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At this point you have probably seen the press and highly critical social media coverage regarding alleged dancers at the YetiZen party. As the CEO of YetiZen, I wish to make the following statements.
Fact 1: The YetiZen party was held on Tuesday March 26 at Ruby Skye, a San Francisco nightclub. The next night Wednesday at the same club, a party was hosted by Wargaming. Wargaming is not affiliated or associated with YetiZen in any way. Please see erroneous post below.
Fact 2: The Press has published photos and statements of the two parties together making the YetiZen party appear sexually scandalous by association. Example Gamefront posts Wargaming party pictures on the same page as the YetiZen logo
Fact 3: Darius Kazemi stated that YetiZen was the IGDA sponsor second year in a row, despite that YetiZen has had no IGDA involvement prior to 2013. His statement was false and misleading. Darius also did not attend the YetiZen party this year.
Fact 4: All entertainment and related promotion was approved by the IGDA prior to the party. The approval email from the IGDA explicitly highlighted their approval on the matter of the models’ attire, and is attached below.
Fact 5: YetiZen did not hire dancers. We hired avid gamers, who happened to be models, to discuss gaming with the invited guests. The YetiZen team (myself, my co-founder, and our resident artist) were invited by the rappers, along with our gamer-models, to dance for a few minutes on stage.
Fact 6: After our party last year Brenda Romero personally called us and threatened to Personally call all of YetiZen’s mentors, advisors, and investors and tell them to quit their support of YetiZen. She did not attend the party last year or this year.
We are therefore understandably disappointed that a relaxed social occasion has been so misrepresented and misinterpreted.
I include below context on myself as well as YetiZen. I hope that understanding my journey to this point may demonstrate my commitment to making great games and providing equal opportunity to game creators of all genders.
So where am I coming from?
I am the founder and CEO of YetiZen. I’m also an immigrant from Kuwait and Pakistan, a female games industry executive, and an avid supporter of female success in all areas of business and life. I’m familiar with fighting for my voice to be heard.
I believe in freedom and equality, whether that’s gender, sexuality, age, culture, education, class, color, or creed.
I was born in Kuwait in 1984, a country rich in natural resources, but also racism and gender inequality. My family and I were on vacation in Pakistan when the Gulf War literally exploded, and within hours we became homeless and penniless. We had little choice but to stay in Pakistan for our safety. I do however use the word "safety" gingerly.
Pakistan is not famous for the liberation of its women, and my mother and I endured misogynist social attitudes and female censorship. Laws such as the 1979 Hudood Ordinances Law prevented many women from freely expressing themselves and left them unprotected.
As the Gulf War simmered down, my family decided to take their chances and move back to Kuwait in order to re-establish a better quality of life. However the inequality we had experienced all those years before had amplified, and my future prospects as an independant woman were bleak at best. Had I remained in Kuwait, I could never have written, expressed, or achieved all that I have today.
When I turned 17, my family decided to move once again, this time to the United States - the land of the free; the land of opportunity. My parents favored, encouraged, and fostered my hunger to learn and understand. They saw me not just as a young woman, but also as a capable human being who deserved an equal opportunity.
After learning about entrepreneurship from friends in California, I moved to San Francisco and quickly turned a series of consulting engagements into a thriving business that helped traditional game companies transition into social games.
Three years ago, my friend Japheth Dillman and I started our own movement - YetiZen. A movement built to help independent game developers remove the shackles of publishers and acqui-hires, learn the tools for commercial success, and actually make enough money to build a life for themselves and their families. YetiZen is based on the core belief that the people who make great games should not just survive but thrive.
So what is it that we do?
- By day the YetiZen Innovation Lab provides free and open coplay to the game industry.
- By evening YetiZen hosts over 150 major events a year.
- The YetiZen accelerator program has personally supported thirty gaming startups go from post-product and traction companies to scalable game studios and platform businesses.
- A hundred and fifty mentors work with YetiZen companies. They put in their blood, sweat and tears to guide our startups on distribution, monetization, business development, fundraising and operations.
While building a successful commercial brand, we have striven to remain true to our beliefs and our values as business people and human beings. We have a large community of positive and highly engaged game developers who validate, support, and endorse what we do, and how we do it.
I understand the challenges of being a woman in what has been a male dominated environment. I believe that most of us want to live in a world of equality. I also believe we are making progress towards that. The recent incident referred to above does nothing towards progressing this equality. The clarification of the purported issue could have been managed by a private phone call or email rather than the sensationalized media attack that it has become.
I’ve striven for years to get where I am, and for that I am truly proud. I strongly believe that we should do what we do best and commit ourselves to making the industry as a whole better for everyone.
We look forward to holding future networking events in which all game developers feel welcome.
To your success and peace.
Lots of love,
King of the Yetis