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5 Gender Moments from E3 2013
by Patrick Miller on 06/20/13 03:43:00 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.

 

While I was decompressing from E3 last week, I thought it'd be best to write up my own account of all the gender-related stuff my coworkers and I came across. I hate that sitting down and recapping offensive events has become part of my post-trade-show recovery phase, but the fact is that these events keep happening, and I'd be neglecting my friends, my beloved medium, and the industry I love if I didn't document this sort of thing. (Tina Amini also has a good post on Kotaku about the "Creepy Side of E3" which is worth checking out.) Note that I have opted not to disclose names unless an incident was either a) on the record or b) the person involved asked me to.

So: Five gender moments from last week's E3.

#1: The rape joke heard 'round the world

Man: Just let it happen, it'll be over soon.
(Audience laughs.)

Microsoft had offended plenty of people's sensibilities when they explained their next-gen DRM policy for the Xbox One; the above bit of unscripted, off-the-cuff banter during their Killer Instinct demo didn't launch nearly as many ships. To Microsoft's credit, VP Phil Spencer said that "This comment was offensive and we apologize" in a statement to The Atlantic Wire. I get it; people say stupid things, sometimes on stage. But I believe that this moment was indicative of deeper problems -- namely, that it seems so natural for people who play video games to trash talk about sexually assaulting each other during a multiplayer game. I am just as guilty of this as anyone; then I discovered that some people found it hurtful, and I cut it out. That this behavior can end up showcased during one of the largest events in the biggest games industry trade show is downright depressing.

#2: "Your glasses are cute, but you're not"

I had the unfortunate luck to witness the world's worst pick-up "neg" attempt at an industry afterparty on Tuesday; games writer Jenn Frank described the incident to Kotaku thusly:

I and a female friend went up to the bar to obtain drinks. We were buying drinks for a group of coworkers, and this includes a drink for my friend's brother, an editor at a major video games news outlet. As we were waiting, a man at the bar started mocking me, saying my glasses were cute but I am not, and my friend laid into him. I, an idiot, repeatedly apologized for her "behavior." Soon enough we were flanked by two men, one of whom admonished my friend for "being insecure."

"Negging", for those of you who are (luckily) unaware, is basically the practice of outright insulting a woman in order to make her want to sleep with you. (If that sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, well, bless you.) I asked one of the men how insulting women at bars was going; he replied, "Well, you know, it...works..." and shrugged his shoulders. "I mean, don't you think she's kinda insecure? Don't you want a strong woman -- one that can just, you know, shrug that all off?"

I told him that in my experience, strong women reacted how Jenn and her friend did. He looked crestfallen; I think he was expecting me to let him off the hook. He also seemed to expect that Gamasutra EIC Kris Graft would also let him off the hook, which was baffling to me because Kris had already identified himself as the brother of "the insecure one". Later, both men identified themselves as working for Bungie.

I'm not going to get into the stupidity of the "seduction" community that champions these "negging" and "rapid physical escalation" practices; suffice it to say that I think this stuff is a) crap and b) crap that you don't bring into a professional space. And yes, E3 is a professional space; you are talking to identified colleagues in the industry, and even if you're off the clock, your behavior will speak ill of you, your work, and that of your colleagues. So: Cut that shit out. If you absolutely must be a terrible person in your private life, that's your prerogative, but do your colleagues and employer a favor and conduct yourself like a professional for the entire week of E3. And if you must be a dick in public, under no circumstances do you drag your poor female colleague into the mix to get her to try and persuade us that you're actually an okay guy, really (yeah, he did that too).

#3: So, do you play video games?

I'm sure this isn't the first time a man at E3 said the above to a woman at E3, but when said woman is wearing a big badge that says GAMASUTRA on it, it's spectacularly dumb. Yet a Gamasutra contributor sent me this story:

I went to the Horizon mixer at MOCA after E3's show floor closed. While there, I was hanging out with a mix of industry types (devs, some PR people, fellow journos -- mostly the same crowd that had been there for the press conference that morning), when one guy in business casual came up near my group and started playing on one of the games on display.

I was a fan of this machine so I walked him through it, and then came the usual mixer banter: names, occupations, and so on. He said he worked with a major games publisher based out of Hong Kong, exporting Western casual and mobile titles to the Chinese market; when I said I worked for Gamasutra he said he knew of and read our site. Then he asked if I was a gamer.

I thought this was a weird thing to ask, first because this was such an indie-focused event, second because he worked in casual/mobile publishing, and third because, well, I'd already established I worked for a major game news publication. I asked why he would ask that.

He pressed further: what systems did I play on? Playstation? Xbox? "Why does it matter?" He could tell things were getting awkward so he tried explaining himself. "I'm just trying to get a sense of what you're into."

"Would you ask any of the guys here if they were gamers?" I asked, gesturing to the crowd we were with (which included a couple Double Fine guys and someone from Activision) "Yeah, I would," said the publisher guy. "Some of these people aren't--" He lowered his voice. "--You know, they aren't really into games."

It's hard for me to understand exactly what train of thought leads you to attend an indie game mixer, at E3, and start a conversation with a woman wearing a Gamasutra badge by asking her if she plays video games. But I do understand that, as a man, no one ever asks me that question at E3 or any other event, because I am understood to "belong" there in a way this contributor doesn't. And that's pretty messed up.

#4: "When was the last time you got fucked?"

This next story comes courtesy of a friend I ran into while getting some post-E3 pizza:

I showed up at the Women In Games International party with a male friend of mine. While wandering around, I bumped into a guy who appeared a bit older but was clearly grasping onto youth in an effective way. He immediately struck up a conversation with me; he identified himself as a senior effects artist from Infinity Ward.

We discussed why I was at E3, what I am pursuing in the game industry, and how my prior experience related to the industry. He turned to introduce me to another man, who identified himself as the art director of another major triple-A franchise. The second man leans in toward me and snarls "So you design games?!" I explained no, but that I do community, social media, and PR side of things.  His "Ugh" reply spoke volumes.  I quipped "Yes, well it's a huge part of this industry." He looked at me, put his hand on my shoulder and said "No, it's not."

I was almost in tears, so I excused myself to get a shot and get that bad experience out of my brain; the senior effects artist followed.  He insisted on paying for the drinks then followed me outside to smoke.  Note that at this point our discussion had entirely been about E3, how we were enjoying it, and my career path -- nothing else.

As I lit my cigarette, he smirks, looks me dead in the face and says "So, when is the last time you got fucked?" Taken-aback, I hadn't much of a reply other than a nervous forced laugh.  At this point he continued to tell me about a new house that he built, one of his cars, and how he's recently broken up with actress Heather Graham.

Luckily his friends came out and got him, and we all walked back inside.  They invited me and I declined; I needed to find my friend and get the hell out of the sexual harassment playground known as the E3 WIGI party (oh, the irony). Driving home that night, I was kind of in a daze.  I hold a respected position in social media/community in a different industry and no one would ever dream of speaking to me like that. I've spent about six years of my adult life trying to break into this industry and it wasn't any easier in college.

Yikes.

#5: It's a man's world

This last story isn't offensive in the same sense that the above stories were; rather, it was a moment that reminded me how all the individual stories and micro-aggressions described above actually shape the way the industry works.

My E3 started on Sunday night, when I attended a press dinner hosted by Ubisoft at some relatively swanky restaurant in downtown LA. Looking around, I noticed one thing; the press guests were men, and the Ubisoft interview opportunities (executives and senior-level development and publishing folks) were men. The only women in the room were either Ubisoft PR, or part of the event venue staff. Which basically meant that most of the evening came down to a bunch of (mostly white) men were sitting around tables Talking Business -- a scene that made me decidedly uncomfortable.

I don't know why Ubisoft chose to invite who they did (either on the journalism side or the Ubisoft side) but considering the Game Developer Salary Survey routinely pegs the industry-wide gender balance at around 11% female, and Ubisoft staffers informed me that Ubisoft's own ratio is higher than that, it didn't exactly fill me with hope for the rest of the week. We had been invited there to get pre-briefings about The Division, among other things, so most of the rest of the reporters in the room were understandably focused on those details.

By the time Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat came around to the table, I was surprised that no one else within earshot had brought up any questions about gender and demographics up -- particularly considering how the game industry's consumer demographics have continued to widen with the rise of mobile devices. (The ESA reports that 45% of all game players are women, for example.) So I asked Mallat if he had noticed a similar demographics shift with the rise of mobile -- he had -- and then I asked him if he thought it was a challenge to develop games for different demographics when Ubisoft's dev demographics don't reflect that of the consumer base.

Mallat looked at me, sighed, and rubbed his face. A reporter from IGN sitting next to Mallat looked at him and said, "Don't worry, you got this." Then Mallat said: "Maybe. I don't know, to be honest. I would think so. It's not only a question of is the team demographically represented as the market is, it's also a philosophy of how much do you embed your own market in your creation? We conduct playtests way early in the dev process, in the conception phase...maybe it has an impact. We haven't seen it yet." Fair enough, Mallat; it's a tough question to answer, and the "I don't know" and "I would think so" bits were much more frank an answer than I had expected to get.

(After the event, I mentioned my gender misgivings to Ubisoft PR's Heather Pond; she expressed regret that she couldn't have included Ubisoft Toronto's managing director Jade Raymond.)

I want to be clear that I don't find this moment "offensive" in the same way that I found the Xbox presser snafu. Rather, I am describing this moment because I want to point out that it is all of the above stories -- the messed-up crap that women in this business have to deal with on a day-to-day basis -- that lead to moments like the all-male Ubisoft dinner.

I'm willing to bet that whomever organized the event did so in order to produce the best outcome possible for Ubisoft, and it just so happened that their ideal interview candidates and journalists were all men because it's way easier to work in this industry as a man than it is as a woman. It makes me look around at my female colleagues and think that they are statistically much more likely to think, "I love video games, but they're not worth this bullshit," and when that happens over and over again, we end up with a literal old boy's club.

--Patrick Miller


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Comments


Will Buck
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Applaud the writing of the article: at the very least, it raises awareness. I would like to hope, however, that it gives average members of the community the confidence to speak up when they witness occurences like this, and perhaps change the culture of the industry.

Sad to hear about things like this, but cheers for publishing it

Kris Graft
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Yeah Will, the whole "speaking up" thing is an issue. People don't want talk about this stuff for fear of being "blackballed" out of a line of work that they care about. Even when speaking anonymously, people are nervous. I hope people speak out more and just simply say what happened.

(I should mention too that it's hard for people directly affected to speak up, but it also takes a toll on people like Patrick and Kotaku's Tina Amini who feel that they need to write about it. So good job everyone.)

We didn't seek these stories out, they just...happened. We sit down together and these situations come up in normal conversation, then we say to one another, "hey wait, this happened to me too." Point is, you don't have to actively sniff around for this kind of behavior. It happens all the time, unfortunately.

Mark Richardson
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I can't be the only person that thinks we should name-and-shame these people. Why do we protect creeps?

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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Well, If we name Mr X, and Mr X knows who they said that to, they could well get Mr A, B and C to talk to D, E and F and make sure that the "tattle tale" never gets work in the industry again.

That's in addition to the "She's Lying!", "I was just joking" and "I'm sorry you feel that way" lines.

Dane MacMahon
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Some of these cases are off-the-wall wrong, but for the most part I don't think people should lose their career and be publicly shamed across the entire world for making a slip-up. I am sure I have said something at some point a woman would find offensive enough to call out. Glad my life wasn't ruined because of it.

Jenn Frank
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It isn't only because of a fear of repercussions; it's because it just isn't that helpful. That behavior, while unprofessional, is indicative of a larger, really rather hostile culture. Giving names lends credence to the idea that certain behaviors are anomalous or individualized when they really aren't. In my instance, these guys genuinely did not seem to believe I work in their industry, and even though they were at an industry event, they behaved as if they were at an ordinary bar. (Which isn't to say this behavior is acceptable at an ordinary bar, but I'll allow that it's "normative.") In short, "everyday sexism" isn't villains in capes. In most cases it's perpetrated by ordinary, possibly very nice people who couldn't turn down the asshole meter for two seconds.

There are a few different reasons to want names. One, to have a story "corroborated." (I'm fortunate, in a way, because other colleagues were around, they interacted with the same people, there's no reason for me to keep putting these dudes on blast, all thanks to other people witnessing it.) Another reason is, you might hope their employers or coworkers find out. I personally would hate anyone's Complete Dingleberry moment (or, alas, string of moments) result in a work infraction or termination. It just isn't worth it. For my own part, even though I'm still very angry, I'm also sorry for them it happened, and my issue isn't explicitly with those particular guys (although they should so totally know better). Instead I take issue with any cultural environment where that behavior is remooootely okay. I'm not pinning the blame on their workplace, either: I'm pinning it on the whole everything. (There's a final thing I should mention: elsewhere, when I was fired-up, I did broadcast their names. I regret it, but only very slightly.)

You'll notice I keep drawing a line between "people" and "behavior." In the end it's the behavior I or anyone wants to call out. That isn't because I'm scared of so-and-so at X workplace (although when I was deeper in the industry, and younger, that would have absolutely been true). And I am not calling attention to dumb crap because I want punishment. I want changes. I think Patrick Miller did a bangarang job with this blarticle, which is not vindictive, but brave and bold.

Sorry for writing you a book.

Kris Graft
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Welp, Jenn nails it here. This is something that I struggled with -- how far should you go with the "shaming"? I'm pretty protective of family and friends, so my first reaction is to want to be vindictive. But I thought about it, and as mad as situations like this make me, the punishment and repercussions of naming names wouldn't really fit the crime. But people need to know that this happens, and if the offenders have empathy or any self-worth, they will course-correct.

Jenn's reply makes absolute sense. I'm glad she spelled it out for me and everyone else.

James Yee
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You know, if I was to pull anything similar to these events, even as a "one time thing" at a NASA, JPL, or ITT Exelis corporate event/gathering you know darn well I'd be fired in a week. Or at least seriously reprimanded. Seriously my experience in the corporate/government world says that you CAN get away with a lot of crap, but all it takes is one report and one incident and BAM you're gone!

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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Probably because the few times someone has done this in the past, the woman has gotten attacked online for calling out another dev. Also, I'm sure most female devs are afraid to 'name names' as they probably believe it could potentially hurt their chances in the industry in the future and/or their relationships between different companies.

Jefferson Leard
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So I understand that the likelihood of the speaker not being a gamer is astronomically low, but the way #3 is told, I don't really get the sense that he was questioning her "gamer cred" or doubting her. Sounded like he was just asking questions. Perhaps asking if she is a "gamer" was poorly phrased I guess, but asking what platforms you play on isn't a legitimate question? Playing only PC games vs. primarily Casual Web games vs. primarily home consoles is a much bigger distinction these days.

I don't mean to cloud the issue or distract, I was just wondering if there were undertones left out of the narrative that would make this more nefarious. The guys seems to feel like he would ask similar questions to others present. There is no indication of doubting him in the narrative. Which kind of makes it seem like a weird possibly misinterpreted interaction being lumped in with a bunch of other very clearly inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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I agree with your interpretation and thought the same thing. It seems he was just trying to gauge what types of games she played not b/c he believed she was a 'fake' but that he probably wanted to chat about their common gaming interests. (although obviously we weren't there so we don't know the body language/tonality/etc involved so we can't know for sure).

Jenn Frank
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"Nefarious" is too unsubtle a word; rather, I would call it "insidious." Of course the fellow in that vignette probably meant no real malice (I can't say for sure, but yeah, you're right, it's a good bet). I can tell you that someone, in casual conversation, asked me the very same question at E3 '06: "But do you actually play video games?" I barely managed a baffled "Yyyyeeesss?" adding that I wouldn't've given up a perfectly happy life to move cross-country for my dream job. That person wasn't being cruel, either. But it's very startling to have a colleague ask you, even politely, if you are attending an event under "false pretenses" -- it's akin to being called a "fake gamer" or "fake geek," which are suspicions people tend to gender. In any case, a person shouldn't have to defend or legitimize her play habits to anyone: I'm a professional, and that's all you need to really know.

Thanks to Patrick, by the way, for writing this.

Dane MacMahon
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I do think the question is kind of silly, but let's also keep some perspective. In everyday life across the nation it's pretty typical that women don't play the kinds of games showcased at E3. Of course a million exceptions exist, but as a general "average Joe" your experience is probably discussing games with your guy friends and being teased for playing them by your girl friends. That kind of social experience colors your assumptions in a way that is not nefarious, just ignorant a bit.

The same thing happens with attractive female reporters on ESPN and in sports media in general. I'm sure a lot of them really love sports, but the typical experience in social life colors assumptions and expectations. Not evil or sexist, just ignorant... going with the numbers, as my old statistics professor would say.

Vincent Hyne
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I found it more interesting how #3 coalesces with #4 and #5

"I do community, media and PR side of things".

So... no? Not a single thing on that list suggests that you spend time playing something, least of which something relevant to the show you're attending.

#5 shows us explicitly that because the women at these shows are usually "The only women in the room were either Ubisoft PR, or part of the event venue staff.", the "Do you play games?" is a valid question.

I can see how it's a sore point for the women who want to be viewed as equals to the men who do play games, but as this article blatantly exposes, equality is so much not the case in the gaming industry, that it is the uncase.

Until the gaming industry fixes its shit (if it ever does, one can hope), "are you a gamer?" seems to be a valid question.

Kris Ligman
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FWIW, Patrick cuts off the story before the really interesting bit.

When I answered I played PC games (because yes, #3 is about me), the publisher asked if that meant I played World of Warcraft and Diner Dash -- both very heavily stigmatized as "for women," even if the actual demographics don't back that up.

So yeah, I was half-convinced he was just asking about my interests too... until that part.

EDIT: Oh yeah! He called me a "fangirl" too. Because that's what you call a journalist working for an industry publication like Gama.

I nearly forgot about that because it seemed so absurd.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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#3 is quite valid. Have any of you actually tried asking girls online if they play video games? A number of times that will be the end of the discussion or I played Mario/PacIYIaN...

Jenn Frank
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@Vincent Hyne: Actually, *all* the vignettes connect. In #1 the woman onstage was, as I understand it, a CM at Microsoft. The joke was that she isn't "as much a gamer" as Killer Instinct's producer is. It was a happenstantial glitch, this thing someone said onstage at a massive press event, but the entire scenario they'd staged was also kind of extremely uncomfortable. In #2, the utterly bizarre pick-up attempt was predicated on the assumption that my friend and I didn't "really" work in this industry. It was a weird power play. And with that said, yes, I absolutely used to work as a CM -- thinking that was my way back into games reviews, since reviews were what I did *before* I CM'd -- and I've definitely encountered, as a CM, the things these women also say they've experienced.

For me the real rub is Stop trying to assess how a woman sneaked in here. Whether a woman gamer is anomalous (she isn't) or not (sigh), E3 is not the time to press her on her credentials. Also, apropos of nothing, a lot of game devs and journalists do transition into PR when they marry their spouses or embark on making families, so "well I don't have to respect this person because he or she works in PR" is critical weaksauce. As benign as the question might feel to the querent, it really is loaded, and in any case there is zero reason to think so much professionally less of a PR person, who already has the most thankless job ever (no offense, PR).

In short, we can treat people as fellow human professionals instead of outsiders (harrumph) or sexual goals (ack!) at a freaking trade show.

Jenn Frank
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@Kris Ligman: God damn, girl. I think of all of Critical Distance as you (sorry Ben!), and I just did not even grok #3 could even be about you. Sorry, but that's just flat-out embarrassing for whoever asked. Sheesh, guy.

Jefferson Leard
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@Kris: Thanks for the clarification, that helps put it into better context. There's a part of me that still thinks he could have just been overly cynical because that can feel like the "safe" way to talk to people without getting overly enthusiastic, but that doesn't mean its alright. Its pretty incredulous that we can't just assume the best of people (as in assume you're there legitimately as a professional) rather than the worst (that you're a know nothing bimbo). I'd rather be proven wrong by assuming the former than right by assuming the latter.

@Jenn: I agree, insidious is a much more appropriate word.

edited for typo.

Jenn Frank
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I genuinely feel for the person who ever assumes Kris is a know-nothing bimbo.

(Kris, Patrick, I promise to stop leaving comments, I really do. Sorry. It isn't my forum, but I super feel like backing people I know when they tell stories I recognize.)

Christian Nutt
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Even if you buy the apocryphal "girls online" bit we're talking about a badged journalist at an industry event -- quite a bit different. #smh

Kris Ligman
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@Jenn

Largely because they'd need to get their eyes checked. Many layers of hell need to freeze over before "bimbo" is a word that could ever be applied to how I look or present myself. :P

@Christian

That's the other thing. This was an invite-only mixer focused around indie games. "Plays games" is a pretty modest baseline for such an event, whether I just said I worked for a game industry pub or not.

Christina Gonzalez
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Honestly, when I tell people what I do for a living (I'm in games media and community), I get the "So, do you play video games?" a good maybe 60-70% of the time from strangers. Not so much at professional events like E3, but it can and does happen. I'm not sure if it's a gender thing or not, but I've noticed a definite pattern.

Asking what platform or genres someone likes to play is a wildly different question, because that could be relevant to the particular conversation or demonstration. For example, my job involves a lot of coverage of strategy titles, so I will be asked how familiar I am with the mechanics of a specific genre or franchise. That's perfectly fine, since it will guide the conversation. It also saves MY time in that I don't have people giving me the beginner intro for something I already know and lets us get right to the point.

When I do my work, I'm always prepared to the extent that I can be, so even if I'm not completely familiar with something, I'll give myself the base knowledge and then start from there, but mentioning that I write about games for a living and then getting the "So, do you play games?" question as a followup in itself always feels kind of ignorant.

Josh Griffiths
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And I was beginning to think things were starting to change, however (extremely) slowly. With this and the Last of Us/Gamereactor thing, I guess we can't even say that.

Ron Dippold
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Calling it out and treating it like something that shouldn't happen is a big change. I'm not on the receiving end, but I think it has changed a lot just in the last year.

Obviously, not enough, but it does feel like 60s and racism to me. Yes, I realize that's not a perfect analogy, but it feels like women are actually standing up and saying 'Enough is enough' /and are getting support/, and that's new. Would you have seen this article 5 years ago? But then they're still getting routinely dismissed and mocked for it.

Unfortunately, at E3 you get the unholy combination of gaming people, sales people, tech execs, and marketing people, which makes the cast of Madmen look like suffragettes.

Ron Dippold
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I just looked up the Gamereactor thing... I suspect it was because it was a child holding a handgun, not because it was a female child. Crazy either way.

Hannes Wallstedt
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@Ron: Her being a young woman holding a handgun wouldn't raise many eyebrows here in Sweden. Censorship of that kind barely exists at all, especially for free magazines.

The Editor in cheif replied to the issue saying that it was a matter of aesthetics. He felt that the way Ellie was put into the original image felt like an "after-thought", that she was in a lower resolution and that it put the image "off-balance".

Here's a link to his blog where he tries to explain (In swedish): http://www.gamereactor.se/blog/petter/569231

Ron Dippold
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@Hannes: Okay, baffling! Plenty of space on the other side of him for a headline.

Kenneth Poirier
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Warning: Online interactions are not rated by the ESRB!

Dane MacMahon
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A lot of this stuff would happen in any male-dominated venue, but it's still good our industry is taking some responsibility for it and calling attention to it.

That said I am growing somewhat tired of the level of anger and shaming often involved. I think we should all be a little nicer and understanding that slip-ups occur, everything being public is a new idea and other such things. This goes for all genders, races and sexual identities.

Educate, don't attack!

Christian Nutt
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Not every situation is an opportunity for education, nor is it incumbent upon the affected to educate the unaffected as a rule.

But these kinds of posts are!

Jenn Frank
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@Dane MacMahon: What you've typed appeals to me, and in some ways I agree, but please let me tell you an anecdote: during either E3 '05 or '06 a documentary filmmaker asked me to talk to her about being a "female" in the "industry." At the time I was like, no way, lady. I'm fresh-in, I'm extremely grateful (still am!), no way I'm going to be angry on camera. Please.

So fast-forward seven or eight years, and yeah, I am singing a different tune. I've dedicated my entire adult life to this industry. And I think you're right, we're witnessing a "level of anger," because many women have *continued* to be present and we're finally opening our mouths. I think seven years of bullshit is probably the breaking point, especially when -- at thirty-one -- I'm too old and too tired and, most importantly, too established, to not run my fool mouth now. And I hope this doesn't sound *combative* (my aim really is to educate! Not malign!) but I do think a lot of old hands are finally opening up -- now that the industry is just old enough for us to go, you know, I've been here a while, I can finally say "when" or cry "uncle" -- and younger, truly remarkable women are following suit. Honestly, if I could've predicted it in '05, I'd do everything the same but even harder, angrier, and worse.

I also want everyone to be "a little nicer," but it really goes in all directions. And when a woman goes "be nicer, please" she isn't infringing on the world as we know it; she's just asking the people in charge -- who ARE men, Dane -- to be nicer. And when someone isn't nice, I think that's all right, to be angry. Again, I'm not a "name-and-shame" person overall, but it's definitely all right to be angry.

Dane MacMahon
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@Jenn Frank

Good post, and another good one above. I don't have a problem with anger really, where would minorities and women be today without some healthy and justified anger? I guess what I am more uneasy about is how one mistake, one regression to the 90's for someone who went to high school in the 90's, can ruin that person's life if the right people decide to take it to that level.

There is an article on Kotaku today about a man who turned a little too zealously to check out a girl as she walked by at E3. Was he wrong to do it so brazenly? Yeah, probably. Should we discourage such obvious behavior? Yeah, probably. However... this man is now being made a public spectacle, his brief and normally hidden moment of lecherousness is being broadcast to the world. If someone on Gaf decides to find out who he is imagine the repercussions for his life, just because he checked out a girl's rear end a little too zealously and it happened to be caught on camera and then posted on the internet.

I think everyone has a responsibility to their fellow citizens to be empathetic and kind. A lot of the time this means showing respect, never assuming, never judging. It can also mean never shaming, never taking that anger a little too far and destroying someone with it, someone who is probably a nice person and good father but looked a little too long or worded his tweet a little too poorly.

It's a two-way street of respect.

Jonathan Lin
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Overall, I agree that the fight against sexism needs to be smarter, not angrier.

But the anger needs to be understood in context. At least per my own limited experience, I've not seen anyone get so angry as to retaliate in some way (i.e. shaming) after just a one-time experience of being discriminated against - it's a repeated, historical thing. This is important - it's *repeated*. I feel like this is something that's far too downplayed in these discussions.

That should be a clue as to why some reactions seem so extreme. That certainly doesn't mean those are *correct* reactions - far from it. But understanding that - along with the fact the ofttimes men truly mean no offense - really is important to further these discussion in my opinion.

Jenn Frank
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@Dane, I super agree. Your comment reminded me of a video I have watched and felt mega-convicted by, http://youtu.be/a6fgX-cqP7w ("When Bigot-Shaming Backfires"). Suffice to say I don't think "shaming" of any kind belongs in feminism or humanism. Most career feminists decry "shaming"; there is no reason for a group to repeat the things we're subject to, or act like that reversal is OK.

I love that YouTube account btw (he also made "What is a creep?" http://youtu.be/FB14E5Ks0Dc which applies here somewhat) but according to what I'm reading right now, he recently abandoned video-making. Blargh.

But Dane, I agree. Let's not ever assume, or shame. I'm very serious about calling out crap behavior, but I don't think it necessarily has to impede on the respectful community you describe. I think we can all be careful, even loving -- I think Patrick was actually very careful here -- but I also believe there's a time and place for "righteous indignation." I do think we can have both, that we can point at "teachable moments" without calling individuals out. Well, now I'm repeating myself, so I'll go. Thanks, Dane.

Randall Stevens
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It is very unlikely that these people are going to change, especially when their action have no repercussions. So they get drunk and grope women and act like assholes, and then the next day they move on with their lives. You don't think you are going to be able to change the perspective of a racist old grandparent, you are just waiting for them to die. So is that the plan here? We just wait for everyone to die and hopefully be replaced with people who haven't been mentored into the same thought process that their seniors were advocating?

I was never one to believe that someone will just change on their own. People who have acted this way, but aren't being mentioned in this article, will think that their behavior was okay and not the kind of thing they are talking about. Even the ones who are part of this will just be glad that there are no repercussions to their actions. That sentiment was already stated in response to this article. Know that change happens with anger and action and sometimes violence, or you can believe the foolish notion that social progress is a self evident and logical conclusion that all men will eventually reach.

Dane MacMahon
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Thank you, Jenn. Great videos!

Tasley Porter
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@Dane MacMahon: I want to agree but something about your response seems to ignore the gravity of these situations. Either way, in this context it's not even appropriate.

It's not asking a lot that a person be respectful of another persons dignity. I don't think this deserves an "education" moment and I think anger is not only ok, but to be expected. For all intents and purposes, most of the men in the scenarios above verbally assaulted every one of those women. I don't think your suggestion is appropriate at all given the context of this discussion. They were rude by any standard and highly disrespectful.

It is NOT up to the women belittled by these assholes to be kind in the face of disrespect. I don't see how you can suggest otherwise. If you go out in public and consciously grab a woman's body, ask her about sexual favors, or otherwise disrespect her privacy, anger and shame is to be expected. You seem to be framing these as accidents requiring a bit of education. An accident is you slipping and falling unintentionally on the floor. The phrase "when was the last time you were fucked" isn't an accident. Sticking cards in women's clothes while they're wearing them isn't an accident. "Negging" isn't an accident. If you're tired of the anger and shame, encourage those around you to be a bit more vocal with your male counterparts about this issue. They are doing all the damage here. The outcries are justified as long as the behavior continues.

And I'm AM of the opinion that these are justifiable reasons to be fired. Again, these aren't mere accidents with the exception of the one awkward guy during the "are you a gamer" conversation. I don't see any educational moments in the examples here.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Tasley Porter

It's all about finding the happy medium in each situation, I think. Sometimes there's no real recourse but to raise hell, but sometimes a simple "back off" and explanation is better than a public shaming. It really does depend, in my opinion.

I admit I can't relate to sexism, other than seeing it happen with male acquaintances and hearing their justifications afterward, which usually amount to ignorance of how they come across. The "when were you last fucked" guy I promise you had no idea how horrible he sounded, and I don't know if that's less or more scary but either way I think him learning a lesson is the important thing, not ruining his life and the lives of those he might support or be important to.

Not to get too personal on the internet but I have a rather serious mental illness and am used to dealing with ignorance and judgment. I generally find standing up for myself to work best when I educate, rather than lash out and try to hurt others. It does depend on the specific instance though, you're not wrong.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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@ Dane

The thing with "back off" is that it educates, *at most*, one person (usually zero). Bringing this kind of conduct into the public eye lets thousands know that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated.

I think that what was done here, the behavior shown but names avoided is the best way to educate the largest number of people.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Kaitlyn

Well names being avoided is what we were mainly talking about. I'm all for airing the stories themselves publicly and being angry about it. I'm just not for ruining lives by identifying the men involved unless the behavior was criminal or at least borderline criminal.

And scenario is important. Obviously in bar or club if a man is really inappropriate identifying him to staff or friends is important. It's all about context.

Tasley Porter
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@Dane MacMahon: I see and understand what you're saying in your response and I also appreciate the empathetic place it comes from, but the assailants in these situations are ruining their OWN lives. Accidents are typical situations where penalties aren't an appropriate solution, but that is not the case here. When you behave this way to other people, one of the inevitable consequences is they will talk about it. And they have every right to. And any shame the perpetrators feel is self-inflicted, the solution to which is coming clean and reconciling the situation. If they will not take this responsibility, then shame is what they condemn themselves to.

Do you see that the examples in the article are not mere "accidents"? These are premeditated actions and seriously egregious ones at that. I think in these kinds of situations they are making their own bed. I think it's perfectly fair that they have to sleep in it, regardless of whether victims forgive them or not. It's their sole responsibility to be respectful and decent human beings and there are penalties for doing otherwise. Should they have lost their jobs, it would have been a fitting end for their very deliberate crimes.

This is part of the antidote to healing and fixing the bigger industry situation. A firm acknowledgement of the wrongs committed, an acceptance of their consequences by the perpetrators, and a commitment to improve in the future. Part of being in the dominant group is a belief that they should be forgiven without serious consequence when they err, but this is merely advocating more privilege. If a woman, upon reporting the perpetrator, must live with the stigma of tattle tail or have doors closed on her for seeking justice, on what grounds can you and I say that perpetrators losing their jobs is somehow wrong? Part of equality is having equal consequences. Members of the dominant group, from their positions of authority, can actively change a lot of this stuff (starting with HR and company policy) so that these men face the same closed doors their victims do.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Tasley Porter

I don't think I referred to these specific cases as accidents, nor was "oh well they're accidents" my point. I think I mostly classified it as ignorance to how one comes across, which I would still say is the case in most examples (not all).

I'm not saying their actions were justified at all. I am saying really driving home the fact that asking a random girl about her sex life is wrong is more important than getting someone fired. Especially when it is a random stranger and not your boss or the equivalent. That's just my perspective.

I know from hanging out with men my whole life, and from dealing with people calling me all kinds of names or assuming things about me because of my illness, that ignorance is much more prevalent than malice. Usually it is a failure to understand your behavior is harmful or judgmental. A lot of times this failure is born from isolation from the group you're ignorant of, but it can also come from refusing to listen because the message is too harsh, too different or, yes, because you're simply an uncaring jerk. In all but the last case I feel that ignorance should be dealt with politely yet forcefully, rather than engaging in a counter-attack with the intent to cause damage.

Anyway, I'm not sure how else to express my opinion. Might have to agree to disagree at some point. I just know for me personally and for friends of mine the tactic of shaming, counter-judging and attacking with intent to cause harm has backfired when it comes to finding mutual understanding.

Matt Wyatt
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For what it's worth, while working an exhibit booth at PAX a couple of years ago a guy asked me if I was really part of the team, or just a flak hired to promote the game. Anecdotal to be sure and I'm sure women are asked more frequently than men, but it at least happened once.

Luis Blondet
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Just as long as Human beings are not being raised with empathy, this sort of thing will continue to happen. This is the product of lack of education in social skills, and in this particular case, sexual subjects within this social space. Many of the members of this industry are players and most players use games to escape reality, and interacting with real Human beings is part of what is left behind. The void left by this escapism in social skill, especially sexuality, gets filled up by absurd misconceptions in Television shows, movies, porn and yes, videogames. The industry is full of people that have unwillingly substituted empathy with misconceptions, which explains the PUA and the brazen question situation.

That's my layman's hypothesis.

Raul Miller
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If anyone can recommend a ubisoft game which features a female protagonist (other than rainbow six vegas 2), I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Matthew Calderaz
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Fantastic game, eagerly looking forward to the sequel:
http://www.giantbomb.com/beyond-good-evil/3030-15835/

Christian Nutt
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Notably Assassin's Creed for Vita had a woman and a person of color as the protagonist, which was a fantastic surprise.

Tucson Bagley
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Thanks for writing this, Patrick.
Personally, I'm a game art student, so my contact with industry events or the industry as a whole is fairly minimal at this point, but from the mentality I've been seeing amongst my peers and even the indie devs that hang around on campus... Well, they literally laughed in my face when I brought up the implied rape comment at the MS conference. My teacher remarked that, "Aw, come on, it was pretty funny", and my classmates didn't even seem to think there was any way for that to be offensive.

For the most part they're really lovely guys, but seem to not be able to shake that mob mentality that comes from having a bunch of men in their early to mid twenties in a small space together. Moreover, the fact that they didn't understand where I was coming from at all really concerns me.

May I also just express my utter disgust for the negging story. I do hope that is an exception among Bungie's staff, not the overarching culture among any of their sections.

Garrett Mickley
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I just wanted to say bravo to the commenters here for not turning this into victim-shaming or any other sort of anti-feminist discussion (as most comment sections on the internet turn into...in regards to articles such as this).

Also bravo to the article author for writing this in the first place.

John Andersen
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Think before you speak, think before you drink, and if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say it at all. I don't care if you're at a party or off-site bar, but if you mention the name of your employer or have your industry badge still around your neck, then you're representing the company you work for.

All of these guys mentioned come off as the most insecure, loneliest, desperate and dumbest people on the planet. They should know better, and sooner or later this will come back to potentially hurt their career.

I'm really hoping that the HR departments of developers and publishers will address this. This is a PR nightmare waiting to happen in the age of digital recorders and camera phones, someone will capture conduct like this and it will go viral in the media. That's my biggest concern here, because as a whole industry we're still trying to be taken seriously above and beyond another "video games causes violence" debate. Once again, I hope that HR sends out a "code of conduct" reminder to those attending these events.

Finally, in response to what that guy remarked in #4, when it comes to trade shows and media events - setting up and running these events is stressful and exhausting. People who work in the community, PR and social media try to always put perfection into the product. Those positions ARE important because they bring forth all complaints, bugs, issues, etc., to the people in charge who otherwise don't have time to deal with that communication. That side of the industry IS important and huge, from reporting bugs spotted within the community to preventing a booth from falling apart at a trade show (among many, many other things).

Randall Stevens
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The only thing you get wrong is the idea that this will come back to hurt them in their careers. It probably won't, at least not right now. If you are already within the boy's club that is the games industry then you have enough friends to get your next job. It is how we do things, even if I don't like it. There is no conduct unbecoming in civilian life.

John Andersen
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Possibly. Very risky in an industry full of risks already, that is, if their behavior has gone public. It may come back to hurt the hiring manager if they choose to hire someone who is knowingly reckless and unprofessional in public. The judgement of the hiring manager is going to come into question in front of everyone. Not everyone in that club is going to like what that reckless and unprofessional attitude brings into a project. Secondly, if you mix those traits into a team of diverse people, you now have some unwanted tension within that project that is going to boil over into a disaster that could cost a developer/publisher in any number of ways.

Andrew Dovichi
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http://meagan-marie.tumblr.com/post/46396481491/what-would-you-do
-if-you-werent-afraid

Meagan Marie (Crystal Dynamics) spoke about this a lot after this years PAX. This is a very good an inspiring read.

Rindel Ryan Ibanez
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Hmm, I don't see issue #3 as something wrong. Maybe the guy was just really interested what kind of games the lady was playing. He did try to explain himself anyway "I'm just trying to get a sense of what you're into." I was thinking he wanted to talk about a specific game but wasn't sure if the lady would want to talk about that game. Bad approach of getting to know someone, perhaps?

Christina Gonzalez
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It might be easier to write off if the same thing didn't happen to a lot of women in this industry. It's anecdotal, sure, but I know when I read that, it hit a familiar place. I'm in games media, and this has happened to me. Asking if someone that you already know is a games journalist (especially at a professional event!) if she plays games is NOT the same question as asking what systems or genres she's into. Asking if she plays games is like trying to figure out if she belongs there, while asking what someone plays is an appropriate question to ask for the most part, as you're not questioning that she plays in the first place.

Kheper Crow
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I'm gonna risk the unpopular opinion, this seems like trying to light a fire with wet matches. A lot of anger of some pretty petty incidents which, if done too much, will actually cause more damage to the industry than help it. The day I have to worry about following HR codes of conducts when I'm outside of a work environment socializing is the day I leave the industry. My thoughts.
#1 was a bad move and should and has been addressed.
#2 & #4 sounds like a typical night out. I'm sorry for the women (or sometimes men) who have to suffer really bad attempts at pick ups, but this happens at any party or bar. It's kind of one of the main reason people go out to these things. I see absolutely nothing wrong with hitting on someone in a social, not professional, event. I imagine if these guys had some tact and actual skill and actually engaged in a conversation instead of using insults, the women wouldn't mind so much either. But really, now the industry is sexist because there are some wannabe players working at game companies? Really? I do feel bad for those this happens to, but this seems more like a society beef than a game industry issue to solve.
#3 I see nothing wrong with this small talk. Asking someone if they play games and what system they play games on is a bad way to start a conversation at a gaming expo? If I were asked that question my answers would be "no, not really" and "some board or party games". Especially as we push for more DIVERSITY in the game industry this an increasingly a relevant way to start a discussion.
#5 yes the game industry is not so diverse, this is known. And yes, it is still relevant.
I'm not trying to say that the people in this, or the kotaku article, didn't have some negative experiences. I just think if we start witch hunts over every little incident we just look like extremist. Have extremist ever been a diverse group people want to be a part of?

Jenn Frank
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Cool, but as I said in another comment, the "pick-up" in #2 was predicated on the guys being unable to even imagine or cope with the idea I work in their industry. Which I have, for eight years, and I told them that, and again, at thirty-one years old I feel like I'm actually way too old to even have to hear it. And honestly I shouldn't have to give you, or those guys, or anyone my credentials as evidence as to why I shouldn't be insulted at a game developers' party. But for me it isn't about "tact" or "social skills"; it's about having the presence of mind to not randomly walk up to someone who works in the same industry (or even a human who doesn't!) and insult her *because* she's female. It's genuinely Not That Hard. Sure, maybe it's also a society beef, except I also would not put up with it from a rando socially; in a work setting it's outright appalling. This is not a revolutionary idea.

#3 is also not okay; #5 is not okay but it's also very compelling that conversation even happened; saying "yo that is not okay" does not a "witch hunt" make. The attitude -- that speaking up about bullshit, even when it's inane bullshit, is "petty" or "vindictive" -- is explicitly why people *don't* speak up about bullshit. As I said elsewhere, everyday sexism is not a mustachioed villain in a cape. It's a veritable "nice guy" who admittedly screws up, and oftentimes he screws up in an obvious, not-very-surprising way. And it isn't surprising, no, because it happens freaking *constantly*.

Unfortunately I'm increasingly not sure you've "risked the unpopular opinion" because these opinions -- that all of these events are "normal" and "to be expected" and that the onus is on a female colleague to "handle it" -- are absolutely popularly held, and their sum comprises the everyday culture I, your colleague, lives in. This is not a witch hunt; this is day-to-day.

Finally, and I'm sure you're very nice but, if "following HR codes of conduct" is a major problem for you, I sincerely recommend you not, you know, go out at night or work with other people.

P.S. Sorry if this reads harsh; I super appreciated your other comment.

Kheper Crow
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To start, sorry you had such a bad experience, it sucks and is not fair and I'm certainly not trying to dismiss how you were affected. I am appalled by those insulting people to sleep with them, even if it does work :/ But, as I see it, this is an issue with our modern society, not the game industry. I would actually argue the game industry is less harsh than other areas of society in aggressive asshole pickup artist.

People want different things from ANY social event. Some people want to be left alone, some want ONSs, some want engaging conversation with like minded professionals. Until someone makes an app that lets you know exactly what a person at a bar wants at a bar (please someone make this app) you are always going to have encounters like the one you had. To me, it is irrelevant that you, or they, work in the game industry. You are people at a social event who very obviously wanted different things. The guys were pathetic and you called them out on that, good! Dragging them through the internet mucks and blaming this on the sexism in the game industry, not so good (in my opinion).

And that is my concern about a witch hunt. These guys may end up losing their jobs over this. This is NOT cool. Professionalism at work, YES! But if working in the game industry means sacrificing who you are out of fear of internet backlash, and yes this includes guys trying to insult women for a ONS, then this will become a horrible industry to work in. We ALL have asshole moments, would you really like to have your career be in jeopardy because of an offhanded remark or action you made around some other people in the game industry?

I want to see the game industry become a safe and friendly environment for ALL people. Fear is not safety.

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

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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@Kheper Crow

The main issue is this was not "just another bar", this was an industry event and these people had their company name on their badge. If any of the men were looking for an ONS, they should have *actually* gone to "just another bar", but they didn't.

E3, GDC, Pax etc are work events. Even if you are there on your own dime, it is a work event. If someone doesn't want to behave like their boss is watching, they might do well to stay home and watch the videos from the couch.

Kheper Crow
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@Kaitlyn
But this is what I'm talking about when I'm talking about people having different, and sometimes very conflicting, desires in a social context. You may not have any possible romantic desires from a party with professionals, but maybe there are some people who do. And who's to really say who is right? I would bet money on at least one person finding love at a professional party.

As an example, I don't like to drink and feel you could make very strong arguments about how drinking at a professional event is highly unprofessional. This has never ever stopped people from drinking. Yes, it ostracizes us none drinkers and makes me less comfortable in these events. But for most people, if you are in a bar, for a professional event or otherwise, you are going to drink, often times you are going to drink wayyyy too much. For some people, a bar is also a place where you go to meet men/women for romance, but now it's not okay because the event is "professional" despite other non-professional behaviors going on all around.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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But there is one key difference between being a non-drinker and having someone walk up and ask when was the last time you got laid... I can't pour booze down your throat, but someone *can* come up and force me to partake in his little romantic hunting party.

If someone isn't willing to behave civilly when they are looking to "get their friction on" at a work event, maybe they should not be at a work event at all.

Kheper Crow
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Technically yes you can, and people have, forced others to drink. But in none of these situations was anyone forced into action aside from conversation.
These situations are more like a non-drinker being forced to interact with a drunk... which happens ALL the time. If I was given a choice over what I'd be more okay with at a "professional" event, I would be much much much more okay with having to deal with being hit on by men or women than having to put up with someone who has drunk way too much, who does not respect physical boundaries, and who says and does things that make me uncomfortable. Sadly, no one seems to care about these people and so I usually don't waste my time going to socialize at "professional" events.
My point is that at ANY social function people are going to want different things. You either find rules, and a method to enforce, for an event, or you deal with people being people and wanting different things. If you get rid of the drunks, the players, the assholes, and everyone who has different desires from an event you end up being the only one at the party :P

Jed Hubic
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I really fail to see how #1 was a rape joke. I mean you could take it as a rape joke if you choose to, but the adult (regardless of gender) in me clearly knew the context had nothing to do with rape.

Kheper Crow
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"Just let it happen, it'll be over soon." most certainly has it's origins as a joke inferring the raping of someone. It's impact has been lessened through widespread adoption within the game community. Hell, I had a coworker who would say this at least a few times a day at work. To me this says volumes about why people from outside of the games industry may be reluctant to want to work in a field where a rape joke is allowed to become so adopted that it becomes normal banter.
Something to consider, not everyone has similar life experiences. What may be a friendly taunt to you may be something that triggers some very traumatic events or fears in someone else. I think this is good enough reason to be more sensitive. How many people have left gaming or game development due to the proliferation of careless words?

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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""Just let it happen, it'll be over soon." most certainly has it's origins as a joke inferring the raping of someone."

My doctor used to tell me that when I was a little kid and I would scream and panic whenever I had to get a shot. They also told me that when I broke my arm and I had to go through the resetting process before they put the cast on. You're telling me he was actually making rape jokes all that time?

You're joking, right?

Kris Graft
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Here's what I think was a pretty good explanation of this phrase. http://gamersagainstbigotry.org/2013/06/why-just-let-it-happen-it
ll-be-over-soon-is-a-rape-joke-and-extremely-problematic/

Jed Hubic
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Awesome I love articles that put words into peoples mouths. I didn't find it offensive or it didn't seem like the context was implying rape I guess by that standard it means that, "I, for one, find rape acceptable in all cultures." ??

I wonder if a rapist ever started a sentence with "Here's what I think..." hmmmm.....

Kris Graft
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Hey Jed, if you're going to comment in an article about a volatile issue such as this, please stop it with the sarcasm. It's counterproductive.

You've obviously made up your mind, we know how you feel about it, so I invite you to move on.

Jed Hubic
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Fair enough Kris.

Erin OConnor
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Just because the phrase is commonly used by rapists does not mean that when the phase is used it is in reference to rape.

Logical arguments 101.

Lets just leave the rape jokes to Jeselnik.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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#1 seems like people jumping to conclusions and applying the most negative connotation possible. Nurses used to tell me when I had to get shots as a child and would panic and start screaming and flinching at the site of a needle.

#3 happened at a bar and sounds like someone trying to start a conversation with a woman. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this guess was probably a bit dorky/nerdy so it's not surprising to me that this was the best conversation starter that could be thought of at the time.

#2 and #4 sound like really bad pick up attempts but these weren't at the office. They were at a bar where people were drinking.

Most of these don't sound like video game industry gender issues. They happened at bars and sound like the typical terrible pick up lines and conversation starters you'd hear at any bar.

""Yes, well it's a huge part of this industry." He looked at me, put his hand on my shoulder and said "No, it's not."

I was almost in tears..."

I often wonder how people survive in the real world when a joke like this leaves them nearly in tears. Have they been angry/depressed since birth? I can't imagine how you could survive elementary to high school with such thin skin. You're going to hear stuff significantly worse and the people saying it won't be joking with you. The insults might even be followed with a punch to face or performed in public in front of a group.

Kris Graft
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Hey William,

So, you're basically saying that absolutely none of these situations are worth bringing to light? Your argument seems to be, "Lady, get over it, this kind of stuff happens all the time. If you can't handle it, it's your own problem." While these specific situations tend to happen in bar settings, these attitudes convey a sentiment that I think is endemic in much of the video game industry. They should be addressed.

Kris Graft
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@Tony

Fair point. I'd like our little pocket of the world to strive for something better, because...why not?

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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@Kris These complaints are, "I went to a bar and someone threw a bad pick-up line at me." I just don't see that as something ruining the industry. It's not like they were in the office and their boss told them their job is irrelevant. They were at a bar and got some bad pick-up lines.

I think there are serious issues with gender and gaming but putting bad pick up lines up there with say, pay inequality trivializes the things that matter. Almost like crying wolf where we give so much attention to the irrelevant that when there is an actual issue that matters, nobody pays attention and it falls into the whole "those people complain about everything so why care about this?" problem.

Paul Marzagalli
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William, I 100% agree. This article comes off as an entirely "bad faith" entry into that discussion because of it.

Kris Graft
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Hey William,

I've heard the argument several times, "Oh who gives a crap, these were just bad attempts at pickups." I have no problem _at all_ with harmless flirtation or pickup attempts between two adults. Whatever! It's this "negging" thing in particular, which has such a misogynistic and predatory foundation, that I have an issue with, coupled with the apparent assumption that a woman can't _possibly_ be a colleague in the industry or a seasoned member of the media.

Likewise, with the #4 "pickup" attempt -- a man and a woman standing outside, having previously been talking about _video games_, and he says, "When was the last time you got fucked?" ...at the WIGI event, no less, to a woman he knew was new to the game industry. Horrible pickup attempt? Yes. Demeaning enough to cause the woman to feel awkward, devalued and nervous? Yes, that too.

I just strongly disagree that any of these specific situations are examples of "crying wolf." These are legitimately disturbing instances that are indicative of wider issues in the game industry.

If you think that behavior like this and issues like pay inequality are not directly linked to one another...well.

Also we do talk about the issue of gender pay inequality. Here's a survey: http://gamasutra.com/blogs/PatrickMiller/20130404/189895/Gender_G
ap_and_the_Game_Developer_Salary_Survey.php

Like I said in my comment yesterday, we didn't have to try to sniff these stories out. Unfortunately, they came to us.

David Schoneveld
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I agree but also agree people should fight to be treated as THEY feel appropriate.

Women want to be in a "mans world" but men attack men in social situations with jokes and digs, attempts to shock and offend, or outright attacks on their talents/abilities. But most guys grew up with this and know how to battle with words in these ways ...also rarely take offense to it to the point of thinking about it the next day.

I know from being married most women do not see things that way. But just because men can handle more verbal assault doesn't mean women, or anyone should stop calling out bad behavior. People should always fight to be treated the way they want to be treated, regardless of gender.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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@WILLIAM TAYLOR

"These complaints are, "I went to a bar and someone threw a bad pick-up line at me.""

This wasn't just "a bar", it was a work event, they were likely likely work sponsored to go there. If I go to "a bar" I'm reasonably expecting the sleezy men to come out of the woodwork, but if I'm at a work party, industry event, or off-site... even if it is in a bar, I expect people to act professionally.

Dave Hoskins
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These socially backward nerds need to be put in their in place. Bar talk is bar talk, if you don't like these pricks then kick them in the nuts and walk away. Oh you can be clever if you like, but seriously, it's a waste of effort.
Although... I've always liked the comeback, "what's the ugliest part of your body?" And when they grin and shrug thinking they're getting soemwhere, simply reply "It's your brain" ;)

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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the problem with a nutshot is that it, at most, educates one person (usually zero). Posting things like this on industry sites, seen by many, many thousands, shows far more people how this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

Dave Hoskins
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Is it? Just talking about anonymous random acts of male idiocy isn't going to change anything.
If you're going to be weak, then you're going to get bullied. Get snappy and put them in their place - under the slimy rock they crawled out of. People are far too passive.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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Dave, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you are male. If I'm wrong, well I'm sorry.

Now, statistically speaking, you are going to be, on average, larger than most women. You are, on average, going to be a fair bit stronger, have longer reach and denser bone structure.

To be blunt, the odds of you running into someone 8" taller, 150lbs heavier than you, and who is, either intentionally or not, implying that they are going to get lucky with you whether you want them too or not is rather slim.

"Get snappy" is a damn good way to "get beaten, then raped" when you are not male. To be blunt, your ignorance is showing. Flipping your lip at someone who might be able to bench-press twice your weight is idiotic of the first order.

Greg Findlay
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What makes me particularly sad about this article is that Microsoft included more women in their presentation this year (and I think were the only big player to include women at all) but the only thing Microsoft got was flak for having a slightly vague rape reference. Do you think that reference would have been taken differently if there was another man on stage instead of the woman. Probably, but the same comment would have been used and probably glossed over.

I'm not saying the reference should have been ignored. They should be called out for the reference but this article should have been written as 'Microsoft the only key player to include women on stage'. Then next year maybe Sony does it too. Instead Sony has another excuse to not include them because all Microsoft got was heat for it.

Negativity gets attention but positivity makes change.

Kyle McBain
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I hate that you are saying "include women". We don't say "men were included". Let's just say people who are involved with the product were included or better yet don't say anything at all. To "include" someone takes work. It's like "Yeah sure you can tag along." But if they are actually involved then it isn't about that. Women, Men... bla bah blah it doesn't matter... anyone who is worth a shit will be attached to the thing and anyone who's not shouldn't be there and if it is all men who happened to be attached than so be it. Why praise a company for having women or not having women "included"? In my opinion that is just silly and it's the company's problem or not their problem for having less diversification. It's only when someone has value and substance in what they do and are neglected or not allowed to be involved that I see it as an issue. Unless you have stats or a way to gauge why that person is there I don't care what you say about how diverse or not diverse a company is, you were wrong for judging them in the first place.

Chris Wightman
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How is this really any different than any other industry or being in public events for that matter? Men are too forward and stupid about how they pick up women. Ooohhh big surprise, we don't need to go to E3 to see that. Guarantee their were some woman there doing the same thing. Most of us are adults here, we should be used to this type of thing. The story about the girl who was asked "When was the last time you got fucked" was a great example - that happens in any kind of PUBLIC social event - especially one where you mix alcohol and lots of "paid too high" douche bags that think they are something special. Welcome to adulthood I guess, lol? Men like women and are dumb asses about obtaining their attention. There is really nothing to see here, everyone just keep moving along. We certainly shouldn't be naming these people, and it isn't a slip up - it's called social interaction between the adult sexes, some understand it better than others and are better at it. I take offence at bad art but I'm not going to call out every bad artist I see and shame them. People need to just mind their own affairs and remember not everyone is going to agree on how people should behave in public. E3 isn't a "professionals" only event and until it becomes an extension of work where you are getting paid on the hour to be there, expect people to behave like they do in public.

Kaitlyn Kincaid
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"that happens in any kind of PUBLIC social event"

Which is exactly the problem. That someone asking details about someone else's private life is so utterly common place as to be a non-issue to some is telling. N-word type slurs were in the same place just 30+ years ago, many still are, but they were radically reduced because people stood up and said "no, this kind of thing is not acceptable, especially because it happens all the time." If these kinds of experiences were isolated events it would be better, but no, it DOES happen all the time, and that is exactly why it needs to stop.

This is not harmless "social interaction". Now I'm going to go out and assume that Chris stands for Christopher, not Christine, and guess you are male (if I'm wrong, sorry). These examples above show not innocent conversation, but deliberate manipulation. Negging especially has nothing to do with attraction between adults and I'm kind of aghast that anyone can see it that way. It is about power, pure and simple... taking power away from one so they other can get what they want (and to hell with what the other wants). They want to behave how they want to behave and to hell with anyone else wanting to be treated with respect, right?

And I disagree greatly with your last point. E3 is a professional event, I'm personally aware of about a dozen attendees who were in fact "paid on the hour to be there". I was paid to go to GDC, and at my last company people were paid to go to PAX. I would be rather surprised if each and every person mentioned in the post was not paid to go (either a direct hourly wage, or their flight/hotel/pass, or a per diem). E3 is a professional event, and if someone can't behave in an appropriate manner they should stay home and watch the videos in their PJs on the couch.

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

Corey Cole
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To which E3 are you referring, Chris? As an indie developer, I had to jump through hoops to get my badge. The E3Expo site specifically states that E3 is not open to the general public. E3 is a professional conference designed to showcase products to the press, distributors, and buyers. Lori and I attended this year because we had meetings with potential distributors. The "social" events are supposed to be opportunities for industry people to meet in a relaxed atmosphere, although the ones I went to were so loud as to make that impractical.

Note the difference between "When was the last time you had sex?" vs. "When was the last time you got fucked?" The latter assumes passivity and victim status - You don't "get fucked" in a consensual, fun relationship - It is something someone is doing to you.

The behaviors in this article and Jenn's are completely unacceptable, and I really thought Jenn was way too mild about them in hers. She didn't want to make waves, so the actions continue. Spending a night in jail might be a nice way for these guys to learn that they are out of line. Unfortunately, women know that they rarely have power to defend themselves from extreme jerkishness.

The "Are you a gamer?" question is obnoxious and stupid, but I have to admit that parties make me stupid too. Until you find some common ground, it's hard to sustain a conversation with anyone - male or female.

Michael Brodeur
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This is just dumb. I know if my behavior had any trace of sexual harassment in the workplace, I'd be fired. Even if this is just an event, you're still representing your respective companies, and need to mind your manners.

For the people acting like jackasses at the after-parties, or bars, I mean, that would just happen anyway, gaming or no gaming. It isn't pleasant to deal with, but it isn't unexpected. What other kind of place are you going to find a cadre of assholes neatly lined-up and ready to douche it out?

I'm more worried about the people who behaved so poorly during the event, because that's the one place that needs to be comfortable for everybody. No excuses.

Kain Shin
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This article is quite awesome and sheds a shining light on what the big deal is from those on the inside. More like this, please.

Kris Graft
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Just had to "moderate" a person who was attacking one of my editors on a personal level. Sorry that our moderation system deletes all comments that replied to the deleted comment.

This tends to be a heated issue, but everyone needs to engage in civil discourse. Reminder to everyone, Gamasutra's comment guidelines:

Be thoughtful and constructive. This rule is number one because it's the most important. We don't just want comment threads full of inside jokes and snarky, 'me-too' bashing of the subject at hand. Every comment should be thought-out and truly add something to the discussion.

Stay on topic. This can get a bit fluid as a thread that starts on one topic evolves into related tangents, but there are limits. For example, a story about Sony bringing PlayStation 2 game downloads to the PS3 is not necessarily the place to write about how the Dreamcast was the best system ever and should have sold better than the PS2 in the first place. If you are inspired by a thread to write about a totally different topic, take it over to the blogs and we'd love to see discussion start there.

Keep things respectful. That means no hateful speech, ethnic slurs, or ad hominem personal attacks. Criticizing a person's work or ideas is OK ('Mario is overrated because it's not that great a gameplay leap'). Criticizing someone personally or irrationally is not OK ('Mario is overrated because I hate Shigeru Miyamoto.')

Use your real name when posting. As an extension of this, don't misrepresent yourself or your position in the industry through your posts, and don't use more than one account to post on the site (we have ways of finding out). We also encourage you to use a real picture when posting, although other avatars are also permitted.

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Kyle Redd
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@Kris

I know you are working on switching to a new comments system, but until then is it not possible for you to leave a placeholder of the deleted comment, along with who made it and the reason it was deleted?

Kris Graft
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Hi Kyle,

We have some revisions in the queue that will allow us to do something similar to what you describe.

Chris Clogg
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On a related note that the article touches upon, "The ESA reports that 45% of all game players are women"... I really think this is an interesting number contrasted with "Salary Survey routinely pegs the industry-wide gender balance at around 11% female"... I think the industry would benefit tremendously from that 11% being closer to 45%. I suspect the root causes are both that games have been typically geared to a young male (this is changing now), but also the following quote (from a recent CNN interview):
"At the fourth grade level, girls, at the same percentages as boys, say they're interested in careers in engineering, or math, or astrophysics, but by 8th grade that has dropped precipitously," Clinton says.

Well, just some thoughts >< Not really sure how transformation can happen, but maybe it'll just have to be a slow process. I mean, many people still think games are just a young boy's waste of time.

Bryan Provencher
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Great article - it's good to see more light being shed on the issue of (dis)respectful/(un)professional treatment of our colleagues

A question for those who have encountered this kind of treatment/discrimination: what would you say to HR managers and team leaders in the industry? Those of us responsible for hiring and managing these people bear some responsibility for the current culture - I'd like to hear your thoughts on changing things for the better.

Rebecca Richards
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Oh my, my, my. What is most appalling of these stories to me? I was at BOTH the Horizon event AND the WIGI party. I was treated well all through E3, so learning that this was going on in such a close proximity is so incredibly sad to hear.

Heck, one of my industry colleagues volunteers for WIGI. I wish the women suffering the harassment had talked to the organizers about it instead of simply leaving. There were plenty of respectful developers at that party, and I know a lot of the event staff that would have done something about it. I actually had a lovely time at the party, but I was up on the roof where the dubstep bass was quiet enough to actually hear myself network.

I'm glad this article didn't cover up for any devs dumb enough to state who they worked for (and thanks for the fantastic take down on the Neggers - my eyes went wide when I read the Kotaku piece.) I have to admit I'm at a point in this industry where if anyone put their hand on my shoulder and patronizingly told me I wasn't important, I'd cease being polite immediately and wouldn't really care if he told his buddies.

Addison Martinez
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My girl friend, a model, was at E3 2012. She was either mistaken for a booth babe or was insulted. In one instance she was checking out Assassin's Creed III and some fanboy was giving her crap telling her the "Hello Kitty Games" were in another direction. Sure she likes games like the Sims, but she she also enjoys Halo and recently Bioshock Infinite. And who's to say the Sims is a female game? The problem is that we view gaming based on gender. Certain games are intended to be played by women and certain games are intended to be played by men. And I'm sure the booth babes in the past only added to this mindset (I'm not sure what their presence at this year's E3 was).

Elizabeth Olson
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Been closely following this issue here & on other forums. You would think as a 20+ year veteran, I'd know better than to read the comments (aka peek below the bridge), but I'm continually dismayed that an industry full of such smart, creative people could also still be so boorish. I joined the industry back when you could count the number of women on your fingers & toes... and press events were often held in strip clubs. And while the above instances pale in comparison to the going-ons back then, that still doesn't make them right. Let's just narrow it down to the fact that these were industry (ie: professional) events. Our male colleagues almost never have to be hit upon, harassed, belittled & demeaned, or need to defend their contribution or right to be here. I can not speak for others as to what they may or may not find offensive, but if one conducts oneself professionally and treats their industry colleagues with respect, then they should never fear 'slipping up' or having an ass-hat moment for which they'll be called out (though I'm torn on the whole public shaming & agree positive persuasion is preferable, as I want to be the kind of colleague people like to work with). It's simple... would you recommend that your sister, daughter or girlfriend work in this industry? If not, what can you do to make it a place where they and their peers would feel safe, valued & thrive?

Kris Graft
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Great comment, and thanks for posting, Elizabeth. Happy to see you jump in here.

Elizabeth Olson
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Hell, I'm battle-weary, but what's a few more scars? ;)

Kevin Fishburne
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While the behavior exhibited by some of your male colleagues was pretty damn poor, it might help to look at the industry and E3 from a more distant perspective. You have about 50,000 people in one place (the vast majority of them men), whose products largely involve killing people for amusement. They're essentially the purveyors of the modern day Roman Colosseum. Drinks are on the house, and everyone's getting loose. An attractive woman enters their midst... What could possibly go wrong?

It's not right in any context and certainly not at a "professional" event like E3 where even douchebags should have enough sense to at least pretend to be civil, but if you take a step back and look at what this industry largely is it shouldn't be terribly surprising that things like this happen.

Obviously I'm painting the industry with a rather broad brush. There are a ton of devs, studios and other folk who exhibit all the virtues we value as civilized people and reflect this in their games. These people however, like women, are not the majority.

Luis Guimaraes
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I could swear I had commented in here... time to reduce crunch.

Kyle McBain
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A joke is just that a joke. I think Patton Oswalt went through something like this recently and I commented saying it's like Ricky Gervais said... Nothing is off limits when joking for we are under the presumed notion that neither one of us is like that. If Louis Ck can tie masturbating in with 9/11 and talk about fucking dead kids and everyone laughs then rape jokes shouldn't be off limits either. They are just jokes calm down.

And I'm upset that you brought up the negging scenario because as unfortunate as it is I don't know who's worse the guy doing it or the girl who goes home with him. Not to mention it could have happened anywhere. There is no direct correlation to gaming here and should not be on Gamasutra.

3-5 had validity except for the being fucked comment. It's right up there with negging and I'm not sure why it is on Gameasutra. Sure it fits with the title of your blog but has nothing to do with games or E3. There are shitty people everywhere.

That bullshit aside thank you for posting this. It was an interesting read and there are some good points here. It is a world dominated by men, and that lack of diversification is no good for any of us. And your involvement with Gameasutra is just as important as a designer's because you are a voice that helps the designer to make decisions. I think most designers unless indie are so caught up in business development that they lose sight of what's important anyway so blogs like this are great to have.


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