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The future of IGDA events
by Kate Edwards on 04/09/13 01:39:00 am   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.

 

By now, you’ve likely heard comments about a party the IGDA co-presented Tuesday, 26 March, during GDC week. We deeply regret that the IGDA was involved in this party as we do not condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people.  And that happened at this event.

Moving ahead, the intent of this blog post is to state how IGDA as an organization will conduct its participation in industry events from this point forward. Following are the ground rules – whether at GDC, E3 or any other conference:

  • The IGDA will offer “networking events” as its primary focus, not “parties.” Building a community and providing networking opportunities are part of our core mission, and we want to create activities that provide that opportunity, and to do that in a way that will be appropriate and enjoyable for everyone.

  • The IGDA will always encourage inclusion and diversity at our events. We want to ensure that everyone present feels comfortable because the activities are appropriate and respectful of the diversity of our membership. If our membership ever finds that’s not the case, we want and expect them to be vocal about their concerns – first and foremost to the IGDA leadership (starting with me at kate@igda.org via email or IGDA_ED via Skype).

  • The IGDA will be vigilant (far more vigilant than in the past) when choosing to partner with another organization. If we do decide to partner, sponsor or co-present, we will attempt to have comprehensive oversight of the entire event’s content from end-to-end.

  • The IGDA recognizes and will honor local cultural differences amongst its global chapters. Undoubtedly, some chapters will decide they prefer a classic “party” to a “networking event,” and may have activities which are local to their region.  We respect these differences, but still fully expect chapters to uphold the IGDA’s values of inclusion and diversity, regardless of the type of event and locale.

For events not associated with the IGDA, we have decided on the following actions:

  • Event Guidance: With the help of a membership advisory group to be assembled, the IGDA will draft recommendations for how game industry companies and organizations can be more inclusive and stage productive events, while still remaining fun. These recommendations will be voluntary, but we hope that companies will be interested in utilizing these guidelines. Some companies are already following a positive approach.

  • Walk Out and Talk Out: We realize that leadership must start at the top, therefore I personally am pledging to follow a “walk out and talk out” policy in relation to game industry events. Quite simply, if I attend an event and find the content to be contrary to the IGDA ideals, regardless of the potential value of being present, I will leave the venue. However, I won’t do so without informing the sponsors/organizers of my reasons for walking out – both at the party and afterwards. I will always be respectful in my feedback; organizers are far more apt to listen to constructive recommendations over reactionary words. I’m hoping if enough people join me in this approach, companies and organizations will realize that the time for change has come.  We all need to work toward an environment that’s respectful of all people, all groups.

The IGDA exists to support the needs of developers and advocate on their behalf. In the big picture, conference parties are a small aspect of our greater growth and professional development, but they’re a flashpoint for demonstrating values that are either oppressive or progressive.

Our humanity makes us prone to mistakes, but that does not diminish our resolve to be a force of change. I hope the IGDA membership will rise to the challenge, and keep working together to help our industry reflect the reality of our diversity, whether it’s at events, in the workplace or in the games we create.

Thanks,

Kate


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Comments


Justin Jackson
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"we do not condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people"

I thought it would have been demeaning to those who were there, like they need to be informed of what the opposite sex looks like?

Justin Jackson
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@Maciej Bacal
Well, obviously, we have both genders attending these events. My issue is that it's far more demeaning to an individual when their personal level of social skills is targeted rather than whether they have a penis or vagina as you suggest. In a world where sexual preference can be either or, on both sides of the fence, my suggestion is that you broaden your perspective a little more, unless perhaps you are yourself caught in the "sickening mindset"?
And besides, these events are held for those of a gaming background. Would it be wrong to have activities along those lines for entertainment and give a better point of reference for social engagement?

Ron Dippold
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There's nothing wrong with a party - it lets people unwind after a long day on their feet and connect with their friends (and hopefully make new friends) in a stress free setting. It looks like you're still leaving room for that, which is good, but really, parties are fine as long as you have two simple rules:
- No ear-splitting music that makes it impossible to talk to people without yelling.
- No 'entertainment'. Drinks and company should be enough, and the 'entertainment' is always what leads to PR disasters and is usually just painful and annoying even if not mortifying. Perhaps you should just set up some gaming machines.

Since I'm assuming point 2 was IGDA's intention (I'm quite willing to believe nobody at IGDA said 'hey, we need some strippers', especially given how sexism in gaming has been front and center lately) , point 3 (oversight) seems like the most important. Which leads to Event Guidance.

Good luck!

Ryan Leonski
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The party was boring, drinks were expensive, the music entertainment blah, and to top it off IGDA got itself in a mess with the use of women for entertainment. Went to Pow Pow instead, had way better time.

Enrique Dryere
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Can't we all just admit that after a long day of expo'ing, all we want is a flagon of beer, a couple of D10s, and a table to roll them on?

Eric McVinney
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You bring the beer and I'll bring the DnD sheets and books :)

Frank Cifaldi
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I believe this is was the night I invited people to my hotel room to play Super Nintendo.

Connor Fallon
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I spent most nights of GDC playing Nintendoland with awesome people and it was great.

Glen M
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Free country, organizations should be free to host whatever type of party they want, and we are free to leave it, if it offends and/or is lame (offensive and lame often go hand in hand). Really like the point about music being too loud and I would definitely rather sit around playing RPGs and Table Top game tables to blow off expo steam as well.

Cheers!

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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I think they are far, FAR more worried about losing someone's yearly membership dues than they are having someone walk out of a bar (or worse, demanding their money back)

You may be free to host whatever kind of party you want, just as I'm free to not give you my money to do it.

Nathaniel Abernathy
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While attending my first GDC this year, I had an opportunity to attend this party. I did see the women that made the headline, however, my experience did not leave me to believe that the whole ordeal was as bad as it was claimed to be. My biggest complaint was that the blame was mostly thrown upon IGDA and that they were not the only ones running the show. The biggest problem was you had to scream to talk, and it was far too crowded. This may have been better as a members only party with a quieter setting.

While I know the IGDA tries to promote to those not currently members, I think some focus should be on bringing current members together to network and to embrace their membership to the IGDA. I live in a city where there is no chapter and the closest one is an hour drive. Coming to GDC and having a chance to meet with other members outside my area was a nice idea, in theory. There is a lot more that the IGDA could do to enhance its image. People should want to join because it is prestigious and currently I know some game developers that are barely aware of its existence. Could we come up with a way to have college chapters and not just city chapters? I currently go to Michigan State University, which has one of the top rated game design programs in the country, yet there is a lack of IGDA presence. In fact I think I may be the only member in the program, with the exception of instructors, and only they can promote so much.

So networking is a definite must; a bigger push to make current members feel that they belong to an organization worth while and finally helping to make non-members know that this is an organization they want to be a part of.

- NA

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

Jim Rollins
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Oh please. Doesn't the industry have real problems to deal with? Weren't we getting pilloried in front of congress recently? Again?

Don't we have to worry about business models in the midst of disruption? Studios closing? Quality of life?

And now some joyless type is raising a stink because a publicity event had, gasp, attractive women? I'm pretty sure the recently departed Margaret Thatcher would have been able to think in the presence of a slender figure.

Kate, honestly, I wish you had taken a stand against blabbermouths spewing hot air like Alicia Avril, who to my knowledge has shipped zero games and hasn't really earned any sort of place at the table. Make people of substance feel welcome and listened to. Not whiners who expect bars to be anesthitized to their liking.

Eric McVinney
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This.

Joe McGinn
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>> Quality of life? <<
Quality of what? Oh I remember now, quality of life, that SIG the IGDA started about ten years ago and which has done EXACTLY NOTHING in all that time.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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yes we do have real problems, and this is one of them.

Game development has an image problem, hell just look at the recruitment video for Red 5 Studios... nothing but binge drinking, wild parties, nerf wars and disco balls all day, every day. That is what the outside world sees and stuff like the Yetizen party doesn't help.

We are NOT a bunch of slackers playing games and getting drunk all day and it is high time we started showing that. If we can't be professional at our own premier convention, how can we expect anyone else to?

Mac Senour
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I'm thinking of starting a yearly thing. I'm gonna call it: Game Developers Who Actually Develop Conference. I'll have it at my house in the SF Bay area. You need to have a published game, or work for a publisher to attend. This is not a marketing or PR event, it is for developers so we can trade knowledge and get to know others who love MAKING games.

Anyone interested? We might go for a beer after the day is done.

P.S. Those that attend will be in on creating the secret handshake.

Maurício Gomes
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That is how GDC started (at Chris house).

Then someone will buy it from you and kick you out of the event too.

Jim Rollins
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Hang on, Mac... there are reporters and students aspiring to make games who want to hear their voices, too. Just because they haven't ever made a game or anything like that shouldn't preclude them from having a voice. Clearly you are proposing something where they wouldn't feel comfortable.

Mac Senour
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@Mauricio I know that very well, and why I phrased it as I did.

@Jim They are excluded. "Developers Who Actually Make Games" would certainly NOT include reporters and students can go to the next conference I make: "Game Developer Conference For Those That Wish To Make games". And at that one I'll have wild parties that are more important than the conference.

Dimitri Del Castillo
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Just hang a sign saying, "This is a NO FUN ZONE" at your next event. That should keep all the rabble out.

Jim Rollins
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Great idea! Lets also require women to wear sack cloths on the off chance that somebody takes offense or doesn't feel welcome. Let's not take any chances, here!

Dimitri Del Castillo
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As punishment, all males should dress as Xardoz at the next IGDA event.

Wylie Garvin
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Some of these comments are appalling. The IGDA was associated with the party; some people were offended. Whether it was blown out of proportion or not is irrelevant.

The IGDA has responded the way all organizations respond in situations like this: by creating policies designed to prevent them from getting into similar muck in the future. Thats what organizations do when they "learn" things--they encode them in policy so the learning won't be lost when the individuals in the organization move on.

This time around, the IGDA learned that they want to promote inclusive events where everyone is welcome, and not promote sexist events that make half the women developers in the audience feel creeped out or unwelcome. If anyone seriously thinks this is a bad thing, get a grip on yourself! If you just want to have a fun party at GDC with hookers and blow, throw your own f***ing party. And if you want the IGDA to help you throw a party, you'll have to do it in a way that doesn't offend a large chunk of their members. I'm baffled at all the resentment toward this, when (to me at least) its obviously how things ought to be.

Taylor Balbi
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This is very well said, I couldn't agree more.


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