#1ReasonWhy We Are All Responsible

Over the past couple days, a certain hashtag’s been dominating the gaming industry’s sector of Twitter, and with good reason. #1ReasonWhy has given people a place to voice – often using their personal experiences as a megaphone – reasons why there aren’t more women in the gaming industry. Naturally, it’s sparked all kinds of debate, but as always, the point is clear: sexism in the gaming industry is a serious problem, and we need to clean up our act. Perhaps just as damaging as detractors, though, are those who’ve resigned themselves to inaction. For whatever reason, they’ve simply opted to not do anything – even though they know there’s a problem. And so that brings us to a couple days ago, when I encountered a real life example of this little number: “Seriously, though, I’m a guy. It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

Recently, I was put in a situation – as I so often am in this line of work – where I was playing videogames with other, highly gaming-literate people. And by recently, I mean after the #1ReasonWhy hashtag spent an evening dominating the game-o-sphere region of the tweet-o-dodecahedron. So naturally, idle chit-chat quickly shifted in that direction. Or rather, it swerved and wobbled, clumsily ambling into the topic with all the grace and tact of a drunken rhinoceros. One of the (and yes, I believe this designation is very relevant) white males mentioned it, and another chuckled nervously. The two then exchanged dismissive jokes about yet another brouhaha over women in gaming, but the part that really stood out to me came after the laughter stopped: “Seriously, though, I’m a guy. It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

I wanted to leap over the table and scream at them.

But I didn’t do that, because I felt like it might have been a bit counter-productive to the argument I was trying to make – or, indeed, any sort of argument ever in the history of human civilization. So instead, I thought about it. Because that response to gaming’s rampant – and even if it’s maybe improving on some level, it is still absolutely rampant – sexism problem is incredibly erroneous, but it’s an easy mindset to get into even when your heart’s in the right place.

I mean, I know I’ve been there. I’m a straight white male who obsesses over and works in an industry that’s been tailor-made to cater to my every taste, fantasy, and preference. I try to at least understand what my female friends – whether they create games, market them, or enjoy them as a hobby – have had to put up with, but it’s simply not possible for someone in my position to get the full picture. Women deal with being treated like outsiders or objects or even The Enemy on a daily basis – in ways both large and small. Meanwhile, this industry grew up with me. It’s my best friend, and it acts like it. But we’re not little kids pretending to be woefully slow, childhood-obesity-ridden Sonic The Hedgehogs fleeing from girls anymore. It’s time to learn some goddamn manners and get up to speed with adult society.

But as I said, crossing that barrier of understanding is hard. Here, though, is the first reason “But I’m a guy” doesn’t pass muster with specific regard to #1ReasonWhy: because the entire point of that hashtag was to say, “Hey, look, here’s exactly what we’re dealing with. Here are the day-to-day specifics. Here’s the shadow sexism casts over our lives and careers. Here’s a gigantic, days-long list of specific reasons it’s terrible for everyone involved and needs to stop.” Frankly, if you can’t identify or understand after that, you’re probably a conscience-lacking neanderthal.

But here’s the second – and arguably more important – reason folks of my particular station need to stop using sex/gender/genitalia as a Get Out Of Responsibility Free card: because we can do something about it. Actually, we can do a whole, whole, whole lot. An incredible amount, even. Because guys, guess what? You’re gaming’s target audience. When men bark and whimper and wail and whine, this industry sees dollars fleeing and bank accounts deflating. Disgusting though it might be, money talks.

And I’m not trying to propose some damsel-in-distress “let’s handsomely save the day” argument, either. With or without men, women are kicking ass in this industry and will continue to do so. But it’s time for men to stop acting like self-centered slobs. It’s time for men to stop turning every step of progress into an agonizing uphill battle. There’s plenty of room in gaming for everyone – male, female, gay, straight, bi, trans, or what have you – so why not use this position of leverage to roll out the red carpet? Demand better from developers and publishers. If you work in the industry, demand better from your bosses and co-workers. If you simply play games as a hobby, demand better of your friends.

I don’t care what you do: just speak up. I’m sorry, but no problem ever went away because the people at the heart of it plugged their ears and ignored it. Doesn’t work with marital disputes, doesn’t work with an 18-wheeler about to run you over, doesn’t work with a live hand grenade about to go off in your face, doesn’t work with bees suddenly deciding your eye sockets would make a fine nest, doesn’t work with sexism. Never has, never will.

Hell, there’s even a recent precedent for this idea – slight though it might be. You’ll remember that BioWare included FemShep in marketing materials because fans – guys and girls – liked her so much. And they were vocal about it. They got even more vocal, meanwhile, when BioWare decided to give her a highly unwanted makeover, so BioWare relented and let their fans vote.

And that’s just an example specific to this topic. Developers and publishers listen to their “core” audiences all the time – especially when they get rowdy. By simply piping up or typing a few lines on a keyboard, we’ve changed endings, feature sets, mod support, gotten source code released, and even haggled our way into entire sequels and franchise revivals. So honestly, let’s just use this incredible power for real good already. Let’s loudly complain about things that actually matter.

Going beyond concerns of an economic nature (and yes, shockingly, including more people would be tremendously profitable for all involved), we’re talking about fellow human beings here. It’s not like “men’s” games are going to go away, but even if they were, what matters more in the grand scheme of things: your brief, momentary amusement, or the sustained happiness and comfort of other people with brains and goals and lives and all that wonderful shit? This isn’t some out-of-nowhere politically correct crackdown on The Boy’s Club. It’s common fucking human decency. More than that, it’s common fucking sense.

You want #1ReasonWhy? Because I felt the need to write this in the first place. Because for some reason, people still don’t get it.


  1. EvOr says:

    Sadly, working on the IT/Telecom industry myself. I can say I observe the same behavior towards any competent women working in computer engineering stuff.

    It would be great for the video game industry to clean its act, but most of society has to be changed not just video games.

    • Toberoth says:

      Yes, there are larger changes waiting to be made–but that doesn’t mean that we can’t begin to address the problems within the gaming culture this website is devoted to.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        I try to change this by introducing my non-gamer wife to the wonders of videogames. I am trying to do my best to share the joys of games with her. She is too smart and has far better taste than me (she being artsy filmmaker with enormous knowledge about that old medium), so she immediately sees all the game’s bullshit that I, as an erm… “established gamer” am willing to overlook.

        But she knows that I mean well, so she tries to play things I recommend (fine-selected cream of the gaming crop) and she’s honestly willing to give these things a chance. The games just aren’t any good.

        Well, I have been successful with just 2 games so far.
        Ok, maybe thats for another topic.

        • Ny24 says:

          May I inquire about those two games? Just out of curiosity.

          • dontnormally says:

            Can’t leave on that cliffhanger -: what two games?

          • sophof says:

            Machinarium for some reason is like a GF magic bullet, for everyone I know it worked :D

          • marionhanks says:

            my buddy’s step-aunt makes $79/hr on the laptop. She has been fired for 9 months but last month her income was $17707 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more here… link to youtube.qr.net

        • Noburu says:

          Yes please tell me as well. I cant get my wife to even try anything beyond your basic solitaire, match 3, facebook bs.

        • Brian_black says:

          I’ve gotten my wife into Everquest 2 and Plants vs. Zombies. EQ2 hit her OCD nerve something fierce- every once in a while, she still gets the desire to load up EQ2, pay for a month’s sub and run around slaying things with me. This desire inevitably wanes for both of us, after we remember what a grindfest it is to get anything meaningful accomplished.

        • enobayram says:

          Oh my god, his much refined wife didn’t like any games, that must mean our favorite hobby is nothing but BS!?! My whole life was a lie. That must be it, women don’t like games, so games must suck! I should also stop programming as a hobby, because most women don’t like programming either.

          – If women are treated badly in multiplayer platforms, we should stand against it by all means. Not that I’ve ever EVER witnessed that happening before my eyes, if it ever happens, I’d agree to ban the offender from gaming for the rest of his life. I’d also react pretty violently at the site of the incidence.

          – If the argument is that women are made into sex objects, I’m against it by all means too. Not only because it’s offensive to women; I also see it as a disgrace on my part as well, and am seriously disturbed by it. I don’t personally buy that AAA crap anyway. If there’s cleavage in it, I don’t buy it. Not that I hate cleavages, it’s that I immediately assume the game is crap.

          – But if the argument is that, women can’t wrap their heads around liking the “nonsense” we like. And that’s for no apparent reason but their aesthetic sense and refinement… Please shut up, will you?

          @Ultra Superior: I’ve read what I wrote, and it sounds very much targeted against you. I’ve nothing against you, my rebellion is towards the attitude. I’m sure you’re an amazing person. Here’s a heart <3 :)

          • Ragnar says:

            Sure, sexy women are used to sell crap, but there are plenty of good games that suffer from sexist design:

            Bayonetta – I loved it, and my wife enjoyed watching it because it was beautiful, but it would be equally beautiful with a less sexualized main character.

            Witcher – I enjoy looking at naked women as much as anyone, but the sex cards were unnecessary and embarrassing.

            Mass Effect 3 – Ending and failed attempts at humour aside, the gameplay is the best of the series. And yet Ashley goes from being a believable marine to getting her hair done and putting on way too much makeup. Jack grows breasts! One of FemShep’s casual outfits makes her look like a cheap hooker. And don’t even get me started on EDI.

    • RedViv says:

      And that’s why we, gamers, journalists, industry, all of us, should start as soon as we can. There has to be pulling on ALL the strings, to turn this into another direction, as it is with most things. Make more games that don’t just rely on the hassle-free Stubble McBaldy protagonist. Encourage girls to get more into technology-oriented jobs. Heck, stop marketing anything buildy-brainy to boys nine out of ten times.

      And make sure, from as high up as possible, that blogs like Fat, Ugly or Slutty don’t get much more material. Because, really, come on. Nobody should feel comfortable acting that pathetic.

      • enobayram says:

        I’ve been studying electrical engineering for a very long time now. I’ve seen all kinds of encouragements for attracting women into the field. I’ve heard my female colleagues say that a female electrical engineer with the same qualifications as a male has a better chance of getting into a particular position. I’d say that the profession is well paid and you usually have job security since it’s very hard to replace you after you’ve been doing something for a while. Yet, women simply don’t choose electrical engineering. Do you have a back-up plan?

        • Ragnar says:

          Women choosing not to go into technological fields is fine. Women being discouraged from going into such field, or being discriminated within that field, is not. If we fix the latter, the former will take care of itself.

    • Gnoupi says:

      My girlfriend is a sysadmin.
      The amount of times she has to deal with demeaning people who just can’t get the idea that a girl can be in tech and perfectly skilled is appalling.

      You know the kind. The “ok, you’re cute, now get me someone who can help me.” before you can even start.

      • Henke says:

        Damn, that sucks. :(

      • Pockets says:

        Having worked in software tech support for a while, I always found the problem with that was the customers rather than anyone internal. The worst that could be directed at the places I’ve worked would be “slightly laddish culture”, while the kind of stuff that used to come through from customers sometimes was vile

        • jrodman says:

          When I started out in tech support, our most senior team member, who was a born pro to troubleshooting was Katie Kenny. I *loved* escalating issues to her from self-important jerks who would insist their issue was too important for the tier 1.

          They frequently could not handle the idea of a woman being the senior expert. They just didn’t know what to do with themselves on that result.

          This was in 1995. By now, in the San Francisco Bay Area, things are a *little* better now, but we still have a long way to go.

      • WhatKateDoes says:

        That is also my role, but more general, as am the sole representative of the InfoServices dept on my campus, so I have to sort of have many hats – network, desktop support, student support, and liaising with external contractors, eg. have Openreach on site today. Its an interesting job :D

        I regularly run into problems with “The Old Boys Club” within my own dept, they can come across as condescending, dismissive, or downright belligerent. Its kind of come to a head recently and I’m having to arrange a 1-to-1 with my line manager to tackle the issue.. which I’m not looking forward to as he works closely with these people.

        But, on the flip side – interestingly I’ve encountered some comments from other women I work with, they’re suprised to find a female IT specialist, and have made comments like “oh, it actually possible to talk to you because you’re a woman” – which on the one hand I can sort of empathise with, but it also similarly grates. A few years ago I actually contemplated setting up an I.T support business “run by women, for women” kinda thing, but deemed I would run into all sorts of equality/legal issues… but also because I felt it shouldnt be needed, and that by running a service based on specific inclusion, I was by extension excluding, and discriminating both in terms of staff, and clients.

        *rubs forehead* Now I’ve got a sore brain, lol.

        • Archonsod says:

          Funnily enough I could make the same criticisms of my co-workers, and I’m male. I’m not sure it’s a gender thing so much as basic social skills not really being on the checklist when it comes to IT. That, and the inevitable e-penis waving whenever something touches on an app/tech/area that someone fancies themselves an expert in.

        • Deathmaster says:

          With that many hats I see a bright future in TF2.

        • EvOr says:

          Most of what you describe has more to do with being new to place as a sysadmin than being a woman sysadmin though. You will get it as a man too.

          If you’re younger/new and more clever/competent/efficient/passionate than most of your already established co-workers, they will perceive you as a threat. They will start by belittling your work and end up being belligerent.

          Instead of being sexist, they will use other means to embarass you. Most of the sysadmins I’ve met/work with are neither geeks nor nerds, they do it because it pay the bills, therefore someone passionate and knowledgable about their work is a threat to their tranquility.

          Intelligent and respectful people are sadly not that common in the workplace.

          • mrbeman says:

            It’s astonishing that in the context of this particular discussion, you continue to think that a response where you tell a woman that she doesn’t know what happened to her is anything other than a shameful response.

            Maybe it will help you to understand when I say that there are always plenty of men like you responding to stories from people like WhatKateDoes, and you’re always so convinced that the woman has misunderstood, it wasn’t actually sexism or misogyny, and despite never having met her or seen her workplace you’re more aware of the social and political dynamics than she is.


            Consider further that there’s nothing in her story that indicates she’s new to her position, but you apparently assumed that she is. =/

          • TariqOne says:

            Good God, Berman. Gloriously well done. Logged in to +1 and /salute.

          • stiffkittin says:

            Agreed. Since WhatKateDoes has been (presumably) a woman all her life and achieved a position of significant responsibility through (presumably) aptitude and experience, then it’s reasonable to assume she’s not misunderstanding the prejudice she experiences. I think your heart’s in the right place but it comes off a bit condescending on a thread about denial.

          • EvOr says:

            @ mrbeman

            I’d assume you don’t work in the IT field. Because a lot of the people I’ve worked with be it men or women are either jerks, incompetent or both. You sometimes meet with competent modest people, but most of time you just end up working with people comparing the size of their e-penis or assimilate and trying to belittle whatever you’re doing. They will use anything they can be it your gender, your sexual preference, your skin color, your age, the way you speak, …, and they will make it hurt.

            The simple fact that they can do that, whatever the means, is wrong. I thought I was emphazing on this, sorry if you misunderstood me. But what I also wanted to say, is that if you somehow manage to prevent them from being sexist jerks, they will still be jerks and they will find another way to attack you. They’re most likely not attacking her just because she’s a woman.

            If you look up the top post of the comment thread you’re responding to, I’m indicating that the whole computer science/IT/networking field need to be changed not just video games.

            You have a lot of problem in the IT field for women : smaller salaries, recruitment because the manager have to met a women quota or for decoration (“recruit a beautiful woman because it improves moral”, I’ve been ordered to do that, yes. Needless to say, I ended up recruiting a man and have since left that job), harassment by colleagues, recruiters that do not take women seriously because of their gender, employees not being able to wear whatever you want (be it because your managers want you to come dressed like a woman, or because you can’t wear anything classy without being called a slut), etc.

            Those will be very hard to solve, but solving the dumb-colleagues-afraid-of-you-showing-they’re-not-doing-anything is sadly impossible in this field without changing the way this industry works (Lookup outsourcing and business and technology services provider understand how wrong it can goes, how well it has spread and you will understand why this pecualiar behavior in the IT field will be very hard to stop.).

          • jrodman says:

            Evor: read mrberman again. There was really no reason for you to assume she’s new to the position, but you implied she is. There’s no reason fo ryou to assume the issues aren’t sexism, but you implied they aren’t.

            Regardless of your intentions, your reseponse was quite boorish. Consider what you say.

      • sophof says:

        I think in this case, the problem is actually a sort of sexism on both sides, because I have noticed a similar thing and I am male. The problem is, I don’t look and act like a ‘nerd’.
        So I would say this is sexism only because it doesn’t include women in the stereotype. But the actual problem is the stereotype (which also still exists for gamers btw).

    • Prime says:

      Society only changes when enough individuals recognise they have their own parts to play, and do so consistently and repeatedly. Failure to recognise you have that power is what maintains the status quo.

      Or in other words: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’.

    • bill says:

      I wonder if i’ve just been lucky, but I don’t think any of the companies or industries I’ve worked in have had much in the way of sexism (or other ism) problems. Maybe being a man I just didn’t notice, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Maybe being a man I just didn’t notice, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

        Actually, that probably is the case. It’s often hard for us [men] to see these things, sometimes because they’re hard to percieve when they’re not happening to you, and sometimes because they don’t happen when we’re around.

      • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

        I’m pretty sure it is the case.

      • mrbeman says:

        haha, christ

        “well I’m a man and I haven’t really noticed the sexism so I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened” – response to every discussion of the problem ever

      • Kitsuninc says:

        Even if all you did was go to school, you should have noticed sexism, if you were paying attention. I went to some really progressive schools, judging from the stories I’ve heard of the schools my family went to, and there was still some pretty clear sexism going on throughout. I myself, didn’t notice it, rather, I noticed the exclusive ‘girls only’ stuff that went on, despite there being at least as much boys only events, and it made me feel jealous (It’s a long story why), so I went through a phase of resenting feminism, and to a much lesser extent women in general. It took taking an interest in that Anita Sarkeesian business for me to realize how screwed up those thoughts were.

        My point is, as a man it is incredibly easy not to notice sexism where it occurs.

    • Derppy says:

      If a company judges employees by sex rather than skills, or allows their employees to do so, then it’s not a very good place to work at.

      I work as a developer in a company with only one female developer and ten male developers. She’s a better developer than most of us, gets paid more and she’s treated with utmost respect. Why would I think less of her, when I’m the one asking advice from her?

      The places where you’ll want to work at are the places that don’t require a degree or X years of experience, but are interested in what you can do and what kind of projects you have to prove it, or if you can demonstrate your skills by doing some tests.

      We are constantly looking for skilled developers and I’d imagine girls could get in even easier, since the fact they picked such a male-dominant career shows they are determined and passionate for what they do.

      Skilled programmer always gets a job, at least in EU. Sure, there’s a lot of bad companies with sexist douchebags, but it’s up to girls to be brave, pursue the career and find the good places to work at. If the field remains male-dominant, the douchebags certainly won’t change their attitude and still believe girl programmers are rare as unicorns because the opposite sex couldn’t learn programming for some reason.

      • andir says:

        Some companies are legally mandated to judge their employees by what sex (and race) they are. Until we get rid of Equal Opportunity laws it will remain a (sad but true) fact.

        • Herkimer says:

          Wait, what? Your solution to workplace sexism is to repeal equal employment laws? That idea is . . . unexpected.

          • diamondmx says:

            This kind of logic is called Men’s Right’s Activism, go peek at it on google – it’s either hilarious or sickening, depending on your temperament. Probably both.

          • sophof says:

            Despite what Diamond so kindly implies with his strawman, this is not such a strange idea at all.

            Just imagine all the possible paths for an employer.

            1. An employer that wants as many women as possible: Nothing really changes, but there might be a situation where he is forced to hire a woman even though a man was better qualified. He will be a bit angry that his freedom is impacted.

            2. Someone indifferent: Likely to get pissed at one point because he is forced.

            3. A latent sexist: Will turn into a full blown sexist.

            4. A full blown sexist: Will now feel completely justified in his beliefs and might actually convince others.

            Yeah, great plan. Sexism starts with sexists, not with workplace inequality. It is like giving painkillers and expecting to cure a broken arm, only even more stupid imo. Discrimination is always wrong, also if it is aimed at a group that has little to complain about (men in this case)

      • Rise / Run says:

        Here’s some sad truth that all are (or damn well should be) familiar with. A woman of equivalent skill and experience to a given man will be, on average, paid less (and will be less likely to get a job offer) than her male counterpart. There have been some pretty stunning studies on this using hypothetical hires (rate this CV; only difference is John or Jane).

        In general, it seems that the only way to fix such a problem for many positions is a standardized payline for experience (which is sad, as it really shafts the higher performers). The world is sadly not a meritocracy. And pretending that it is doesn’t really solve any problems.

    • Captchist says:

      Then lets be a progressive community and get ahead of the curve. Studies already show gamers are more liberal about things like race and sexual orientation. The fact that society at large isn’t doing well on an issue is not a reason for us not to be substantially better than them. Indeed, if we’re only doing the same as wider society then I’m pretty disappointed in us.

    • j3w3l says:

      you know, you can make a start all by yourself. Maybe next time when someone demeans, belittles or harasses one of your female employers say something to them about it.
      Ahh the perils of indifference

    • wererogue says:

      Society is the sum of it’s parts. Videogames aren’t the only bastion of sexism, but it’s pretty rife in this community/industry, and “oh well there are other places with sexism” isn’t really a good reason not to work to bring the people and media we love to a higher, more mature place.

  2. santheocles says:

    Good writeup! I always have to force myself to read the comments concerning articles about sexism, racism, homophobia etc. because inevitably (at least on other sites) there’s one thread by someone who truly ‘doesn’t get it’. Favorite this time: ‘Why don’t “the women” simply found their own AAA game studio and leave us poor, beleaguered men alone?” Was it on Kotaku? Probably.

    • Toberoth says:

      I stopped reading Kotaku a few years ago because the comments section kept threatening to give me a brain hemorrhage. That place is truly a cesspit.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        most of the articles give the same experience

        • jinnyjinjin says:

          I noticed that myself. I used to read it more than RPS, but now? Let’s just say, a couple of months ago I decided to read the comments. Fuck me, that place needs shut down. Although, burn down the city and the rats will flee to the countryside, so perhaps we should leave it and keep our little village safe from vermin and scum like that lot of ballbags.

          • lokimotive says:

            I still can’t figure out how the commenting works on that site. It is the most unintuitive jibber of random conversation I’ve seen.

      • cunningmunki says:

        Really? I don’t think Kotaku is that bad at all, and I’m one that usually scrolls down to the comments section of every article. Maybe it’s improved recently because as far as entertainment websites go it’s pretty tame compared to somewhere like Aint It Cool News, where the comments sections are persistently filled with rancid, adolescent, hate (and the only website that has stopped me visiting it because of the comments), or the true cesspit of cyberspace that is the YouTube comments section. Even the boards of IGN can be occasionally filled with unnecessary, ignorant, vitriol.
        Reading the comments sections of RPS is always refreshing and reminds me that the world isn’t populated by hateful 15-year-old boys.

        • Ragnar says:

          Once you get used to the general respect and civility of RPS comments, any derivation from that really stands out. Kotaku’s comments are far from the worst, but also far from where they should be. Sadly, Gabe’s Internet Theory seems to hold true for most sites.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      from the Daily Mail (i.e. take with a liberal pinch of salt), an account of how badly a “woman only” company might go wrong:
      link to dailymail.co.uk

      • Prime says:

        “liberal pinch of salt”

        I see what you did there. :)

        Unfortunately I cannot read the linked article because Daily Mail.

        • Marinetastic says:

          But the Daily Mail is a satire site like The Onion.

        • kregg says:

          Here’s the same page, but mirrored: link to pastehtml.com

          • Prime says:

            Thank you but it’s not about denying them clicks. It’s about protecting myself from reading hatred, lies and propaganda disguised as journalism.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Basically, it says a that a “one-gender only” company is calling for more problems (it heavily depends on the sector though).

          Men-only company: they’re fighting over their virility, hitting on anything remotely female near them. The few douchebags (there’s always 10-20% of them) will do sexual harassment and publicly brag about it, forcing you to either fire them or pay the settlements, and of course you’ll lose all your competent female employees.

          Women-only company: they’re fighting over their femininity, hitting on anything remotely male near them. The few sex/relationship/both addicts (there’s always 10-20% of them) will constantly disturb the work environment (by sexually harassing/teasing/seducing any male business partners and bragging about their sexlife), creating strong rivalry between coworkers generating a high rate of sick leaves for “stress” and a lack of professional communication between coworkers.

          A company, an office, is a place where you’re forcing a bunch of people to stay there and interact with each others (to a certain degree), in order to accomplish tasks. People are still animals, and will have serious issues if the gender imbalance is too strong.

          ps: the DM ‘article’ is filled with tons and tons of unnecessary details of course, you’re not missing anything.

      • Sarkhan Lol says:

        Man this is like those old political cartoons proving that the world would LITERALLY turn into a mountain of shit if women were ever allowed to vote.

        Edit: Or make, play, or ever write about, say anything about or form an opinion about video games, I guess. Look at all the progress we made!

  3. Syzorr says:

    Thank you Nathan for saying this in such a prominent place and with such tact and consideration. I have spent the better part of the past few years attempting to promote an awareness of the ramifications of the language and jokes we use to male acquaintances (they usually aren’t my friends because I don’t tend to hang out with sexist assholes much) just to face the eventual “someone doesn’t have a sense of humour”. Thankfully I have a response to that as well, but it does feel a little like I’ve been fighting in the trenches and it is nice to see someone with the ability to drop large munitions doing so… ^_^

    @EvOr – quit copping out. Excuses were never a reason to not do the right thing.

  4. Hoaxfish says:

    a slightly different view: link to fmvmagazine.com (by a woman at valve)

    • TechnicalBen says:

      This is why labels such as “games industry” can be as damaging as labels such as “women”. :(
      Imagine if inclusive games development studios got the rap because people thought that “all studios” were sexist?

      Label the problem, not the people. :)

      • aepervius says:

        From the given example it is more a label the specific people, not the group of people, not the industry.

      • mandrill says:

        Name and shame I say. Those who make life difficult for women, as gamers and developers, need to be called out on it publicly.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Yep. Then call them “this person” or “this company”. Calling them “game devs” makes all games developers look the same. They are not.

        • Fizzbang says:

          “Name and shame I say.”

          A good idea, except for the fact that whoever names them is likely to find themselves out of a job. And considering how small and connected the industry is, it might even be the end of their career. So naming them is difficult (even with anonymous sites like glassdoor.com, although they’re better than nothing).

          Also, many of them don’t feel shame. And considering the responses of many game fans, they’re just as likely to have the bad fans rally around them.

    • nokill says:

      I think everyone should focus more on these good articles, even though they are not as powerful as the bad stories I’m sure there are plenty of them out there. Thanks for sharing :)

      • wu wei says:

        Yes, why focus on the actual problems of the world when you can instead focus on people without them.

        • Ny24 says:

          I think we should all focus on pie.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Actual problems aren’t correctly identified by only focusing on what the biggest asshole in the industry (or simply the audience), 1 out of 10 000 person, said once to a woman – while the 9 999 others were either neutral, slightly offensive or actually respectful men.

          It’s a good thing to say that working at Double Fine and Valve is a privilege though, which *could* explain why she haven’t suffered from sexism in her work environment *so far*, but going as far as dismissing it as not essential is really crossing the line.

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          Yes, who needs all the information? I just want the juicey sensationalistic bits to make my judgements off of.

    • mixvio says:

      It’s really problematic when whenever something like this comes up (be it the treatment of women or minorities or whatever else) people can be counted on, without fail, to do exactly this and hold up one example of someone in the aforementioned group saying “But, hey, *I’ve* never had a problem.”

      There can be three thousand detailed examples of people describing the sexist hostility they’ve had to experience in the industry but people turn to the single female voice saying “I’ve never experienced this” and use that to negate the wealth of examples to the contrary.

      It’s really nice if this particular developer has never had her tits groped at a trade show or offered a promotion for sex, but that puts her in the minority. Her anecdotal experience is not representative of the majority.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I certainly didn’t post it with the intent to dismiss this issue, but rather that it is possible to not have this experience in the industry… and to back that up with the words of someone who could be effected by it.

        If all anyone reports, and anyone says, is that the industry is sexist, and every anecdote suggests every woman will experience the completely negative attitude that spawns it… why would any women want to work in the industry?

        You don’t combat the attitude, or gender-balance, by dissuading the very people you’re trying to encourage with an unending list of horror stories.

        I’m sure a lot of the women who tweeted for #1reasonwhy, could equally tweet a reason why they feel comfortable still working in that industry (though obviously, those would be different reasons).

        • RaveTurned says:

          It’s been posted further down in the comments already (thanks BreadBitten!), but you may be interested in the #1reasontobe hashtag that spawned from #1reasonwhy.

          link to giantbomb.com

          • Hoaxfish says:

            yep, that’s exactly the sort of thing.. using the same medium (twitter hastags) to produce a balance of both positive and negative.. now if only articles did the same.

            Thankfully, at least a couple of the quoted tweeters above have produced a matching tweet for #1reasontobe.

      • Tasloi says:

        I’m glad we have you to dismiss her “anecdotal” experience as an exception on the “real truth” of the industry. Even though i’ve read some tweets by female devs pointing out similar sentiments. The article touches on a good point. Can you enact *meaningful* change while picking up a broad brush tagged #1reasonwhy and using it on an entire industry and every man in it? Because ultimately you’re gonna need to do this together with men.

        I work in IT, another male dominated field. The far majority of my coworkers are good guys doing the best they can to make a pleasant work environment. When we’re discussing some article or opinion piece using the same broad brush or a complete lack of any nuance a good number of them get defensive. Even though they’ve no reason to be. It’s a very human thing to do. I’ll admit when I read the xth number of article using the same style mentioned above I feel the same way at times.

        My point being, by using these broad generalizations, lack of nuance, etc you’ll certainly get alot of attention but to actually change things it might not be the best way to go about.

    • mjrmua says:

      At the bottom of that article, a link to a list of “Hottest Video Game Girls”

      • Hoaxfish says:

        looks like that’s one of those “conglomerated news” clickbait ads-banners, so not directly their site.

    • mouton says:

      She works at the anarcho-syndicalist hippie utopia commonly known as “Valve” and thus her opinion is invalid in regards to game industry as a whole.

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        Yet her colleagues would most certainly be described as “game devs” no matter how strict the definition you apply, and valve is a major player in the “games industry” too.

        Hence why she’s kinda pissed that her nice workmates are getting automatically labeled as sexist and speaking out against it. It’s rather frustrating in an article specifically about speaking out against unfair labels that people are missing the point on a relevent article and dismissing it just because it deals with a different prejudice. Are we really only capable of fixing one thing at a time?

        • Sarkhan Lol says:

          I think we’re all glad to have a counterexample, and even though most of us know Valve as “the good guys,” this is getting enough publicity that it’s good to have them mentioned as an exception to the rule. The downside is, the exception is still the exception, and the rule is still the rule. I think mouton’s concern was grounded in not wanting people to point to that one example and claim that it’s counterevidence and thus the entire issue is just made up. Which is something people do.

          • Droopy The Dog says:

            But not something anyone has done here yet. It just seems a shame to close down the discussion of a relevant article to pre-empt a faulty assumption someone might make based off of it.

            She has a point, talking about “game devs” being sexist is just as bad as saying “women” don’t play games. Disrupting that kind of broad strokes generalism in all its forms strikes me as an important aspect of any campaign against discrimination as a problem. Once people get to grips with the mindset that the whole doesn’t equate the individual then it becomes easier to explain why making judgements about people solely from preconceptions about a broader group is wrong.

      • The Random One says:


        “Are you on Greenlight? Well, I didn’t vote for you.”

        • MadTinkerer says:

          “Oh look it’s Gabe Newell!”

          “How do you know he’s Gabe Newell?”

          “Well he ain’t got shit all over ‘im.”

  5. TechnicalBen says:

    I try to help in the only way I know how to. By being as balanced, accepting, respectful and accommodating as I can. Many of my bosses have been younger and women. It’s not been anything other than normal to me, it’s not been an issue.

    Basically, would people agree we need to be “transparent” or “blind” to differences, but accommodating and helpful in areas that individuals (not groups, to avoid stereotypes) need?

    As to gaming, I’d love to see a more mixed variety and an equal treatment to inclusion. However, I also think we have a lot to learn, some things might need to change totally. For example, if it feels wrong to have a woman as a lead in a war type game, we need to ask what makes us feel that way? Perhaps it’s because we should not have a male lead either! We just got insensitive to seeing the men go around killing, and need a “change” to realize the cruel reality of things such as war. So by including both perspectives and showing equal respect to both sexes, we can learn a lot more about ourselves and be better people for it too.

    • Toberoth says:

      “Basically, would people agree we need to be “transparent” or “blind” to differences, but accommodating and helpful in areas that individuals (not groups, to avoid stereotypes) need?”

      I wouldn’t exactly agree with this. I don’t think it’s good to be blind to difference, since differences in life experience/upbringing/perspective etc all contribute in diverse and interesting ways to the production of art (in this case, games). I think the trick is to respect someone’s right to identify in a certain way (to identify as a woman, to identify as queer, or whatever) and not try to impose your own template of preconceptions on them.

      It seems ridiculous to me when people say things like “oh, you’re black/a woman/disabled/white/a man, I didn’t even notice!” because of course they noticed–we’re programmed to notice these things. Much better to recognise and celebrate both difference and commonality, IMO, without resorting to stereotypes or imposing limitations on people.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I think I agree. I may have not phrased it well. We can recognize the differences we appreciate and express, but also accommodate the areas we wish to be the same.

        For example we enjoy having and experiencing different cultures. But all wish to have the same level of respect. :)

        • Toberoth says:

          Yeah, prettymuch! Respecting diversity is key, not denying it exists, pretending to be blind to it, or ghettoizing minority voices and hoping they’ll go away.

    • aleander says:

      Basically, would people agree we need to be “transparent” or “blind” to differences, but accommodating and helpful in areas that individuals (not groups, to avoid stereotypes) need?

      We need to be “transparent and blind” in a perfectly spherical utopian society in vacuum. In our current society, it’s just not enough. Even if you somehow manage to not notice the society-devised divisions and stigmas and roles, people around you still would, and the imbalance of power would still be there. Which is why you sometimes need to give the under-privileged a privilege that puts the things a little more in balance.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I’d say no to over correcting. By all means bring everyone up to a level, or allow individuals the option to go down to others level (say a rich person to give away their money to charity). But over correcting can be as harmful as the problem your trying to correct from.

        A simple example is driving a car. To over correct a bad right turn, you can crash into something on your left. Best to correct the driving to a centered (even/fair) path. :)

        • Vando says:

          Cars: now fully analogous to society, apparently.

          • Archonsod says:

            It’s a fair point. You only have to look at how the racist argument has moved from people being foreign to foreigners getting free cars and houses. It backfires because it’s simply human nature; giving a group privileges will do nothing to counter those who disliked them already based on gender/race/sexual preference/whatever, and will in fact increase opposition as you now have a bunch of people annoyed that one group is getting something they are not. You don’t balance out under-privilege by providing more privilege, you do it by stripping from the over-privileged.

          • Sarkhan Lol says:

            Maybe I’m missing the point here, but I don’t consider freedom from harassment, abuse and automatic marginalization to be a Luxury Good.

          • darkChozo says:

            Freedom from abuse is one thing, but privilege is another. To take an extreme example, what if we enacted a law that made it so only women would be able to work? It would effectively end sexism against women in the workplace, but obviously would be overreaching. Note that I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try anything at all, but saying that we should do everything possible to help out specific groups is simplistic at best.

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        See, a system where you give groups rewards based on their race/gender/height/whatever is subject to all the flaws and injustice as the systems that stigmatise entire groups based on a single characteristic in the first place, endorsing them always sounds shortsighted to me. Enacting a plan like that may help the quality of life of oppressed individuals in the short term, but make true equality even harder to reach in the future, since you’ve introduced yet another arbitrary set of rules that serve to single out a particular group for better or for worse.

        Better to acknoledge that it’s simply wrong to judge someone based on a single trait alone and work harder to discourage/disallow people or systems that work on that premise.

  6. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    I think one the main reasons so many people/males react negatively, or at least, apathetically, to scandals in the industry is because they themselves are not sexist. Perhaps I am giving people too much credit, but I honestly think most commenters on this sight are not actually selfish, and would have no problems with strong female leads, more females in the industry etc. So when accusations start flying of sexism in the industry, it can feel as if they themselves are being the ones accused of being sexist, which can put people on the defensive. Furthermore, there are times when it could be argued that the scandals were, in fact, overblown (the Borderlands girlfriend mode comes to mind) but those are a completely different story. This is not to say they are right, but it is why I believe you see such reactions from people who are not actually sexist. Unfortunately, there are, sadly, many sexist jerks.

    Just my 2 cents

    edit: It is statements like “It’s time for men to stop turning every step of progress into an agonizing uphill battle.” That can get people on the defensive. Nathan here automatically assumes that all men are apathetic, and by doing so, suggests that no men are proactive. I understand that hyperbole is a common element used in writing, but statements like these insults the hard work of any man who does speak out against sexism.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      I’m glad somebody else posted this, because I wanted to say something similar but kind of fear the wrath of the hivemind. I can’t help but think whoever Nathan was playing with is a colossal idiot.

    • John Walker says:

      No, the average RPS reader isn’t sexist. But the point I think Nathan’s making is that it’s not about sitting there saying, “Well *I’m* not sexist”. It’s about making noise, doing something about it, and not assuming you can’t, or it’s someone else’s job to.

      Of course, there’s also a slight irony in arguing that you’re being made a victim of by a post like this…

      • Crimsoneer says:

        Blah, not what I meant. But I also think it’s worth pointing out that RPS has a pretty solid, non-sexist community. That’s a good thing. If you see sexism, stand up to it. But fuck, it’s so, so hard to get a good impression of how sexist the industry actually is when all you have is 146 character tweets and massive movements.
        I don’t work in the industry, or in development – I do work with the police, so I kind of know about sexism – but you know, the idiots Nathan are playing with just seem so damn rare to me. I don’t know. I see massive movement and hashtags and articles and gigantic internet rages, but I don’t actually know very much, I guess.
        I don’t mean to be an apologist. I just wonder how much is rational criticism of sexism, and how much is jumping on the bandwagon and crying to burn the sexist witches. Because I’m not sure how much that does to actually help.

        • John Walker says:

          I think that’s the issue – it just isn’t rare. Get on Xbox Live with a female gamertag and see how long you can play for before receiving abuse.

          • Crimsoneer says:

            I’d reply, but RPS has decided I’m a spambot :( I had written a longer reply, but oh well – Xbox live does not represent my side of gaming. I never go there, because it’s alien and shit and more morally corrupt than Mos Eisley. Same reason I don’t go to shitty strip clubs, and point out sexism there. That’s a side of the industry me, or anybody else with a modicum of brain power, will not encounter. None of my friends are on XBL either, because they’re not 12.

            I see your point – for AAA games, it’s a huge side of gaming, and it’s sexist, and biggoted, and crap, and we should be concerned about that. But fuck, I’m not about to go sub to argue about it.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I’m not a girl, me, nor do I use XBL.

            I do however use Steam and play some multi player games. However I’m well aware that there are a lot of tossers out there and for that reason I only play on servers that perma ban on the first offence of sexism, racism and the sort. I enjoy playing there as it gives a nice atmosphere to play in.

            Now I’m wondering though, should I be… spreading the gospel, so to speak, on less elitist servers? Heavens know I don’t want to, but I start to wonder if I do women a disservice by completely isolating myself from all the jerks? I mean, I sometimes tend to forget it’s even a problem as I never even see it in my day to day business. Am I creating my own echo chamber of egalitarian thought, forgetting that I’m not the world?

            But on the other hand, what can I do? I’m just a dude who plays TF2, CSGO and L4D with my friends, including, at this point, quite a lot of girls. I can’t change anything. But does that mean I shouldn’t try?

            Gah! Too many questions.

          • Milky1985 says:

            Using Xbox live as an example shows the point but isn’t good for showing the level of the issue, as if you are on xbox live with ANY gamertag you better get prepared for a torrent of abuse :/

            It really does seem to show and exaggerate (not exaggerate as in make it SEEM worse, but make it ACTUALLY even worse) the bad parts of gaming culture and the people that take part in it. I have seen some really bad stuff directed at girl gamer tags and girl gamers, but theres also some really awful thigns said to guys.

            its an odd thing to talk about really because i would want to just fight against the abuse full stop, not abuse against specifically guys or girls but all of it. However its just not practical without fighting against abuse against a specific set of people and trying to sort out the big issue that people are utter dicks when behind a computer, one step at a time.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            My answer would be (only because it is how I also react, so I’m leading by example here) to not play on Xbox live in that case.

            If it’s raining outside and thunder and lighting, I don’t go to play outside.

            If there are people I don’t want to play with, I play else where (yey PC gaming and servers I can play/make with friends only!).

            One reason I skip consoles or “matchmaking” or autovoice chat/all chat games and services is because of the poor quality of the player base.

            Basically, don’t go around trying to tell people to be nice, sadly it gets you nowhere. Find those who are nice to be with, and stick to them.

          • aepervius says:

            I seriously doubt that xbox live is representative of the gamer (or even gaming industry). Because by the same argument on the same channels you get a lot of “faggot” “nigga” (lost the number of time i got either one, or both) and many other slurs. Would you pretend that the gaming industry and gamers are homophobic and racist as well ? No, the conclusion I draw is that xbox live attract *more* immature people. In fact that’s a reason i avoid some venue, because i know there will be many more immature people on those. drawing a conclusion onto the whole gamer community from the xbox live chatters is wrong, sorry.

            Yes there is a sexism problem in game industry. The only solution i see is that gamer organize ,set a group, and “physically” protest (banner before game studio using sexy nuns, petition, sitting near game convention calling for an end of sexism and boycott, shows with wallet who you support and who you do not, etc…). But “electronic” protest and article , they have been so many and none helping organize or propose a solution, that now those article tend to have the exact same opposite : I blur over them.

            We all heard you the first 100 time. Those of us which can be moved into action would prefer suggestion than to be told by another article that there is a problem, or in the worst case being told we are all sexist or whatever other societal problem exists. Those who cannot be moved into action will shrug and skip.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Is it weird I’ve never heard anyone be anything but polite on Xbox live to both me and other people, except for that one gentleman I lag stabbed on Dark Souls who felt the need to send me a message expressing his displeasure and suggestions he had regarding my sexual orientation.

            I’m not saying my own experience is the entirety of the thing or anything but I kinda think people are both using xbox live as a stand in for the entirety of the online community and also self selecting particular pieces of horror as emblematic of the entire affair.

          • aepervius says:

            to i got pineapple, there is probably some bit of selection bias too. One remember the “over the top” insult more readily than the normal conversation. Which makes me also wonder how many of those anecdote from #1reasonwhy are not actually also victim of selection bias too.

        • wu wei says:

          RPS has a pretty solid, non-sexist community

          Not from what I see in the comments here. I’ve just had enough of the anger of listening to the ignorant & the stupid, so I tend to block anyone who comes across as either unintentionally or willfully sexist. On any article even tangentially touching this issue, at least half the posters are usually blocked to me. Pretty much anything mentioning Anita Sarkeesian is easily 2/3rds obscured, because I simply cannot handle the pointless rage that comes from dealing with people who are smug & content in their ignorance.

          I think this is such a strong issue in the gaming community because we honestly considered ourselves truly modern and better and then discovered that we had the same rotten core of assholes as every other group through time.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I think there can be a lot of non-intentional sexism that comes from being weirdly socialised. Even politely active differently around women online, for example, or lightly flirting, is still weird and offputting in this context.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        I am not saying that I am a victim, nor that this is a correct response, only that this is perhaps one of the reasons you see more antipathy in these comments. It is always good to understand why people respond in the way they do, so that you may construct an argument/statement in such a way that they will agree with you, and not become defensive.

        I agree, in fact, with Nathans point, and I think he does a good way of explaining why simply not being sexist is not enough, I just wanted to further reiterate a point that I feel was not fully expressed in the article.

    • Toberoth says:

      Nobody will ever, ever, ever admit to being sexist, even when they’ve been caught out behaving in a sexist way.

      • RedViv says:

        Aye. That’s a general problem. Nobody will sincerely, personally, say that they are racist, sexist, whatever-ist. It’s racist, sexist, whatever-ist actions, that exist and everyone should be aware of.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Admission time: I don’t think I’m sexist.

          I do sometimes forget I’m a standard white male though and fail to remember that not everyone is, leading me to do or say something stupid out of that momentary ignorance. I’m not talking sandwich jokes. More like just forgetting that equal wages is still an issue.

          • RedViv says:

            As long as you’re aware of it, it shouldn’t be a problem. This is why “awareness” is such a big term in gender and minority discussion. How to teach people to be subconsciously aware enough before the awkward scenario can even begin, letting the problem and solution enter the public conscious, and so on.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I’m all too aware of it. It infuriates me at times that I sometimes just assume that since things are fine for me they’re swell for everyone else as well.

            I truly, deeply want equal treatment for all, be it women, LGBT folks, immigrants (I’m from Denmark so that’s a major issue for me) and anyone else. That’s what I want. But sometimes I get caught up in my own life that I forget to keep it in mind and I consider that a failing. So I’m always appreciative of posts like the one Nathan did here. If problems like these persist, be it in the games industry or anywhere else, I think we, as a society, lose out on a lot of amazing potential from all the amazing minds there are in any group of people. I hate to think of that.

            And then I forget and make a dumb remark and feel like a tool. You’re right. It needs to be subconscious and internalized.

            Just coming for a dire thread at The Escapist I just had it reaffirmed that we/I need to remember my privilege, as trite as that can sound.

          • jimbobjunior says:

            “The Tortoise turns out never to have been attributed either gender. But when I first read it, the question never entered my mind. This was clearly a he-tortoise. After all, an author only introduces a female character for some special reason, right? Whereas a male character in a neutral context needs no raison d’etre, a female does. And so, given no clue as to the Tortoise’s sex, I unthinkingly and uncritically envisaged it as a male. Thus does sexism silently pervade well-meaning but susceptible brains.”

            Douglas Hofstadter, on the gender of the tortoise in “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Yes! That’s precisely what I was driving at, though very ineptly compared to that. I suppose there’s a good reason I’m not a famed writer after all.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        True, but you should still presume innocent until proven guilty, especially when making very broad statements.

        In fact, if you look a few comments down, you can see someone being accused of being sexist, even though they did not say anything like that. Another issue, especially in these comments at least (though I really don’t read comments anywhere else on the internet) is that if you do not agree 100% with a post against sexism or point out that, perhaps, there is another side to a story, you are automatically labeled as a sexist.

        Edit: that comment thread has since been removed, but my point still remains.

        • Milky1985 says:

          Yeah, Its kind of odd that as a poster you (you as in everyone, not you as the person i hit reply to :P) have to guard your responce in a topic such as this, as it can happen that even if your post is supportiveif read in a second way by a person who doesn’t like point 9 of your 20 point post they will scream sexist and use that to invalidate everything that is said :(

          Suppose it goes to show how worried we are about the subject but also how worried we are that we will be hit with the sexist flag as well!

          • wu wei says:

            In this discussion, as a man it’s probably not a good idea to make 20 point lists about what you consider the main issues to be, and instead just listen to what those people who actually are directly affected by the problem on a daily basis have to say.

      • mouton says:

        Actually, they do, it’s just that “sexism” is an external name for it. They would call it “simple common sense and obvious differences” for example.

    • James G says:

      I think your right to a degree, but the problem with this kind of response, is that it ends up missing the point. When someone responds with a ‘well I’m not sexist,’ it can come across that they are more concerned about their own image than the actual issue at hand. In other words, while they may indeed not be part of the problem, it doesn’t look like they are trying to make themselves part of the solution either. (Even if they possibly are.) Don’t get me wrong, the defensiveness is understandable, and I’ve felt it welling up in me at times, but ideally it would be a prompt for reflection, rather than what can come across as retaliation.

    • gp says:

      people getting defensive over systemic sexism is sexist sorry

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        Would you care to elaborate on your post?

        As I thought I put across, it is not being defensive over the issue existing, but how people present their argument in such a way that they blame a very wide range of people. People get defensive because they do not want to be lumped in with others who are sexist, and resent being told that, even if they actively campaign against sexism, they are sexist because they are a guy, and thus are automatically sexist and part of the problem, no matter what.

        It turns out, lumping large groups of people into a single category, and then judging them all as a collective is bad.

        • gp says:

          Whether you pass some sexism litmus test or not doesn’t matter. #1reasonwhy isn’t about sexist people being sexist–though they exist and are–its about the culture that normalises and trivialises sexist behaviour. you are part of that culture.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Talking of sexism and the whole kerfuffle over Borderlands’ Girlfriend Mode, I point you guys to RPS’s Spore verdict:

      “The cell stage is so brief, so obviously a lesson in just moving the mouse around, that I couldn’t find a problem with it. But that links to the Girlfriend Test again – I could see it’s value, without actually giving that much of a crap about it.”

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      RPS used their girlfriends as a measure of video game accessibility (The Girlfriend Test) way before anyone else. :P)

      • Toberoth says:

        Reading the context in which that was said, it appears that they were using the reactions of their own girlfriends (who apparently weren’t active gamers) as a test of accessibility. They weren’t saying that girl(friend)s IN GENERAL aren’t as into games, and therefore need an easy mode built just for them. There’s a big difference there, I think.

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          To be fair Gearbox didn’t say that girlfriends in general can’t play games either, they left it open to interpretation. Hence the big kerfuffle over people giving it their own conext and reading it how they want.

          Because apparently a portion of any group sees not having all the details as license to make up your own to fill the gaps.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Difference is, though, that Gearbox has the appearance against them because not long before that they finished and released Duke Nukem.

  7. Shivoa says:

    There seems to be a lot of backlash in comments threads when this has been posted in the news on other sites I frequent. It seems very strange because it’s an industry issue that, while it does have ramifications for product output, isn’t really focussed on the gamers who seem so quick to ‘fight back’ against any idea of making progress.

    To the wider point, I think this is just the entertainment software industry (which appears to have started out as software engineers and has expanded from there with that culture rather than a more diverse culture associated with the different roles in every studio currently staffed for any major title) reflecting on something the entire of STEM is having a problem with. The male dominated culture (still getting only 20-40% female PhDs in the US in STEM subjects) puts off a new generation of women from joining the ranks and that’s after there is the issue of all stages of education and ‘normal’ roles (Lego/Mechano primarily sold for boys to become young problem solvers and builders etc) so when anyone is looking to hire there’ll be ten men for every woman who applies so the balance isn’t going to change itself. It’ll take at least another generation to fix that issue, but at least game studios are employing a wider range of skill roles (non-STEM) and so could work their way out of this faster than a pure software house (or other STEM only employer).

    Glad to see this issue isn’t going anywhere, hopefully it’ll actually lead to change for a more inclusive game development environment and a more mature vocal audience discussing games.

    • Spinks says:

      This is true, but the industry struggles to keep even the women it does get. There are plenty of female IT workers, but I bet a lot of them bail out of the industry after a few years, if only because of the sexism. (I have a few friends who followed that career trajectory.)

    • Cryo says:

      There seems to be a lot of backlash in comments threads when this has been posted in the news on other sites I frequent. It seems very strange because it’s an industry issue that, while it does have ramifications for product output, isn’t really focussed on the gamers who seem so quick to ‘fight back’ against any idea of making progress.

      Well, that’s because gamers are awful people.

  8. Saul says:

    I’m inviting any woman who has a story about working in or playing games (either negative or positive) to share it (in more detail than a tweet can provide), via my site:

    link to digitalspiritguide.com

    • Saul says:

      All good now. That was weird – somehow my web host’s database had gone haywire and was redirecting to random sites, including “Super Butcher”. No meatboys in sight, though :(

  9. Flukie says:

    Just gonna put this out there, positive discrimination isn’t always needed. I completely believe in equal rights, but there is such a thing as marketing and unfortunately gaming is something that hasn’t been picked up much by women.

    But in this widely profit driven industry they aren’t always going to make games that specifically include things for women. Including those things is acknowledging the difference between men and women which everyone seems to get so pissed off about anyway.

    Just because I myself am male doesn’t mean I can’t speak on such matters or have my own individual thoughts by the way.

    Sure lots of men are complete dicks, but there is a huge difference between sexism across gaming and sexist dicks that exist in society.

    • Prime says:

      Wow, you’ve missed just about every point Nathan made up there. Good job.

      Sounds like you’re denying there’s even a problem?

    • JonKristinsson says:

      It’s an old study (from 2008) but 30 – 40% of gamers are female, so there’s that excuse out the window.

      Ignoring the problem, and not positively reinforce some healthier, equal values in games, and instead just not be offensive, would be fine in a balanced, equal world where everyone was happy and had a unicorn. But in a world where things are balanced heavily towards a white male demographic, you need to bring up the issue and address it to some degree.

      link to edugamesresearch.com

      • Salix says:

        Actually a lot more than that now:

        link to theesa.com

        • The Random One says:

          I give it ten minutes tops before someone says that statistic OBVIOUSLY includes women who play FarmVille and such because there is no way there are that many women playing REAL games. And ten minutes is a bloody excellent estimate, in most sites it would be like three minutes.

          • Llewyn says:

            Not sure if I’m going to oblige you here, and I pre-dated your comment elsewhere on these pages in any case, but…

            We don’t know what those statistics tell us because they’re not substantiated. The report they’re drawn from doesn’t define ‘gamer’ at all, so we don’t know what it includes. Saying that it includes women who play Farmville is as flawed as saying it doesn’t.

            More pertinent to discussions of influence on the industry, there’s no breakdown of gamer spending by age/gender group. There are also some nasty statistical bait-and-switch tricks going on, such as switching from ‘% of gamers’ to ‘%of most frequent gamers’ at times, with no indication of what proportion that is in terms of either overall numbers, gaming time or gaming spend.

            In short, it doesn’t tell us anything except what the ESA want us to read. And that most people will read a percentage and blindly believe the message that goes with it, unfortunately.

          • Oban says:

            But it is very relevant that these sort of studies seem to be coining the term “gamer” on absolutely everyone that has ever in his life played a mobile game in a waiting room or Solitaire on a PC.

            In fact this statistic from 2008 by Nielsen: link to blog.nielsen.com

            Mentions that “The most played games on the PC are card games from Microsoft, with the most played game being Solitaire with over 17 million players for the month of December 2008.”
            as well as
            “Females 55+ over index in terms of their PC game play versus all other demographic groups.”

            And this mentions: link to ikeepsafe.org
            “An ‘addiction’ to online gaming can occur with any type of game (for women over 50 it’s more likely to be simple single-player games like Tetris and Solitaire played for hours a day)”

            You can’t draw any conclusions with these kinds of general numbers or specific context.

          • JonKristinsson says:

            Agreed. It’s a very vague report. Are there any better? I would love to see some agency do a detailed report on this. I’d still argue that even if the term “gamer” is widely defined, there’s no reason to assume that there isn’t an equal amount of males playing Solitaire (or FarmVille or whatever). Also, it’s irrelevant to my original point which was the OP’s “girls don’t pick up games” excuse isn’t valid. However you want to define gamer in that report, or how vague it is, there’s still a significant percentage of females in front of a computer screen, ready to be a potential customer.

          • Llewyn says:

            @Oban: But it’s not relevant at all to draw conclusions about one study from other studies. We can’t draw any conclusions from the ESA report because it really doesn’t tell us anything conclusive.

            @JonKristinsson: In my defence I was just commenting on the ESA statistics specifically. I have no idea what this thread is primarily about as Flukie’s on my blocked list ;-)

          • The Random One says:

            Intelligent people are very adept at defending conclusions they reached for stupid reasons.

            Tell me, if that research had concluded that 10% of gamers are women, would you question its methods? Would you posit that perhaps it included US soldiers training on combat simulators as gamers, causing it to become biased towards men? Would you even imagine whether casual games were included – the same assumption you made now – meaning a lot more men play them?

            You had a theory – that male gamers heavily outnumber female gamers.
            You were confronted with data suggesting otherwise.
            The correct conclusion is to look for something wrong with your theory.
            You looked for something wrong with the data.

            Of course, you are right. We don’t know what were the ESA’s parameters in choosing who was a gamer. And if they are including casual Facebook games their sheer numbers will drown out the “core” gamers we are talking about. We don’t know that. Your entire argument is that we don’t know that. Do, then, point out that we can’t draw definitive conclusions. Don’t dismiss the entire argument because “the numbers are a little wonky!!!!!!!” Don’t come in with your biased conclusions and throw them at the guy who’s actually shown a source.

            Next year, when the numbers of casual players dwindle and ESA’s gender distribution reminds the same, we’ll have a solid defense against that crap. Let’s see what you’ll come up with then.

          • darkChozo says:

            Dismissing the argument because the numbers are wonky is totally valid when the argument is literally “look at these numbers”. And I’d question any statistic that comes from some page on the internet, ESA or not, when it doesn’t have any backing to it (well, assuming I cared enough about the statistic to judge it with any rigor). Without knowing anything about the methodology, any statement about “gamers” is basically useless, considering that you could come up with a definition of “gamers” that includes literally every human (playing games being one of those things most remotely intelligent animals do).

            Not to mention, the only one suggesting that the number is inflated is, well, you, as part of a strawman. Everyone else who replied to you is saying something along the lines of “this report is really vague, it’d be interesting to see a better defined study”. Personally, I’d like to see how various “gamer” definitions are demographics-wise; all the way from someone who’s played Solitaire to someone who buys tens of games every year, with every step in between detailed.

    • corinoco says:

      Flukie, the point is not positive discrimination (not sure what you mean by that) the point is changing attitudes such as your second sentence “gaming hasn’t been picked up by women”.

      Think why that might be. Turn the situation around, and imagine this: every game you play forces you to play as a woman. You can only have sex with the guys in the game. You can only do ‘woman things’ in the game – shop for shoes, try on clothes, gossip for hours. (Yes, these are awful stereotypes – they’re as bad as the ones that almost every bloody game has). On the off chance you can play a male character, you can still only have sex with men and you’re forced to look like Fabio or a sparkly vampire.

      Given the above scenario I don’t think you’d be much into gaming either.

      Unfortunately that’s the kind of attitude women face in almost every game available. Little wonder they don’t pick it up.

      My wife dearly wanted to play Assasins Creed and Dishonoured, but both games force you to be a male protagonist and both would force her into situations she finds distasteful from a sexual point of view. Sure, Portal forced you to be a woman, but it made no impact on the game, and didn’t force you into a sexual relationship with a man.

      Even apparently equal-gendered games like the Baldurs Gate series force stereotypes – sure you can play as a woman, but every one has a 36DD chest and thin leather armour. That is not encompassing genders, that’s pandering to 15 year old males who get a thrill watching the animations. Sorry Torment, favourite game and all, while the female characters were well written, the visuals were way too much 15 year old male fantasy. Especially poor Annah – carrying all those knives but wearing a leather bikini.

      Skyrim, Oblivion and Fallout have been better, but the mod scene is abysmal – I don’t see many nude mods for the men that make them all hung like stallions, and you can imagine the uproar if the top 20 mods WERE like that! Why would that be the case? (Maybe there are mods like that, or maybe female fantasy mods make the male characters listen, do some housework and look after the kids?) why is there not an equal amount of female-aimed mods?

      The mod scene for those games has an unhealthy focus on extremely stereotyped portrayals of women – for a lot of women this is a very big turnoff. The lack of women then creates a ‘boys club’ feel to almost every mod site. Since modding is a big path I to the industry, is it any wonder that there are few women in it, and those that are face constant sexist attitudes and crap like pr0n displayed openly in workplaces. Crap like that gets you instant dismissal where I work (corporate, retail support)

      No, there is no difference between sexism in gaming and ‘sexist dicks that exist in society’; gaming IS part of society, and being sexist is being a dick full stop. It’s ok, it’s only a game? NO IT’S NOT OK.

      • Ich Will says:

        I agree with every point you’ve made but I think you’ve come up with some awful examples!

      • mouton says:

        “Turn the situation around, and imagine this: every game you play forces you to play as a woman. You can only have sex with the guys in the game.”

        I remember playing Aquaria – there, you play a watery siren-like girl. At one point, you meet a human diver fellow and romance ensues. I recall part of my mind screaming “no, zis iz vrooong”. So yes, sexist attitudes are deeply entrenched in the male psyche.

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          Completely unrelated but it made me chuckle to think that your mental subvocalisation has a stereotypical thick b-movie style german-english accent.

      • darkChozo says:

        Not that I particularly disagree with you, but was there anything about Dishonored was particularly gender-driven? Haven’t beaten it, so I can’t say for sure, but all of Corvo’s character interactions were pretty gender-neutral (mostly because he’s a blank slate, but I digress…). Can’t speak to all the ACs, though the ACII games certainly had a fair bit of, um, gender-based character interaction. AC1 was pretty neutral, from what I remember.

        Also, you may be happy to know that there are definitely female-targeting nude mods on Nexus. Not as popular as the male-targeted ones, but that’s more a matter of demographics than sexism, I feel. Then again, chicken and the egg, I suppose.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Positive discrimination is needed in this case. The gaming community in certain areas has some really fucked-up notions of gender roles (see, for example, John’s comment about logging onto Xbox Live with a female handle), and the community needs to stamp on the people who abuse women verbally, or try to ghettoise them. A more diverse community won’t destroy what’s already in existence in terms of games, but it will be a stronger, more vibrant place.

  10. KikiJiki says:

    Good article, although I’m not sure how I can speak out against sexism in gaming (or software development, where I work) without seeming condescending, or privileged. Because of this I’m extremely reluctant to touch this issue at all.

    • PyroCat says:

      I think a good way to go about it in that case, is to find out what women are saying in your industry and put your weight behind them. If an opportunity comes up you can add your voice to theirs, for example if a woman has been treated unfairly in the industry and they need people to speak up about it. And even if you’re not getting up in people’s faces about it, learning more about sexism and how you benefit from male privilege in general will help.

  11. BreadBitten says:

    A new (and more positive) development!

    link to giantbomb.com

  12. faelnor says:

    With all due respect Nathan, I feel like you’re falling prey to the same trap you’re criticizing in this very post. You tell people to speak up and act to change things, you say it is not acceptable to just ascertain the problem and mention it in passing without taking action. Plenty of people do that. Half of the RPS crew already published a piece with the same conclusion, plenty of people, both very intelligent and sensible, or short-sighted and troubling (“white-knights”) have come to the same conclusion all over internet.

    So why don’t you instead identify meaningful ways to solve the problem, make a list of things you will and will not accept from here on, tell people to their face — and I mean just that: address them directly, identify them clearly — what they are doing wrong and how they should change it, be them high-ranking developers, PR people or even RPS commenters?

    With people increasingly complaining about sexism in the games industry yet doing nothing, we are at risk of desensitizing the issue and being counter-productive. That is, in most ways, your message. Well, I can make this statement because I’m nobody on internet and don’t belong to the gaming industry. I have my own feminist fights to pick. It is, however, *your* industry and I’d like to see RPS do something about it.

    • Llewyn says:

      Well said.

    • SRSavior says:

      I think if someones cares enough to do something about it, they can find their own step-by-step solutions, instead of blaming someone who brings up a problem for not itemizing a list as to how they can take action. It’s not that hard to figure out something when you care about it… The laziness of the Follower, in my opinion.

      “It’s a problem, but you’re not instructing me on how to solve it, so you’re not helping because I don’t want to put effort into it.”?

      Not saying you, personally, don’t want to put effort into solving the problem; just saying that you can’t blame the messenger for bringing up a problem over and over again.

      Personally, I don’t think much will change until the adolescent male culture itself is addressed. Gaming is more of a response to that than anything else. Companies know that over-sexualization and male power fantasies help them sell their “IP” (another disgusting word :p ).

      But really, that’s the music culture, the movie culture, and just about everything else in mainstream culture. Young males don’t have to grow up and be ‘real men’ anymore and respect women in a profound and egalitarian way, because nothing in our society really pushes them to do so.

      It’s disgusting, and as a late-twenties guy, I often dream about murdering everyone younger than me who thinks about nothing but trying to fulfill those male power fantasies, whether they be violence, objectification / possession of women, or other forms of societal domination, just so they feel like they can have some self-worth. Nearly every narrative structure in our society is geared towards telling young people that they don’t have any worth as a man unless they ‘have’ a woman, and vice-versa.

    • Oracizan says:

      The thing is, Nathan is a journalist on a widely read gaming site and his words have a bit more weight than the average person’s. His writing of this article IS him acting. This is the biggest bat he has to swing, and a darn big bat it is.

      He is telling you that, as a self-proclaimed nobody on the internet, your words of acknowledgement are not enough. Actively oppose sexism in games when you come across it, whether it is boycotting games or complaining to the devs. I’ve seen people say that they were boycotting EA or Ubisoft for things like DRM and general publisher evilness. If that’s a form of protest, then is sexism not grounds for the same treatment? I’ll answer for you: Yes, it is, and anything less is just complacency.

  13. Melf_Himself says:

    #1 Reason Why games journalists sustain such outrage over this issue – to get all the boobies.

    • Jorum says:

      ohh FFS

    • wiper says:

      Please feel free to sod off, you unpleasant creature.

    • RaveTurned says:


    • bladedsmoke says:

      Melf_Himself leaned back in his computer chair, grease trickling from the hundreds of malodorous folds in his flesh. “An article on RPS?” he whispered to himself, crumbs of Cheetos puffing into the air with every breath. “With… a picture of a WOMAN at the top? This has to be another sexism article. It has to.”

      Desperately, Melf_Himself began to wrack his tiny brain for a dismissive joke. Something that would reduce women to objects, while also reiterating the tired “white knight” trope. Something which would ensure he never, ever had to think too carefully about his own privelege or his own place in society, because when he did so, and when he realized that despite all this privelege he was consumed by self-loathing and loneliness, he would be forced to retreat to his bed and hug his Japanese love pillow for hours and hours.

      “Aha!” shouted Melf_Himself, his chair squealing in protest under his imposing weight as he shifted forward, hands trembling over the keyboard. “I shall imply that RPS journalists are merely PRETENDING to be concerned over this issue in order to attract women! Who I shall refer to as ‘the boobies,’ reducing them from thinking human beings to inanimate sex objects!”

      You see, for Melf_Himself, the idea that any male human could actually be concerned about this issue for legitimate moral and social reasons was deeply troubling. Because Melf_Himself thought of Melf_Himself as a good guy, but he couldn’t bear the idea of conceding his privelege to the women he secretly hated for not being attracted to him. And the idea that other men might differ from this closeted viewpoint made him feel inferior, sexually and morally inadequate, in comparison.

      And so he sits, and waits, in his basement. If you want to imagine the future, imagine Melf_Himself. Typing out the same tired cliches, the same tired jokes, the same tired whining, in the comment section at the bottom of articles about sexism.


      • corinoco says:

        Well played, sir, well played. (Polite golf-clap)

      • One Pigeon says:

        Thank you for one of the best troll putdowns I’ve ever read. Internet hi-fives to you.

      • The Random One says:

        We need that guy who did a reading of the Dear Esteban article to come over and do a reading of this one.

      • Jomini says:

        Because taking your time to write this fanficiton level reply sure makes you look like a real winner now.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Brilliant! :D

      • gwathdring says:

        See, the Basement Nerd stereotype is one that can be used properly and responsibly to hurt other people’s feelings or dismiss them in a constructive way. The White Knight trope, however, is a badmean thing that badmean people do to hurt other people’s feelings or dismiss their arguments in a destructive and arbitrary fashion.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      well, I laughed even if everyone else feels srs

      • Koozer says:

        Shh, not so loud, they’ll be coming for you next! *slams window shut and starts nailing planks of wood over it*

  14. AndrewC says:

    Anyone suggesting there isn’t sexism everywhere only need count how many comments articles like this get to be proven wrong. It’s more than DRM articles.

  15. Xzi says:

    “But it’s time for men to stop acting like self-centered slobs. It’s time for men to stop turning every step of progress into an agonizing uphill battle. There’s plenty of room in gaming for everyone – male, female, gay, straight, bi, trans, or what have you – so why not use this position of leverage to roll out the red carpet? Demand better from developers and publishers. If you work in the industry, demand better from your bosses and co-workers. If you simply play games as a hobby, demand better of your friends.”

    This is a joke, right? Because if I had this kind of power over the industry, AAA games would have never declined in complexity to the level they’re at today. And as a result of games building on lessons of the past, sexism wouldn’t really be an issue, either.

    But I don’t control the industry and my money doesn’t talk that loudly. For every logical 20 or 30-something male declining to purchase a game for whatever reason, there will be at least two not-so-logical teen males purchasing that game because they like the content of it.

    Like you said, though, the industry is slowly changing regardless. Take note that this does not mean that every game with sexism of some form is suddenly going to disappear. This will probably never happen. If gaming is going to be as wide open as free speech, then there truly does need to be room for every voice. Even those that we disagree with. Just as there are chick flicks with every overly-muscular man also unrealistically being the most sensitive, there are also spy flicks and shoot ’em ups with stereotypical skinny but curvy women walking around in bikinis. Eventually the gaming industry will be the same, with games of all genres and for all types.

    The change will happen. The best we can do is accept it, while others will fight against it. Regardless, they won’t stop it from happening.

    • RaveTurned says:

      “For every logical 20 or 30-something male declining to purchase a game for whatever reason, there will be at least two not-so-logical teen males purchasing that game because they like the content of it.”

      If all those logical 20 or 30-something males think “I don’t control the industry, my money doesn’t talk that loudly” and buys the game anyway, that game’s sales are 50% higher. You think that isn’t a big difference?

      Plus Nathan’s not just talking about voting with your wallet here, he’s talking about speaking up in public about things you find questionable. Choosing what games you buy with your money is easy (after all if you’re reading this, you’re going to spend some on games anyway) – calling publishers and devs out on sexist BS and standing up to the backlash of trolling, clueless or outright sexist responses is a step up from that.

      • Salix says:

        Posted this in response to a different comment but I think I’ll post it again just to prove the ‘stupid teens make up the majority’ argument wrong

        link to theesa.com

        Fact number 6, enjoy.

        • RaveTurned says:

          Fair point – so not only is Xzi’s argument unsound on its own terms, but the assumption that teens outnumber adults in the marketplace is also unfounded. Thanks. :)

          • Xzi says:

            I suppose I could edit it to say, “for every game I buy or have time to play, there’s a teenage male out there that can buy and/or play three games in the same time frame.” Does it really matter? My point stands. There’s a good reason, from a marketing standpoint, that we haven’t already seen a massive shift in the way games are designed. At least, not AAA or hardcore games. Video game publishers are as good as anyone else, if not better, at market research, and they know which side their bread is buttered on, so to speak.

            Money is always the bottom line.

          • Llewyn says:

            @Xzi: The problem here is that you’re making assumptions based on gut feeling. The fact that those crappy ESA figures don’t actually demonstrate that adult women are the biggest spenders on games doesn’t mean that they prove that teenage boys are. We have literally no useful information on who is funding the AAA games market, only – and only in a very limited sense – what games they’re buying.

            And even if we had detailed information on exactly how much each group are spending on games it wouldn’t tell us why those particular demographics dominate.

        • Llewyn says:

          You should be careful using secondhand statistics to make a point without understanding them. The statistic you quote is (I assume) accurate but it doesn’t contradict the posts you’re replying to.

          The proportion of people meeting a particular definition of ‘gamer’ by group has no direct correlation with the proportion of spending on games by group.

    • Prime says:

      “This is a joke, right? Because if I had this kind of power over the industry, AAA games would have never declined in complexity to the level they’re at today.”

      And what, exactly, did you personally do to stop this? Anything? Or were you telling yourself you had no power to change it – that it was just too big, too many forces had control over it – and just learned to live with it? If you’d tried to change things and failed then we might have a conversation on our hands but as it is you are plainly and simply wrong.

      As Nathan wrote about new endings, modding options and even reviving old franchies we DO have that power. Time you learned to see it in yourself.

      • Xzi says:

        And the fact that you can assume I did nothing while the industry was declining just further proves my point. I’ve been immensely vocal about it in any number of online forums, guilds, among my friends, with my wallet, et al. Bobby Kotick still won’t take my calls, let alone take my orders. I guess that must be surprising to you, but I am thoroughly unsurprised. Stop pretending that our $120 worth of influence is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions raked in by dumbed-down dribble every year.

        I’ll admit that with the indie scene, kickstarter, and others, the niche I’m in is beginning to be filled. But that doesn’t change the way the industry at large has fallen. AAA used to be so much better.

        • gwathdring says:

          Well, you’re welcome to give up. Personally I like the idea of continuing to work towards making a better community out of this industry until it happens. Sure, one person can’t make that much of a difference in the industry are large unless they have a position of relatively high power. Being the CEO of Valve in this industry is a massive force multiplier. I’m not the CEO of valve. But you know what? The awfulness isn’t awful because it comes from big names. It’s awful because it comes from everywhere. If people in power started being nice, but a significant number of servers were still polluted by jerks that no one bothered to address or admonish … we’ve gained nothing. It’s the ordinary gamers actually being reasonable people that makes playing multiplayer games worthwhile. It’s the low-level coders and developers being decent to their co-workers that makes game design a tolerable profession.

          It’s not fun to have a CEO who’s sexist or industry icons with prominently sexist attitudes or top-selling games with awful female character designs … but all of that becomes a lot more tolerable if the people and games you interface with most of the time are reasonable and friendly.

          Lasting, predictable change comes at the interface between big changes from prominent figures and smaller changes from an aggregate body of smaller players. Saying one of those doesn’t matter because it’s only one of two pieces and it’s the only one you can be part in doesn’t make sense to me.

  16. Spinks says:

    So how much of this is due to the ‘industry’ deciding that the genres traditionally favoured by women (point and click adventures, hidden object games, puzzle games, et al which are all still popular) didn’t count as AAA games so it was going to be all bald space marine shmups all the time?

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Adventure games were the AAA games of their heyday (Does anyone seriously remember how fancy and expensive they got in terms of old time-y production values) and they pretty much killed themselves. You can’t really say they didn’t get their chance as king of game mountain.

      • RedViv says:

        They got dull and repetitive and unimaginative, and 90% of the output were utter garbage. It almost seems to be the general fate of a genre of easy cash cows.

      • Spinks says:

        The Walking Dead says it’s not dead yet.

        • I Got Pineapples says:

          I’m not saying they’re dead. I love me some point and click.

          I’m just saying they got to sit at the grown ups table a for a long time, in fact for a while they were the only People who got to sit at the big table and there’s a reason they had go sit at the little table again. They marginalised themselves. It was not done to them.

          Was the Walking Dead thing a pun?

          I can’t tell anymore.

  17. LuckyBadger says:

    Sexism is a major problem worldwide, not just in the games industry. Although I totally agree that we can actively work in that problem in respect of games and gamers (which I do in a daily basis), we must also remember that people outside the games industry and culture should be respect too!

    If we want to start fixing things in the game industry, maybe we should organize and then fight sexism. Is there any big forum, NGO, or something where people organize real actions? If there is not such a place, maybe we should start one.

  18. I Got Pineapples says:

    Sexism=Bad and we should not even be having this conversation.

    Diversity in game concepts.


    Here’s a thing that makes curious about the diversity

    Video games are the only thing teenage boys buy. The entire gaming boom of the past few years has been built around the democratization of gaming via the console and upon their acne ridden backs. Every single thoughtful indie game, every minecraft, every…whatever our current flavour of the month is has been handed to you, essentially, by the greasy hands of a CoD playing console owning teenage boy.

    Seriously, it is the only product they buy and you are never going to get a broadbased audience with the buying power of that single block.

    And glibly saying to ignore them is both a stupid answer and honestly, one that kind of suggests that you are a shitty person.

    So, while the need for diversity is there, how do you balance that with the demands of the people who are actually buying the games and whose most favouritist thing in the world are tits and blood and explosions?

    • John Walker says:

      I’m afraid you’re simply wrong. The average gamer is aged between 35 and 40, and there are more female gamers aged 18-35 than there are male gamers aged 11-18. Teenage gamers absolutely do not represent a majority audience, and all the publishers are aware of this.

      • Xzi says:

        I’d like to see some linked statistics on that. I don’t think you’re lying, it’s just kind of hard to believe. Because whereas maybe half of my generation grew up playing video games, ALL of the younger generations have grown up with gaming being a part of popular culture. Something it definitely was not before. It’s pretty easy to see a correlation between that popularization of gaming and the decline in more intricate games, as well.

        • Llewyn says:

          The statistics John’s quoting are accurate enough – I’ve seen very similar numbers with sources elsewhere, possibly from a more detailed article or comment by John – but they’re not necessarily either honest or relevant. The essence of it is the definition of ‘gamer’, which is not necessarily the same as ‘someone with purchasing influence over the AAA games industry’.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            That’s kind of what I was thinking when I first saw the numbers and I was kind needed a way to say it without sounding denigrating but the ESA does have an interest in making it’s audience appear as diverse and respectable as possible so I have a vague suspicion that the number includes ‘Bought Fruit Ninja and maybe Jet Pack Joyride’. Not that these people aren’t gamers and Fruit Ninja isn’t awesome but it was also two dollars.

        • John Walker says:

          Not a problem – here’s the data:

          link to theesa.com

          Although I’ve just noticed their 2012 numbers are out, lowering the average age to 30:

          link to theesa.com

          • Llewyn says:

            Wow. Just… wow. Thanks for posting that. It’s reminded me that I took those headline numbers on faith when I read them previously, without looking at the ‘report’ behind them. Talk about lies, damned lies and statistics…

            Anyway, the report highlights the point I was making. The meaning is in the definition of ‘gamer’, which the ESA don’t reveal in their report.

          • HadToLogin says:

            Lack of GAMER definition can really affect those numbers. Are gamers “people who spent $100 for games in some time”, or maybe “anyone who owns gaming device, like old nokia with SNAKE”, or maybe “people who spent some time playing solitaire instead of working”.
            And 42% playing various “mini-games” as online game do suggest large definition.
            And in this case, that will affect everything.
            Especially that point R. Pratchett makes. She asks “what about women”, and publisher answer “we won’t care about making some edits for 5 women who will buy it”, and they won’t make AAA title for women, because “there’s only 5 of them buying our other games”…

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Regardless of my feelings on them, I will also admit to using those numbers when anyone brings up grown men playing video games as a symptom of an arrested adolesence.

            They are numbers to make a man-child feel good about himself.

          • CommanderZx2 says:

            These stats are rather dubious, you could say there’s a high percentage of female gamers, but if those female gamers are mostly playing facebook games or other casual titles. i.e. they do not matter to the AAA publishers, as they aren’t going to buy the latest new releases.

            If you can show me stats which do not include casual gaming and only focuses on the gender divide when it comes to new purchases of AAA titles then we can talk.

          • aepervius says:

            You fall in the trap of not comparing agaisnt correct demographic slice.You cannot compare “age lower than 17” to “18+” and get a meaningful data.

            link to census.gov

            What you need to compare is the *proportion* “under 17 male”/”18+ women” in the general population and compere to gaming. Fact is that there are 209 million over 18 people , female make a bigger slice of it, say 51% around 107 million. Total 5 to 17 years is about 53 million so male around 49% is around 26 million. So in general population women 18+ to male 17- is 107/26=a factor 4.

            But the report says : women 18+ are 33% and boys 17- are 13%. That is factor 3. So that means that *male teenager* game much more than 18+ women compared to the general population. therefore the initial post is at least right in that aspect for proportion. In fact they game much more than female of the same age (about only 5 percentage points compared to 13 percentage points).

            Secondly the statistic says nothing about genre. There are genre which will attract male more than female. There is not as far as I can tell 42% of the CoD player which are female. Reversely I doubt that 13% of the Poney simulator are male 17- or even that 58% are male (which is why on the poney simulator box I gave my niece, she had asked for it, the 3 persons near the poney are 3 female kids around 10-12). And you concentrate your marketing on who you know your target group is.

            No, saying that sexism is a plague in part of the gaming industry is correct. But using industry statistic without rhime and reason is not a good point

            ETA: and that says nothing about *spending* by demographic.

            If the 42% female spend in average 100$ per year , and the 58% spend in average 400$ (number pulled out sicne they are not mentionned) it tells an utterly different picture.

            You would have to multiply those percentage by purchasing average.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Commander, let’s not do the ‘One True Gamer’ thing, which I’ve really been trying to avoid because ti does come across as kinda sexist.

            Especially not using AAA titles.

            Especially not on RPS.

            While I have no doubt at all they are numbers to cast the net wide enough to lend gaming some legitimacy from an industry body group (We’re not just teenage boys! We’re old, but not uncomfortably old, people and women as well!) I have no doubt that every person they mentioned is a gamer.

          • CommanderZx2 says:

            No, this is a very important point. People always harp on about developers ignoring half the gaming population when they make their games targetted towards males. Then they take these ‘stats’ and try to use it to prove their point.

            Anyone running a business knows who their target demographic is, if there was an actual 47% percentage of female gamers who bought AAA new releases then those games would be different.

          • I Got Pineapples says:

            Anyway, enough arguing about the damn numbers.

            We’ve established that Mr Walker is perhaps using dubious numbers.

            I am honestly curious about having my original question addressed.

            Retain Teenage Boys.

            Encourage Diversity.

            Make Money.

            You have to do all three.


          • aepervius says:

            to I Got Pineapples : essentially games like minecraft. Or maybe the sims. Sandbox and construction games. Both as far as I can tell appeal to both gender without discremination. Mainly I would argue it is beause there is no story, so no way “many” chance to make a sexist incursion. (well not the sims, they should censor both male and female breast rather than female only ;-)…).

      • Llewyn says:

        This is the problem with statistics. The numbers, by themselves, tell us so very little and the message – whether honest or misleading, accurate or mistaken – lies in the interpretation of them.

        What’s the per capita spend on games by (or for) those groups, John?

        Edit: And the point I intended to aim for and then forgot… Even if teenage boys do constitute the largest spending group this doesn’t tell us whether that’s the cause or the effect. Are they only the largest spending group because the AAA industry concentrates too much on “tits and blood and explosions”?

        Any excessive simplification of the problem is always going to be problematic.

        • Xzi says:

          This is another good point. Because even if we outnumber teens, we definitely do not have the kind of free time that they do. If I’m finishing one game a week, and a teenage boy is finishing up to seven, who’s voice is going to be louder in that situation?

          • Guvornator says:

            Teenagers can finish up to 7 games a week? Those little shits need to do some more damn homework…

            I think any teen who a) can afford 7 games a week and b) can finish 7 games in a week (i.e 1 a day) can pretty much be regarded as a statistical outlier and therefore unlikely to be the focus of a multi-million pound marketing campaign. If anyone is going to have the funds and free time they’d have to be rich, which in most cases means older.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        I’m not saying it’s about the number of people.

        I’m saying it’s about who’s spending the money.

        Teenage boys spend all their money on games, which is actually viewed as a bit of an issue if you want to sell things on that particular demo.

        Women buy other things. Like the books the young male demo aren’t buying and the movies they aren’t going to. Because they are buying video games.

        People are not releasing an assload of military shooters because they like the things. It’s because you can build a mountain out of the greasy teenager blops 2 money and a greasy teenage blops 2 money house on top of it.

        • Shivoa says:

          Your argument is that the AAA industry should focus on clones of Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros, Nintendogs, and The Sims is interesting to me. But why are you talking about that low selling CoD thing rather than the real current masters of the retail charts? Surely the money speaks and it says CoD is a major franchise but the truly breakout hits are all family friendly and non-violent.

          • HadToLogin says:

            In that ESA report there’s not many family-friendly games. There’s Just Dance 2 and 3, some Fitness, Michael Jackson and that’s it – and I wouldn’t call them family-friendly, more like friends-friendly.
            And as for games you mentioned – you noticed how they all are from Nintendo? Mostly because Nintendo took over whole family-friendly games. No one else makes them, because beside Nintendo, nobody can sell them in large numbers.

          • Xzi says:

            Not necessarily. I know I played a lot more games as a kid. Even if they’re only finishing twice as many games as us in a week, which is probably underestimating, then they’re spending twice as much money on video games. Whether that be through a rental service or actual full retail purchases.

    • Jarl Hamburger says:

      “So, while the need for diversity is there, how do you balance that with the demands of the people who are actually buying the games and whose most favouritist thing in the world are tits and blood and explosions?”

      Cos it’s not a zero sum game? Making games that help bring in other kinds of audiences won’t infringe on the other types of games that are currently being made.

      This idea of people thinking that this “new audience” is an invasion and therefore going to ruin their gaming experience is so selfish and just damn stupid. It’s not an exclusive club; games are for everyone to enjoy.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        It sort of is a zero sum game. There’s only so much money and time and people to go around.

        I’m not against it, I’m just wondering on how because it is something that should be addressed.

        • Bob_Bobson says:

          It isn’t a zero sum game at all. If games appealed to a wider demographic more people would spend their money on games, so there would be more money to make more games with. More audience = More money = More games.

          And if the games industry as a whole appealed to a wider demographic of employee there would be more talented individuals to spend the extra money on. Gaming would get bigger, better and more varied if we could tackle these issues. If the moral arguments aren’t enough for you the follow self-interest – don’t you want more, better, more varied games?

      • HadToLogin says:

        While not 0 sum game, but trying to open game for larger audiences also cuts away old audience.
        Just look at CS. Valve tries to make new game, put a little changes here and there, and old audience still plays old game totally hating new one.
        And developer/publisher only hope is that new audience will be bigger then old audience that hated them.

    • Shivoa says:

      I think you’ll find CoD sells 5-10 million copies on week 1 and then trickles up to their impressive numbers (and that’s no small thing, they win by focussing on getting as many sales as possible on the first week and then getting many players to continue along DLC plans for multiplayer maps, it is a massive franchise) but Nintendo games with a family friendly face sell significantly more copies over the life of the product and so are probably going to be what you look at for your ‘largest pool of players’.

      There are a lot of gamers out there and the 100+ million copies of CoD franchise titles out there simply aren’t enough to cover most of it or even (thanks to Nintendo and some other companies – The Sims probably has franchise sales including expansion boxes that eclipses CoD and the numbered releases are certainly competitive with sales of the top CoD games, if not eclipsing them) by the largest pool you seem to demand get consideration.

    • corinoco says:

      Here’s some fun; replace ‘video games’ with ‘automobiles’ and you have an example of ignorance from 1952.

    • Gap Gen says:

      “Sexism=Bad and we should not even be having this conversation. ”

      Yes, well, unfortunately it exists and is widespread, so we do. Sadface, and all that.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        That is kinda my point.

        It is a bad thing that we actually need to take the time to discuss this.


  19. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Even if you were to ignore the casual sexism, how could you be interested enough in gaming to be at a trade show and not know who the fuck Kim Swift is?

    EDIT: It seems she’s not as well known as I thought she was. Fair enough :).

    • hypercrisis says:

      I had no idea who Kim Swift was. Should I have? I couldn’t name any member of Valve besides Gabe, Chet, and Eric.

      • RaveTurned says:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        I have to say though, while I’d recognise the name, I wouldn’t recognise her on a trade show floor by sight alone. I mean, why should I? What does someone’s face have to do with good game design?

        • choie says:

          That you personally wouldn’t recognize Kim Swift is a straw man debate point. Even if you didn’t recognize her face — and frankly I wouldn’t be able to pick out Eric or Chet in a lineup either — the point is, why would (the hypothetical) you attending this game conference assume she’s some assistant or receptionist, rather than a developer?

          • RaveTurned says:

            Well yes, quite. The natural assumption should be that anyone present is there because they have some kind of vested interest in the industry. That assumption shouldn’t change just because they happen to be female, and then have to be changed back again if you recognise them as someone who has extra credentials that explain their presence there.

    • RedViv says:

      Most people generally don’t care much about the inner workings or structure or system of people behind what they consume. Most people are not taught a preference of examining what goes into their meal, films, electricity, offices, politics, games, and so on.

      • hypercrisis says:

        what a condescending remark

        • RedViv says:

          Yes, the world is not just filled with people who enjoy and like to spread the word of critical and thorough thought. And yes, I’m aware of how that statement comes across to some. I can live with that.

        • Crimsoneer says:

          It’s also true. Most people are idiots.

          Also, I have no idea what Kim Swift actually does. Recognise the name, no idea beyond that.

      • Prime says:

        Agreed. As commenting gamers on RPS we are specialists in our field, trading knowledge between ourselves that few others will possess. Not knowing who Kim Swift is is no crime.

        On the other hand, if we could stop assuming that all pleasant looking women are secretaries or “day-hire marketing” that would go a long way to our not being misogynistic jackasses. Asking the simple, decent question “Who are you/what do you do?” should cover that quite nicely.

        • RedViv says:


        • mouton says:

          Obviously. Sadly, it is a self-reinforcing mechanism – if you go to a booth-babe-saturated trade show of a sexist industry, it is very easy to think it unlikely that a woman not wearing a bikini is anything more than a marketing day-hire, essentially a booth-babe in disguise.

          It is a trap we must avoid – but it is also very easy to fall into, if you are not on your guard.

        • sophof says:

          People are a product of their surroundings, we are all human. If they constantly see women in that environment only fill those roles, after a while they will simply assume that is their role whenever they meet a women (especially if she is good looking). This is of course strengthened by a society where gender roles also still follow these lines in general as well.

          Obviously this is a stereotype and mildly sexist, but it is not meant badly by the person making the mistake. You only fix this problem by getting more alternatives than the receptionist/PR-girl/boothbabe types, since that is where the problem lies, not with the person who has this particular experience with women at conventions. It sucks for the woman in question here, but I can hardly blame the men making the assumption, we are all only human in the end.

          It is exactly the same as a grandma seeing a bunch of black kids hanging on the street corner and being scared. She can’t help it, she has been more or less conditioned towards this response. It would be silly to blame the grandma imo.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, Portal is just this small indie puzzle game that no-one’s played, so I’m not really surprised either.

  20. AndrewC says:


  21. Jorum says:

    Aside from the obvious facts of being decent human.

    a) it’s incredibly stupid to alienate half of your potential customers.

    b) it’s insane to have a creative industry where you are often alienating and excluding 50% of the potential talent pool

    I wonder if the games industry noticed Harry Potter? And how it made shit loads of millions for everything it touched?

    I wonder how writers like Rowling or Ursula LeGuin would have fared if they’d been trying to work in games industry?

    • RedViv says:

      Those are actually perfect examples – Rowling’s publisher did demand that the books be published under her Moustache de Plume. Likewise, Le Guin’s publisher first chose U. Le Guin for her. There is a certain prejudice towards the combination of “female writer” and “fantasy book”.

      • Jorum says:

        Didn’t know that – interesting!
        Depressing but not that surprising about LeGuin given the period and fantasy=manliness ethos at the time. The idea that same mentality still applied for Rowling is amazing and weird.

        Anyway – after recent phenomenons of Harry Potter, Twilight and even 50 Shades of Gray maybe games industry should have noticed that women can create things that are insanely popular and commercially successful.

        (ok so Twilight and 50 Shades may have questionable literary value, but point remains they made their industries lots and lots and lots of money)

        • I Got Pineapples says:

          There’s actually a bit of a deviation there because women buy significantly more books than men.

          They also watch more movies.

          Which honestly makes me curious what men spend their money on at this point.

          Sports, I guess.

          • RedViv says:

            Men don’t buy things! They only worship at the Altar of Work, didn’t you know?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Ursula Le Guin is basically my hero, if only because of her attempts to find an alternative to the hero mythos.

  22. Very Real Talker says:

    I don’t care about feminism, I firmly believe that men and women like different things (so you can’t really make something for both sexes), I don’t care how female developers are treated (hell do you know how many guys here would trade places with you?) and I think most of these 1reasonwhy are unfairly bitching about nothing, proving how sexism is not a problem at the same time. (when you bitch about the stuff these girls are bitching about you are proving there is no need for feminism)

    • Prime says:

      Wrong, wrong, wrong wrong, WRONG. Must Try Harder. See me after school.

    • John Walker says:

      Hi Very Real Talker – you’re an absolutely massive idiot!

      • Very Real Talker says:

        your hurtful words are the reason why games don’t cater enough to me and why I am not taken seriously in the game industry. You are all responsible for this.

    • One Pigeon says:

      Yes, men and women like different things.

      Like my girlfriend likes shoes and I don’t wear shoes. She likes earning money, I like frittering it away.
      Or that I like breathing and she doesn’t. My house is one big hilarious sitcom due to our kooky male/female differences.

      Or not.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      1) Okay, so why do you think that a person’s sex has everything to do with what someone likes? Do you like the same things your friends do? Or your father/male siblings do? Are there not differences in taste? Can you therefore not allow for women who, in fact, do like gaming (of whatever kind)? I mean, there are games which are played by men and women alike.

      2) You don’t care how female game devs are treated? Why not? Do you care how people are treated at their work at all? Do you care how -you- are treated at your work (or school or elsewhere)? If female game devs run into issues then the industry gets a bad rep for how it treats women and hence we’ll have less talented game devs. Hence if you want the game industry to be the best it can be you will want female devs to be treated according to how they deserve to be treated (i.e.: normally and with respect).

      If you don’t see where I’m coming from I do think you probably could do with some soulsearching or talking to other people. We all live on this world and we’ll have to live together and the better we’ll treat one another the better we’ll be off. Women, I’m fairly certain, are not going away any time soon.

    • Gap Gen says:

      My view is that I’m a liberal – I strongly believe in equality for all. This, in my mind, means that socialised gender roles that have any relevance to social role (whether it be job opportunities, sexual harrassment, roles in relationships and families) need to be stamped out and eradicated. I consider the existence of social conservatism and other forms of right-wing extremism to be totally unacceptable.

  23. Laurentius says:

    Good call, there is a lot to do with RPS though too. Like for example reviewing Hitman: Absolution, casually mention a bit of sexism in game, job’s done moving on to why game is not as good as Blood Money. Sure some people belive that pointing fingers is hardest work…

    • John Walker says:

      I’m confused as to what you’re saying we failed to do. In Adam’s review he pointed out that the sexism was there, and then added that the even more significant issue is that the game’s not worth playing in the first place.

      • Laurentius says:

        Well, so gamers are to whine, moan and boycott to devs about sexism in games according to Mr. Grayson, that’s fine but I don’t get it why game journalists get the free card here. How about refusing to review sexist games or make whole WIT about it and why readers shouldn’t be buying it because of its sexist elements.

      • ix says:

        I don’t think panning the game makes up for giving the most sexistly advertised game of the year the RPS equivalent of front page treatment (a Wot I think).

        I don’t think sexistly is a word, but you see what I’m getting at.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I was genuinely surprised by the number of articles I read that didn’t mention the portrayal of women in the game at all. Or men for that matter. As I said in the WIT, my impression is that by making a world in which heroes and villains alike will kill for profit, sexuality is used almost exclusively as something grotesque. In broad strokes, ‘bad’ people are killers but so are ‘good’ people, so ‘bad’ people are perverts as well. And sexuality is never portrayed positively so sex itself has become a perversion.

      The complete lack of female police officers in Absolution’s Chicago isn’t as noisy as all of that, but it’s a piece of the same jigsaw.

  24. TaroYamada says:

    Really, the “white male” designation is necessary? That would be considered racist by just about any person if you were not a white person yourself, I’m still slightly offended despite you being the same ethnicity as I am. While I mostly disagree with the arguments from feminists about the representation of women in games, this is an issue I can get behind; women shouldn’t be treated unfairly in the work place, regardless of the industry.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s a question of what’s called male privilege. This is where it’s difficult to see prejudice if you’re a straight, white male, because not many people will display prejudice against you for that. So it’s more difficult to consider how sexism in the community makes women feel if you never experience it yourself.

      • mandrill says:

        The core of the issue here (re: white male privilege) is that it’s so ingrained into human civilization and has been for millenia that most white males don’t actually realise the position of privilege that they hold.

        Until the #1reasonwhy thing erupted, I never thought of myself as privileged. I’ve been poor (still am by some measures), I’m no-one special and I was so damaged by my teenage years that I now have difficulty connecting with people if there isn’t the internet between us. So I never thought of myself as particularly privileged.

        One thing #1reasonwhy (and some of the nicer feminists participating, male and female) has shown me is that as a white man, society assumes me to be capable, talented, strong and worthy of attention while it assumes women (the colour classification is not necessary) are meek, soft-hearted, vulnerable, and not capable of contributing anything meaningful to any enterprise they are involved in.

        That most of the women I’ve encountered in my life have been far more capable, talented, strong and worthy of attention than me is something I’ve always had to work hard to convince them of. This used to puzzle me, it doesn’t any more.

        The place of women in our apparently ‘modern’ society is abysmal. Legally, in most of the west at least, some sort of parity exists, but socially? We still create pink toys for girls, we still make them products that reinforce traditional gender roles, and we still tell them, from the day they’re born, that these things are for you and these things are most definitely not.*

        This has to change and as we can only affect change in those parts of society that we are the most intimately involved in (for us, it’s gaming, and the way we, as individuals, treat women) we should do our utmost to. It is not only the right thing to do, it is our duty. In order to be able to give up our position of privilege we first must be aware that we hold it.

        * Yes, I am perfectly aware that this happens to boys too, that has to change as well.

      • sophof says:

        I disagree strongly. White males will encounter just as much prejudices as any other person. The big difference is that a white male is generally not heavily negatively impacted by those prejudices and in addition has many advantages in life. Also, many of the prejudices he receives are positive of course.

        But this is still an important distinction to make, because prejudices are entirely human to have and you will never ever remove the concept itself. And being included negatively by association is never liked by anyone, not matter how ‘privileged’ they are.

  25. The Random One says:

    I believe you are mistaken, Nathan. If you were reading the Wisdom Invincible of RPS comments, you’d know there’s no such thing as sexism. It was invented by John Walker and he is the only one who can see it, just like Marie Curie and radiation, and just as totally fake.

  26. corinoco says:

    I’m guessing you’re a man, and I’m guessing you’re not gay (usually more understanding of discrimination issues), so I am also guessing you would really rather not work in an industry where your boss calls you a stupid twink for not getting the ‘bounce physics’ right on the lead character’s 18-inch dick?

    The situation I just described is extreme, sure, but look at the bloody awful trailer for Hitman – do you really think a female character artist would feel great about working on something like that? That she would proudly put pictures of it in her portfolio and CV?

    • Gwyddelig says:

      While that’s obviously true, people have mortgages to pay and responsibilities so, sometimes, eating one’s spuds quietly is the only practical option. I’d love to say that if I was asked to do some pig-under-the-arm BS wrt Irish people that tables would be metaphorically flipped but the reality would likely be more nuanced…

    • Gap Gen says:

      To be honest, I’d feel uncomfortable working on highly detailed boob physics in a game (as a straight white man). But sure, institutional problems are harder to address (but also in some ways easier, because you have a clear, non-human target that can be reformed, whereas social ideals like fixed gender roles are harder to smoke out and stamp on).

      EDIT: Oops, was in reply to corinoco above.

    • f69 says:


      Excluding the insults, which have no excuse. So? Somewhere there is a man animating a penis in a Japanese porn anime. Do you think society is obliged to pamper to his pride?

      Yes many games indulge male fantasies. Should we ignore this market because women don’t feel comfortable working on those titles. Are men even allowed sexual fantasies these days?

      • mattag08 says:

        “Are men even allowed to have sexual fantasies?”

        What a great thought. It never dawned on me until now that there has been an attempt by certain groups to really systematically eliminate the dominate male sexual fantasy from popular culture while allowing female fantasies to thrive. How interesting…

        • f69 says:

          Exactly. It’s what bugs me about this whole recent feminism push. It’s less about having something for everyone and more about: “Stop drawing boobs period! What you like offends me and therefore you shouldn’t have it!”

          • pyrrhocorax says:

            If people looked at you and saw you first and foremost as a pair of boobs, as a sexual fantasy and an object, maybe you’d get a bit fed up with constant male fantasy deluge too.

          • f69 says:


            Then be fed up with it. Still doesn’t give anyone the right to deny people their fantasies. You are a person, a fantasy is a fantasy.

          • Sarkhan Lol says:

            I hear Rapelay is still on the market.

          • Shortwave says:

            I made it through a few uhh, levels. Holy! That was hilarious.
            Got boring quick though.

          • Prime says:

            [redacted because replies don’t seem to be working on this page]

          • Prime says:

            F69, That’s a popular fallacy around these parts today…

            No-one is trying to take away from you the things you enjoy. Tits are great, and no mistake. I love breasts very much – they’re awesome in all sorts of ways that make me fuzzy inside. Women know this about men. Many encourage it, happy to please, to be admired.

            Thing is, when it gets taken too far, when breasts are all that men are shown or are allowed to see, when there are no alternative female types other than scantily-clad maiden/whore or old crone, when that attitude starts to negatively affect professional women in the industry they love then it’s time to take a look and redress the balance. It’s NOT that you can’t have the things you like, it’s that for the comfort of women they need to see that ALL sides of them are being expressed, not just the bits that jiggle for our entertainment.

          • f69 says:


            Customers decide through market forces. Women shouldn’t decide any more than men in publishing decide what Edward or Christian Grey should be like because they are male and written by women.

            I am all for diversity. Let people make games for girls or both, they do already. Just don’t touch what other people make because it’s different.

            “No-one is trying to take away from you the things you enjoy.”

            Not convinced. Anita’s latest tweet is “change Bioshock” even though the female lead is clearly more than eye candy and only slightly sexualized.

          • Prime says:

            But how does that small change in apparel mean things are being ‘taken away’ from Bioshock? Does that take away the game? No. you still get to play it. It just means she might be wearing a more sensible top or have smaller breasts. That’s the sum total of what we’re talking about here. Taking away nothing. You’re going to have to come up with a better reason than that.

          • f69 says:


            No. She should come up with a better reason. Elizabeth’s looks are perfectly sensibly sexy. She is dressed in a way many attractive women do for real. She is not Ivy from Soul Calibur surrounded by fully dressed men – a complaint I would understand. This is where feminism crosses into the ridiculous.

            She is pretty but is not defined by her looks since she has a story and a developed (assuming) character. And one more time, what exactly is wrong with making a sexy character?

          • Prime says:

            No, you’re the one who said you’d lose things, not her. That’s what I’m asking you to defend with a better reason but you obviously can’t.

            “…perfectly sensible sexy”

            to you. Others have disagreed.

            I’ll ask the reverse: why should she be sexy? What do you personally lose if she’s changed to be less gratuitously flaunting her appeal? Absolutely nothing Meanwhile, the rest of us get a character not visually dominated by her cleavage. Everyone’s happy, or should be if you lot weren’t so desperate to cry foul like your very rights are being forcibly removed!

          • TCM says:


            Look at it this way: You can still imagine her having larger boobs, nobody’s taking that away from you.

            Me, I feel glad I won’t have my eyes drawn to her cleavage instead of the surrounding scenery.

          • f69 says:


            I did not answer because it is irrelevant. It’s not about me personally. Why was the character designed that way in the first place? If nothing is lost, why put it there?

            “…to you. Others have disagreed.”

            They disagree that a commonplace low cut dress is something that is acceptable for a woman to wear? Ok… Sounds more medieval than modern. And they think their opinion matters more why?

            They can disagree. I disagree with many things. I don’t necessarily feel entitled those things are changed for my benefit or use heavy words like sexism in exaggeration.


            Use your imagination instead.

          • sophof says:

            These discussions become silly really fast. Advocating to ‘tone down’ a character because she is overly sexualized or unrealistic is a very bad idea. Men liking things for these reasons is perfectly harmless and has absolutely nothing to do with sexism. Implying that it does only serves to create a taboo.
            Yes, it would be nice if there was a better balance so that many games would also portray different kinds of women, but trying to force this by forcing the issue is exactly how you do not solve a problem. It is as effective as using ‘positive discrimination’; read, it achieves the opposite.

          • Very Real Talker says:

            it’s mostly hysteria

        • gwathdring says:

          @mattag08 What’s being allowed to thrive in it’s place exactly? The issue isn’t fantasies people have in their own heads. Anyone trying to take that way from you is an asshole. The issue is when particular fantasies that are strongly linked to problematic, anti-social attitudes become prevalent, public and widespread. Anyone who tries to make that point in a gender specific way (i.e. targeting problematic, stereotyped, and public male fantasies but not female ones) is also an asshole.

          For example: virtual pedophilia that never involves real-life exploited children? It’s protected by the Supreme Court in the United states and I’m just fine with that. I personally find it offensive, but I personally find a lot of things offensive. I have trouble watching shows like Southpark and playing games like Saints Row despite their relatively balanced “fuck it, let’s be offensive about everything” vibe (I hear tell Saints Row is slightly problematic in the gender department but I’ve heard mixed reviews on that so I take it with a grain of salt). Sure I think there’s something disturbing and unfortunate about being sexually attracted to children, but it’s not my business unless you start hurting people.

          So, if you want your stereotypical sex-object of either gender with an impossible anatomy and supernatural sexual stamina? Have it. Go nuts. Live that dream, watch that film. But if it starts hurting people? If people who don’t share your fantasy are routinely subjected to it because everyone assumes it’s the most natural fantasy? If you’re constantly compared to it in a way that’s damaging to your psyche or at the very least your social prospects? That’s not ok. It shouldn’t happen to men, it shouldn’t happen to women. Sexual fantasies and improbable anatomy isn’t the problem here–it’s the institutionalization of a small subset of fantasies in a way that causes at the very least homogenization of media and at the worst social stigma and dysfunction.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I’d be slightly worried if all games came with a pornographic subtext.

        EDIT: @f69, that is. Apparently any reply to that comments thread is broken…

    • Machinations says:


      First, I love how your comment starts with a sexist assumption (I assume you’re a man)

      Then you go on to state no women would work on imagery such as is present in the latest Hitman game.

      Which is of course utterly ridiculous. This is called reality where money matters. Again, sweeping generalizations being made.

      Women produce (not just perform in) pornography. Women producers help make the clothing model pin-ups that they know will appeal to their mostly female target demographic. Women are just as pragmatic as men; sex sells, its a reality.

      Basically you can stick your head in the sand and pretend that all misognyistic imagery is created by men, or you could try to accept reality – that is, some women perpetuate misogny as much as some men.

  27. Lydia says:

    I agree with you Nathan but I think it’d be fair to mention another problem that’s every bit as real as sexism: the women who DO use their bodies to get ahead in life. And I’m talking about intelligent, well behaved women (at least in public), who have no conscience when it comes to manipulating men (not all are pigs) by giving them false hope. There’s no one who can have it easier in life than an attractive woman, whether she has the necessary character defect or not. She WILL benefit immensely from her looks. If some guys say sexist things, I guarantee you it’s largely because they’re fed up with seeing pretty much everyone in a position of power giving hot women preferential treatment.

    Respect to everyone who doesn’t screw their way to the top of the ladder, but to hell with the hypocrites who pretend to be victims while sleeping around with their bosses, teachers or whoever can help make their lives even easier. If we stand up for hard working women, we should also do something about the ones whom we know have used sex to cheat decent people out of their jobs.

    So please don’t misinterpret what I said. I’m 100% with Nathan on this one, but I’m equally bothered by the other issue. And no one ever seems to talk about it, let alone DO something about it. Not all women are angels, don’t forget that. Some can appear perfectly respectable, while being every bit as cold and calculating as their male counterparts. Fight sexism, just don’t fall into naiveté.

    • AndrewC says:

      So, you’re not sexist but…what about all those women that are whores and bitches, amirite?

    • John Walker says:


    • RaveTurned says:

      Indeed, attractiveness is another form of privilege that can be used to gain preferential treatment – but it’s an orthogonal issue. I don’t see any reports of people having a hard time in the games industry because they’re not attractive enough, do you?

      Edit: Oh wait, I read the rest of your comment properly. So you’re saying attractive women have an advantage in life because of the implicit assumption that they’ll sleep with anyone? Right, because that’s an assumption *they’re* making, and there’s *no way* that could possibly be a disadvantage to those women or even dangerous. :/

    • Prime says:

      It’s…difficult to agree with you, “Lydia” – or even to respond with a civil tongue – when you are relying on arguments with as much straw in them as several farms worth of barns. There’s a massive problem, generally unacknowledged, that attractive but cold-hearted women are using their physical attributes to rob decent people of their jobs?

      Seriously? That’s what you’re bringing to this discussion?

      …You aren’t grinding a personal axe here, by any chance?

      • Lydia says:

        I knew there’d be someone just dying to misinterpret what I said. My position is perfectly clear, but you guys love arguing more. I never said ALL attractive women intentionally use their looks to get ahead in life, did I ? But if you think they don’t benefit from it, whether they want to or not, then you live outside reality. All I ask of you is to remember and acknowledge that there are women who do indeed climb the social ladder by using their charm (to say the least), while robbing hard working and MORE COMPETENT people of jobs that should be rightfully theirs. And yes, I’ve seen this happen all my life, everywhere I worked and studied. And so have you.

        What exactly is your problem again ? Am I too blunt ? Are the whores less guilty than the sexists ? Is the subject to sensitive ? Should I use more politically correct words ?

        • AndrewC says:

          Jolly good. Let’s assume that everything you have written is 100% A+ correct. What relevance is it to this? You’ve missed a bit of your argument.

          • Lydia says:

            It’s unfair to criticize only men all the time. White straight males in particular. The dicks of humankind, amirite ? This isn’t just about gaming and my question is: WHY are some men sexist ? Shouldn’t that be discussed instead of just pointing fingers ? Men aren’t sexist JUST BECAUSE. Nothing happens just because. Some of the reasons for men acting like dicks are indeed moronic and there’s no excuse for them. But others, like the one I mentioned, are REAL.

            And please don’t overlook the parts in my original post where I defended decent women. I don’t judge people based on sex. I look at what each individual does. A woman can be just as bad as a man and vice versa. But so far only men were the target of RPS’s attacks. Reminding the world that women have defects too would be too risqué, wouldn’t it ? We’re all more or less guilty in this situation, whether for lack of empathy or something worse, so let’s acknowledge that fact before doing anything else. Fair ?

          • Toberoth says:

            Oh my GOD

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            You basic idea that women are guilty of sexism too is well and correct. Leave up to men carrying the “Women Rights” flag to forget all about it and even deny it.

            The problem is the angle in which you approached that basic idea. It was just plain wrong.

        • Prime says:

          No, the problem is that the your central premise is of little significance to an argument about sexism within the gaming industry. Yes, women can and do profit from their looks, but do you know of specific examples within the industry? If you do, naming and shaming would be the way to go. Get it out into the open. But even then I bet you’d only have one or two examples, not nearly statistically significant enough to warrant further discussion.

          Additionally, Men profit from factors other than their intelligence and worthiness for employment: looks, money, social status, race (generally White), charisma, confidence, familial relationships (nepotism), political affiliations….we’ve ALL seen examples of people promoted into positions where better candidates existed, or where the winning candidate plainly wasn’t suitable. To ignore all of that to focus solely on attractive women implies an agenda, or at the very least intellectual dishonesty.

          It’s not that we are misinterpreting what you’ve said, it’s that we fundamentally disagree with the point you are trying to make.

          And to pick up a point you’ve just made to AndrewC, no-one is trying to put women on unassailable pedestals or claiming that they are sainted beings incapable of error or human weaknesses or even outright despicable behaviour. We’re just trying to get the horrible inequalities they suffer to stop so they can have the exact same chances to fail/succeed that we males enjoy.

          • Lydia says:

            Of course men are taking shortcuts too, but they’re already under attack. Women are always presented as being immaculate and that’s what bothered me. And I don’t work in the gaming industry, but I could give you not 2 examples of naughty women, but dozens. I know quite a few people’s dirty little secrets because for a while, digging up such secrets was my job. (I don’t expect you’d believe me and that’s fine). I have a pretty good picture of the average human’s character, be it male or female, and I have dirty little secrets of my own. I don’t think I’m better than everyone else, in case your’e wondering.

            I see nothing for us to disagree on. I’m simply tired of seeing the issue of sexism pop up and no one investigating it’s cause. Men aren’t just dicks, nothing’s ever that simple. And I came and pointed out 1 of the reasons why some men mistreat women. I never said that reason justifies sexism. I said we need to fight both sexism and the things that cause it. All of this is already in my original post, just worded differently.

          • Toberoth says:

            So what you’re essentially doing is blaming the victim.

            As a thought experiment, try translating your argument into a discussion of racism, rather than sexism. It would read like this: “Hey, white guys are being racist for a reason! Some black people really are lazy drug dealers who carry guns [or whatever other racist stereotype of your choice you want to employ]. Instead of thinking about how SYSTEMIC RACISM is a problem, let’s single out and villify specific examples of black people that we don’t like!”

            No, I’m afraid that argument doesn’t work with racism, and it doesn’t work with sexism either.

            Nobody here is saying that women are these perfect creatures that should be coddled and put on a podium, what is being argued for is equality, and the recognition that a woman is a PERSON and not just a GENDER. Some women are great, and some are assholes, some men are great, and some are assholes, some women are bad/good at games, some men are bad/good at games. The point is to not make fucking stupid gendered assumptions like “women are bad at games” or “women don’t know how to work in game design/programming” because they are just demonstrably not true, and they perpetuate stereotypes that make individuals feel like shit, and make the whole industry worse as a whole.

            And besides, your argument about women sleeping around or flirting or whatever to get what they want comes across as really, really misogynist, just FYI. It’s dangerously close to the whole “friend zone” argument, which is an appallingly illogical piece of hate-filled crap.

          • Machinations says:

            “The point is to not make fucking stupid gendered assumptions like “women are bad at games” or “women don’t know how to work in game design/programming”

            I suppose this would extend also to ‘male gamers are sexist’ ; reading the comments section, it appears there are a number of people trying to ‘one-up’ each other on how not sexist they are.

            I am glad we are talking about sexism in the gaming industry.

            However, the industry does not exist in a vacumn, and women working in the gaming industry would be considered pretty privileged by most of the world’s women, who are often working in sweatshops for very little pay.

            Until we confront the broader issues in our society – like who is buying the clothing from those sweatshops, and how women in the West are generally treated in technical industries like IT and engineering – all we are doing is making some noise, preaching to the choir, essentially. The typical RPS commenter is not on par with, say, your average douchebag on Xbox live.

            So, contrarian or no, I think the whole thing is sort of silly. Games are made that target women, but the adolescent male douchebag audience is much, much larger. Games are there to make money, not bask in feel-good emotions or drive social change. That is the reality, and no amount of hand-wringing or tweeting to hashtags will change that.

            So, bravo for the social piece, but why not focus on individual tales instead of tarring the entire industry with a sexist brush?

          • Ich Will says:

            ” I said we need to fight both sexism and the things that cause it.”

            You really want to know the root cause of sexism?

            For tens of thousands of years, men were allowed to treat women as possessions. As their personal belongings, to abuse as they wished. The inequality in power that developed lasts to this day.

          • mandrill says:

            ^^ This.

            Until we get past something that has been ingrained into our society for so long we’ve forgotten that it existed we’re not going to fix this. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, by no means. We should try, as hard as we can. It is not going to be easy, but nothing worth doing is.

          • gwathdring says:


            There’s a point where hunting for the biggest crisis in the world or the deepest root of a given problem becomes somewhat useless at the least and possibly even rather disingenuous. I between the argument that the entire gaming industry’s gender politics issues might be too broad for the average gamer to engage with and the argument that it might be too small a matter to demand our attention … I’d lean toward the former. There’s only so much we can do and while ideally we would help the least privileged first, practically speaking it’s a lot more efficient to work our way from the least-most oppressed to the most-most-oppressed.

            Even if you disagree on that very last point (I waver on it myself), my sphere of influence is already stretched when it comes to dealing with sexism in the gaming industry. I play games, I visit RPS a lot, I talk with gamers … and I speak out. We stopped going to a restaurant after tabletop sessions because of this time the staff made uncomfortable and suggestive comments to one of our players. I call people out when I’m in public gaming spaces. I post in discussions like this, and I make comments even in lost-cause locations like Youtube comment threads. I listen when people think I’m being unfair, I’m critical of my own privilege and aware that I do things that don’t seem problematic to me but are problematic to others. I’m aware that social pressures can effect me no matter how “good” a person I am.

            But I can’t fix everything. I only have so much time, so many financial resources … I can’t avoid buying everything that’s bad for the environment or everything that’s made by a politically, socially, or morally irresponsible company. I make mistakes, I run out of time, I run out of money for the pricier but “better” products and companies, I end up buying games on ridiculous steam sales instead of DRM free from GOG or the developer, I ignore uncomfortable situations when I could step in and speak up. And when you say that the people who REALLY need help are the ones completely outside of my sphere of experience and influence? I agree in an abstract way. And I want to care. And on some level I do. And sometimes, when I see an opportunity to do something little? I’ll do it. At the least, I keep my ears open and try to stay educated about issues worldwide. But the influence of RPS and it’s audience only goes so far. Let’s be a little more grounded, and not worry about sweatshop labor in discussions about sexism on RPS. I don’t think the discussion is made silly by the existence of greater problems elsewhere; if it is silly, there are better reasons (one in particular that you mention–preaching to the choir) to bring up that aren’t themselves farcical.

    • Earl Grey says:


      So it’s not men letting/making women have sex with them so said person can get a promotion that’s the problem then? But a woman having to use sex to get promotion is?

      Sorry I don’t get it. Somehow I doubt it’s the fault of women that this culture exists.

      • Lydia says:

        You want to argue for the hell of it. Nowhere did I say that men are better. And tell me this, do the men actually put a gun to their female employee’s heads and force them into sex ? You can’t be that naive. Both parties are guilty. It’s a disgusting symbiotic relationship.

        • Ich Will says:

          You sling around the word naive a lot, especially when people dispute your points. Insecure perhaps? I would say your idea that the only way a man can force a woman to have sex with him is to put a gun to her head is naive.

          • Lydia says:

            No, it’s you guys who make women look like helpless creatures, because an abused woman, believe it or not, has several ways to defend herself. Did you know that ?

          • Ich Will says:

            Wait, so you really do believe the only way to force someone to have sex is to put a gun to their heads! What if that gun is replaced with socio-economic pressure or blackmail?

            What’s your next revelation – women who claim to be raped when no firearm was involved were really asking for it?

        • SuicideKing says:

          Maybe not an actual gun to the head, but a metaphoric one, yes.

        • Earl Grey says:

          Oh no, I’m not wanting an argument. I certainly didn’t suggest you think men are better either.

          I just disagree with the assertion that woman who do use their gender (for whatever reasons) are just as guilty in propagating it. Spare me the talk of women using sexual manipulation of ‘well-meaning’ men to get what they want. That does not mean he is absolved of the guilt in continuing that culture. Ultimately the responsibility still lies with those who let that ‘advantage’ continue. That’s what needs to change.

          I’m not saying woman can do no wrong and granted some actions don’t always help. But it is disingenuous to say, as per your post, that its a calculated action by all woman who have done it and that they are culpable in it continuing.

    • Ich Will says:

      Your point is nullified by the point that nearly everybody has a different idea of what is “attractive”. Despite what the popular media and your schoolfriends taught you, there is no such thing as an unattractive person nor is there any such thing as a person who due to a physical feature more attractive to a wider audience. It’s far more about personality and confidence.

      • Lydia says:

        You shouldn’t patronize people you know nothing about. Especially when your opinion on attractiveness is, I’m sorry to say, just naive, politically correct nonsense. In some cases, people are attracted to atypical qualities or even defects in a person, but almost all the time it boils down to wanting to have sex with someone with a great body. The kind you see in magazines. Don’t fool yourself, it’s not gonna do you any good. The world is often ugly and unfair. And I’m sorry if I’m harsh, but I’m trying to be honest here. And I really don’t feel like linking pictures of models versus (much) less physically attractive women. I don’t have to.

        • Ich Will says:

          Yeah, I used to think like that too, then I grew up a good 40 years.

          When you have been married to the same person for 35 years who has ruined their body by having your children and you find them more attractive than any fishlipped, airbrushed and painfully trendy “model” poncing around in the latest fashion magazine, come back and re-read your comment, let us know how you feel then.

          I know you find it difficult to empathise with a position which seems at odds with what hollyoaks tells you to be true, but most people in this world have happily settled down with someone who is not even close to how people are portrayed in magazines etc.

          On the plus side, it’s nice to be called politically correct for once in my life, I may print this out and frame it, it’s not likely to happen again.

          • Toberoth says:

            I like you, Ich Will.

          • Lydia says:

            Intentionally, or for lack of paying attention, you made the erroneous assumption that I was talking about MY tastes, when I was (obviously) talking about people in general. That sermon should be addressed to whoever obsesses about those airbrushed models, cause I’m certainly not one of them. But you assumed I am because hey, on the internet one always has to assume the worst…

          • Ich Will says:

            Maybe it’s because you’re the one describing them as attractive as opposed to those other ugly women.

            Some of your quotes providing evidence of this:

            “There’s no one who can have it easier in life than an attractive woman”

            ” I never said ALL attractive women intentionally use their looks to get ahead in life, did I ? But if you think they don’t benefit from it, whether they want to or not”

            ” but almost all the time it boils down to wanting to have sex with someone with a great body. The kind you see in magazines. ”

            ” linking pictures of models versus (much) less physically attractive women”

          • gwathdring says:

            I’m don’t agree with Lydia’s posts for other reasons, but suggesting that social pressure has nothing to do with perceptions of attractiveness is somewhat silly. There are extenuating circumstances, I hope you realize, when you’re in a matured relationship and have built up a tower of habits (some of them chemical, courtesy of your brain) and history with a single person for multiple decades. Attractiveness is a fundamentally different beast for you than for some people because you have a fundamentally different physiological and psychological experience as a result of your long term relationship.

            Popular media has an enormous impact on perceptions of attraction and if you really want I’m sure I could dig up some respected psychological studies on the matter. At a certain level, sexual attractiveness is automatic … but there’s enough power in what we’ve been conditioned to find sexually attractive to create both a significant variance in ideas of sexual attractiveness from culture to culture and a astoundingly consistent ideas of sexual attractiveness across a single culture. There will always be personal variations, there will always be outlier individuals, and there will always be differences based on age, sexual experience, and personal history. None of that allows you to, with your personal experience, discredit the idea of broad social pressures (such as visual media) influencing sexual attitudes in a given social sphere.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I mean, it’s a valid point that women can be socially conservative too, and promote negative gender stereotypes. But I don’t think this is the issue in this case – I don’t think, for example, that women on Xbox live will sexually abuse people online.

      • Toberoth says:

        Well, they might–there was that case (can’t remember details, happened a few years ago) where a middle-aged woman used XBox live to arrange sexytimes with a 15 year old boy. That is obviously problematic. But the important thing to bear in mind is that cases like this are remarkable because of the rarity with which they occur: there’s no systemic abuse poured on men by women purely because of their gender.

        • Lydia says:

          In reply to your post about racism… that wall of text was entirely unnecessary, but you would have known that if you had read the bit where I said: the fact that some women are sleeping around is ONE of the reasons why some men are sexist. I also said that it’s not an excuse for them to be sexist, it’s just how their minds work. Comprende now ?

          I’m wasting my time with people like you who only see what they want to see. Well keep up the good work. I’m gonna go have a chat with my sexist white straight male friends.

          • gwathdring says:

            Do you think men who assume most women are or should be sexually available to them think so because they observe women in their life to be casually promiscuous without any influence whatsoever from cultural stereotypes and privileged status? This is where his comments about racial attitudes become relevant. White people can be racist without ever encountering -insert racial stereotype here- in practice. Studies about racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination suggest that seeing a small number of people confirm a socially-empowered bias against a target group can strengthen that bias even when the confirmation makes up the minority of your encounters with the target group. The good news is that, while they are reinforced easily by outliers, people who frequently interact with the targets of the prejudice being tested can build up strong explicit counter-biases and even start to change their socially-induce implicit attitudes.. Implicit Attitude Tests find people who are otherwise perfectly reasonable are plenty likely to show prejudice when their explicit attitudes are bypassed by a series of fast-response tests; this doesn’t mean that everyone is a closet sexist because society is sexist, but it does mean that societal pressures get under our skin and are always there underneath most people’s explicit attitudes.

            Rather than (in your argument) men being sexist BECAUSE they see women behave in stereotypical ways, research suggests to me that men develop sexist attitudes in the absence of sufficiently strong counter-biases. Those sexist attitudes than cause them to selectively screen data they collect for evidence of women who behave in stereotypical ways–ignoring whether or not they make up the majority of encountered women. Men who spend less time with women, or at least less time with women who don’t fit their biases, are more likely to retain those biases. Even men lacking these explicit biases are likely to have implicit biases (that probably have no effect on their day-to-day behavior towards women, but probably influenced how easy it was to develop their explicit attitudes about women, and will make it easier to develop culturally supported attitudes about women in the future).

    • SuicideKing says:

      What do you mean by “well behaved (at least in public)”? This “well behaved” thing’s causing a lot of problem in my country, as far as feminism is concerned.

      Tell me, well behaved is what exactly? Not being flirty, etc? And i don’t see how someone who’s intelligent would necessarily conform to society’s notion of good behavior.

    • jorygriffis says:

      You are a peddler of insidious, horrible, broken things.

  28. JackDandy says:

    Man, I don’t even give a shit. I just wanna play some videogames

    • celozzip says:

      it’s 2012. you’re not allowed to do that anymore, mate. everything is serious business and you must feel guilty everytime you play a game because deep down you know there weren’t enough “strong sassy intelligent independent female women grrrrl gamers” involved in its production. feel bad now? i hope so.

    • Prime says:

      But you gave enough of a shit to register your disapproval? How very hypocritical of you…

    • Gap Gen says:

      Well, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist, a socialist or a trades unionist, so I’m pretty set, too. Anyone for some BLOPS?

    • pyrrhocorax says:

      Men can say that easily. When you’re not a man, you CAN’T just not give a shit and play some video games. The video games themselves reject you. It sucks. This is the problem.

      • SuicideKing says:


      • mandrill says:

        And you are conditioned from birth by the “These things are for you, these things are not” indoctrination that the majority of us put our children through. Simply adding to the social pressure.

        • TCM says:

          For the record, I do believe in clearly defined gender roles, as it were, that the majority of people subscribe to — I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.

          What is a bad thing is the social stigma and mockery associated with ever stepping outside those little role boxes.

  29. Squirm says:

    social justice league!

    fuck yeah.

    wait no, fuck it, i’m out.

    • Unaco says:

      Goodbye. I don’t think you’ll be missed.

    • cai says:

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Toberoth says:

      Enjoy Kotaku.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Ugh, I HATE justice!

    • SuicideKing says:

      Bye, see you in 2073, when we celebrate 200 years of RPS.

    • Machinations says:

      While juvenile, he is sort of right.

      RPS is not exactly an influential beacon that is going to change the minds of the children on Xbox live who ask every female voice to make them a sandwich. They are children, and they do stupid things. This happens everywhere, the internet just empowers them to be douchebags because they are anonymous.

      I just think it’s really petty and narrow-minded to focus on the gaming industry while ignoring the broader social context in which sexism exists.

      Further, underrepresentation of women in certain fields – such as programming or engineering – is more accurately the root of the issue.

      That, and the fact that games are made to MAKE MONEY – not to drive social change. The adolescent douchebag market aforementioned is many times larger than the female gaming market. Ergo, games targeting adolescent mindsets are made. Often the developers are fairly adolescent themselves.

      • realmenhuntinpacks says:

        I think every industry (certainly the creative ones) have been grappling with these issues for a long time. I personally feel that games are a confirmed part of the art/entertainment/culture edifice and should be accorded the same weight of consideration. That this debate is happening should make any gaming type rejoice. RPS absolutely should be harping on this – a lot of the antis seem to be saying ‘games are silly so don’t worry about the rampant discrimination’. To me, they’re culture. This is important insomuch as it is to film, literature and music.

  30. Vander says:

    No, i don’t get it. Seriously. What do you want us to do exactly? Personally, i don’t say sexist things on mp games, i report those who do, i don’t discriminate against women, what the hell you want me to do more, as a player?

    Because its nice and all to say that we should do something, but what exactly?

    • Prime says:

      Do you always rely on people to tell you how to do stuff, shining green arrows directing you to the next waypoint? Or do you, I dunno, occasionally use that magnificent (no trace of sarcasm here) brain of yours to figure stuff out for yourself? Because this might be one of those times.

      And remember, we don’t know you or what you can do so could only advise in the most general terms. So let’s now reverse your question back at you: what exactly can you do to help?

      • Vander says:

        Thats my point: i don’t know. I don’t work in the industry, i have no power on who are employed by them. I act, i think, in a not sexist way, isnt that enough?

        • Prime says:

          Why are you asking me? Only you can answer those questions for you. Do you think what you are doing is enough? Is there anything more you can do? Is there a way to make the people that matter listen to your opinion? Are there other ways in which you could help?

          My point is: if someone tells you what to do, and you do it, that may stop you from thinking of the one blindingly original thing that everyone else has overlooked, the one key to turn that solves the problem or leads to a new way of tackling it. You ARE that creative and powerful. You already have it in you to answer your questions, you just need to find them for yourself.

          • Machinations says:

            Based on this comments thread I assume most people think ‘doing what they can’ means posting sanctimonious comments and telling everyone how great and not sexist they are, while slandering anyone with even a slightly more nuanced view.

          • AndrewC says:

            You are doing to everyone else exactly what you claim they are doing to you.

          • Machinations says:


            Sure I am chief. Care to elaborate on my zealotry?

          • AndrewC says:

            Calling everyone names who doesn’t agree with you. You are doing it all over the thread. Stop.

          • Machinations says:

            No, I am calling out pretentious twaddle. You can call that ‘names’ if you like, where I come from it is called ‘legitimate debate’.

            Perhaps you can un-say some of the ridiculous assertions you have made? In which case I will gladly retract my allegations of a holier-than-thou attitude.

          • AndrewC says:

            ‘sanctimonious’, ‘pretentious’, ‘moralism police’ and ‘secret society of feminists’ (you will have to remind me of your exact phrasing on that one).

          • Vander says:

            To be honest, it was more of a rethorical question. (the last one).

            To phrase it better (i precise: english is not my first language, it is my third and i don’t speak it very well): I don’t see what i can do more. Or, Nathan ask us to do more. So i ask, what do you expect us to do, because i don’t see what i can do. Saying think for yourself is an esay answer, and not one who will make the issue advance. And ironic answers about my intelligence are not nice, sir.

            And thats from a guy who will be thrilled to see more female gamers: the fact that i play a lot has been a major problem in a lot of my romantic relations. If women were more attracted to the medium, i would have more chance to encounter one with whom i can share my main hobby.

          • Machinations says:

            Moral Brigade for the Defense of Femininity in Gaming Revolutionary Committee, I believe.

      • limimi says:

        This is the second time this response has been given to someone asking what men should do to stop being the worst and it seems like a broken argument. For starters, Grayson is able, both intellectually and by virtue of his job and position, of offering ideas and help to men to help them “stop acting like self-centered slobs” and “stop turning every step of progress into an agonizing uphill battle.”

        What is the answer men get when they ask what they can do? ‘I’m not your boss, go figure it out for yourself.’ Well then, that’s certainly a good way to inspire a group of apathetic and insecure gamers to get off their ass.

        As for this gentleman in particular, it sounded to me like he was doing everything he could think to do and he was asking Grayson, who is passionate enough to write this article in the first place, if he could perhaps maybe offer some suggestions of ways to help.

        Especially considering how many commenters felt the article was worded in such a way as to make all men feel guilty for not doing enough, what is wrong with asking for ways to do more?

        • SuicideKing says:

          Well, my turn to feminism came a few years ago, when i was 16 i think. I looked around me. I saw stuff, heard stuff, thought about my own actions, observed their consequences. I analyzed and understood others actions and consequences. I have a fair number of female friends, so i heard their stories, and slowly and shockingly learned how widespread gender issues are.

          Then there was a certain gender issues workshop, more events, realizations, etc.

          Then it became a conscious act of self control and a very determined one at that, to destroy whatever stereotypes and gender roles had built up in my head. I was lucky, there weren’t so many in my case. But simple stuff like resisting looking at boobs (even though it can be a totally sub-consortium process) and other stuff.

          Then comes the phase where you have that courage in you to tell people (both in and outside of your peer group) they’re being sexist, at the same time discussing it, not simply accusing them of it.

          Now if i do end up dating that girl i like (*wink* :D ), i won’t be the sexist douchebag a lot of guys my age tend to be. And it’s not only that, it’s supporting female friends and family, taking on gender roles, fuck even wearing purple/pink.

          This was my way, everyone will have to develop their own. There’s perhaps no right or wrong way.

          Cheers! :)

          P.S. I’m in third-world Asia, sexism here is perhaps more severe than Europe/USA, thus my approach has evolved accordingly.

      • cai says:

        The point, as it clearly says in the article, is that if you pay developers for games perpetuating hateful representations of particular groups, you are complicit in their exclusion from the industry. So don’t buy those games.

        Also, call out people who *are* being sexist, because most of them are probably thoughtless rather than evil. If you add your social pressure to this situation, you will make changes happen.

        • mandrill says:

          Edit: This was meant to be a reply to the OP, apologies

          Don’t just be nice in online games and report those who aren’t. Step up and challenge them. Don’t be nasty about it, don’t stoop to their level. Ask they why they’re behaving the way they are. Try and prompt them to think about what they’re doing and whether they really believe in it, or if they’re just going along with the crowd. Don’t just dismiss them, as distasteful as it might be, engage them.

          I’ve found that a simple “Woah! Not cool man.” is often enough. But I’ve been playing in the less bile filled parts of the internet so I don’t know if that would fly in X-Station land.

          Is that enough of an answer?

          This is a battle that, from reading the comments here, we are capable of winning. One person at a time if necessary.

    • RakeShark says:

      As a player/consumer, you can continue to talk to people about it as a topic alongside “So I found this Kickstarter project” and “So Star Wars 7?” This isn’t to say start preaching and marching on Washington like MLK, but for the interest of equality and what’s morally right, it would behoove you to talk to people about it: Friends, family, strangers.

      This is also in part a self reflection exercise, I know while it feels natural for me to not be sexist, there are probably a few sexist opinions and reactions I harbor that feel “normal” to me and society but are hurtful and demeaning to women. The difference between myself and “the problem” however, I hope, is that I’m mentally cognizant and capable of changing my behavior at the base level, not just “temporarily adjusting” whenever there’s a female around, when one of these sexist parts of me rears its head.

      As the song goes, keep on a’walkin’, keep on a’talkin’, we’re gonna build a brand new world.

    • Fox89 says:

      @Vander: I think a good place to start might just be to help introduce people to more female focussed content. Perhaps find some journalists you like, Leigh Alexander for example, and post the link to some friends who are into games.

      Maybe a few go and read her stuff. Maybe one or two particularly like the writing style and start regularly reading it. And there you go, a female presence in games becomes just a bit more like ‘the norm’ to those people, and less like a novelty.

      Also be sure to speak up when you see something particularly sexist, like you have been doing with people on Multiplayer, but to the developers. By that I mean: an RPG comes out with 3 dudes clapped out in heavy armour, and a single female character with giant breasts and a leotard that barely keeps the breeze off her nipples. Get on the developers forum, find or make a thread about it, and register how ridiculous it is, and how it reinforces the sterotypes of women as sex objects. Your voice won’t make them notice at all. But maybe if it’s one of a thousand, they will.

      We don’t need 30% of the men in the games industry to be fired and replaced by women, we just need people in general to pay a little more attention to the content that they put out and the kinds of messages it sends. And for the record, a lot of people would just ignore abuse the hear hurled at girls over a game. By reporting it you’re already making a bit of a difference, even if it’s hard to notice.

    • gwathdring says:

      There’s no need to take it as personal offense. Maybe you do everything you can. Good for you! Perhaps, then, the article isn’t asking you personally to do more if you feel like you already do enough. Be open to the idea that you don’t, be open to the idea that you screw up and perpetuate unfortunate attitudes without noticing, and otherwise keep doing what you’re doing and don’t get mad at Nathan for not writing an article that takes your personal contributions into account.

  31. Isometric says:

    I’ve tried to retweet as much of the stuff as I can and made a few blog posts and have been discussing it fervently on facebook for the couple of days. Things need to change.

  32. CommanderZx2 says:

    Oh dear I was hoping this soap box opera wasn’t going to appear here. Oh well I guess everyone is jumping on this bandwagon.

  33. derella says:

    This is why I’m so supportive of Bioware, despite their recent missteps with DA2/ME3. They have always included the option of a female protagonist, and are one of the few game developers out there who have included gay/lesbian/bisexual characters.

    It’s surprising how nice it feels to be included.

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      They also made a race of all female blue strippers purely for the horny teenager club and their representation of sexuality is rather grievous, being more of an excuse for shoddy, artificial soft porn than anything else.

      I can believe it’s nice to be included but is it really nice to be included in something that bad?

  34. Henke says:

    Can’t help but feel like Nathan’s message of “I don’t care what you do: just speak up” would carry more weight if he hadn’t indulged us in a story of how he himself failed to do so when faced with opposing viewpoints IRL.

    I doesn’t make him wrong, of course, just a bit hypocritical to demand other people to speak up while he’s sitting there biting his tongue.

    • Prime says:

      You could look at it that way, I suppose. Or you could see that Nathan was inspired by that moment to sit down and work out what was the best response (because as he stated, launching himself across the room to pummel his friends was not the civilized way to respond) and to write this fine, thoughtful and eloquent article which he can now refer to, or point his friends to in future?

      Sometimes the correct response isn’t always blindingly obvious at the the moment the issue occurs. As I see it he’s done the most intelligent thing possible, and has not been a hypocrite in any sense.

      • Laurentius says:

        But seeing “a wee bit’ inconsistency between proposed means by Mr Grayson and actual RPS actions, artical come across a bit “pointing fingers is hard work”.

      • Henke says:

        lol yeah

        “Excuse me sir, but you are incorrect in your assumption that you are powerless to stop misogyny just because you are a man. If you would care to know more please visit link to rockpapershotgun.com

        Anyway, sure you can look at it different ways. To you it may look like he did the gentlemanly thing by not responding, to me it looks more like he didn’t have the nerve and then wrote a big article about it to assauge his guilt over his own inactivity.

        • Prime says:

          You assume the worst of people where I do not. Fair enough. I can’t argue with that.

  35. Shaz says:

    Thank you for this, Nathan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This kind of thing is EXACTLY what is needed, especially because you’re a man. If this situation is ever going to improve, men HAVE to stand up for this. Why? Because we poor, sad little women, when we say anything about this, we’re ‘imagining things’ or ‘exaggerating things’ or we’re ‘over emotional’ or we’re ‘hysterical’ or we ‘should just grow a pair and it’ll all be fine’ or any of a million other catch phrases that equal ‘shush now- I am experiencing no problem, thus there is no problem.’

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Really now? Since when women lost the ability to stand for their rights? When was it that you started to depend on men for that? If you are a woman as you say you are, do yourself a favor and don’t degrade yourself so much.

      This whole “sexism in games” debate is one of the most stupid things I’ve have yet to witness. Here on RPS it has in fact taken a surreal tone. In one article you have to thread carefully or be accused of being a “gobshite apologist”, on another of ridding a high horse or of being an hypocrite, yet on another you are told should speak up. Wait a minute! What on heart do you REALLY want?

      When I speak for single-player games (which is a game-centric topic) I’m told to go sulk in the corner, the world is different now and multiplayer games are da thing. My position is apparently of a minority and no one gives a damn about the fact I’m probably losing to segregation.

      But here we are discussing one of the most boring topics imaginable to gaming debate. Sexism is a much broader issue. It doesn’t belong to games! It will only see a solution in games when you change the world outside games. So discuss it there!

      • AndrewC says:

        Take care of the pennies and they pounds take care of themselves. Changing the world starts with changing yourself. Change starts from the ground up, not the top down. We’re gamers, so let’s do what we can to make our little bit of the world better, and if everyone does that, the world as a whole gets better all by itself.

        The world is not a thing, it is only what is made up of all the things that are in it. Including games and including you. How you act matters.

        How you are acting at the moment is equating you not liking multi-player games to women only being allowed to vote in the last 100 years.

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          You can spin it all you want and turn my argument against me. But nothing will change the fact that until you speak with your elected officials, nothing will change. And when it hopefully does, it will change for everyone, including the gaming industry. And when you do speak with your elected officials you are not speaking in the name of the gaming industry. You are speaking in the name of women. Nothing could be further away from a game-centric debate.

          So, what to so something about it? Stop wasting everyone’s time and discuss sexism as it should be discussed. As a social and political problem. And handle it as such.

          Now, let’s in the meanwhile do something more productive on RPS. About single-player games….

          • realmenhuntinpacks says:

            Mario – oh my life. You ever heard ‘the personal is the political’?

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            I’ve heard numerous things. The problem still exists though.

            You know the feature title of this article is Inaction is Cancer. How presumptuous of anyone who buys boobs and tits on games, who doesn’t care to know what companies exactly are discriminating against women, who reviews games no matter their sexist content or how sexist the company behind them is,… how presumptuous of them to think they aren’t afflicted by the same cancer just because they SPEAK UP!

            Women fought for their rights on the streets, my friend. On the streets. Not behind some stupid computer while pretending they care. Want to fight? It won’t be as pretty as you think, Are you ready to have to abandon probably more than half the companies and game titles you so much love?

          • Prime says:

            You do a lovely line in drama, Mario. I think if many people realised they could have companies that treat all people equally and fairly rather than constantly pandering to puerile adolescent stereotypes then, yes please, they’d happily lose those companies they “love”.

          • realmenhuntinpacks says:

            Oh man. What the hell are you on about now? I’m perfectly aware of this ‘fighting on the streets’ that you’re purposelessly bringing up. The reason I’m still replying to you is because it worries me that you can’t connect the dots here – why are you all in favour of direct action but seem to think it’s not worth carrying that attitude into every part of life? It comes off like you’re proposing action in the visible, publicly accountable ‘real world’, but not elsewhere. I don’t get it. And also don’t worry so much, I very much doubt it will be ‘not as pretty as [I] think’. I’m not sure what you’re alluding to there either Mario. Just care about each other. That’s all this is really about.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            You know very well what I’m on about. You just choose to deflect it and call it nonsense because it probably troubles you. Put your actions where your mouth is, is what i’m telling you to do. Want to do something about this problem? Act!

            But one thing is coming to a forum and speak up for equality isn’t it? Another thing is actually doing something about it. Something that will go against your desires. Like playing games. Games that are either themselves an offense to what you say you defend or developed by companies that are the perpetrators of sexual discrimination.

            Maybe when Witcher 1 was all the rave on RPS and I spoke against it for its clear use of the female character as a sexual object you could collect, you should have been there standing by me. But I don’t remember you. In fact I don’t remember anyone on this thread. Neither I remember anyone from the now so vocal RPS staff All I remember was me being ridiculed for it. But then, sexism on videogames wasn’t the trendy topic back then, was it?

            It’s oh so cool to discuss sexism now, isn’t it? It is. Pass me some more tea, please, you cool worried person you.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Let’s just quote Martin Niemöller over and over! It’ll be fun.

        I agree that sexism is a wider problem in society. So why not combat it wherever you can?

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          Right. And that’s why it’s still a problem after all these centuries. You know, presumptuous and fallacious quotes never impressed me.

          But so be it. Want to take the fight to the gaming industry? You want to believe you can help solve the problem from here? Fine,. So let’s all get real about it. Let’s fight!

          Ready? 1, 2, 3…

          What companies aren’t hiring women or discriminating women on their wages or their resumes? No, really! C’mon, Let’s investigate. You want to fight, You need someone to fight against, not just some undeclared enemy no one sees or knows exactly who it is. Do those companies happen to be your favorite game developers? Makers of Fallout and Elder Scrolls perhaps? Maybe Borderlands? are they? too bad, it’s time you fight right. So don’t buy from them. And RPS naturally, since it’s all so concerned about the whole sexism problem should boycott reviews and news on them.

          You are concerned over boobs and naked skin? Fair enough. Don’t buy boobs and skin. Don’t buy anything resembling the gratuitous exploitation of the female being. And RPS naturally, since it’s all so concerned about the whole sexism problem should boycott reviews and news on them.

          Fell that there aren’t enough women on games? Great. Stop playing multiplayer games until you can manage to recruit your female friends. Help increase their ratio. And RPS naturally, since it’s all so concerned about the whole sexism problem, should boycot,,, wait, should do one of those “Let’s join the RPS Team” accepting nothing less than a 50-50 ratio.

          Want to bring the fight into games? Is that it? So be ready to make some concessions. Hard ones. Until then get off my lawn bunch of middle class hypocrites professing causes for the sake of dicussing them with some teas and biscuits instead of actually doing something about them.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Well, the relevance of the quote is that you don’t have to be part of a minority experience prejudice to fight for liberal values. Fighting for liberal society is an important thing in its own right, in whatever capacity you choose to do it.

            Anyway, your points:
            Hiring – The Brad Wardell thing, for example, is worrying, but that’s more of an individual. But sure, an article on hiring practices with an eye to changing unfair practices would be interesting. Also worth noting that it’s important to allow maternity leave, to not prejudice against people who do have children, etc (this is important for reasons beyond gender equality, as Germany will tell you when it has a demographic crisis in a few decades).

            Boobs – well, aside from the fact I don’t buy many of these, the issue is not sexualisation, it’s the context of it. Why does Catwoman experience systematic sexual threats, but not Batman? Isn’t homosexual assault common in prison populations? It’s a result of wider systemic problems, I think, rather than a problem of seeing naked flesh in games (see the ire of the Christian right over Mass Effect’s tame sexy-times, for example).

            Not playing multiplayer – not really going to help, surely? The point is not to destroy the community, but to build on it, to make it stronger, more vibrant. Sure, gaming is ghettoising itself in many ways, but the solution is not to eradicate it entirely.

            Not enough action – this is a fair point, perhaps, which underlies all your points, I see. But then the RPS article is the kind of thing that is needed in developing an issue in liberal society, since as, again my quote points out, saying something is an important step, even if you’re not bombing postboxes or going on hunger strikes. The point of liberal society is to empower discourse and peaceful protest, such that people don’t have to resort to more violent methods. Calling people out on sexism is an important part of the necessary social pressure.

            EDIT: Whoops, long post. Sorry!

      • Shaz says:

        @Mario Figueiredo: Really now? You think I don’t stand up for myself? You got that I don’t stand up for myself, despite my listing the things that tend to be said in response, things that I specifically have been told when I DO stand up for myself? I never asked (or meant for it to sound like I was asking) for the men to pick this up and do all the work and carry this on. No, I had meant to point out that this discussion cannot come from ONLY women. I was talking about how people won’t think that there is a problem until they see people they can relate to noticing and talking about the problem. Look back at history and you can see this type of thing time and time again, it never works when it’s only one group that stands up for itself and says ‘something is wrong’. It never works until that spreads and others that are completely out of that group says ‘yes, I see, something IS wrong’ and starts talking about it. Only then can the seed of future change get planted and things really begin.

        Ugh. I don’t want to argue with you. I agree that the sexism thing is far larger than the gaming community, but, well, it has to start somewhere. It’s not going to magically happen everywhere at once. There has to be a flash point, somewhere things begin and then spread from.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yup, i pretty much agree with you…have heard my female friends complain about similar stuff in many more things, beyond gaming.

          It’s like, if you’re not doing very well in class because the education system is suited to a particular learning method, and that’s not your method, and you complain, you’re compared to the person who’s getting 90+% or A grades in all their subjects, just because they can cram stuff up or whatever. (Here I’m drawing on my own education system btw).

          Not perhaps the best example, but for those who can’t relate to what you’re saying…may help.

  36. Oban says:

    Okay, let me speak up.

    I’m so endlessly tired of this shit popping up every two minutes, you can’t believe it…
    It’s like a few feminists have gained a foothold in the “Gaming Community” and noticed that people are apparently paying exceeding attention as can be seen here, and now they make a big deal out of every little thing, like someone uttering the words “girlfriend mode” or a company trying to make a Tarantino-esque trailer.

    It’s come to the point where game designers apparently can’t portray women as anything else than catholic-nun type characters without raising some sort of mini-shitstorm and moral outrage somewhere (mostly here).

    Like even Ken Levine for Bioshock Infinite found out, showing even the slightest amount of risqué with the garments of your characters designing them immediately calls upon the internet angry-men: link to rockpapershotgun.com
    Which leads to changes in character artworks: link to images4.wikia.nocookie.net

    The God of War team has announced that they’re pulling back on “violence against women”, because as fellow journalists can attest that is immeasurably worse than violence against men (which is okay).

    • Oban says:

      On some of the recent KickStarter projects even the slightest amount of skin or sexuality displayed on female characters (while ignoring almost any sign on the males) conjures a storm of righteous indignation and dozens of threads and forum posts and whatnot and leads to changes like this: link to i.imgur.com
      This is another more recent example: link to kickstarter.com

      And then it’s always the same tired story about athletically built female characters apparently being a “male fantasy” and male characters being built like hulking mountains of flesh or equally athletic a “male power fantasy” trying to give men the shit end of the stick in any case.

      Saying that even characters like Lara Croft, with all the self-determination in the world, lots and lots of money, her own mansion and a butler, an athletic physique and desirable by anyone, who travels around the world doing as she pleases while not having to listen to anyone, looting tombs and devastating temples of old civilizations all the while shooting dinosaurs with handguns is somehow all bad because she happens to sport a pair of tits, which a majority of other women do too.
      She’s basically the female version of Batman, yet for that one thing being looked down upon as a “male fantasy”.

      • Gwyddelig says:

        Sorry but that’s rather missing the point. IMO. Lara started out 100% front and centre as a pair of outrageously large and unreal breasts. It’s rather hard to get past that gobshitery to engage with any positive female role-model stuff. Which in any event is considerably more about a male power fantasy anyhow. As you said yourself, a female batman.

      • Jorum says:

        Not because she had tits. Because she had extremely large tits which – lets be honest – were put there to titillate men.
        All those amazing things you mention, but then “yeah but guy won’t find her interesting or engaging unless she has a massive pair of tits”

        Imagine Arkham Batman costume had little cut-outs for his nipples and solar plexus, and skintight trousers which carefully displayed the contours of his massive dong. You don’t think that would slightly cheapen the character? And telling men – sure you can be all the things Batman is, but it’s not enough unless you also have an enormous penis.

    • Oban says:

      I can’t fucking stand the faux moral superiority complexes and double standards anymore. I’m exhilarated at the thought that you find this to be amongst the things that “actually matter” the most in the world though.
      We are down to a point where a consensual act of sexual nature between two adults is apparently considered “sexual assault” by journalists and worth a bi-weekly outrage: link to gameranx.com

      For another more neutral stance on the issue, this is worth reading: link to forbes.com

      • blind_boy_grunt says:

        -objection! relevance?

        -overruled. Carry on, mr. oban.

    • Oban says:

      As for the lack of women in the industry, just look at any computer science study class in about any university and notice the male-to-female ratio in them and it is a rather obvious explanation. Why should they hire people that don’t have the proper skills or might generally be uninterested in the field? It’s like they demand a proper quota of 40-50% of developers to be filled by women.

      Studios like UbiSoft or EA are even looking for female employees to produce targeted games and offer a different perspective, to the point that they did specific recruitment videos, as well as some press releases and sponsorships to promote such a thing:

      link to peninsulapress.com a-releases-more-games-for-girls/

      “Even though we’ve made strides in the last few years, it’s pretty horrifying that we’re still under 10 percent of women in the gaming workforce,” she said. She attributed this to the fact that the majority of programmers are still male.

      “One reason for the underrepresentation of women in the games industry is that women often perceive a lack of fit when they compare themselves to the traditional computer-science major/computer programmer,” she said.

      “Yang agreed, saying that encouraging education at an early age, specifically driven by more math and science for girls, would alleviate the career disparities and stereotypes later in life.”

      But if a lot of people are simply not interested in the job or the field in general and computer science study classes are only 5-10% women tops, to even the dismay of the universities or the female professors it’s apparently just anybody else’s fault and “feminism” needs to fix it…

      For that matter I wonder why nobody ever seems to complain about the inherent sexism in garbage collection, mining, firefighting, construction, sewage, and armed forces etc. which are 97% + male.

      To the point that men are apparently 13x more likely to die through a job-related fatality than women.

      I never heard the cry for equality and instated mandatory quotas or anything similar in those fields.

      • AndrewC says:

        You are angry. Dig up some statistics on the richest, most powerful people in the world and find out what the proportion of males/females is. Then perhaps you might get annoyed when people bring up irrelevant statistics. Does something bad happening somewhere else make what is happening here OK? You are angry. Currently you are saying that the victimisation of men is a worse problem than sexism against women. You are angry, and you are not making any sense.

        • Oban says:

          So then target the richest and most powerful people instead, that get to wield that power (irrespectively of nationality or gender) to enact changes in their favor and keep other people down, there seems to be a lot more potential of conflict and actual social unbalance to discuss right there.

        • Machinations says:

          My argument is that the First World Problem of sexism in the ‘gaming industry’ – by which people really mean the lack of female programmers, presumably becauyse programming does not interest them, is far less significant than all the women the world-over exploited by First World Companies such as Apple or the various boutique clothing brands.

          It’s a little ironic that you’re referring to the proportion of males and females who are ridiculously wealthy, instead of looking at the proportion of males and females who are dirt poor and living hand to mouth. I would say that their situation concerns me more than an imbalance in the number of women who CHOOSE to be programmers.

          • AndrewC says:

            No – they mean how women are treated in the industry and by the press and by the community.

            I see theidea that this is all down to women CHOOSING not to enter the industry is a proper talking point – a meaningless and baseless distraction from the real issue, while also blaming the victim.

            Talk about how the woman that ARE involved are treated. If you can’t, stop.

          • Machinations says:

            “I see theidea that this is all down to women CHOOSING not to enter the industry is a proper talking point – a meaningless and baseless distraction from the real issue, while also blaming the victim. ”

            You’re completely unsufferable.

            It isn’t a distraction. You want to get outraged? Then look into sweatshop labour in the third world.

            This is a fucking distraction from real issues. People did’nt choose to go into games programming or whatever, cry me a fucking river.

            I’m sorry, but there are far far better outlets for your misplaced outrage.

          • AndrewC says:

            Because things are bad elsewhere we should do nothing about the bad right here. This is a bad argument.

          • Machinations says:


            I don’t think you understand. Not all ‘bad’ things are created equally.

            It’s bad, for instance, that there is a goddamn island of floating plastic the size of Texas within the Pacific ocean.

            It’s worse, however, that absolutely nothing is being done to change this.

            Equally, it is bad that an apparent majority of women in the gaming industry report experiencing sexism.

            It is worse, however, that women generally throughout the world are exploited through economic systems and laws that favor men.

            It’s usually better to focus on the big picture issues, rather than tilting at windmills, particularly when society has so much inertia.

          • AndrewC says:

            I 100% agree with all the examples you gave being bad things. What do they have to do with sexism in the games community?

            Why are you on this messageboard when you could be curing cancer? Why are you playing games when you could be curing cancer? Why are you doing anything that you do when you could be curing cancer?

            Saying there are worse things out there has nothing to do with how we react to this bad thing. It is an argument with no logic in it.

            Especially when all we, as communiity members, need to do is simply not accept sexism when we see it. That’s it. This creates culture change. It’ll be great. You seem to be against doing this because of poor waste management. This is an argument with no logic in it.

          • Machinations says:

            They have nothing to do with sexism. That wooooosh! noise is my point flying over your head.

            I’m saying if you want to address sexism, you need to address it comprehensively as a societal change, something that I think, incrementally, the West has been at for 50 years.

            I’m not saying that because there is a plastic island in the Pacific, sexism does’nt matter.

            I am saying you cannot focus on the plastic island in the Pacific without address the underlying reason that the island exists; equally, you cannot focus on sexism in the gaming industry without addressing the underlying causes for that sexism, which are many and varied, ranging from adolescent stupidity empowered by anonymity, to actual workspace harassment and discrimination, which is punishable in a court of law.

            Also, you do need to ackowledge that men and women are drawn to different fields. More women become obstetricians then men, because – heres a generalization – women like babies more than men, generally. More women work as nurses than men as well – can we address the cultural reasons for that as well? Equally, less women decide to become nuclear physistics or C# programmers; this is more of a societal issue than a problem with gaming ‘culture’ which is admittedly juvenile in nearly every aspect.

          • mandrill says:

            Two words: Ripple effect.

            We can’t change the world entire, but we can change the little bit of it that we inhabit through our attitudes and actions. If everybody does this, and eventually they will, we will have changed the world.

            You talk about a top-down solution, when there simply isn’t one. Bottom-up is harder, and slower than your fantasy, but it is also surer, less disruptive of other aspects of society that we don’t necessarily want to change, and something that everyone can do at very little cost to themselves.

            We can’t fly out the pacific and pick up all the trash by ourselves, but maybe we can buy less stuff packaged in plastic. It won’t get rid of the island, someone will eventually have to go and clean that up but as long as the island is there is reminds us not to buy plastic bottles. If we can stop it getting any bigger by not using as much plastic packaging we’ll get to the point where we simply won’t, as a society, be using plastic for packaging. Then we can get rid of the island, because we don’t need to remind ourselves of it any more.

            The reason our society is sexist, is because the actions and attitudes (deeply ingrained and unconscious) of the individuals that make it up are sexist. Each individual changes, it ripples out and changes others, which changes others until the change is no longer necessary.

      • plugmonkey says:

        I think there is a point here that’s worth making. In my year at university there was precisely 1 female ComSci undergrad, whereas on my psychology course, women outnumbered men by 3:1. Both courses were equally open to both genders. It just happens that the two subjects don’t fascinate the two genders equally.

        Women and men ought to be afforded equal rights, but that doesn’t mean that they are the same. They’re not. There are fundamental and empirically proven differences in how their brains work. On average, there are some tasks that women do better, and some tasks that men do better. There will always, always, always be more male computer geeks than female computer geeks. Always. Men’s brains are just more pre-disposed to be fascinated by them, and it’s no more sexist to say that than to say that women have two X chromosomes.

        • AndrewC says:

          No, i’m afraid there isn’t a point worth making here. Assume you are completely correct in everything you say – not as many women are interested in this stuff as men. How, exactly, does this excuse the treatment by men of the women who are interested?

          • plugmonkey says:

            Wow, you really do like getting all up in people’s grills for no reason, don’t you? You were the guy who hounded that other guy off the forum after not actually bothering to read what he’d written all too clearly.

            You do realise people can still read my post, right? Where did I actually say that women being interested in different things excused men’s treatment of said women?

            I didn’t, did I?

            I replied to a post saying that there is a lesser female interest in certain subjects, meaning that there will never be numerical equality within an industry like games without counter-productive quotas, and I agreed with that specific point.

            I then said that man and women need to have equal rights, but not be assumed to be the same..

            Which exact part of that is “excus[ing] the treatment by men of the women who are interested”?

          • Machinations says:

            Do you always come across as so sanctimonious?

            Give me a break.

          • AndrewC says:

            @plugmonkey in a discussion about how women are treated in the games industry and community you state that there is no problem becuase women simply CHOOSE not to enter it. Your argument, even if entirely correct, has absolutely nothing to say about how the women who are *in* the industry are treated. It is a deliberately irrelevant deflection. Yes, you are defending sexist attitudes.

            You should go away for a while and think of some better nonsense with your friends. Or stop.

          • plugmonkey says:

            @ AndrewC

            “in a discussion about how women are treated in the games industry and community you state that there is no problem becuase women simply CHOOSE not to enter it.”

            I state absolutely no such thing in no such discussion.

            In a discussion about WHY there aren’t more women in the games industry (that being what the #1ReasonWhy thing is all about – WHY), I state that the PROBLEM is that many women simply choose not to enter it.

            Now, part of that problem I believe is endemic. You will never have an equal split in life, men and women are different, and the goal shouldn’t be to try and force it to be 50/50. Two things can be equal and still different. That’s OK. It should be allowed. Celebrated, even. It’s a bit of a tangent, but I hate it when people talk as if being equal means two things have to be the same. It’s a terrifying prospect.

            The other part of the problem, raised in other posts I have made, is that there is quite a lot in the gaming community that would deter a woman from getting involved in the pass-time to begin with – things like the abuse that can be seen with Ash Burch or Jade Redmond. Any female in our community is likely to find herself on the receiving end of that sort of crap, and nobody is going to aspire to be creative in a medium they don’t immerse themselves in to begin with.

            “You should go away for a while and think of some better nonsense with your friends. Or stop.”

            Well, as I’ve alluded to before, you could always go away for a while and read peoples’ posts, or at least the article they are commenting on, before seizing the wrong end of the stick and waving it about the place. You’re going to have someone’s eye out.

        • ix says:

          You’re simply wrong here. Women are well-represented in many other “geeky” fields (including many engineering fields). That clearly points to the problem being social, not something to do with their brain. Take a moment to think before you make such assertions.

          edit: As an afterthough, you can also see big variations between different countries in enrollment in Comp-Sci. Some universities also have special programs to actually do something about the disparity and I’ve read at least one report where their enrollment numbers were close to parity.

          • Machinations says:

            Nice deflection, but statistics don’t back you up.

            Women are quite underrepresented in engineering, programming and pure mathematics courses.
            In India, less so. In the West, quite so.

            I don’t know why you would try to deny this when it is easily verifiable..

          • plugmonkey says:

            Well represented? Or equally represented?

            I am simply not wrong here. I am simply right here. It is a matter of well established scientific fact. Men and women’s brains process different information differently. I am not basing this on idle speculation. The clue was “on my psychology course”. Psychology degree, yes? Brains and stuff. This sort of thing. In some detail.

            I’m not saying that no women are interested in computers. I’m not saying that more women shouldn’t be encouraged to get into computers. I’m not saying that the current balance is the correct balance; or any of the other things people want to put into my mouth.

            I’m saying that men and women are cognitively different and when you overlay the two natural distribution curves, you’re always going to find more men doing things like computers, and more women doing things like psychology. That being the case, you’re always going to find more men than women in the computer games industry. Always.

            And it’s natural. You won’t be able to completely ‘fix’ this imbalance, so don’t set that as your metric for achieving your goal is all.

          • Machinations says:

            Plug, you are of course right. Men and women are drawn to different fields because men and women are biologically different, and not just in genitalia. I think it is absolutely cogent to point out that, for instance, women are underrepresented as mathematics foundation professors because less women are interested in hard math.

            It is not the fault of the university in this example, or the academic community in general, that more women are not interested. Blame societal sterotypes and gender identities as children grow up.

            Want women to be interested in games? Stop showering them as children with baby dolls and cute pink stuff. It would help if modern society focused more on the content of a womans character than the way she looks in a little black dress.

            Until you address these fundamental questions, everything else done to ‘correct’ the problem is window dressing or feel-good ‘I did something!’ nonsense.

          • mandrill says:

            Finally a point from one of you with which I agree. You pair don’t half go on.

        • iucounu says:

          Fine, fine, stipulated, whatever. This whole argument that the under-representation of women in games development is down to women not being as interested in games: fine. What’s not fine is the entire simultaneous phenomenon of lots of women in games development coming out with examples of how they have been prejudged on the basis of their gender, and made to feel outsiders, or unwelcome, or expected to cleave to a set of social norms that appear to have been set up to allow men to do whatever the fuck they like.

          There are a set of excellent mansplainy ways to get round this annoying phenomenon, examples of which you can find all over this thread at great length, all of them missing the point with various degrees of wilfulness. I think the thing to do is actually to shut up for a bit, listen to what people are saying on the hashtag, and see if there’s a little something you can stand to do to make the world a slightly better place.

        • darkChozo says:

          While STEM gender disparity is definitely an issue, your assertion that it’s because men and women just think differently is on reaaaly shaky ground. I’m not at all qualified to say for sure, but my understanding of the subject is that there is very little evidence that women are intrinsically worse in technical fields. The pressure is mostly societal; women are generally less guided towards technical pursuits throughout their younger years. It’s getting better, and there’s been a massive upswing in women perusing STEM degrees in more recent years, but as you’ve seen, it’s far from equal yet.

      • Shivoa says:

        From Council of Graduate Schools ’08-’09 report on graduate figures in the US (doctoral degrees awarded by broad field and gender) there are only 3 men for every woman who attained a doctoral degree in Maths/CompSci so the sharp end isn’t nearly as divided as you make it out to be. The STEM issue is a problem but there is a 20-40% female cohort getting to the sharp end of education in these subjects. This does make for difficult recruitment as it isn’t uncommon to have 10 men for every female applicant and the potentially sexist and certainly male dominated culture can put off new recruits, drive away arriving talent, and discourage younger people from even moving into studying to get to that point. As I said in an earlier post, game development studios actually have it easier than pure STEM teams (like most software houses, engineering firms etc) due to the large pool of non-STEM staff that work on a game. The male dominated staff and even application numbers are not backed up by a hugely skewed talent pool outside of STEM. The failure is one of recruitment and that could be due to the working environment (which can be fixed, and without needing an entire generation to balance the STEM education figures and get a decent talent pool).

        But the real problem with your comments is that I don’t believe my Y chromosome has much of anything to do with my skills in STEM subjects and nothing to do with my general intelligence and capabilities at work. Some genetic dice rolling seeded my ability and then a lifetime of shaping crafted my current abilities in a society where I was given more access to play involving engineering and computers than I might have been if I had a second X chromosome. I certainly can’t say that my Y chromosome (or at least the outward indicators that display when I meet anyone face to face or hear my voice down a phone line) has had nothing to do with my progress in the STEM fields I have dabbled in.

        And the big problem with that: the people I’m working with aren’t the best of the best. If only 1 in 5 of my colleagues is a woman then that says to me that many of the most gifted individuals who could be working with me aren’t because the lack of directed education or desire to join the STEM workforce at the end of that initial 20 years of pure education period. We dun screwed up and now non-STEM fields are getting access to these best people (who may be much less exceptional in those subjects that they currently work as, if we take the view that nature as well as nurture can provide advantages in specific subject areas) because we only get the male candidates and a handful of women through that 20 year education ramp to being an exceptional contributor to the field. Game development studios have exactly the same issue, only with less focus on the changing of social norms and early education right up to the post-doctoral level to try and get a new generation of the best of the best. Game studios already have a massive pool of talent outside of their core STEM staffing requirements to add a more natural gender split to the studio. They should be our ambassadors to girls considering the STEM subjects: a mixed, liberal environment of talent professionals doing exciting work without it being a boys club of coders (which a pure software house is stuck with the statistics and so will have a 3:1 ratio of staff if it blindly picks only the best hires, which is workable but not ideal for creating the environment where sexism dies before it can sprout). That it isn’t is a damn shame.

        The best games needs the best people to make them so having the most inviting environment to all talent is critical to games that come in at reasonable costs and at the highest quality possible. Even taking out the basic human empathy of why workplaces should be made as welcoming as possible for everyone, it is in our best interest that this happens. You can still be a selfish arse and yet get behind this (and moves to correct the STEM figures, though it will take a generation at least).

      • Focksbot says:

        You’re the reason why we keep having to have these articles. Most of us know they’re right and are probably a little tired of hearing the same drum being beaten. But apparently it has to be beaten a hell of a lot more to get through some of the thicker skulls.

        • Oban says:

          Oh, so you know you’re right? Man, must that be great, no point discussing anything then.

    • Prime says:

      Just because you can’t see the problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

      You’ve worked hard to find where this is coming from but until you accept the basic fact that genuine discrimination exists – and we know this precisely because it keeps popping up in the news, because women keep telling us it’s real and it’s happening and something has to be done about it – then you are going to continue to rant at something you clearly don’t understand.

      Most of the examples you’ve linked to, I agree with and applaud. The art changes are particularly praiseworthy because they show sensitivity to something that has been allowed to run rampant for too long to the detriment of both woman AND men.

      Basically, if you can’t see that Lara Croft was designed at the point of her creation (she’s evolved since then) to appeal first and foremost to males then there’s very little point in continuing to speak to you. It’s like denying the Earth revolves around the Sun.

      • Oban says:

        I don’t think you get my issue here, it’s not even when there is an actual problem and people point to it or make suggestions on how to better it, but do you really believe that the likes of Ken Levine or for that matter Obsidian designed these characters to be “sexist”, and not for other purposes of characterization or storytelling?
        It’s like there’s this whole movement of people going around the Internet, telling game designers what they can and cannot do and crying foul at the slightest seems of sexualization in female characters for whatever reason.

        The whole “sexism” issue has by now been so diluted that it doesn’t even make any sense to me anymore.

        For instance I’ve been following Project: Eternity and there was a group of people that would apply this idea of “sexism” to about anything, for instance this was again criticized for the armor concepts: link to gamersglobal.de
        And even this image was considered such: link to i.imgur.com because apparently the breasts are too big and should be covered up with another argument that they should be strapped in, otherwise she couldn’t be an efficient archer and it wouldn’t make any sense.

        At what point is enough, enough? And why are so many people of the apparent opinion that any form of sexuality stemming from the female form should be forbidden or is outright damaging? Because at the moment as it looks to me there seems to be some sort of feminist inquisition witch-hunt movement going on trying to raise hell and moral outrage every single time a single character in a game doesn’t seem up to their ridiculously high standards anywhere, or whenever any developer or marketing department didn’t say exactly what they like to hear or design a project to their specifications, trying to dictate terms to everyone that dares cross them. It comes up about twice a week in some sort of capacity and there’s a lot of instances of specific mini-shitstorms created in the wake of it on almost daily basis.

        • tobecooper says:

          I’ll explain the two examples to you, Oban.

          The problem with these armors is that they have a belly-button space. Why would you have that in an armor? The only explanation I can think of is that the character was an immortal masochist who loved getting stabbed in the guts.

          The bow issue. Google ‘female gold medalist archers’ and see the attire these women wear. Breasts may pose a problem when shooting arrows.

          • Oban says:

            I forgot to mention that at the same time nobody seemed to notice or have any problem with this: http://media.obsidian.net/eternity/media/updates/0021/PE-Forton-700×956.jpg

            Which again points to the kind of double standard I mentioned above and was discussed in this article: link to forbes.com

            At equal treatment female characters of any kind seem to always attract all sort of ire and scrupulous attention to detail recently regarding everything about them of what could potentially be considered “sexist” by someone raising the storms.

          • tobecooper says:

            Your second link from PE is visibly a design for a monk character class. In D&D these guys don’t use armors because they need to travel light to be able to dodge all the attacks. It’s absolutely worth of criticism, because is is an incredibly boring and generic design, though.

            The one-sided problem of over-sexualization in games is that all characters male or female are a wish-fulfillment fantasy for men. You are a powerful angry dude with strong personality and she has big breast.

            Creative process is not some god-given one-way road. There are bad ideas and there are good ideas. Poking a writer in the press that he might be doing a mistake does not equal censorship.

          • Prime says:

            1) The monk: I have a problem with the fact he’s not very well drawn, the pose is awkward etc, and he’s waay too muscle-bound for his type.

            2) That article is interesting but supposes that male and female chests are the same in terms of sexual response from the opposite gender. They absolutely aren’t. Female breasts are very loud and clear erogenous zones- male chests don’t trigger quite the same strength of feeling in men or women, something many shirtless men on dating websites should learn ASAP. Logically, then, by creating women with very large chests at every opportunity this is clearly over-sexualising women, presenting their sexual attributes first and foremost. By creating muscle-bound men with huge, ripped pectorals you aren’t loading the same symbolism into it – it’s more about power and strength than sexual prowess, (although power and strength both play into female sexual desires, to a certain extent)

    • CommanderZx2 says:

      I just checked the website and it is pretty sad how Elizabeth has been completely changed in all media due to these people.

      When I get this game I’ll be sure to try and fix this via modding it.

      • Shivoa says:

        You mean she no longer looks like an 8 year old girl with a weird large exposed cleavage showing out from the top of her corset? If you find here original look so compelling and the changes a crime against your eyes then I advise seeking out your nearest supplier of cream teas at your earliest convenience.

        BTW, you normally should put ‘those people’/’these people’ in quotation marks to make it even easy for people to spot that kind of divisive language and ignore your comment as troll or worse.

        • Oban says:

          The point is that the designers should be left to their own devices to design the games however they want. Instead, without any sort of context whatsoever since nobody even played the game there was complaining loud enough to compromise that and make the change.
          I don’t remember anyone accusing Levine of designing Bioshock for sadistic pedophiles because he chose that specific design for the Little Sisters, which were an integral part of the game: link to gamesetwatch.com

          • Sarkhan Lol says:

            Great. Now dress them like the pedobait in Tera and see how long your “artistic integrity” remains unquestioned.

          • Prime says:

            If designers are making mistakes or crossing lines then they should be challenged. No-one has the right to avoid challenge. Over-sexualising that girl was a mistake, so people complained. I don’t believe Ken Levine (or whoever designed her) deliberately set out to have a young character with an uncomfortably large cleavage to actually BE sexist, but the result was clearly making people uncomfortable so it was rightly challenged.

            Also, no-one complained about paedophilia with the Little Sisters because they were never presented or seen in a sexual context, you utter sicko.

          • Oban says:

            What exactly was this “mistake” he made and why? Just because a few people don’t like her character design he suddenly made a “mistake”? Did he do something that was against any sort of law or would cause anyone great pain in some way?

            And how does this: link to gamestop.de put her in a “sexual context”, when did parts of breasts become something to be ashamed of and hide away or why are people trying to make them such?

            Regardless, apparently your rolemodels are still not amused even AFTER the changes she underwent and are suggesting full catholic nun style: link to twitter.com

          • Prime says:

            1) it’s right there in the text above. People clearly felt that her bosom-heavy design was inappropriate.

            2) It’s not about breasts per se: the problem is about female characters being defined by their breasts and little else. The gaming industry up until now has been shockingly bad at portraying female characters unless they have bouncing bags of flesh up front, and something of a backlash is occurring. Long past time, in my opinion. Ask yourself this: does the Bioshock Infinite character NEED big breasts? Are they essential to her role within the game? Or was this a badly judged artistic choice? Here’s another question: if she is a naturally big-breasted girl, why aren’t they covered up? Where are the baggy jumpers and sensible tops that you and I both know women like to wear when they’re going about their daily business? Why must there always be heaving acres of exposed flesh? Does it have anything to do with the fact that men are making these games to appeal to other men? More than fucking likely.

            3) Good for them! About time we got some interesting females in games, wearing clothing that doesn’t make them look like sex toys!

          • Oban says:

            Sorry, but what? How was she “reduced to a pair of tits” to paraphrase or defined by them as you put it? Nobody had even played the game yet, so how would they know?

            And “people clearly felt that her bosom-heavy design was inappropriate” sounds rather puritan and wrong to me, like something men would say a decade ago to protect the chastity of their daughters.

            As for “does she NEED big breasts”, how is that a question and why do you consider them bad or immediately making her an inferior character. They had decided on a design and the more pertinent question seems to be does she NEED small ones? That seems rather discriminatory and superficial in itself to me, writing something off without any kind of context or further information because of big breasts.

            For that matter, have you ever considered what that kind of thinking that apparently large breasts are wrong and to be looked down upon does to women that actually posses them?
            link to gamingexcellence.com

            ””There is more to a woman than what she looks like.” We repeat this concept over and over, but we don’t actually listen: when it comes to discussing the depiction of women in games, we immediately jump to the visuals. But what do these characters DO? What are their stories and motivations? Lara Croft, enormous chest aside, has become a fascinating, well-defined character. She isn’t just someone’s girlfriend or mistress. Her independence, ambition and recklessness have made her an idol to many women desperate for a connection to a character that isn’t stuck in our modern world of Jane Austen with ipads.

            If you want to understand shame, walk into a bra store and ask if they carry a 30FF bra. It’s a life-defining thing, never mind the ostracism I experience in “women gamers” groups: a favorite pastime in these groups is bashing big-breasted girls, and you’re not treated very well when you object to that on the grounds of… being one.

            I’m doomed to be a slut, and it’s not possible for me to have any redeeming qualities, if you believe a lot of the ranting. Imagine what that feels like for a minute. Imagine how it feels to be commonly thought to be inherently bad because of the size of something that naturally grew on my body. To make matters worse, I’m a redhead. Naturally. So I’m both literally and figuratively double f’ed.

            That goes for you too, guys. You don’t get to tell me when I should feel oppressed. You don’t get to tell me what is good and evil about the feminine. You don’t get to tell me what to wear, how to wear it, or how much or little to wear of it. If you do, then you’re reasserting the patriarchy, and I start using words I’m trying to avoid here. I also may punch you in the nuts.”

      • Sarkhan Lol says:

        link to images1.wikia.nocookie.net

        Ugh, you gamers are so immature for not focusing on her personality.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s a question of empowerment and context. Women can still exhibit feminine traits and be empowered; there are plenty of examples of things that do this right. But the imbalance in sexualisation is a problem – the imbalance between playing Batman and Catwoman is apparent. Sure, Batman is in tight lycra showing his abs, but he doesn’t receive rape threats (which, someone pointed out, might be pretty common for violent convicts who are used to sexually abusing fellow inmates in the struggling US prison system).

    • Gap Gen says:

      As with anything in art (yay that debate again), it’s an issue of context and subtext, which bad designers often miss. For example, violence against people in general is bad, yes, which is why I liked Spec Ops: The Line so much, because it bothered to make this point. Also, note that sexual violence is not the same as, say, shooting a female commando in a firefight.

      Frankly, I don’t think it’s solely a feminist view. The idea that women are different from men in very concrete social ways is an affront to liberalism, and should be stopped. And oh look I replied to this twice by mistake. Oh well.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Man enormous sub thread.

      Couldn’t go through all of it, but here’s what i have to say about the general drift:

      1) Sexism is prevelent in many fields, either one way or another. If i pick up a knitting needle, i may be laughed at, for example.
      But then saying it exists everywhere and thus wasting time on sorting out sexism in gaming is not really a great thing to say. Or that, you can’t fix it here untill it’s fixed here. Because games are a part of culture, they have as much influence as music, movies or film.

      2) Someone mentioned something about India. The culture here is very odd. See, men are supposed to be engineers or lawyers while women apparently make great doctors. Or so everyone wants us to believe that.
      But anyway, the recent trend is sort of shifting, but a majority of people who do an engineering degree here do an MBA and get into a corporate job, men or women it doesn’t really matter.

      Now for representation in various courses, in my college for example, the most girls are in CS/IT, then Electronics and Comm. Engg., then Electrical engg., then Civil engg, and our entire year has ONE girl in Mechanical engg., out of 160.

      Why? Because girls aren’t thought of as handling electronics or mechanical stuff. Civil engg because architecture is thought of as fitting for them, so that’s not too much of a problem, but then most of them choose CS/IT because it’s “lighter”. Anyway, even though numbers are higher in CS/IT departments, it’s for a socially driven reason. Girls are sort of made to choose that. They themselves may or may not have interest in what they’re doing, but this is true for guys as well. So the parity is pretty meaningless.

      Again, i’ve met a few women who were pretty good at coding or scripting, but again society, including their parents, hardly encourages them to go after jobs like programming. They’d rather have girls/women do law/liberal arts/fine arts/interior design/architecture/digital artwork/website design, etc.

      But i want you all to think of it on a larger scale. Hasn’t the entire tech revolution always had mostly male icons? When i say “geek” or “nerd” don’t you think of a guy with glasses staring at a screen?
      And thus CS is usually associated with men, women (at least here) mostly think it’s not for them and are hence dissuaded, and the geeky image doesn’t help. Anyway our society constantly nags women to look as attractive as possible so that’s probably a factor. Nerdiness isn’t considered fashionable here at a macro-social level.

      Same prob with games, Indian society always portrays games and sports for boys, girls should play with tea sets. Mobile games, yes why not. But PC/console titles? Hah. I know probably 5 women who’ve played a game like AoE, NFS, CS or CoD. Only one of them has a proper rig (in fact, she’s got two) and games professionally. I remember her telling me that she’s probably ever met one or two other females at tournaments.

      So yeah, you need to address mindset changes at multiple levels. I live in the Third-World, i fucking have third-world problems, i still think it’s hugely important that gender equality in the gaming and tech industry gets more importance and starts improving NOW before it’s too late.

      @Oban: problem isn’t being ashamed of cleavage, and yeah why not, show it if it’s required to develop a story/character. After all, it’s not like they’re showing genitals or something. (BTW it think this is also something we have to develop as a society, a chest and a breast should be held equal, and a boob shouldn’t be considered inappropriate, that is equality after all) Heck, show full nudity of BOTH sexes if it’s required. But simply putting boobs there do attract a male audience, that’s sexist. See, it’s that fine line between sensualisation or sexualisation to better represent reality (or as i said, character/plot development) and objectifying women or their bodies, which is when it becomes sexist. And, it should be both ways. I can’t say “put a nude woman in the game but oh nooo i can’t look at a nude guy!”.

      • Machinations says:

        “gender equality in the gaming and tech industry gets more importance and starts improving NOW before it’s too late.”

        Too late for what? Is someone going to invade?

        • SuicideKing says:

          No before the stigma becomes too deep to change.

          Seriously if you’re going to be thick about it i can’t help you.

    • jorygriffis says:

      This subthread has gotten a bit too long for a single, offhand comment to make much of an impact, but I’ll still indulge myself: Oban, you’re an idiot.

  37. Gwyddelig says:

    This is a bigger issue than gaming though. Sexism is an ongoing fact of life in pretty much all aspects of modern life, albeit at more moderate levels than hitherto. The amount of mainstream media outlets that reduce women to objects is staggering. Have a look at any tabloid, or even broadsheet right now and you’ll find women being reduced to salacious bits of titillation for the papers’ readership. That’s even before you get to the likes of Nuts or Zoo.

    Gaming was never going to be some sort of tabernacle of innocence against prevailing cultural norms. The problem of course is that not only does it share pretty much every sexist peccadillo of everyday life, through the wonders of the internewt, it amplifies them. I’d ask you, how many times, in games have you come across a PLAUSIBLE female character rather than a hyper-sexualised rack in day-glo spandex who can seemingly only gain acceptance by trying to mimic the worst sort of alpha male boorishness?

    I’d say I can think of only the merest handful of plausible characters, even allowing for the inherent unreality of most games.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Nobody is saying this isn’t a bigger issue. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to do something about it in the gaming sphere. Like other people could do elsewhere. And if sexism is, as you seem to argue, more prevalent or visible in the gaming world then that is, in my opinion, all the more reason to try and do something about it.

      • Gwyddelig says:

        I’d not argue otherwise. The problem is though that progress is likely to be limited to the level of society in general. So a rising tide lifts all ships but it also represents the limits of all flotation too! for sure though, the gaming community needs to fill its ballast tanks!

  38. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Sexism in the gaming industry… the new “are games art?” debate.

    170 replies within minutes of posting. I feel I had something useful to say, but it’s become useless to say it. Frankly, I’d rather we talked about games. My wife isn’t particularly bothered by me wanting that. Just asked her permission.

    • Prime says:

      So you’ve got permission from The Sisterhood to ignore an issue affecting them? Is that why you mention your wife? No offence to her but is she in the industry? Has she suffered gender-based abuse or discrimination in the gaming industry? If not, then why does her approval matter? And why are you hiding behind that instead of acknowledging the problem? Nathan’s article was directed largely at people like you, I feel. The people who fail to act when given the opportunity to do so, because ‘I just wanna talk about games’.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        What problem are you speaking of? That the world is unfair to women?

        Yeah. It is. So stop being narrow minded and discuss it in its proper forum. World politics and sociology. Not on a bloody gaming forum.

        • RaveTurned says:

          “What problem are you speaking of? That the world is unfair to women?”

          Specifically the problem was “gender-based abuse or discrimination in the gaming industry” – as mentioned by Prime two sentences previous. It was also the subject of the article – you know, the one you hopefully read before commenting on? Do keep up.

          “Yeah. It is. So stop being narrow minded and discuss it in its proper forum. World politics and sociology. Not on a bloody gaming forum.”

          Wait, what? For the issue you were mistakenly referring to, the wider issue of globally entrenched sexual discrimination – an issue that directly affects about half of the population of the planet – you want to confine debate of that issue to one tiny corner of the Internet… and you think it’s *everyone else* who’s being narrow minded? Incredible.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Stop being narrow-minded and try to see that the reason it’s being discussed here is because it happens within pc gaming and hence is relevant to discuss. Maybe you’re tired of seeing sexism in gaming come up or think discussing it doesn’t resolve anything but that always allows you the choice of ignoring these blog posts altogether.

          IMHO, the more places this is discussed with a readership which fits (in this case gaming and gamers) the more people will read it and the greater the awareness on sexism in gaming. The more people to think twice before saying/writing/acting sexist and the more people who may act against sexist behaviour. Sexism is an important subject and it’s better to spread the word too often than not to do so at all.

        • hello_mr.Trout says:

          ‘So stop being narrow minded and discuss it in its proper forum. World politics and sociology. Not on a bloody gaming forum’

          narrow minded definition of gaming much?

        • realmenhuntinpacks says:

          You understand that sexism is discrimination, right? Discrimination is a fucking embarrassing hangover from our recent past. Look, it’s this simple – swap it out for racism. Your argument follows that games should be allowed to be racist because they are games and not ‘public forums’. Do you read books, watch TV and films? What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. You?

  39. Gap Gen says:

    I think a lot of men still have a problem with relinquishing their masculinity, as if manliness was ever a good trait to have in an industrial society (protip: it’s not). But yes, I should be more aggressive towards trying to eradicate gender roles and suchlike.

    • AndrewC says:

      The problem hereis seeing giving someone else agency as lessening their own power. It is relationship as domination. It is a position based in fear and weakness – where power comes from keeping everyone else weak, not from internal strength. It can be seen in this thread in comments about ‘but they’ll take our games away if we let them in’, or ‘I will have my opinion sidelined if they have their opinions listened to’. If I give someone else a voice, I will lose mine – it is a nonsense argument.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Right, there is a lot of that. The idea of fear of change, that all change will lead to a loss of well-being, or because they don’t understand the systems outside their own bubble. It’s also a form of tribalism, where people violently defend their own tribe for no reason other than that’s the way people are wired to respond. It’s utterly not defensible for this reason, but I think it’s important to understand that tribalism plays an important role in how social movements work. I think institutions play a big role in this, but when publishers and magazines promote sexism in order to sell to hardcore sexists (see booth babes, for example), it’s difficult to combat. Small steps, I guess. Or maybe someone could blow up booths at E3; worked for the suffragettes, in the end.

        I think a lot of it is also socialisation, the idea that gender is an important aspect of determining social role. Since older generations will always tend to be more conservative than younger ones, parents will often ingrain this in their children subconsciously. But it’ll go away, I’d guess, as society matures and old conservatives die off, and as the passivity of women in society makes less and less sense. Perhaps this will simply be our generation’s casual racism, where granddad in 2050 will make a sexist joke at the dinner table and everyone will look very uncomfortable.

    • Outsider says:

      Men have a problem relinquishing their masculinity? Why do men have to relinquish their masculinity, and why, pray tell would doing such a thing be a positive development? I think you need to correct your cartoon-villainesque idea of masculinity as some giant uncaring man bashing people over the head and slapping women around. If you think masculinity is an antiquated notion rather than a genetic reality you’re in for a long and fruitless fight. (protip: Women tend to like men who are manly/masculine.)

      Masculinity is as an important and sought after trait as femininity, and I don’t imagine I’d see you advocating for the relinquishing of femininity to solve a social problem.

      • SuicideKing says:

        What you define as a cartoonish idea of masculinity is exactly the masculinity that is sold to men, and that’s what men hold deeply within them. Not everyone, of course, but most yes.

        I’m 19. I’ve observed this around me ever since i’ve been 15.

        Same is true with femininity, the idea that women are supposed to be “well behaved” and docile and submissive and good mothers and so on is sold to women. Ingrained in them systematically just like the dislike for pink and dolls is ingrained in boys.

        Honestly everyone loses this war for equality (should we not be able to achieve equality), everyone except organized society and the powers that control it.

        The concept of Yin-Yan is what one should seek, i think. The middle void. Respect to both your halves, and other people’s halves.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      link to legionofhonor.famsf.org

      I can’t agree, logic and analytically thought are the tools that built the industrialized world we live in, it’s not surprising how much men dominate an industry like this with it being so heavily based in mathematical equations.

      link to amazon.com

      • AndrewC says:

        Men are better at maths and logic than women. This is proven science to do with DNA and stuff. And, like, evolution. I mean, really. This is scraping pretty low. Do better. Or stop.

        • Jamesworkshop says:

          It’s called history and yes men do better at maths, I haven’t fabricated it or imagined it, to suggest so is scrapping yourself, so please stop.

          It’s just as true to say that you have a better chance of being a top fashion designer as a man.

          DNA has nothing to do with intelligence, of which maths is a very specialized area of human cognition, don’t confuse ability with something people either have or haven’t got, like it’s a lottery where you get lucky or don’t.

          I can’t find the TED talk, but it was very helpful to me to understand that skill or talent is not innate, but actually love was the more powerful component (pretty much argued that talent or skill were false words) the great sporting hero isn’t better than the other players, being

          (same age, same height, weight for the most part) but simply that their desire is greater and thus they push harder and never a moment goes by where they don’t think about whatever sport they play)

          men make great strides in mathematics not to due to some magic super brain but by simply getting greater rewards from that focus of study.

          Women for instance show far greater linguistic skills in both complexity and agility and it’s obvious to anyone that’s had any human contact., it’s no secret that men don’t display much aptitude for this as women do, even when matching social class or educational level and in some case even sharing the same parents, it’s not a lack of innate competence, or bad gene, or any such nonsence

          • Unaco says:

            References, please.

          • Jenks says:

            Women and men think exactly alike, duh. Stop spouting off your hate speech that there are differences between the sexes, you sexist.

          • Jamesworkshop says:

            “Men are better at maths and logic than women.”

            On seconds thoughts i probably should have let this slide considering that wasn’t the idea I was trying to intimate, I actually said nothing about women what-so-ever in my initial reply, more a challenge of a weirdly perceived notion that masculine drives were inherently non-intellectual when cultural expressions such as poetry or philosophy (clearly represented in the Heroic artwork figure of “The Thinker”, and a clear representation of the male form at that)

            I think his wrong footing came from the (odd because it isn’t true) idea that certain things if labeled as being typically masculine are somehow a exclusive property of men and not a general feature, I certainly am ignorant of their being a piece of art that illustrates a polar opposite of “The Thinker” depicting something like a non-contemplative state of a clearly female figure.

  40. plugmonkey says:

    I see very little sexism in the games industry itself, which in my experience tends to be populated by some of the most liberal intellectuals you could ever care to meet.

    The over-riding issue remains the apathy of women towards the industry rather than the overwhelming sexist obstacles they are likely to face once in it. There aren’t enough women in the games industry simply because there aren’t enough women applying to be in the games industry.

    When you look at the tweet by Ashly Burch above, or the similar abuse frequently targeted at people like Jade Redmond, you can see why few women look at our industry and think “Hey! I want to be in that position!”.

    (This was going to be a reply to someone else saying a similar thing, and comparing the games industry to the more actively sexist situation in the music industry, but then someone got all up in his grill for no particularly good reason, and now the post seems to have vanished…)

    • AndrewC says:

      The sexist abuse hurled at Jade Raymond stops women entering the industry, but there’s little sexism in the industry. I do not understand your argument, and I am asking if you could rephrase it.

      • plugmonkey says:

        I mean that the sexist abuse hurled at Jade Redmond didn’t come from her colleagues at Ubisoft, it came from the audience. The games playing community.

        So this isn’t an issue we can just tell the games industry to sort out, because the problem isn’t us developers going around pinching bottoms and telling graduate programmers to sit on our knees. It’s a community wide problem, and all members of that community are responsible for policing it.

        • jalf says:

          It’s funny how most of the game developers tweeting #1reasonwhy are talking about how they are treated *professionally*, rather than by their game’s fans or community.

          Seriously. Try following that hash tag, and tell me that there’s nothing game developers can/should change.

          Pretending that the problem only comes down to “there are too few women trying to get into the games industry” seems pretty much like, uh, the exact attitude that the hash tag is trying to draw attention to.

          So no, I don’t think it’s just that gamers need to be nicer and women need to apply for more gamedev jobs.

          The actual games industry itself, coworkers, bosses and everything else, also have a pretty major job ahead of them.

          The thing that surprised me when people tweeted this was *not* the stories of “woman joins game dev team, community hurls abuse at her” (those stories were, if anything, surprisingly rare), but how many there were of being treated badly *by coworkers and so-called professionals.

          Not least seeing these tweets from the couple of female game developers I know personally, and whom I’d always thought of having had no problem fitting in, and generally being very happy with their work.

          And yet, they were still able to rattle off more than a few instances of having to deal with sexist or discriminatory treatment (including being afraid to tweet under #1reasonwhy for fear of repercussions, and having their promotion questioned by whether they’d slept with the boss.

          So no, I’m pretty sure the problem is a bit broader than “gamers are dicks and need to grow up”.
          And it would be nice if game developers could at least accept that this might be the case, that there might actually be a problem, and that *they* might actually be able to do *do* something about this problem.

          • plugmonkey says:

            Well, I can only draw on my own experience, and then qualify that by writing “in my experience”.

            I don’t need to follow this hashtag on Twitter to know that there are some morons in the world, and by extension, there are some morons in the games industry.

            What I am saying is that in my experience the fundamental (i.e. barring exceptions) reason there are so few women in the industry is not that we won’t let them in, it’s that they’re not applying. So, you can fix what you like amongst the attitudes of the developers, and it will make absolutely sod all difference if there are no CVs coming through the door.

            Edit: Also your argument doesn’t exactly address mine. Obviously most of the stories on Twitter are going to be from women IN the games industry. Why would women who were put off ever joining the games industry be tweeting a games industry hashtag? How would they even know about it?

            Does that mean that the reason so few women aspire to work in the games industry is because of its famous, widespread reputation for being grossly sexist once you get into it? I suspect the truth is that not enough women even get that far.

  41. Fox89 says:

    The #1reasonwhy hashtag really made it hit home in a way it hadn’t before how big an issue this is in the industry. And not just in games, but in life in general.

    The trouble is that certain things, like video games, are very much seen as ‘boy’s stuff’. Which makes the gaming industry a ‘boy’s club’. Now, the boys are pretty nice these days and don’t mind letting the girls in to that club as long as they don’t mess stuff up. And don’t interrupt when we’re talking about something important. And don’t drop that because it’s frag- look at what you’ve done you silly girls!!

    What we need to understand is that games are not for boys. Everything is for everyone, regardless of gender, race or creed. This is not a boy’s club and we are not ‘letting the girls in’. And it’s not enough just for “us” to understand that, we need to help make everyone else understand it to. The people who leave the rape comments on Hey Ash videos, and send abuse via XBL. The designers who will ignore the experienced woman to discuss a problem with her less experienced male colleagues. I don’t care how “in the minority” those people are, because they are exist and still prolific enough to be a reasonably serious problem. And as Nathan very rightly says: inaction won’t solve anything.

  42. MistyMike says:

    Games industry is dominated by men for the simple reason that it’s mostly men who are interested in games. Seriously, through all my years through school, university and (briefly) work (and it’s a women dominated-field) I’ve only met a handful of girls who were into games in any respect and it was mostly a casual interest anyway. I’m quite sure my experience is not isolated. Of course the Internet is a meeting place of and forum for the most esoteric interests and there might be the illusion made by some outspoken activists that women in gaming are a thing, but the simple social reality doesn’t reflect that. I can’t see that changing anytime soon, so games will remain a male-dominated medium.

    • Lucretious says:

      You’re confusing cause and effect.

      • MistyMike says:

        You probably mean that they don’t like games because they find them tasteless/sexist, all boob physics and gory manshooters. After consideration I think that’s not the case, there is quite enough of games to cater to all tastes and the girls I mentioned liking games had no problem finding something for them (ranging from Civilisation, to Monkey Island to The Sims to online Scrabble clones). It’s just those that do are in a tiny minority.

        • plugmonkey says:

          I think there is a strong element of cause and effect.

          I think it’s mostly men who are interested in computers, and so historically its mostly men who have been making all the games. And seeing as people who make games mostly make them for themselves, that has lead to most games being made along male sensibilities, attracting a mostly male audience, inspiring a mostly male next generation of developers.

          But as you say, the medium isn’t inherently that narrow. As the horizons broaden, more women are playing games. This can only lead to more women being inspired to make games.

          Very few people go and work in a creative medium that they weren’t a passionate consumer of first.

        • Lucretious says:

          It’s not just games, it’s the culture around them.

          • Machinations says:

            To be honest, there is very little gaming ‘culture’.

            I am very dissimilar from other people who may also enjoying playing video games. My tastes in terms of genre and style will obviously vary, but more importantly, there is NOTHING IN COMMON with other gamers other than a shared hobby; playing video games.

            It’s like saying there is a model airplane ‘culture’ or stamp collecting ‘culture’.

            I think the reason people take offense is that these kind of unspecific, generalized assertions just feel like logically fallacious attacks on a group of poorly defined people, who are probably being lumped together without any rationale behind it – other than, y’know, we play vidya games.

          • gwathdring says:

            But people ARE sometimes affected by imagined and generalized versions of particular activities and groups. If gaming is perceived by some as something violent, geeky, loaners do than people who don’t want to be seen as violent, geeky, loaners might avoid it even if they disagree with the perception. And even if the idea that “most people” think that about gaming is just something they made up without meaning to.

            Perception matters. I’ve been a gamer most of my life, and I’ve dealt with a fair bit of prejudice because of that from my mom and some of my friends who don’t quite get passion mixing with something as immature as gaming. I’ve also put myself in positions where I didn’t do something I thought I would enjoy because I was worried about how people might perceive me for playing game X. I was worried about friending my sister on Steam because she would see how many damn games I own and maybe judge me for this one or that one. It’s not logical. It’s often quite silly. But people do things like this, and as a result the aggregate cultural perceptions about gaming do have an effect on gamers.

            There are also people who play games but feel isolated from “gaming” as a community and an industry. People who would never describe themselves as gamers because they can’t identify with either their perceptions or observations of the gaming community. I have gaming friends who face way more negative perceptions than I do, who are belittled by their family for their interest in games–resulting in little things like never being able to ask for a games as a Christmas gift growing up and big things like being looked down at for it. I certainly have female friends who play games but look down on what they perceive as “gaming culture.” You can say it doesn’t exist because it’s an aggregate or an illusion, but that’s a useless argument. It affects people’s perceptions of games and gaming. Gaming culture exists in all the ways I find useful to talk about in terms of culture, perception, cause and effect.

  43. MOKKA says:

    WARNING: I’m getting very nit-picky here:

    ‘Frankly, if you can’t identify or understand after that, you’re probably a conscience-lacking neanderthal.’

    As someone who knows quite a lot about extinct Humans (sub-)species: Can you please stop dragging neanderthals into discussions about ‘primitive’ human behaviour? They are extinct, we don’t know whether or not they were sexist pricks. And frankly using them as a display for behaviour we think is not correct is also a nice way to distract from the fact, that it’s us that’s having those problems.

    The general tendency of humans to put other people into stereotypes (which summarizes sexism, racism and so on) is a human problem. It’s not a ‘primitive’ problem and it’s something we have to deal with on a daily basis will have to deal with in the next couple of centuries.

    As for the general Topic: I’m not saying that I can’t do something about it, what I’m saying is that I’m certainly not able to fully understand the problem, because I’m not in this situation. I think it’s good that this discussion is happening. In my eyes, people should never have to justify themselves for doing what they love. I think the best way of changing this situation is by constantly reminding people of those problems. Sure it’s not a very comfortable subject, but you can’t change anything if you feel comfortable.

    • Guvornator says:

      “WARNING: I’m getting very nit-picky here”

      It’s an RPS comment thread, I think we can take it ;)

    • realmenhuntinpacks says:

      Hehe, I’ll bite (biological anthropologist by day) – I agree that it’s unsound to make comparisons pertaining to cognition and social behaviours in extinct (or subsumed) hominid species but if you extrapolate the issue through primate analogues ‘sexist’ behaviour (as informed by dimorphism) could be seen as a ‘natural state’ for hominids which evolved along this path. Very early (or ‘undeveloped’ contemporary population groups) ‘societies’ tend/tended to be rife with inequality and brutality (the osteological record tells many sad tales) – it is social evolution we have to thank for reigning in our earlier cousins (think of the implicit social differences between h. sapiens and h. sapiens sapiens). Neanderthals are proper up in the air at present (some researchers even beginning to argue they weren’t even a distinct species… hmm) and I’m with you on not ascribing arbitrarily barbaric behaviours upon them, but I’m willing to bet a typical h.N. group was hardly a progressively minded situation to be living in! The levels of violence in prehistorical ‘societies’ were astounding – as short hand, I can let neanderthal slide (although maybe ergaster would be fairer!).

      Jesus christ, I need to get a grip. Sorry.

      • MOKKA says:

        Oh wow, this is a can of worms I did not intend to open. (Another warning: Much of the stuff I’m going to say now is very simplified on order to keep this post as short as possible)

        Thing is, we have no idea how the societies of our ancestors were structured. Sure, you can guess from what you can observe in so called ‘archaic’ societies (mind you those societies still have a history as long as ours) or from observing Primates and other social animals. But those are estimates at best and speculation at worst. But considering the degree of sexual dimoprhism within our ancestors was already quite small (at least compared to extant Apes), one would guess that their societies could be a bit different, from your standard Primate model.

        Also, and this I need to add before anyone gets funny ideas. Even if we are observing a certain tendency in nature, for example that there is a certain degree of inequality in groups of animals we’re closely related to, we should not make the mistake in turning this observation into a moral obligation for ourselves. There is no moral in nature, therefore it should not be used as a role-model (to translate and paraphrase something smart I once read).

        Overall this whole topic is a complete mess, especially if you want to look at it from a biological perspecitve. The danger of oversimplifiying something on one hand and the danger of projecting your own moral system into our natural history on the other, is always present and the debates surrounding this topic are the one’s try to avoid like hell. Because, no matter what you say and how you say it, you’re going to piss someone off.

        By the way: Attributing this type of behaviour (sexism, being overly aggressive etc.) to Neanderthals could be considered as racism, if there still were some Neanderthals around. You are attributing some kind negative behaviour toward a group of people you consider to be ‘primitve’. I find it paticulaly funny to see this kind of negative stereotype used in an article which tries to raise awareness for something like this. Have a bit more respect towards your relatives (most of us might have about 4% of Neanderthal Genome in us) and don’t blame them for something which is our fault.

        P.S.: Did not expect to run into another Anthropologist here, I thought we were a dying breed.

        P.P.S.: I hope any of this makes sense.

        • realmenhuntinpacks says:

          Well I think you’re on the money pretty much! I was being possibly a little facetious… we should of course leave matters of attribution to the 70s textbooks before we ruin the whole bloody thing : )

      • SuicideKing says:

        link to fuuu.us

      • mandrill says:

        RPS: Socially conscious and educational :D Love it.

      • gwathdring says:

        Yay anthropology! I love RPS.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Understanding a phenomenon that is happening to someone else and not you is a basic human trait called empathy.

      • TCM says:

        As a white, straight, collegiate, American male in Georgia, I can say I have never been discriminated against.


  44. Stevostin says:

    I am not sure what’s really asked here. Sure, male don’t paying attention to female, wether it is on audience or industry side (two side of the same coin, really) are idiots. Sure, they are a lot of them. There are a lot of idiots, including female ones Anyway they’re idiots because the big big titles generally get that big because they happen to work with female audience. Stuff like the Sims, Wow, Final Fantasy, Zelda, etc. This is where reality stands. Anyone saying video games are a guy’s thing are idiots, period.

    That being said, those titles did their job and yes, there are more and more women involved in gaming. And that’s fine.

    But apart from not being and idiot, I am not sure it’s men’s responsability to actually not ony open the door but promote women. It’s not forbidden, and Will Wright’s proved with other how uch of a good idea it can be, but really is that a responsability ? Because that is actually pretty asking. In reality, a fraction of the resumes in the industray, of the dollar spend or of the community are lady related. If you say it’s a responsability, you’re actually saying that the industry, instead of dealing with the market as it is, shall deal with it as you think it should be. That’s pretty unhealthy in my view. There is absolutely no guarantee the very idea of video games, or games, has the same importance to women than to men. Actually everything we know outside of video games tends to prove the opposite. Games are played mostly by men, whether it’s card game, chess, even sports (and my mother is actually a chess player, just telling what she sees in her federation). I am in the musical production industry. Only a tiny fraction of the instrument players are women. Why ? Certainly not because of the audience, who’s all in for more women playing. Musician too. So why ? As said by a successful female video blog owner, because women just tend not to pass the wall of “a little tech learning”. She was able to do here video blog (and a bloody great one) because doing video was actually her craft, but all the other successful person in her trade were male. Something as simple as taking the cam, learning to set it up, to shoot, to import it in the computer then do the montage is enough off putting for the misses apparently – despite the fact that they are very numerous consuming those contents (music, video, etc).

    My wife is a geekette and I wouldn’t want her to be otherwise. So don’t get me wrong, I am not putting everyone with a label, and I actually am always immediately interested with female bands, female takes on video games etc. Because I understand this genereally mean a strong dedication and involvement as any swimming against the current implies. But will we ever see even 30% of the people involved in video games being women ? Quite possibly not, even if “pushing” the best we can. Now pushing on something is lacking on something else. I think we should all just ask to the game studios to do what interest them and do as good as they can. Don’t worry for women : they’re already taking their legitimate spots at the only speed legitimacy allows : slowly, but surely. I am really not convinced that guys can help them, apart from not stay in their way.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think broadening the scope of the subjects in games would make games stronger. I’m living in France, and the comic book industry here is huge, vibrant, and fairly universal. By comparison, comic books in English-speaking countries are dominated by superheroes, and the audience is more limited. And I think it’s a massive shame. The English-speaking comic industry has ghettoised itself by narrowing the definition of what a comic book is, and as a result the industry suffers. In France, there are action comics, but they’re part of a much larger spectrum of work and as a result the industry is more well-regarded, more widespread, and is much healthier.

      There’s no need to be defensive about games, and a worry that a wider demographic will impact on the games we have. A more inclusive industry can only make it stronger and better, even in areas that currently exist.

      • TCM says:

        Entertainment industries around the world tend to suffer from pandering to their audience, which leads to the audience narrowing, which leads to more pandering to try and keep what you have left.

        It can be observed in Japan’s stagnating anime industry, dominated by ‘moe’ and ‘harem’ animes nowadays.

        It can be seen in Hollywood’s blockbusters, lowest common denominator action fare being far and away the most common thing.

        And yes, it can be seen in the comic book industry in America, with the big labels scared to take any risk outside of the superhero genre — but more than willing to play fast and loose within that genre DC I AM TALKING TO YOU.

      • strangeloup says:

        It’s a complete aside, but French comic books are great and I really wish there were more translated into English — while I can get by in French, I’m not sure I’d be able to manage reading even a comic, which (generally, though many of the good ones are exceptions) aren’t as complex as books — in either case there’s a lesser volume of written material as obviously you’ve got the visual element too.

        Anyway, sorry for derail, as you were.

  45. Shazbut says:

    No-one has an obligation to do anything. Maybe they will, but it’s best not to go down that route.

  46. asshibbitty says:

    Yea lets fix sexism by blogging. I’ve a twitter maybe I can help and I also know someone with a facebook.

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      gritz says:

      As opposed to, say, not talking about it and pretending it’s not a problem?

    • TCM says:

      One voice is nothing.

      A cacophony of outcries tends to get attention.

  47. dE says:

    What this topic needs is a bit of a middle ground. Actually it needs a middle ground per se, like one at all. The way it is “discussed”, deriving from the passive aggressive tones of these articles on RPS here, serves no purpose but to paint it as a binary issue. An issue with nothing but extremes. Which it really is not. Worse, treating the topics as such leads to antagonism and conflict. People in the middle are alienated by the extreme hostility on BOTH sides.

    The result of that is, once again, binary:
    0) They’re pushed into or assumed to be of one side and get full barrages from the other side.
    1) They retreat from the topic, into inaction. Out of an unwillingness to deal with the flamewar nature of the topic.

    Case in point, I’m an active feminist, I lobby for equal treatment and equal rights. I consider gender to be a purely cultural descriptor and thus merely a cultural construct. I’m actually not just sitting on my ass, playing white knight in internet forums only. Yet, everytime this topic comes up and the articles incite a flamewar by stating it as a binary friend or foe issue, I’m forced to either take unreasonable extreme sides or back out of the discussion. Since I’m a stubborn fucktard, my choice is to ridicule both sides and point out flaws and motivations in their argument.

    One way or another, if the article really had an interest in getting everyone to the table, it would be more neutral. Hostility like “people still don’t get it”, is bound to make a flamewar. And the flamewar follys will drive away sensible people and leave the extremists on both sides, or the trolls and fucktards that play both sides.

    • gwathdring says:

      Well put. :)

      I agree. I get annoyed when people pull the “Why are we talking about this, get back to video games” garbage, but I tend not to like the articles themselves all that much at all whenever social issues come up. Nuance is an important part of solving the problem.

  48. daphne says:

    Interestingly, I generally find that in life, calling out for everyone to do something is almost as easy as being inactive. Imagine that. If inaction is cancer, then surely these callouts are a tad herpes, flaring up once in a while to great inefficiency.

    • rockman29 says:

      I have to say, I strongly agre with you. Nathan evevn admits in the article he didn’t say anything. It seems like he thought it inappropriate to say anything, and then talks about how everyone shold stand up and speak out against this.

      Something is wrong there itself. I wonder what Nathan thinks about this, would lovee a reply Nathan. Great article evevn still.

    • gwathdring says:

      I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of not talking about ongoing problems simply because talk is cheap and there isn’t much new to be said. On the other hand I’ve read far better articles on this sort of thing in just about every respect and … well, maybe I don’t agree that there is an other hand as I did when I clicked the Reply button. I’m not too fond of the article for a number of reasons and I certainly admit that part of my reason for posting here is that I fall victim to the “Ooh, controversy on my favorite gaming website! Juicy” thing that people are want to fall in for.

      But what so what if talk is cheap? Really, barring issues with the quality of this particular talk, just because it’s easy and isn’t a silver bullet doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. It should, and it should happen often. If bad things consistently happen and we don’t mention them consistently … well what does it say that we can’t even talk cheaply about an issue? That’s pretty grim, isn’t it? If we don’t even talk about shitty character designs, shitty plots, sexist attitudes or any other common issues in gaming and simply accept them because talking doesn’t make it go away and it’s so common and we’re tired of hearing about it? That’s damn depressing.

  49. spongthe1st says:

    There’s a lot of good being said here on both the sides of ‘gaming needs to be fairer to women’ and the ‘men aren’t all horrible bastards’ front, both of which need to be emphasised.

    However, I’m sure I’ll get some abuse for this, but, one of the things which really jumped out for me from Nathan’s article was this bit:

    ‘It’s not like “men’s” games are going to go away, but even if they were, what matters more in the grand scheme of things: your brief, momentary amusement, or the sustained happiness and comfort of other people with brains and goals and lives and all that wonderful shit?’

    Fair point, and I’m hugely in favour of more games that are appealing to women.

    However, as a male gamer I don’t think my concern over the sexism debate is that ‘men’s games are going to go away’ but rather that they might get unnecessarily diluted to the point where they aren’t fun or appealing to me any more.

    Indeed, I can foresee a scenario where in trying to please everyone the games become unappealing to both genders, or all demographics. As other posters have said, it’s okay that the genders are different, likewise it should also be fine that there are games that cater specifically to both genders, just as TV shows and films do.

    Clearly the balance is not currently there, but I’d rather see more games from each separate angle than more games which try to include everyone.

    • wodin says:

      Well said. How many War Films are ruined because a silly romance had to be thrown in? All great warfilms are about War and I bet 90% of the crap has a love interest in it.

      Games should cater for all by having a wide selection..not by homogenising them.

    • gwathdring says:

      Hell yes. But let’s be careful: there can still be aspects of gaming that are, in the absence of significant alternatives, inherently problematic. Having no war movies with room for anything but stereotypically manly violence is just as bad as shoe-horning in cheesy crowd-pleasing romances, sex scenes, and so forth. Having elements that always go together because they belong in men’s games is just as bad as taking things out of a game simply because they don’t appeal to a broader audience. Games should be coherent and cohesive, and while they shouldn’t be perpetuating the unsavory things about our society just because it’s traditional.

      More variety instead more blandly inoffensive crap? Hell yes. But let’s not save the fetid month-old water simply because we don’t want to chuck the baby out the window.