned out that he was Ryan Scott Dancey, the then-CMO of CCP games and the former senior Vice President in charge of tabletop RPGs at Wizards of the Coast, responsible for the successful launch of Dungeons and Dragons: Third Edition.

If Vincent and Meg and Julia and Joshua had never convinced me to try to make my first game, I’d still be struggling to come up with new and innovative concepts as a freelance stock photographer. If Ryan had never told me, rather forcefully, that I had a future in the digital game industry, I’d probably be writing exciting new encumbrance rules for the next edition of some White Wolf RPG. I love what I do— now that I make games every day, I can’t imagine my life doing anything else. But it took a lot of arm-twisting and encouragement for me to get out of my own head and to step out of my comfort zone.

If you’re not worried about the industry losing the next me, that’s fine. But if we don’t actively reach out to women, we might lose our next Robin Hunicke. In her #1reasonwhy talk at last year’s GDC, the former executive producer of thatgamecompany’s groundbreaking title Journey and the current founder of the game company Funomena freely admitted that, despite a path that lead up to and circled around the game industry, it wasn’t until Will Wright mentioned game development to her that she considered a career in games.

Myth #2: It’s Too Late, There Are No Women To Hire!

This myth concedes the point that, okay, perhaps you could interest women in the game industry, but that doing so is useless. Even if you somehow convinced women to apply, or show interest, it’s too late! Look at the number of women currently in game programs at universities, or recent graduates. There are so few women who have the necessary skills we need in the industry that there’s no point in pursuing them. 

This particular myth comes with a secret consolation prize— when people ask why your game company has so few women, you can just smile and shrug. “There are only so many women with the skill sets required to make games,” you can say, while furrowing your brow in empathy. “It’s a numbers game. Until more women graduate with the skills necessary to make games, the pool of potential female candidates will remain low, and not every company will be able to woo them.” 

If that dog-whistle is a little too high for you to hear, let me make it even clearer: I once spoke with someone in charge of hiring at another company, and they had a really interesting excuse for an all-male workspace: “Women are probably in really high demand and can ask for whatever they want, because everyone wants to be diverse. That just makes them too expensive.”


We’ll sidestep the implication that the only reason those women may be in demand is because of their gender for the time being, and address the broader point— the idea that there aren’t a ton of women who have the appropriate training and necessary skillsets to be a necessary and effective part of a game company. And, yes, if you’re only specifically looking for senior software engineers who have gotten at least three titles through the gold master process on two different consoles, the pickings are probably a bit slim.

The thing is, though, that a game company is first and foremost a company. You need people to keep the lights on and the books balanced; you need people to keep the company part going as much as the game part. I understand that there’s a mindset that a lot of game-makers have that says HR, and marketing, and office management don’t count— but study after study has shown that the best way to attract women candidates is to have women as employees. 

If you say you want to attract women when talking to software engineers or designers and they notice women are absent from even the non-technical departments, they’re not going to take you at your word. Actions are important. Employ women wherever possible, and treat those women with respect; believe me, the female candidates who interview with you will notice, even if the women they see aren’t in their department. 

And by the way? When I say “treat those women with respect,” I also mean respecting their jobs, and how those jobs are vitally important to the growth and success of your company. The pervasive idea that HR, marketing, and office management “don’t count” or aren’t “really” part of game development at your company or in the industry as a whole is, in and of itself, sexist— those are the roles that are most often coded as feminine, and the roles where women are visible, even in male-dominated companies. And it’s not even a matter of those roles not being “core” to design and production. Have you ever noticed that the game industry will occasionally champion the unsung importance of QA, and yet a no one ever talks about the vital role that Community Management plays in a game’s success? And as for the stereotypical woman in a business role, she’s still considered — well, Shanley Kane put it best in her blistering article titled “Misogyny and the Marketing Chick:”

“She’s not in tech, she’s around it. She doesn’t understand engineering. She’s not a programmer. She probably got her job because she’s pretty. Or how did she get that job, she’s not even pretty. She probably got her job from sleeping with that guy. She probably does social media. She’s helping out with the conference. She’s doing the launch. She’s setting up the meetings. She’s writing mass emails. She’s composing tweets.

What is to be done about her? We need to make sure the marketing chick can’t infiltrate our industry, make sure we don’t accidentally aid and abet her rise. So we’re going to assume all women in our industry are like her unless they can prove to us they’re not a marketing chick. Now even women hate the marketing chick because they have to prove everyday, in every meeting, in every conversation, that they aren’t that.”

Every woman you invite to the office for an interview will watch to see how the other women in the office are treated and referred to. And if the women you invite to interview never see another woman, well, they’ll notice that too.

Does this seem recursive? I’m sure it does, but honestly, the best way to combat the myth that there aren’t any women to hire is to understand the inherent, subconscious biases that are keeping you from hiring the women that are already there in front of you.

Research in numerous studies has demonstrated that invisible bias hurts the prospects of women in all industries, not just tech. People look at men’s resumes for potential, but look at women’s resumes for proof. By removing the names of candidates and doing blind resume reviews, you’ll be surprised by how many women candidates suddenly seem viable. And by respecting the women in your employ and making them visible to the women you interview, you can show candidates proof that you take them seriously.

Myth #3: We Can’t Find Any Women Who Are A Culture Fit

Startup companies love to talk about “maintaining a strong company culture” and being sure that new hires are “good culture fits” the way that white people love calling shit their spirit animals. Ask any casual game company what makes their company different from the other companies working on the latest card-battling RPG with real-time casino feedback, and they’ll tell you that the thing that makes them special is the PEOPLE, that the secret sauce that will make you happier working there than anywhere else is the company culture.

You might think that I’m about to go on a rant about how “culture fit” is complete and total bullshit, and you’d be— well, wrong, actually. As I mentioned before, I work at a mobile company called Storm8, and I’ve been there longer than I’ve been at any other game company. Hopefully I get to stay there for a long time to come. The size of Storm8 has almost doubled since I joined, and the thing that’s been amazing to me is that it is still, at its heart, the company I fell in love with, and a large part of that is due to maintaining the company culture as the company has grown.

What does “Culture fit” mean to me at Storm8? It means a greater number— and a greater percentage— of women and people of color than at any other place I’ve worked, including a good chunk in engineering and data analysis. It means a truly collaborative environment. It means a place where everyone treats each other with a fundamental base of respect, and men take paternity leave so women don’t feel weird about starting families, and watching the number of women in my department grow to seven times what it was when I joined. We’ve got the pool table and the hackathons, but we’ve also got free feminine sanitary products in the restrooms and flexible schedules and summer parties where I’m encouraged to bring my kids. But mostly, we’ve got the kind of company culture where me giving this talk here at GDC— and all of the other ranting I do about equality in our industry— is something that I feel supported in doing, and has never for a moment made me worry about repercussions. 

Storm8 is a special company, and that’s why I choose to stay. But I also know that what I’ve just described is definitely not what most companies mean when they talk about their own company or what they mean by culture fit, and that’s part of the problem. If you can’t find any women who will fit into your company culture, have you considered that your company culture might… you know… suck?

Often times, the concerns about “Culture Fit” as a company are simply neophobic— a longing to cling to a status quo that may not be perfect, sure, but at least it’s familiar. If you’ve been doing something for a long time, and you’re given the opportunity to do something new, it can be tempting to stick to your old ways just to ensure that you don’t fail. 

The idea of culture fit is useful, but the TERM itself is worse than useless— it’s actively harmful in a number of ways. There are two different types of culture fit: homogeneity and habit. If someone isn’t a culture fit because they schedule meetings at 7 PM on a Friday and come from a company where design is always at war with marketing or something, then yeah, don’t hire them— their work habits will negatively impact the work habits of the people in your company. But if someone didn’t laugh at your Magic: The Gathering joke or didn’t seem excited enough when you mentioned the company fantasy football league? Get over it.

Don’t ever, EVER, let someone turn down a candidate by saying they’re not a good culture fit. Not even as part of a broader concern, not even a little bit, nope nope nope. If someone says that a person isn’t a good culture fit, interrogate them like you’re in an episode of Law and Order. Get the specific reasons out of the interviewer— did they seem unenthusiastic about the games you’re making? Did they seem like they have preconceived notions about what project management processes work best that are at odds with your company’s best practices? Or does the interviewer avoid your gaze and just say something about their “gut feeling” that the candidate wouldn’t be happy there? Worse, do they say something about how the candidate might make others unhappy to be there?

Look. If your company is predominantly male, I hate to tell you this, but you’re not going to magically be able to find women who fit into your company as it exists now. You might get close, but in order to accommodate diversity of backgrounds and experiences, your company is going to have to grow. Why do we only think of the word “growth” as it applies to business when it comes to headcount and revenue and market-share, anyway? What would our industry look like if companies were just as proud of the growth that they’ve made as a culture?

Part of the issue is that we know what growth looks like when we’re talking about numbers getting incrementally higher, or a line on a graph arching upwards. But when we’re talking about making room for different kinds of people, adding seats at a metaphorical table— for a lot of companies, that’s incredibly difficult, because there’s no one internal that has the expertise to know what kind of culture can attract the kind of diverse work group that they want.

Good news! There are consulting firms that work with companies specifically to analyze their culture and hiring practices and recommend tactics that will lead to finding more women candidates— and more women candidates that will become employees. Places like The Level Playing Field Institute and the Anita Borg institute have the experience and insight to uncover the things about your company culture you might not be able to see, and the knowledge to help you overcome the bad without injuring the good.

But they’re not here right now, and I am. So, while I am a misanthropic loudmouth instead of an acclaimed institution, I guess we’ll have to go with my advice. At least it’s free! And actually, it’s not even my advice. Remember that survey I mentioned earlier, the one I made asking women in the industry about their experiences and perceptions? Fortunately for all of us, the anonymous respondents had a lot of things to say about what attracts them to companies— and what keeps them away. 

One of the questions I asked was “What would sell you on a game company if it were mentioned by a recruiter?” In their own words, responders overwhelmingly mentioned three important things.

Family-friendly: this phrase came up the most often, even from women who are not and do not plan to become mothers in the near future. To respondents, this implies flexibility— one example was a “core hours” setup where all employees are mandated to be in the office during a set of four to five hours for collaboration, meetings, and face time, and then are able to work as much before or after core hours as they wish. Other things mentioned were flexible hours, occasional telecommuting, and a general atmosphere where families would feel comfortable, even if you didn’t have a family of your own— a place where fun doesn’t always mean alcohol and objectification. Interestingly, some women also mentioned that they want to see dads in the office; if men are taking time off for family things, it makes women feel more comfortable if they want to do so in the future. 

As one respondent said: “It currently doesn't affect me personally, but looking to the future, a company that offered on site child care might be appealing; even if I never have children, I think the benefit to coworkers who did would make for a better work environment. (If it matters, I was inspired to think this would be a really good perk by a male coworker who was sad about not getting home before his daughter went to bed.. I don't think its a mothers-only benefit, but I do think men can be more hesitant to vocalize it.)”

Collaboration and Trust: the majority of women who responded to my survey weren’t looking to bow at the feet of a single visionary. Many women spoke about their desire to work in an environment where they had the ability to feel ownership over parts of the production process, working hand in hand with peers who understand and respect what each person on the team brings to the table. They want companies that are invested in seeing them learn and grow, personally and professionally, and are willing to invest in them to ensure that growth.

One respondent said the best thing a recruiter could tell her would be: “We need you on our team, and your voice, and we're also interested in experimentation. The "we need you" part would really sell any position for me. I'd like to know that I could lend my real perspective, and not just participate in the production of something on a surface level. There's a difference between being an artist, and just using a skill. “

Good, Clear Communication: This is one answer that surprised me. I mean, sure, there was an overwhelming response from women who would be interested in knowing that the workplace was already diverse, and the family-friendly business wasn’t exactly a shocker. But the most surprising popular answers all revolved around a desire to work in a place where communication skills are highly prized— environments where expectations and hopes are spelled out, problems are found quickly and addressed even more quickly, and everything is communicated with professionalism and respect. The women who responded to my survey feel that the best way to ensure good work is through transparent and open communication, and therefore prize it highly.

As one woman put it, “good communication (and human contact!) is one of the best ways to fuel creative inspiration.”

But enough about all of the things that you can be doing right. What about the things you might be doing wrong? I also asked the women in my survey about what recruiter-mentioned “selling points” would actively turn them off from applying. The answers probably aren’t that surprising.

Brogrammer-speak: The word “Brogrammer” might be one of the most commonly-used words in all of the responses. Many anonymous respondents called out specific companies they never even interacted with, but whose recruitment drives and presentation choices alienated them forever. Here are a couple of examples:

“I will NEVER consider working for Riot Games thanks to their previously used 'No doesn't always mean no' internal recruitment campaign. I know from employees that worked there that people approached them to complain about the practice/terminology, and those people were told that if it bothered them, perhaps they didn't belong at Riot games. As a rape victim I refuse to work for asshats like that.”

A ton of women specifically mentioned Kixeye’s recruitment video, but one woman put it best: “That Kixeye video that was going around a while ago contained everything that turns me off about a job posting. If the word "brogrammers" is used without any sense of irony that's a red flag for me. If a lot of the studio staff is very young because they're unable to retain anyone past the age of 30 that's a red flag. If I get asked if I'm cool with a "non-PC work culture" during an interview that's not a good sign (Yes, I was actually asked this once during an interview.) “

The Wrong Perks: A substantial number of my survey respondents look at the typical “selling points” of game startups with serious side-eye. Anything mentioning a strong culture of alcohol— “beer Fridays,” booze at all-hands meetings— rubbed a number of women the wrong way. Again, even for people who like to partake, nothing says “bro” like crushing a beer and then crushing some code. Additionally, the more freebies a company has that are designed to keep people in the office, the more skeptical they are of the company’s commitment to work-life balance— something that’s extremely important to women who wish to have friends and family outside of the workplace.

As one woman put it: “I actively avoid the types of ads I see now that repeatedly scream "we're badass and devote all of our lives to the games we make", Really? That makes for such an unhealthy fertilizer for creativity. I want a company that prides itself on being well rounded.”

But, of course, not all women want the same thing.

Myth #4: I’m A Woman, I Can’t Be Part Of The Problem!

I’m just going to let this sit there for a while.

Yeah. So. There’s an idea that if you’re here, in the trenches of the game industry, simply existing as a woman, you’re Doing Something. And honestly, that idea isn’t completely off-base! Existing as a woman in a male space is a fundamentally rebellious act, and as I went over previously, women are more likely to join companies where women employees already exist. We’re fortunate to be in an industry with trailblazers, and in an industry with a number of companies who have their own pioneers, pushing through the monotony and homogeneity to make a space for themselves.

It’s hard to be the only woman, especially if you’re in the middle— you need to win the approval of your male superiors and win the trust of your male inferiors. You can feel the need to assimilate, to make yourself fit into the culture around you. It’s a hard, difficult, thankless journey— at least until you get to the top.

There’s something intensely satisfying about proving people wrong, isn’t there? There’s something that feels so good about reaching a goal. When you do something so hard, when it’s something so few people are able to accomplish, it feels amazing. You’re special. But here’s the thing: even when you get to the top— when you’re running your own company!— you are still working for approval; approval of the press, of your C-level peers, of venture capitalists. You’re breathing rareified air, but it comes in ragged gasps because you never get to stop climbing.

And no one can blame you for occasionally stopping to take in the view.

Mary Church Terrell was an amazing woman who worked tirelessly for women’s rights and the rights of people of color. Born to former slaves, she was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree— and she did so surrounded by white male students at Oberlin University. She was a phenomenal academic, earning the respect and admiration of her peers and inferiors. Her stratospheric rise wasn’t good luck or lineage, she fought for everything she earned— she fought harder than you and I will probably ever have to fight for anything. 

And when she got to the top and paused to survey the landscape, this is what she said:

“And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope.“

“Lifting as we climb” has become a profound call to action in social justice spaces, reminding us of our unique responsibilities. Yes, existing as a woman in a male space is rebellious, but it’s not subversive. If we try to push through the problems, we risk getting swallowed up in them— being the “cool girl” in the boys’ clubhouse, pushing down the ladder behind us, smugly satisfied that the NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign doesn’t apply to us. We’re special. We’re different. We’re the exception— we’re not like those other women, the ones who complain and act anxious and can’t take a joke. We’re “the good ones.”

We can’t push our way through the gluey slog of anti-woman spaces. We need to cut a swath. 

It’s so much easier to call out problematic behavior when it’s directed at you, you know? I mean, it’s not particularly easy in the first place, but when someone says something shitty and it’s about you, your hackles go up. You’re offended, maybe you’re angry, maybe you want to prove them wrong. Any woman who has fought for acceptance knows what this is like, and also knows the worst-kept secret in all of the feminist struggle: it gets tiring.

Anger fatigue.  You’re offended and furious for a while, and then you’re just mad, and then you’re sad, and then you’re numb because this is how the world is, all day, every day. A million tiny microaggressions, a million forwarded bullshit news articles that people expect you to be outraged about. Your righteous indignation gets batted around like a party trick— JUST WATCH HER GO! This is gonna be good. She’ll eviscerate them. It’ll be a hell of a show. Just let me push the button.

We talk a lot about important “voices” in games, and it’s funny to me the way we disembody the outrage and the insight. We remove the voice from the fleshy circumstances that birthed it. We are not voices, we’re PEOPLE. And yet the world is content with our emptiness, demanding our outrage, passing it around for fun, while we sit alone and hollow in front of our computer screens.

So when, for a minute, the bullshit isn’t directed at YOU— when it’s not personally offensive, when some dude at the YetiZen party grins and says you’re not like one of those bitchy women, you actually seem pretty cool— the urge to smile and let it pass is really, really understandable. It’s approval we don’t seek and we rarely get. It’s a moment where we could take a break, and survey the view from the top.

But the thing is, when you’re that high up? Everyone looks like ants.

This may sound like I’m putting everything at the feet of women eating their own, and I’m not. This is a learned, cultured response to systemic oppression. This is what happens when women who love games start hearing “one of the good ones” at the age of eleven or twelve and never stop. When you hear a woman say “I’m not like them,” whose words are they repeating? Whose bullshit have they internalized as a survival tactic? The game industry is fundamentally tied to games culture, and we can’t fault its victims for their own Stockholm Syndrome. We just need to begin the work of decolonization. 

I’m going to say this as clearly and earnestly as I can: if there isn’t room for you in the game industry, then fuck the game industry. I don’t want to be here if you can’t be here. And this is something we need to tell each other constantly— on stage at GDC, in line for the bathroom at the bar at the W, on Twitter and Snapchat and late at night in the car and every fucking chance we get. We need to remind each other we’re not impostors, we belong here.  

And every day, every single chance we get, we have to make space for each other.

All of this feeds into the biggest myth of all— the one everyone talks around and no one voices.

Myth #5: It’s Not The Industry’s Fault, It’s The Fault Of The Women.

In most civilized conversations about the gender disparity in our industry, blaming women for their own marginalization would be a horrifying and shocking statement. When conversations about the gender gap in the game industry come up, we’d never be so insensitive. Instead, we all nod and agree— OF COURSE the problem isn’t the women. The problem is the misogynist culture we live in, or the fact that the games industry was founded by men! It’s not that there’s something wrong with women.

Except for the fact that, you know, women should be more assertive, even though they’ve been encultured to be demure since they were children. Or maybe being bossy— sorry, “assertive”— isn’t even enough. Maybe they should go Full Sandberg and LEAN IN and ask for more work and more responsibility and more ownership, even though society still expects them to do the cooking and the cleaning and the child-rearing. Oh, and by the way? Even if you’re a single childless woman who can afford a maid, you’ll still be the bitch. Possibly the frigid bitch, since you couldn’t even find someone to love you during the hour or so that you’re not at work every evening. I think we all know that I could go on like this, but fortunately, I’m not planning to. I want to get to the solutions.

So here’s the thing. If we want to actually, honestly, EARNESTLY embrace diversity of gender and experience in the game industry, we only have two choices— there’s no middle ground here. Our first option is, of course, to go with the story that we’ve been spoon-fed about feminine success since we were children, the one we see in every television show and every movie about a Strong Women Proving Herself To The Men. We can uplift that stale narrative of the model minority, the badass loner of a woman who learns how to be the “cool girl” in the boys’ club— the GI Jane who works twice as hard for half the recognition of her peers. until one day she wakes up and she suddenly Has It All, and BOOM, suddenly she’s just as good as a man. Just. As. Good. And that’s a hell of a story— I’m a writer, I know stories, and that’s a great one, as far as patriarchal bullshit goes. 

Or there’s always the second choice. We can do the other thing, the thing that’s harder— the thing that doesn’t involve getting a few token, rich white women to the top by making them climb over the broken bodies of our sisters.

We can burn. Shit. Down.

We can stop being polite and looking for ways to lay equal blame at the feet of the establishment and those on the outside, as if identifying as a woman was a choice that lead to their own self-oppression. We can stop expecting women to trust us from day one; you can run the best, most inclusive, most collaborative company in the world, but you’re not hiring anyone directly from the vacuum of space. The world is fucked up, and the women you hire have probably worked at fucked up companies in the past, and it may take them a month or two to really understand and trust that your company is different. And, like with any relationship, if you’re trying to build a bond with an employee that’s meant to last, you can’t begrudge them that time.

The only way to fundamentally change the system is to acknowledge that the system, as it exists, is fundamentally broken— and by being a part of that broken system, we are complicit. Do you know why I get frustrated when the only solution anyone ever offers to the gender gap is to mention early-intervention projects and STEM education? Yes, that stuff is important. Yes, making investments in the future is a vital practice for the longevity of our industry. But— in case you didn’t notice— the economy sucks right now. So many people are changing careers, and more women than men are graduating from universities right now anyway. It’s like we’re starving, right this minute we’re dying of hunger, and instead of harvesting food from the next field over we’re planting seeds. 

We need to do both. We must do both if we’re ever going to manage to foment change.

My daughter Gwen is ten years old. She decided when she was about five that she wanted to grow up to be a pediatrician. She stuck with that until she was nine, and then she decided she wanted to be an astrophysicist. A few months back, she told me that she still wants to do astrophysics as her hobby, but when she grows up, she’s going to pursue a career as a game designer.

She draws out levels for her favorite platformers and puzzle games; she’s made three games in Twine and she’s learning Stencyl. She wants to learn to program in Ruby, but I’m not really able to help her because I don’t know how. I annoy her by making her write specs, and by interrogating her design choices, because deep down? I’m fucking terrified.

I’ve had it great in this industry— so much better than so many women I know— and I would still do ANYthing to keep Gwen from having some of the experiences I’ve had. And yeah, I know she’s ten. I know she’s changed her mind about what she wants to be when she grows up before, and she’ll probably change it again, and that doesn’t make me any less terrified. Some days I actually worry that I’m a bad example, being so in love with my work, living and breathing game design. I’m hard on her, harder than I’d be on a son who showed the same interest, because I want to tell her she’s going to have to work twice as hard to get half as far but I just don’t have the heart.

I see the way I look at her, and the way that I worry, and I know without a doubt that I am part of the problem. Every time I worry more about making her tougher than I worry about making the industry gentler, I’m complicit. But I’m ready to stop.

Are you?

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[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kris Graft
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Not sure where to begin here. You're essentially putting all of the responsibility on women to change a male-dominated, non-inclusive, uninviting game industry. You're suggesting that we, as men, "encourage" them. To do what? To put up with the oppressive bullshit that Elizabeth outlined in her talk? Shall we encourage women to do what they love doing, as a career, yet train them to deal with being treated as a marginalized group?

And where does the role of men come into play? When should we as men become proactive, and enact the change that you admit needs to happen? Elizabeth is in no way asking "the industry to bow down to her." She's asking for basic human decency.

"Encourage, don't push," you say. That is not how you enact social and cultural change. What you're suggesting is to be weak-willed, weak-minded. Of course, that's basically what you want women to be, it seems.

And really... "if the shoe fits"? Dude.

Jonathan Martinez
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So... banning users with dissenting views. Classy.

Since the "research" cited amounts to little more than personal anecdotes from a very biased sample pool, here's my own.

At the company I'm going into, I was hired to replace the lead developer who is leaving the company. She's a woman, who was lead developer at the company for several years and is now leaving to pursue her "dream job" in education. Yeah, leaving a dev job to become a teacher.

So, just to make it clear, she was making good money, the company already had a good number of women, the people were very respectful and professional, and still she leaves because there's another job she wanted more.

Extrapolating from that, maybe there are plenty of women perfectly capable of doing this line of work but aren't honestly that interested in it.

Kris Graft
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It's not merely about dissenting views. I'm under no obligation to keep people around who make Gamasutra feel like an unwelcoming, oppressive place. _Those_ are the people who are not welcome here. And actually yes, by me doing this, Gamasutra's comment section does become slightly classier. Thanks for your comment.

Matthew Calderaz
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This is fair enough, and it's outlined in your guidelines. However I have to wonder if a warning in *some* borderline instances, (like the first post), might have been preferable to an outright ban. In the instances where it is warranted; I'd suggest just deleting the thread starting from the ban.

As the thread looks now we see only your response to the comment; which leaves most people guessing if the ban was justified or not. I'm sure in some cases it is, but it looks bad to see: 1) 'banned user' 2) Lengthy response from admin referencing the post we can't see.

Stephen Horn
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@Jonathan: I read the comment before it was deleted. A long-winded, unsupported "nuh-uh" adds nothing to the conversation, and being thoughtful and constructive is rule #1 of commenting here. Also, I agree that there were aspects of the comment which were not respectful (Rule #3). "If the shoe fits" was, in particular, offensive.

You're concerned that the sample pool, being women already employed in the industry, is biased. I get that. Yet, the sample pool still revealed general trends in the industry that are unappealing to a significant portion of these women. If we can't take that feedback, from women already here, then we can't say we're being inclusive to women, because then we absolutely aren't.

So *I* might think it's cool when beer is at hand and we're free to partake, provided we get our work done. I could also see it painting an image of ourselves that would drive away women, especially in light of survey data specifically calling it out as a negative. We should reconsider such cultural icons as the studio kegerator, if we want to include women in our workforce.

If you *don't* want to include women in our workforce, that's your opinion which you're free to have, but please understand that's quite different from asserting "nothing is wrong, we're already equally inclusive to women". Because, clearly, we aren't. We're a privileged gender in this industry, and we should face the fact that we've erected obstacles to the women who would work with us. We might not have erected them with deliberate intent, but they are there, and we should put more thought into whether they should remain.

John Owens
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"When should we as men become proactive, and enact the change that you admit needs to happen?"

You do realize that ultimately will mean discrimination against men. Why do you think that's ok?

Stephen Horn
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@John: This is a false choice you're presenting. Making changes does not imply discrimination against men. Please, allow me to demonstrate, by way of labeling some proposed changes in the context of "discrimination".

Removing the kegerator and/or beer meetings is discrimination against men!
Being aware of, and avoiding, veiled rape references ("No doesn't always mean no"? Really Kixeye?!) is discrimination against men!
Making it possible for people to go home sometimes is discrimination against men!
Collaborating with women instead of just giving them orders is discrimination against men!

Do you see how illogical that stance is? Doesn't it sound just a little silly?

I know you're not exactly screaming from the rooftops, but this seems like an *extremely* reasonable list of things studios could improve upon, and is almost directly lifted from the feedback found in Myth #3 of the blog post.

[User Banned]
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Kris Graft
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"I'm honestly getting tired of all these complaining about women discrimination."

I'm getting tired of dudes like you saying there isn't a problem and that everything is dandy!

There was an ENTIRE track at Game Developers Conference dedicated to advocacy. That -- including Elizabeth's talk -- was a _reaction_ meant to counter complacent and often hostile attitudes just like yours. Marginalized groups are not on the attack, they are on the defense, believe it or not.

Also, you mention all the tools that devs can use to make games as indies. Sure, but what about women who want to work at the big studios, who want to be part of a larger team? Why should their only choice be to work alone? Also, being a professional game developer doesn't stop at actually making a game. There's an entire system that is still lopsidedly male that a woman indie has to inject herself into, before and after that game is completed.

Amazing that I have to explain this, but ok.

John Maurer
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Now, I'm not sure what the rant was about, I've only got the snippets you provided to work with, but if the banned user's angle is what I think it was, then I would hazard to guess that his point, marred by frustration, is over the apologetic attitude that is emerging more so than personal discrimination.

Is there a problem with male attitudes towards female coworkers in the industry, of course. You get that many dweebs in a room with a handful of women (or worse, one) and it's like watching retarded animals do the moon walk on greasy tile. Add to the situation by creating a corporate culture in which the average stint in a given position is 6 - to - 18 months and you can almost guarantee the immaturity of your work force.

That being said, equality means that they've got to work just as hard. The problem with that is, when the topic of women in the workplace starts becoming toxic, then all that's been accomplished is creating an environment that wanes towards the other extreme.

Maybe next time, instead of dissing the dude, and then banning him, try to work with him to voice a more accurate and/or appropriate disposition. His emotions may have gotten the better of him, but after reading your responses I think it's fair to say your guilty of the same.

Barring the racial joke (my shit isn't a spirit animal, its just fecal matter) I thought it was a good article Elizabeth, thank you for your post.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kris Graft
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This can't be for real. Please say this is a joke.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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@Michael Lojkovic

I think you missed your "/sarcasm" tag.

Katy Smith
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Mark Velthuis
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"Women don’t want to work in games"
The numbers provided here don't make much sense. Because :
"I polled a large number of women who are currently employed or seeking employment in the game industry"

Of course you're going to get a large percentage of women who want to work in games if you ask only the ones looking for or allready working there.

As for the myth itself however, yes it's a myth, women do want to work in games. I've seen them, I've worked with them, and still are working with them. However I'm not convinced it's anywhere near 50/50.

When I was still studying computer science (roughly 6 years ago), doing a major in gaming and virtual reality, there were literally 0 female students. I've attended 6 global gamejams, and while over the years the number of female attendees seemed to have increased, it's still no 50/50. And some of them are there only because their boyfriends are. Sidenote : Girls being there because of their boyfriends does NOT mean their work is less valuable.

EDIT (Just an F.Y.I. The poster of the boothbabe issue has been banned, this may have removed some usefull context for this next paragraph).
On the booth babes issue (even tho it wasn't mentioned in the original post at all), nobody "deserves" booth babes. If women want to dress up as game characters, either to get paid or because they think it's fun, that's fine. But the average audience member that the booth babes are intended for (Note : Boothbabes aren't there for the developers), has never done anything to "deserve" them. Chances are they haven't even been through 18 years yet, let alone 18 years of being looked down on. Booth babes are a priviledge. We should be thankfull that there are women who enjoy posing in sexy clothing for an audience. I can't even think of anything that someone could do to "deserve" that priviledge.

[User Banned]
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Vasily Yourchenko
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Thank you for posting this. As a single male who has no intention of ever starting a family some of it was hard to hear, but that is part of what makes your voice valuable. If I am to (literally) put my money where my mouth is I should pay attention to what talented people with needs different from my own are asking for.

I still refuse to put an end to my autocratical regime though haha. Anyone who wants to take the sceptre of design will have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Mike Jenkins
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"the way that white people love calling shit their spirit animals."

I thought that was a native american thing? Not sure why it's okay to stereotype based on race anyway?

Maitland Lederer
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I believe that was exactly the point.

Mike Jenkins
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Can you explain the point to me in detail, please?

Kaitlyn Kaid
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stereotyping on race is bad, stereotyping on gender is also bad.

John Maurer
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So, we aren't allowed to counter pro-female remarks, but white jokes are still cool. Your right Jonathan Martinez, this thread IS classy

Christian Nutt
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I'm finding it really hard to keep a lid on my sarcasm, here. Does anyone feel that this is a serious and deliberate instance of genuine anti-white racism?

John Maurer
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Christian Nutt
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So let me lay out what I think is going on with this "racism" accusation, and you can do with it what you will.

The allegedly "racist" comment in this piece is absolutely a sarcastic side-comment, not a direct accusation or condemnation. It certainly is not an exercise of power from above to below, which is what one would generally associate with institutionalized racism. At worst it's a snarky generalization without significant merit, but the author is clearly aware of that given how it's phrased and used.

Secondly, people here and elsewhere (in different areas of communication) have glommed onto this "racist" statement and given it outsize importance. That's fishy to me.

Here's what I think: I think if you can brand this as a "racist" piece that means you can ignore it -- you don't have to grapple with it or take it seriously. It is an easy out.

Note, when I say "you" I don't really mean YOU, the person reading this comment, I mean "a person who engages in this tactic."

As we are all well aware, branding something racist is one of the simplest ways to completely drain an argument of its legitimacy. This is actually an outcome of the unmasking of real racism! It's great that we do this. But which has also become a convenient tool to wield against Shit We Don't Like if it's handy! Which I guess it is here because Elizabeth made an offhanded comment.

I find people sure do like to slice and dice the tiniest bits of something, try to find weaknesses in it so they can disengage with all of it. Every piece of writing has weaknesses.

And as an aside, saying "I won't read this because it is racist" is kind of totally disingenuous when grappling like a piece of writing like this. Because you're employing the tools of social justice to smack down a social justice argument! You're saying I CARE PASSIONATELY ABOUT OPPRESSION SO I WON'T READ YOUR PIECE ON OPPRESSION.

I find this to be disingenuous on its face, which is why I think the racism arguments are fishy.

Amanda Lee Matthews
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MOST women don't want to work in games. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

45% of women in those jobs, got the job they've always wanted. Let's poll men in ANY field and see how many of them are happy and have the job they've always wanted. I'd bet it's way less than 45%.

And of course if you poll women that are in the jobs, they are going to want the jobs. Because if they didn't want the job, they'd get a different one.

If you want to gauge this accurately, ask elementary age girls what they want to be when they grow up, then ask them again as teens, then see what they are actually doing in their 30s.

And while you're at it. ask the boys too...

Jess Hyland
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Most men don't want to work in games either, but that's not the point...

The point of the 45% statistic is not to say that 45% of women got the jobs they always wanted - because let's face is, how many people of any gender know exactly what they want to work as when they're children? I knew a girl who wanted to grow up to be a unicorn - it's that 55% weren't interested or even aware of the idea until later in life when something or someone piqued their interest in the games industry.

Ben Sheftel
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What's wrong with making a decision about your career later on in life? Is the number smaller or bigger with men? How many women knew about game careers and decided not to pursue them?

There's nothing to compare this poll to, which makes it pretty uninformative to me.

Josiah Manson
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I agree that the biased poll removed a credibility from the post because it was the first point made and calls into question the validity of the remaining analysis. That said, the information from the poll is still interesting and relevant, but pushing it down a few points to not give a bad first impression would have helped the article. As we are speaking about statistics, it would be interesting to know the distribution of roles of women vs. men (Programmers, artists, designers, QA, etc.).

Jenn Frank
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@Amanda: I like this comment a lot, actually!

I know my own trajectory: When I was in elementary school, I wanted to design computer games. When I was in my teens, I still wanted to design computer games. I majored in writing at university, planning to write narratives for games. Now I'm approaching my 32nd birthday, and I write... *about* games. (I'm sure you could poll any number of games critics of all genders and discover the same thing!)

I like this idea so, so much, because it would be super interesting to see which girls (and boys) get dissuaded along the path to their lifelong goals, and why!

Leszek Szczepanski
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"I just have one question for those who think women don’t want to work in games: have you asked them?"

Yes I have also asked them. And although I did meet women curious about how the industry works, not a single one was interested in working here.

I don't know... My own experience suggests this whole issue is a bit blown out of proportion. In the companies I worked for there is and was no prejudice against women. In my previous job for three years I was involved in the recruitment process. During all of that time we got only one application from a girl.

She got hired BTW.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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"not a single one was interested in working here"

A good start, but you failed to ask the real question: why?

Are they not interested because they don't think it would be something they enjoy? because they would be the only girl on the team? "brogramming?" (love that term :) ), don't like they life/work balance?

there are many, MANY reasons why someone would not be interested in working in games that has nothing to do with with gender they are and everything to do with how their gender is treated.

Leszek Szczepanski
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Your assumption is incorrect. I did make the followup question, although I admit I didn't run around with a questionnaire.

With all women I did talk about this topic the response was along the lines: "I'm not interested in games in general."

As I mentioned what I'm saying is only my experience and based upon talking to people I able to personally reach. However from what I have seen, any woman interested in making games, will not face any obstacles in working in the industry, that would be different from those any man would face.

Juliette Dupre
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I CANNOT BELIEVE how many people came on here and apparently flamed the bejeezus out of this article's comments.

Anyway. Great article, thanks for writing it. As a woman in games - in hiring - I am grateful for to hear women who are making games speak out on these issue so we can keep fighting the good fight. Change is (slowly) happening thanks to educated people who are helping make the game dev world a better place.

I am proud to have one female here in my smallish studio in the tech dept, one in a lead art role, two in administration (including me) and two in staff art. It's a start but I am currently hampered by the need for seniors which as you note can be the trickiest to find in diverse variety.

Early on, we discovered that we had in our midst a smattering of people who were not making this a good place for diversity. They are no longer with us as of a while ago, and that completely transformed the atmosphere for the better. I can't imagine ever putting up with that again.

Mike Jenkins
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"I CANNOT BELIEVE how many people came on here and apparently flamed the bejeezus out of this article's comments. "

You would think that from all the deleted posts/banned users, but a couple of them were incredibly tame disagreements, especially the first reply (others were quite deserving of bans by any standard).

Jeff Alexander
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So, in one survey, 45% of women who currently want and/or have a job in the games industry have wanted it since their formative years.
a. What is that percentage for men?
b. How does this imply anything about what percentage of women in the general population wants a games industry job, or how that stat compares to the one for men?

P.S. Ditto @Juliette. I think this IS a great article. But I don't see how the stats she provides actually dismiss myth #1. And I'd like to be able to, since I think it is a myth but some people aren't convinced just by me saying so.

Jess Hyland
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a. Pretty sure we're not comparing against men here.
b. It doesn't, and Sampat never claims it does.

A lot of people seem to be getting a bit fixated on the first myth and I think there's a lack of understanding of what the point of the 45% stat was about. Rather than being some kind of metric of general interest across the entire population of women in the world, which is obviously isn't, it's just an indication that women who work in games now aren't necessarily growing up with the idea that they *want* to make games, or even play them, from an early age.

Sampat's general point there, I think, is that enthusing to young girls about games is all well and good and it's great to foster that interest early on but plenty of us have come into games much later in our lives and still make valuable contributions. It's prodding at the silly ideas that boys and girls are biologically wired to be interested or not in games, and that only lifelong passion is what produces game developers.

Honestly, the easily-observable fact that there are plenty of women who do work in games should be enough to disprove myth #1, but people do keep repeating it...

Jessie Jaeger
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The question of the percentage of men that wanted to work in gaming is relevant for the entire article, as it provides a central point of comparison. If men run at a higher percentage, it implies that companies are actively recruiting women to work for them. If men are at a lower percentage it implies that women are actively shunned in the industry.

She brings up a lot of good points in her article, but I would really love to see more actual data from a complete survey given to men and women. I absolutely believe that there are issues here, but I believe better data helps find better answers.

Ben Sheftel
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My issue with the article is that the author doesn't frame the target well. What is the ideal situation for the industry to be in? Most of the myths imply that companies should be trying to fill a quota of women, is that 50/50?

The Netherlands, who consistently rank lowest (best) in the Gender Inequality Index, might provide some data on what the breakdown of men and women in the different sectors should tend toward if barriers are removed. The latest data on post-secondary education shows:

Science, Math, and Computing: 21% female, 79% male
Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction: 18% female, 82% male
Teacher, Training, and Education Science: 72% female, 18% male
Health and Welfare: 73% female, 17% male.

My last thought would be that we should hire based on merit, and not gender. The author's statement "Employ women wherever possible" seems to suggest that someone's gender should affect hiring decisions.

Jenn Frank
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@Ben: "My last thought would be that we should hire based on merit, and not gender."

I started to write a comment to you, Ben, and instead I wrote you an entire blog post! It's here:

Jeff Alexander
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This is the first time I've seen the issue approached by focusing exclusively on "how many women actually work in the field" vs. "how many would want to in an ideal world" and totally ignoring the idea that there is, or should be, a relationship between "how many women should want to" and "how many men should want to". If that's really where she's coming from, cool. (If not, I have to admit I'm lost.)

John Maurer
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Statistics is still the most legitimate way to lie, so when I see percentages, I remember they are a mean of a sample, and then the world makes sense again

Bruce Tran
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wow.. a lot of users banned from just one article.

well. i'm not sure how much the industry changed since 2007-8.. but i hope it's for the better. I was in gaming 101 class at the time, the whole class of 30 something students.. only 2 were female.

honestly? gaming is an industry dominated by men.. i don't see it will ever change at all. It's just.. not a lot of women interested in games.. kind similar to cosmetology and nursing industries where there are more women than men in the field. I have a few friends who are MALE nurses.. and i'm sure you can imagine the type of treatment they endured... i'm sure it's the same for females in the gaming industry.

unless the percentage of men vs women changed within an industry.. things will likely to remain the same in a women or men dominated field.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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"and i'm sure you can imagine the type of treatment they endured"

And that makes doing the same to others right how exactly?

Patriarchy hurts women AND men, differently, but it hurts everyone.

Kris Graft
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The number of women attending GDC went up, albeit very slightly, between 2012 and 2013, closing in on the 20 percent mark (hopefully closer after GDC 2014). That might seem like a low number, and it does need a lot of improvement, but I'm sure it's considerably better than other major conferences that involve tech. (Did you go to CES this year? Dude city.)

The point is, more women are coming in. I feel like it will take special efforts such as the Advocacy Track to let women and other marginalized groups know that they are welcome, or at least safe. It's all a work in process, but I really do feel things are changing, and the numbers seem to back it up.

If you love video games, you should be rooting for a wider array of voices instead of making assumptions and being complacent. It's unproductive to shrug your shoulders and say stuff like "it will ever change."

Ben Sheftel
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Is 20% a fair target? In the Netherlands (ranked best in the Gender Inequality Index), 21% of students enrolled in Science, Math, and Computing disciplines are female.

Kris Graft
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We don't really have 20% as a target. I'm just saying we're approaching that.

Jonathan Martinez
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Kris, forgive me if this is counter-productive, but since I am not in the gaming industry specifically, I'm viewing this from a broader viewpoint. Since you are far closer to the issue, you might be missing a bigger picture.

The concern is that more women need to added to the industry or that the male/female ratio needs to balance out. The question that I have yet to see anyone answer is: Why?

I don't see, for example, a big outrage for more men to get into nursing.
You also don't see a clamor for more women to join construction and other hard labor. It's only for the more glamorous, white-collar jobs where these topics come up.

That aside, it's an honest question: Why?
Why is the balancing of the gender ratio so important for this industry when it doesn't seem as important for other industries? (And that goes both ways, there are industries with male and female majorities)

I'm all for letting everyone have a chance to do what they want to do, I'm just wondering why the double-standard for this industry.
Heck, I've worked with lots of women in various software companies/teams. And at no time was a gender quota even an issue. Sometimes there were more men, sometimes more women, sometimes close to even, but it was never a problem.

So what is so different about this industry that it absolutely needs more women? Why does this one in particular get this much of a push when others don't?

Kris Graft
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That's an easy one for me. Video game development is a creative industry -- an artistic industry. Get more people with more varied backgrounds in all different disciplines, and we'll get a wider array of voices in games. Games will become even more interesting. Everyone who loves games will benefit from this.

So basically, I want more women and more varied voices in games in general because, well, I love video games. If you love video games and the potential they hold, you should be fighting right alongside folks like Elizabeth.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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Monoculture. When you have a lot of people all with the same background and experiences you end up always getting the same type of ideas. The wider the diversity the wider and more healthy the industry is. This applies to gender, race, faith... you name it. Echo chambers are a bad thing.

More women in gaming = healthier gaming industry = better games.

Vasily Yourchenko
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Purely pragmatically? Geniuses are statistical anomalies. The more times you roll the dice the better the odds get. Thus you want your talent pool to be as large as possible. A little over half of the human race is female. Ergo you want to get as many women into the field as is feasible.

Philip Minchin
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@Jonathan: you ask why you're not seeing pushes for men to be recruited into nursing and other caring roles.

Because you're not in those industries?

I have a friend who's a male nurse and he says that there's a lot of interest in trying to balance out the gender roles - from certain sectors, namely the people who care about providing good care, which mandates a variety of people for patients to make social connections to, and a range of perspectives on the work. From the bureaucrats who are constantly trying to keep down wages, there's not so much, in part because they recognise that having a female-heavy workforce results in lower wages and more willingness to work part-time and casualised hours, which the 24-hour nature of the job requires. [Or rather, it makes it easier for administrators.]

This is a mirror to HR departments who resent hiring women because they need "special consideration" for things like maternity leave - because who would take paternity leave from an awesome job? Way more interesting than your partner and newborn child, right? Institutional laziness capitalising on gender stereotypes is still sexism, even if it's ultimately driven by (a short-sighted interpretation of) the profit motive.

My partner is a primary teacher - another woman-dominated job identified as "caring" and "feminine" - and there's a lot of interest in raising numbers of men there too. Men don't apply because of social pressures that consider them "unmasculine" or "suspicious" for wanting to work with children, but are sorely missed by colleagues and parents. (Patriarchy hurting men in two ways: the inaccurate stereotypes and the accurate, though exaggerated, anxiety about the real abusive behaviours it licenses.)

So yes, in numerous "caring" sectors (or at least the parts that care about doing the best possible job) there is a LOT of interest in gender balance. Since these sectors are traditionally considered "feminine", however, there's a great deal more resignation, because they know that they are unlikely to be able to compete with traditionally "masculine" jobs on wages and conditions any time soon. That isn't the case for games.

Bruce Tran
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"I feel like it will take special efforts such as the Advocacy Track to let women and other marginalized groups know that they are welcome, or at least safe."


i believe the things that we can do are limited

the challenges of a men/women dominated industries

1 - interests/passion -- certain industries were dominated by MEN/WOMEN for a reason.

2 - recruiting people-- many people do not feel secure-- like a fish out of water of sort (e.g. like my friends who are MALE nurses) when they are in a field dominated by MEN/WOMEN

3 - change in the public opinion-- we can change the industry ..slowly.. but peers and public opinion will remain a strong factor for someone to join.

we can change.. but with the resistance we are facing.. change will be slow..

Luis Guimaraes
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@Bruce Tran

"Change in the public opinion [...] peers and public opinion will remain a strong factor for someone to join."


Christian Kulenkampff
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Thank you for the great article! It is so sad how even in the comments people happily provide proof for a total lack of will for understanding.

Luis Guimaraes
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Well, there's "want" and there's "want".

Brenda Romero explains the second kind of "want" right here:

Should a person's gender exclude them from having to conform to those practices?

Disclaimer: Where I live there's no games industry, and independent development is the only way to go. It's to build something yourself and take what you want, or go work on something else. Less QQ, more PewPew. Also, a lot of what's "bullying" in the most individualist and socially distant cultures is just how friends treat each other here, you learn to be tough and playful very early, meaning a lot of the issues mentioned come out as first world problems to me.

Most of the smartest ans hard working people I know are women, yet not many have interest in making videogames nor play them, but none can resist Machinarium when I get them to try it...

Christian Kulenkampff
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This might inspire you:
This might help you to understand how marginalization and discriminiantion work in modern times:
This might be interesting information regarding your place of living:

Luis Guimaraes
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Thanks Christian, I'm checking your links.

Yvonne Neuland
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In the last year, I have discovered that there are very good reasons for the Equal Opportunities Employment laws in the United States. If any of the people commenting on this article actually works in the video game industry, you need to go read them.

As someone who spent 5 years working as a retail manager and who is well acquainted with the actual liability potential, I feel I ought to inform you that any female who applies to work for the companies you are currently employed by can sue your employers for discriminatory hiring practices and will most likely win using the statements you are making here as evidence. Fair warning. Every retail company I ever worked for would have fired me immediately for making statements like the ones you are making. They had entire corporate teams dedicated to monitoring the internet for this sort of behavior for that exact reason.

Refusing to hire someone because of their gender, favoring one gender over the other, or tolerating a workplace environment that allows for gender discriminatory views to openly exist, is illegal according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You may not consider the statements you are making to be misogynistic or discriminatory, but I guarantee you a judge will.
Whether or not you have anything to do with the hiring process is irrelevant. Evidence of a work environment that tolerates views like the ones you’re displaying is all a litigant needs, and anyone looking to score a quick buck can now prove that your company fosters one.
Fair warning.

I am currently a student at FullSail University enrolled in the Game Development B.S. Degree Program studying to be a game programmer.

Prior to deciding to pursue a career in the games industry I never had much interest in the topic of female discrimination. I started working at the age of 16, and have had various jobs in the retail, restaurant, hotel, and health care industries. Never, in any of 4 fields, did I ever once feel as though I were being discriminated against for my gender or encounter anyone who I felt was biased against women. I expected the video game industry to be no different, and dismissed the things I had read about the industry being discriminatory as isolated incidents that could occur anywhere.

Having now had the opportunity to actually interact with some of my male classmates, I am much more concerned that the industry might actually in fact be some last standing bastion of misogyny that still actively discriminates openly. About a quarter of the men I am currently attending classes with certainly do.

I have been absolutely shocked at the open animosity directed at me for no reason other than my gender. Generally speaking, most people these days don’t go around being blatantly sexist to the public at large even if they are chauvinistic male pigs because it isn’t socially accepted. I thought that all the sexist TROLLS in games were the product of internet anonymity. Turns out the TROLLS are actually just as nasty in person, and proud of it.

I am sincerely hoping that said TROLLS don’t actually end up getting hired by game companies, and that all the articles and commenters on all the so-called industry-professional websites are actually the product of non-industry online trouble makers.

“I just have one question for those who think women don’t want to work in games: have you asked them?”

I never considered a job in the games industry because I never thought that it was an option. I loved video games from the first time I ever played one on the Intellivision II at the age of 5. I always somehow thought that getting a job making one was fell into the same category as things like professional actor or rockstar. You know, the kind of job everyone would love to have but has about as much chance of obtaining as winning a $290 million lottery jackpot. Not actually possible unless you had serious connections to someone rich and famous. I have no rich and famous connections, so not actually an option.

Until mobile came out, games were only produced by a handful of publishers, who were extremely secretive about the entire process of creating a video game, but somehow gave the impression that an IQ above 190 was required. With the IPhone came the appstore, which within a year had produced thousands of games made by small teams or even individuals. All of a sudden it became obvious that the skills needed to become a game programmer was something pretty much anyone could do.

The instant I realized it was actually a viable career option was the instant I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

If someone had told me when I was 8 instead of 28 that it was a viable career option, I would have had that epiphany 20 years earlier than I did.

John Owens
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I never made it the whole way unfortunately but I think the problem is that you seem to think that all men who disagree with you are secretly sexist.

"This particular myth comes with a secret consolation prize— when people ask why your game company has so few women, you can just smile and shrug. “There are only so many women with the skill sets required to make games,”"

Did you ever think that it wasn't a reason given simply for the secret consolation prize and therefore that has no relevance. To assume that you must think men are pretty much all being deceptive to stop women from entering the industry. It makes me wonder if you aren't just projecting on to men and in fact you are the one being deceptive to increase the numbers of women even if that discriminates against men.

For the record. The small indie game I've made involved 7 people, 2 where woman. Where 95%-98% of the CVs I received where men.

I'm not proud I did my bit. I hired them because they where the best people, gender should not come into it.

Christian Kulenkampff
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Please watch this short talk: There is a special emphasis on hiring (see here for more information

Diversity has a high value of its own. Diversity improves all areas of living and allows a rich culture. According to the OECD "Gender gaps are pervasive in all walks of economic life and imply large losses in terms of foregone productivity and living standards to the individuals concerned and the economy. [...]" (see

The games industry is a culture industry. Sadly in these industries key positions are often coined by male dominance (e.g. for movie industry I found this interesting:
ics-and-Emancipation-in-postfeminist-Hollywood.pdf). How can cultural workers create rich cultural products if the culture they reside in is a monoculture, a culture dominated by white males?

Beside unconscious discrimination, the cultural and the social aspect are both reasons why skill should never be the only factor being considered, when you hire.

John Owens
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I agree that diversity leads to an overall better workplace.

Although I just don't feel that it's right to discriminate against any individual for some wider cultural good. I wouldn't like it to be done to me, it breeds resentment and it's simply just not right.

The ends don't justify the means. I think the point I'm making is having that view doesn't mean you want to see the status quo continue and it's offensive to people to keep being told that.

Philip Minchin
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@ John: I don't want to speak for her, but I don't think Elizabeth is claiming there that people are being consciously deceptive. I certainly didn't get that reading from it.

You seem to forget that people can perpetuate myths without being deceptive - but instead because we believe them, or just accept them as "the way things are".

When we do, it's often because there is some sort of positive emotional payoff (or "secret consolation prize") for the belief. That's what I read Elizabeth as pointing out - that this line is attractive because it offers this payoff of an easy out to the difficult question. She's (rightly) challenging that, because it treats a symptom as a diagnosis.

Sexism can be a conscious belief that certain people should be treated in particular ways just because you think they have a particular gender. It can also be unwittingly going along with social norms that, despite the lack of conscious malice, result in people being treated in the same way as if you believed those things. (To the people who have to deal with sexist treatment, the difference between intentional and unintentional sexism is a lot less important than it is to those accused of it. If you're standing on my foot, the most important thing is that you stop, not whether you meant to do it.)

In other words, some people no doubt ARE secretly, consciously, dishonestly sexist. Other people are honest in the sense of not concealing their conscious intentions, but are still sexist in ways that are secret even from the individuals themselves (though not necessarily the people they affect!).

Both forms of sexism are harmful. Both kinds need to be called out. That's what Elizabeth did, at least as I read it. And I think she did it quite well :)

Christian Kulenkampff
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"Although I just don't feel that it's right to discriminate against any individual for some wider cultural good." Even if you want to compare two persons solely by skill your view will always be skewed by other factors. E.g. with enforced quotas (which I strongly advocate) you are simply forced to exclude those other factors to some extent. Thus it's simply not discrimination.

Also you should question you perspective! Currently there *is* discrimination. Enforced quotas that don't work right, would just change the face of discrimination a bit. Or do you think traditional discrimination is better than new discrimination? Even if that new discrimination is the result of a great attempt to stop discrimination at all? Especially when this new kind of discrimination is by far less harmful?

John Owens
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I'm glad you're honest and you've stated your point of view as unequivocally as what you have done because it means that we can agree to respect each others views while still disagreeing but ultimately they're polar opposite so not much point in continuing this.

I just hope you never find yourself on the wrong end of it when you have rent to pay and children to feed.

EDIT: You seemed to have added a few lines justifying why it's not discrimination or that it was merely a lesser evil because you realized what you had said. I wish you had just left it as it was.

@Philip Minchin

Off course some people are secretly sexist but it's not even a positive emotional response as you said, which worries me about you, it simply is a statement of fact. To assume anything else from the person could also highlight your own bigotry. Now if that person (rather than people like him) had done something else that would give you reason to think that then fair enough but that hasn't been clearly indicated.

As Chris Rock joked. Who are the biggest racists? Old black men, because they know what real racism was like.

Philip Minchin
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@ John: I don't think you read what I wrote. But you're pretty unclear, so I can't be sure.

I didn't say it was a positive emotional response for me. Clearly I'm NOT happy with the easy/lazy answer.

It emphatically is NOT a statement of fact to say that there are "No women to hire" (Myth #2, to which you were responding). There may not be many. But again, if this is the case, stating that and treating it as an end to the question is like a doctor saying "the reason you have a headache is because your head hurts". You already know what the symptoms are: what's the root problem? WHY are there relatively few women looking for this work?

A moment's examination of the question shows that a key factor has to be all the additional, unjustified, passive and active hostility women face. Acknowledging that is the first step in fixing it.

Conversely, stopping at "they aren't there to hire" and refusing to examine the question properly, while making the person who says it feel nice and virtuous because it's not THEIR fault women don't want the work, just results in that person allowing the unfair hostility to continue.

Hence, even if your intent is not to oppress women, women end up unfairly worse off because of your decision. That's a sexist outcome, and it could be avoided if you were willing to give the question a moment's thought - meaning you can be responsible for sexism, whether you intend to enforce such beliefs or not.

John Owens
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You and she implied that it was for him a positive emotional response for the hiring manager.

As I said I hired two woman out of seven but the reality was that at least 95% of the CVs I received where from men.

If I had of chosen to hire seven men I would be offended if you thought it was because of some positive emotional response that none of them where women and somehow that pleased me.

Ultimately it's not his fault that's the case. He can't magic CVs from women or choose inferior candidates because they are women not if he wants to be successful in business. I suppose like Christian you agree with Romney when he asked for binders full of women.

It's a position I disagree with and I resent how people who do want that wish to shame those like me but I've already expressed my views below.

John Owens
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To answer question, I'm all for promoting jobs for women in games and policing cases of discrimination which ultimately would require those people to come forward.

If woman where genuinely interested in games and had the ability to make them. Both I don't see any reason why not from experience or logic to be the case then change would happen however over a longer time.

By trying to force the issue it will lead to unfortunately consequences. Men will feel discriminated against. Some men will be discriminated against. Men will resent and doubt the reasons women where hired. It will make it harder for woman who are in the industry as it will give a reason for bigotry.

Evolution not revolution.

Christian Kulenkampff
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You ignore the realities of marginalization and interpersonal discrimination. I believe we have to fight this proactively. I think it is unethical to not act. It's nothing about men vs. women but being a better human being. Even the OECD postulate in the publication I cited earlier: "Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now"

"I just hope you never find yourself on the wrong end of it when you have rent to pay and children to feed." What do you say to the women, who currently don't get the jobs, because of their gender and the stereotypes that come with it?

John Owens
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You don't act like a better human being by discriminating against another human being.

I say if that's the case then I would support them if they choose to bring a case against the employer. There's not much more we can do without hurting someone else who's innocent.

But I suppose they're just collateral damage in your war against sexism.

Anyway that's the reason why I said we have polar opposite views and there's not point in continuing this. I understand that you're trying to do the right thing so I don't want this to escalate.

Christian Kulenkampff
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Yeah, I believe we should do more. And I am happy many people think the same and it's a war the whole world is fighting. By 2016 we start with enforced quotas *light* in Germany and I am very positive about this (see

I will not escalate this. I am just sad you think we can sit it out (that is my interpretation of "There's not much more we can do without hurting someone else who's innocent."). Oppression and discrimination never stopped by sitting it out. You just tolerate the state of calamity you are used to watch.

John Owens
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I'm not arguing that you sit out "Oppression and discrimination". We should police it and encourage more women or men to enter fields that aren't traditionally theirs.

One of the reasons I'm so passionate is because I don't want to see that happen. You're the one advocating that you want to see it happen, just now to men.

John Owens
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btw - All that law in Germany will mean is that companies will increase the number of people on their boards and give those places to token women.

This will ultimately have the effect that when people encounter woman in these positions they will probably think they're not capable making it more difficult for the woman who didn't get there by quotas.

You may hope that won't be the case but in reality that's what will happen.

Christian Kulenkampff
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It's just about compensation for women, not about discrimination of men. I don't think it will have negative impacts.

To me you are only considereing the perspective of the privileged male. You don't have to agree with quotas, but you should acknowledge the marginalization and discrimination of women. Do you agree that this is happening?

John Owens
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I'm not a priviledged anything. I had the same education and advantages as all the girls in my class. If anything the privilege I had was that I wasn't born dirt poor but had access to those things.

Many of my female friends however have also gone on to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, IT graduates etc

btw That article from reuters that you linked was "German parties agree to introduce quota for women on boards" - It is about discrimination, not just compensation.

Christian Kulenkampff
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I see, so you don't believe in the things so many scientists suggest?

John Owens
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I told you I believe in the end goal. Just not how to get there or quite frankly the motivation of the people at the top for wanting to get there.

It's a complicated position I admit. :-)

Daniel Borgmann
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Creative diversity is obviously good for any creative business. Even as an (introverted) guy I feel alienated by "bro culture", and if a studio is not offering a respectful and inclusive environment, I wouldn't be particularly interested in working with them.

That said, if an idea is good (and I believe this one is), then it can stand on its own merits. Streamlining of political opinion is also toxic towards creative diversity, so please cut down on the shaming tactics and censorship.

John Owens
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I actually agree with all that. There is a lot that can be done without discriminating or trying to shame anyone. I wish we could focus on positive reinforcement. It may take a little longer but the result would lead to a better more cohesive society in the long term.

Christian Kulenkampff
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You mean positive reinforcement like tolerating hate speech and misogyny?

Christian Kulenkampff
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The banned users violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines. This has nothing to do with shaming tactics and censorship.

John Owens
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No I mean promoting the woman in the industry who have done good work. Again stop trying to put words into people's mouths, it's exactly this that the rest of us can't stand.

I've no idea what was said so I can't comment on what was deleted but I'm pretty sure that's not what Daniel meant considering he was mostly agreeing with what you said.

Shaming tactics is a form of censorship.

Christian Kulenkampff
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"No I mean promoting the woman in the industry who have done good work. "
So what's about hate speech and misogyny? Should we tolerate it?

"to put words into people's mouths"
If this is really the case, I think it is mutual.

"Shaming tactics is a form of censorship."
What can a community do when people say disgusting stuff, especially when we know ignoring will make the situation worse?

John Owens
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Sorry I don't think it is mutual.

Off course hate speech and misogyny (a hatred towards women) shouldn't be tolerated.

The only two things I disagree with you and let me try to be clear are:

1. Any form of Quotas or selection advantages based on gender is wrong.
2. That people who disagree or give reasons that the current status quo exist shouldn't be made to feel like apologists who are glad that the status quo exists. Which is the shaming tactics that I and I think Daniel was referring to.

Both of these are essentially what I was trying to say with my original post.

However I've no idea what was said so and I'll say it again I can't comment on that. Although I've no problems with the moderators banning people if it was appropriate. That's their job.

Christian Kulenkampff
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I think we would probably agree on more than I initially thought.

"That people who disagree or give reasons that the current status quo exist shouldn't be made to feel like apologists who are glad that the status quo exists." I think this is simply inherent to the disagreement. When you disagree on basic ethical questions and world views, at least one party will think the other acts unethical. Where do you see signs of shaming in the comments? Are you willing to give me some quotes? I know this is often not that easy, so don't feel obligated to do so!

John Owens
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True and I think that's the reason why I originally said we had polar opposite views on quotas but I respect your position.

I understand why you feel the need for quotas. I really do. I'm just not comfortable with them.

As for the shaming tactics, see my thread with Philip Minchin and the original quote from Elizabeth.

"This particular myth comes with a secret consolation prize— when people ask why your game company has so few women, you can just smile and shrug. “There are only so many women with the skill sets required to make games,”"

This is a shaming tactic. It's a subtle indication that any person that simply states the reason to the problem without taking her measures to prevent it are part of the problem and even worse are happy with the status quo.

Christian you sound like an intelligent guy. You must realize that lines like that are thrown in for that reason.

Christian Kulenkampff
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To me this is not a shaming tactic, they just argue how the myths are perpetuated. As an employer you can always say:
"It is really sad, due to processes of marginalization and discrimination women are underrepresented in this business sector. I do my best to provide a gender-neutral inviting workplace and I hope we can challenge the status quo. This is a really big topic in the games industry..."
instead of perpetuating the same old myths. If you already do that, I think Elizabeth did not include you in her pragmatic generalization.

BTW there are interesting publications about how guidelines for equal opportunity affect the hiring process (see, unfortunately paywalled, but I think the Abstract is comprehensive). It seems to me a identity-conscious proactive discrimination-aware personal hiring process is the best way to deal with discrimination. This is why proclaiming one of the mentioned myths is so toxic.

John Owens
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I'm sorry but your quote isn't saying the same thing at all. The most pertinent point was the "you can just smile and shrug.". It's saying to the reader you're happy with that outcome besides it's not your problem which is used to elicit guilt in the reader. It forces the reader to think "Is that me? I'm I really to blame and do I secretly think like that?". Ultimately the reader doesn't like that so he thinks "No that's not me, what must I do to not be that person". Which makes it easier for her to convince him of the next part. It's social conditioning plane and simple.

All these reports that people mentioned are rubbish. I'm sorry they're all commissioned or carried out by people who have agendas and they weight the results in their favour. The other thing is that how do you then judge success?

If your goal is to increase the amount of female workers then you could simply fire all the men and replace them with all women. That would satisfy that goal. No problem. But would it be a success?

The places where quotas have been used have had awful consequences. Token hires, dropped productivity. Increased resentment.

Christian Kulenkampff
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I think you don't get the article and seem to feel really bitter. I don't get why you are so upset about the way this article can make people think. I too have a "sexist me" and I am always happy to find new ways to identify and challenge it.

"I'm sorry they're all commissioned or carried out by people who have agendas and they weight the results in their favour." It's very sad that you think this way. This kind of argumentation is the one of deniers. Categorically questioning science when you don't like it, while asking for prove makes it impossible to argue with you. What do you think about this personal experience
_talk_about_accountability.php ?

"If your goal is to increase the amount of female workers then you could simply fire all the men and replace them with all women. That would satisfy that goal. No problem. But would it be a success?" Of course not. But as I recently learned there are many laws that promote "positive action". These laws are there for a reason and the decision makers of the games industry should use them.

"The places where quotas have been used have had awful consequences. Token hires, dropped productivity. Increased resentment." Norway is a pretty nice place for living and they have quotas. Finland has self-regulated quotas and it seems to work too. I don't care if you don't agree with me in this case. I could just shrug it off with your own wording: "All these reports that people mentioned are rubbish. I'm sorry they're all commissioned or carried out by people who have agendas and they weight the results in their favour." But I say: if this is really the case, the laws have to be revisited and fine-tuned.

John Owens
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I'm not bitter at all. I run my own small company and I'm happily married. Nothing I've said has been because of bitterness and I resent the fact you have said I have a sexist in me.

That's not me being bitter as you've just insulted me. The fact that you said "you too" doesn't make any difference.

You people are amazing. Stick to the arguments and don't use personal insults no matter how camouflaged they are, although given the comment I made about shaming tactics it is to be expected.

I meant that those reports from both sides have to be taken with a pinch of salt. It costs money to commission reports and this isn't science, science is physics and chemistry or something that can be proven absolutely using the scientific method. This kind of research is different, it's as important to know the background of the people who carried out and commissioned the reports because someone who feels strongly enough about the result to pay for it probably cares what the result will be.

It's the equivalent of in the times of the Roman Republic that politicians used to pay oracles to make prophesies that furthered their agendas.

To answer your question I was actually talking about Norway and the disaster it has been having quotas on boards with token hires and dropped productivity.

Or do you ignore that when making your argument?

But yea the people bringing out those reports probably have an agenda too. Ultimately you can't just blindly follow "reports" thinking that because it is "science" it has to be true.

Christian Kulenkampff
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I assume everybody is affected by socialization and therefore has a subconscious sexist side. If this insults you, I am really sorry. I am an employed software developer and happily married too.

To me it feels really bitter when you claim how everybody in this area has an agenda and cannot be trusted. Especially when you compare them to ancient Roman drug-fueled oracles. I resent this idea especially regarding publicly funded research from so many countries. I think there is a reason why people researching in this field often proclaim their feminism, it's a logical outcome of their research.

I wouldn't call the quotas in Norway disastrous, there might be some drawbacks, but nothing that cannot be fixed or can you provide me with some links that state otherwise (I really want to read them)? I just saw this and I think the overall situation cannot be that bad:

You stated earlier that you too believe in equality, do you think we are there yet? If you don't think so, do you believe we should act e.g. by encouraging the use of positive action provisions?

John Owens
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The same way as you think everyone is sexist I think everyone has an agenda due to this. I actually agree with you but sometimes it works slightly differently.

Some men are sexist but it manifests itself as feminism. They think women are inferior and as a result they then need protection and help to succeed. It's could even be down to guilt from their actions of the past, maybe they took advantage of girls. Other men hold on to the idea that they're somehow good guys because they weren't players and being a good feminist reinforces that idea of self worth. Individuals are very complicated and I would also add women are certainly not immune to this either.

However what is certain is that people have agendas.

What I do is try and second guess my own personal biases and try and come up with a view that I can justify logically.

Drugs had totally nothing do with the point I was making. I didn't even mention drugs. The point was very simply, it was a method used in the past to control and manipulate people. Take offence to all you want, that's what these reports are.

You can't compare Norway to everywhere else in the world and link it with quotas.

Finally I'll answer the last question and leave it at that.

As a society (and I'm talking about the UK because that's where I live) then yes. A lot of the top jobs are still occupied by men but that's because it will take time along with the fact women choose to focus on their children rather than their careers. However currently in professions like Law and medicine over half of the recent university graduates are women. Women also perform better at high school levels.

As an industry then no. An individual woman who's equally qualified as an individual man has the same chance to get a job but the industry in general hasn't done enough to encourage women into the field. This is what needs to change and that can be done through various different means without discriminating against anyone.

Christian Kulenkampff
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Sorry, if I prolong this discussion, I am really interested in your perspective.

"Some men are sexist but it manifests itself as feminism."
Can a man be a feminist without sexist motives? Do you call this case "good guy attitude"? What's about people who specifically fight racism?

"Drugs had totally nothing do with the point I was making. I didn't even mention drugs. The point was very simply, it was a method used in the past to control and manipulate people. Take offence to all you want, that's what these reports are."
So stuff like this
pick-hans-ali-23066951 is just to manipulate the masses?

"This is what needs to change and that can be done through various different means without discriminating against anyone."

Do you consider the following as discrimination?

An employer has very few women in its senior management team. Under the general positive action provisions it offers a development programme which is only open to women to help female staff compete for management positions. This is not unlawful discrimination against male staff, because it is allowed by the positive action provisions."


A bank has a vacancy for one of its senior jobs. All the other senior jobs at that level are done by men. The bank conducts a recruitment exercise and at the end of a stringent and objective process finds that two applicants – a man and a woman – could do the job equally well. The bank could decide to take positive action and give the job to the woman. But the bank couldn’t give the job to the woman if the man would be able to do the job better than her – that would be unlawful direct discrimination against the man."


John Owens
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Yes men can be feminists without being sexist which is the reason I said "Some men".

Yes that report probably was biased.

It was commissioned by The nonprofit Expert Council for Integration and Migration. Who pays for them? Probably people that want to see more integration and migration. They won't exactly be happy if they pay for a report which indicates the opposite. I'm not saying the report is wrong, just that it probably has been made to argue a certain point of view rather than coming from an objective position using the scientific method.

Both examples are discriminatory as they lead to jobs that men do and their selection process prioritizes women or simply excludes men however the 1st example is possibly something I could live with however it's still discriminatory.

What isn't discriminatory is a competition that is only for women in the same way as "The best foreign film Oscar" doesn't discriminate against American movies. The reason for that is that it's a separate category and promotes foreign films. However if a foreign film was given priority over an American movie to win the "Best Picture" then it would be.

What's the difference? The difference is that whenever you have something open to both you can't discriminate but you can separate them or create a new category although for obvious reasons that should only be done sparingly. Creating jobs only for women or men whenever the actions of those jobs don't require someone to have a particular gender is still wrong.

As you can see the first example is somewhere in the middle which is why I have an issue with it but could possibly also live with it.

Christian Kulenkampff
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Thank you for taking the time to explain!

I understand your skepticism regarding societal studies, but unlike you I respect social science as "real science" and the findings of most if not all scientifically acknowledged social studies (I know of) correspond with my experiences. As you probably already imagine I see the issues much more pressing, so unlike you I consider many more ideas (to improve diversity) as positive action instead of discrimination.

John Owens
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No you just don't mind discriminating against men to achieve that objective because you feel that society is stacked against women in the first place. Or if you do you try and justify and rationalize it to believe it's not discrimination.

However it is still discrimination.

Plus the reason why they correspond with your experiences is because we ultimately see what we wish to see and it's a case that they're preaching to the choir - you're the choir.

But that's ok. It's understandable. Take care.

Christian Kulenkampff
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Sorry, I cannot leave it like that.

"No you just don't mind discriminating against men to achieve that objective because you feel that society is stacked against women in the first place."
Well, at least most things I want are (by the laws against discrimination of the UK) not discrimination, but compensatory positive action - and I really see it like that. I really go with the definition in the dictionary, for example (Cambridge dictionary): "discrimination: the treatment of a person or particular group of people differently, in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated". Since everybody is possibly subject to positive action provisions (guaranteed by law), men are NOT treated worse than everybody else (e.g. a woman might not get a job as a teacher in a primary school, because a male applicant is equally qualified and is preferred for the sake of diversity and in accordance to the positive action provisions).

"Plus the reason why they correspond with your experiences is because we ultimately see what we wish to see and it's a case that they're preaching to the choir - you're the choir."
Same is true for you. If we really discuss on this level, it's futile.

John Owens
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You are focusing on "particular group" to make your argument work, the definition says treatment of a "person or a particular group". In other words if it's done to either then it's discrimination.

Just because men get positive discrimination in teaching doesn't make the game developer any less discriminated against. Or vice versa, just because women are less represented in the games industry then that doesn't justify discriminating against them in teaching.

People are individuals. Not numbers of a particular gender that can be evened up on a spread sheet.

That's exactly the rationalization I'm talking about.

"Same is true for you. If we really discuss on this level, it's futile. "

I agree I see what I want to see too, I'm not arguing against that. It's one of the reasons why this kind of anecdotal evidence is all circumstantial.

Finally and I'll leave it at this.

I understand your point and I think you understand mine too. Ultimately it comes down to how you see society. Do you see society as a collection of individuals or as a collection of groups and sub groups that all need special treatment, protection and consideration.

I'm pretty right wing and I suspect you're pretty left wing and for me it's a simple case that what you need to do is lay down the rules that protect individuals that can be applied to all individuals, police them and leave society alone. The reason why I consider this the best approach is because whenever you try to manage a complex system from the top down you only end up with unforeseen consequences, butterfly effects. If you leave society alone then as game theory predicts it will stabilize by itself.

That's my ideological position. In practice you need a balance between the two which is the reason why you should never let ideology alone dictate your thinking.