• 28Nov

    1 Reason Why is a great conversation but what’s being done

    Being sick doesn’t allow you to stay on top of the latest that is going on socially. I can barely get five minutes between nose blowings. Yes, that was probably tmi. But I honestly feel horrible. What does warm my heart is this #1reasonwhy discussion that is happening on Twitter. These great articles summarize what has been going on today such as Buzzfeed and Bitscreed.

    It all began with Luke Crane, who specializes in Gaming Projects at Kickstarter, posted a tweet asking, “Why are there so few lady game creators?”. This spurned a LARGE discussion on Twitter and this article Too Many Reasons Why, which makes my heart hurt.

    Some people have asked for my opinion. Unfortunately, it may not be a popular one. In the last year, I have been stuck by the amount of what I call Passive Community Action. This is where people think that by liking a photo, or sending a RT, is the same as acting or helping the issue. While social media attention and spreading information is important, it can’t end here. But for so many it does. Because what’s easier than clicking on a button, or sending 140 characters from my comfy office chair. It’s much more difficult to act. To create a plan. To actually make a difference.

    It boggles my mind how people can respond to the #1reasonwhy hashtag with how they are surprised by these claims of sexism and sexual harassment. That subject alone has been a huge issue after most of the major Video Game Conferences in the past two years.

    I remember at SDCC this year, I remarked how many sessions were run by women and about Women in (fill in the blank). Many panels had the same women on them. I questioned one of the women on a panel, that while discussion is always great, what was her goal? What was she doing to help others? What are we all doing to help others? Are we mentoring? Are we acting and making a difference, or are we all still talking about our individual accomplishments?

    I get it. We all like to be recognized for our work. GamingAngels has been running for over 9 years. At the beginning it was all about being the first and being loud. Making sure everyone knew about us. But in the last year, I have really struggled as to what we’re doing with GamingAngels. In the end, I’ve always wanted for us to be an informative, fun site, with an emphasis on showcasing women in gaming. At one point we had the most Women in Gaming interviews than seen on any other site. We wanted to help young women coming out of college to find their place in the gaming industry. Unfortunately, we haven’t really been able to do that.

    We gave away one scholarship to a young girl to attend National Computer Camp. I was SO excited and proud that we were able to give that scholarship away. But when it came to this year, we did not receive one entry. I was shocked we couldn’t get five young women to apply for a fully paid scholarship to National Computer Camp. Here, we were trying to help the overall cause of encouraging young girls into STEM careers, and yet the response was crickets.

    So what do we do? We slowly ran out of steam. We gave up. How do you fight for so long before you just figure that things will never change? Even following the discussion today, I ended up just nodding. These are stories, statements I have heard over the past 10 years over and over. I have been left examining and questioning myself and GamingAngels over the past year. What can I do more to act? It is no longer satisfactory to have the same discussions or panels over and over. It’s time to do more. But what can be done? I don’t know the answer yet. But that has become my focus.

    It’s time for the discussions to be over. It’s time to act. Time to mentor. Time to get past the trolls and the naysayers. Time to change force the gaming industry to change. Time to stand up against sexual harassment at conventions. The discussion should not be about “if they exist”, but “what are we doing”. If we never change the focus of the discussion, we will never see change.

    The jaded part of me wonders if #1reasonwhy will even exist tomorrow. The hopeful part of me thinks that maybe some women on the thread teamed up with each other to work together or to do something to create change.

38 comments
RikaHollinsheadStead
RikaHollinsheadStead

  I am in "the industry" and my experience, at least in the actual workplace, has generally been great. I go to work and feel excited to be there everyday. I've had enough jobs that felt like an ill-fitted costume to appreciate that this one feels like it "fits" me. I started as a QA tester, because that is where opportunity knocked, and I'm still in QA (senior tester now).

 

  I don't consider myself to have failed in any way - I love my job, and I'm not done yet, and I'm determined to advance myself - but I can tell you exactly what would have helped me start "higher" in the industry (or advance there quicker). I didn't discover that I loved games inordinately, more than the next person, until I was older. I didn't own my own console until I bought one at about 15; I didn't have an internet connection at home until I was 19 or so. At the end of high school, I knew I loved games, and secretly fantasized about being able to build worlds in that way, but what actually went on inside those wonderful game boxes was a dark magic that I had no idea how to approach and thought I could never access. In short I was behind the curve. I thought it foolish to try to major in anything computer or game related, as I hadn't had any previous education on the subject. So I never told anybody about the fantasy of working on games until much later, and majored in something else. I thought it was already to late for me.

 

  Later I realized that what goes on "under the hood" isn't magic, and it all can be learned. Still, while the boys learned some of these things as kids, when there was plenty of time for that, I had to catch up while working full time. That's not entirely a gender-specific thing, I'm sure there are males who had a similar experience due to the nature of their family or going to a small high school without many tech classes, ect. But I do think, at least when I was a kid, it was so far from the ideas of most people that a girl might be into games past the point of casual interest that I was really never exposed to the means to learn. I don't think its the same for kids now exactly; at least there's the internet now, where those who want to badly can learn. But I think its still a foreign idea to some people that girls would be interested in such things, and if it never occurs to anyone around you that you may want to learn something, it may not ever occur to you that you CAN learn it.

 

  Another factor I can see is that a significant portion of the males in the industry who are married have a spouse who is willing to act in a "support" role to some degree. This doesn't affect me really currently, as I don't have kids. But I know through conversations I've had with men in the industry that a significant number of them are able to both have a family and do the work that they do because the wife takes care of the day-to-day logistics of kids. I'm not saying this is ALWAYS the case, and even if it is, it doesn't necessarily make life fabulously easy.. but I think it is very rare for a woman to have a similar sort of arrangement that allows her job to have such power in her life while still having a family - I'm speculating that for some women, a trade off has to be made and sometimes its the job that has to be compromised on. 

 

  So what do we do about it? I don't have a magic solution, and most of the ideas I have wouldn't necessarily help immediately. I think its important to share what you know with kids, even if you don't know as much as some other people. Even if you just teach a kid how to find out how they can learn more, that can have an impact. I think women with game/tech skills could make an impact by getting involved with after school programs, or maybe Girl Scouts, and letting kids know that they CAN learn this. I've been thinking for awhile now about how I could get involved; I just haven't found the right thing yet. Maybe you can make youtube videos or tutorials on something; if you can, do it. It might make a difference for someone.

 

  Other than that, the strongest thing women can do is refuse to participate in a judgmental, catty culture with each other. I've written about it so much before that I don't want to get into it in depth here, but don't participate in "fake gamer girl" witch hunts or assume other females don't know anything. Trying to point out the weaknesses of other people doesn't make you appear stronger. Don't try to fit in with the boys club (or the mean girls club for that matter)by saying derogatory things about other women that you don't know from atom (I'm thinking mostly of comments on how someone is dressed, or that someone must be a slut, ect.) You don't have to like everyone, but its not that hard to give people the bare minimum respect that you would want to be given.

GMRowana
GMRowana

To echo a previous post somewhat: Degree requirements in entry level positions are off putting. Computer related jobs are some of the easiest to self educate if you have a head for it. The catch 22 of portfolio having/degree having/ability to get to school having really is a stop block for women who are further along in their lives and I would be some recent grads as well. 

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel To have that powerful voice, that is able to say "Whoa! That's just not okay!" and have it be heard.

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel ...environment. We need to change the environment at it's core. More women will def. help that, but we need to figure out a way

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel ...so great was it became a way of unifying our voices. #1reasonmentors is great, but will only bring more into a hostile ...

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel I agree, we need to figure out a way to focus out communal angst about the way the industry is. Part of what made #1reasonwhy..

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel Okay, more at length, this will likely be one of several tweets in series. To start, I hope you feel better!

G33kGrrly
G33kGrrly

@gamingangel Love it, response next, but wanted to mention typo in 2nd to last para: "Time to change force the gaming industry to change."

GrlpantsGR
GrlpantsGR

@kindofstrange @SusanArendt @gamingangel @trixie360 @robinyang @NSSteph PLEASE no bars. Agree with you, Trina. Need to keep it relevant.

GrlpantsGR
GrlpantsGR

@SusanArendt @gamingangel @trixie360 @robinyang I would totally back this.

KagoMegan1
KagoMegan1

Of the people whom I've worked with in the games industry so far, obviously excluding my obnoxious schoolmates, everyone has been intelligent and respectful of ALL of their coworkers in the workplace. It's kind of when you get more outside of that comfort zone of public professionalism where people seem to turn it back into the boys club. Personally, I've had WAY more sexist remarks, misogyny and inappropriate behavior at school and at lesser-paying jobs I.e. retail and such. With professionalism comes... Well... Professionalism. And if the coworkers aren't holding themselves to higher standards, you may just want to consider holding yourself to higher standards and getting the hell out of Dodge. Because there are great, creative and productive environments where everyone can be seen as equals and not have to put up with half of the things that #1ReasonWhy has outed about our industry. And @trixie360 that is messed up. :/ If it were me, he would have gotten something else kicked.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@jinkwell WIGI should have college reach out programs.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@jinkwell Then that is an actionable item. tech women know about WITI. It should be the same. Instead it's like quiet from that organization

gamingangel
gamingangel

@jinkwell I don't think it can. Ask how many #1reasonmentors are part of Game Mentors Online? Or even know about the program.

trixie360
trixie360

I admit that I am old and cynical and just outright tired of it all. But having a woman mentor in the same industry isn't going to do jack shit unless all you want is someone to nod in agreement and listen to you vent. Which does have some value. The only thing that's going to change this situation is for men in this industry to stop acting like frat boys. To stop high-fiving each other's lechery and passing around the upskirt photos they take at cons. In 17 years in this industry I've had exactly ONE male coworker stand up for me. It was at the Xbox party at GDC one year. I was chatting with a dev from EA Canada and he decided out of the blue that his tongue belonged in my mouth. My coworker had him kicked out of the party. That dude from EA Canada got a clear "that's not cool" message. If men would a) not do this shit themselves and b) call it out when and where it happens and shame those who do it. That would be a good start.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@KagoMegan yep. You are strong & it's great you speak up. Although you should have a support system too. Do you belong to WIGI?

gamingangel
gamingangel

@jinkwell conversations are passive & too easy to do online. They die in days and nothing is done. I've seen this before.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@ladyluck34 I think it's because we've been around to see this again & again. Tweeting is passive. Let's actually do something.

crunchychocobo
crunchychocobo

@trixie360 @gamingangel @robinyang Then again, I was kind of kicked out of my MoH appointment at E3, so what do I know.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@trixie360 @robinyang Completely agree. Tech isn't much better either. It's disheartening. I feel like I've seen this wave of talk before

crunchychocobo
crunchychocobo

@trixie360 @gamingangel @robinyang That's fascinating to hear. I really would have sworn it had gotten better.

RichieBisso
RichieBisso

As late as within one week of graduating college, I had no idea that making games could even be a career. It sounds stupid, but maybe it's just not something that a lot of people consider as a career path, out of simple, faultless ignorance. Maybe one thing that could fix this is by going and giving informative talks at high schools, to people at that age just before applying to college. Let them know about all the educational opportunities available to people who might want to get into games, not just super expensive programs like Full Sail, but courses at community colleges like Santa Monica College and Norco Community College in Riverside.I think it'd be a great way to make a difference, and might be very inspirational for young people of both sexes who might hold the latent power to make the games we want to play :) 

kadosho
kadosho

@gamingangel get well soon Trina =D

gamingangel
gamingangel

@robinyang Where is the reaching out to even younger girls?

gamingangel
gamingangel

@robinyang Where are the conferences to specifically address these issues for women? Where are the writing campaigns to companies & cons?

gamingangel
gamingangel

@robinyang But we've had GameMentors program as part of Women in Games for awhile. Why aren't people using that?

TaraBrannigan
TaraBrannigan

On the positive side of the equation, also make sure to check out #1reasontobe for reasons women in the industry are still here and love being part of the insanity that is making games. In addition, #1reasonmentors has a ton of industry professionals putting themselves out there to help answer questions and encourage women looking to get into the industry. 

GrlpantsGR
GrlpantsGR

@GrlpantsGR @kindofstrange @SusanArendt @gamingangel @trixie360 @robinyang @NSSteph slash keep it legit so there is more follow through.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@GrlpantsGR @SusanArendt @trixie360 @robinyang Agreed. Let's have a real networking/ Career discussion that doesn't take place in a bar

Govind Ramabadran
Govind Ramabadran

 @KagoMegan1  @trixie360 I agree to an extent, but while wanting to be treated as equals, you should also treat others equally as well.  Arguing for better recognition doesn't mean one group should be treated better than the other.  With professionalism comes common courtesy and respect for both genders and for all groups.  Diversity 101.  

 

-Govind

gamingangel
gamingangel

@crunchychocobo @trixie360 @robinyang Exactly! It still happens on different levels.

gamingangel
gamingangel

@gamingangel @trixie360 @robinyang and in a week or two maybe a bit more until the next con, there will be sexual harassment issues again

GamingAngel
GamingAngel moderator

 @RichieBisso I have volunteered in the past with DigiGirlz which is a program from Microsoft for young girls to play with tech and even make a game. Those programs are invaluable! 

GamingAngel
GamingAngel moderator

 @TaraBrannigan Have you been a part of the Game Mentors Online program? Are people aware of that program? Is it really helping? Right now this is an online discussion but we need to take it to the next step. And it never gets there. 

TaraBrannigan
TaraBrannigan

 @GamingAngel  I haven't, no. I have mentored several people within the companies I've worked at, but Game Mentors Online was a little off-putting to me due to the initial application process and the lack of visibility into what my information would be used for and how the mentoring process was intended to work. It looks like they've updated it a bit recently, which is good, but from an online marketing perspective it's still a little sketchy looking.  Featuring some of the women who are participating, and sharing success stories would be a great way to start building that presence into something that's more approachable and inspire confidence in those who participate. 

TaraBrannigan
TaraBrannigan

 @GamingAngel As something of a minor quibble: I am, in general, disappointed when an application requires a degree/university. Many of the best people I know in this industry have absolutely no degree. Stating it as a requirement sets the expectation that if you don't have one, you shouldn't apply to be a mentor. Which is a bloody shame. 

GamingAngel
GamingAngel moderator

 @TaraBrannigan agreed. I think it's frustrating that these programs are started but do not really have major support. So like you said...they look sketchy and not like you will get much from it. Plus there is ZERO PR on these programs. 

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