GDC 2013: A Worrisome, Hopeful Contradiction

RPS’s own wayward ronin word master Cara Ellison, during a post-convention victory dinner, put it best: “GDC is where we first hear about all the stuff everyone will be talking about next year.” Maybe it’s a trend-setter, or maybe it’s just a megaphone for gentle tickles of trends that are already in motion, but the point remains: GDC tends to be pretty indicative of where we’re at. People often view E3 in that light, but the fact is, it’s a dinosaur wreathed in fireworks, frilly undergarments, and little else. E3 is a projection. GDC has evolved into its opposite: introspection. We look inward, and then we discuss. And this year – thanks to things like the renewed prominence of PC gaming, a focus on indies, and the #1ReasonToBe talk – I came away quite optimistic. That warm feeling does not, however, come without some rather glaring caveats. Same-y looking “next-gen” games. The IGDA’s insulting use of scantily clad dancers. A worrisome gulf between triple-A and indie. For each positive, there was an ugly negative.

This year’s GDC in one word? Contradiction.

EA’s mid-GDC Battlefield 4 reveal event was really, really, really weird.

John and I stormed the San Francisco Metreon’s carpet-walled corridors, making snarky remarks about the excessive display for what, in actuality, amounted to a glorified gameplay trailer in a movie theater. Army men who looked like they were made of more plastic than tiny green army toys shot and shouted, and – Total Eclipse of the Heart gag aside – it all felt like business as usual. Then EA herded our thrumming crowd of journos off to an extravagant after-party, lights dimmed to the point of seduction – a cherry atop a slab of substance-lacking cake atop a sundae we didn’t really want in the first place. It all felt completely bizarre, like we’d stepped out of GDC proper and into a time machine.

It was, in other words, a triple-A game reveal. Thing is, earlier that day, I’d sat in on two separate talks about games that argued for more self-reflection in this exact genre. Other panels, meanwhile, discussed the merits of using novel game mechanics to tell more personal, specific stories or simply to make everyone’s brains implode. And don’t even get me started on how strange it felt to later that week attend Lost Levels – an outdoor picnic/un-conference focused on new ideas and inclusiveness – not even a block away from Battlefield 4’s old haunt. On one side: ruthlessly targeted status quo maintenance. On the other: eccentric idealists whose dreams were far too big for their wallets. If you follow the gaming industry, this probably isn’t particularly revelatory to you, but seeing these tidal waves crash into each other and – in some cases – publicly drown each other out was utterly striking.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not arguing that wily indies are inherently superior to entrenched triple-A behemoths or anything like that. What I witnessed at GDC, however, was an industry characterized by borders. You’re either bombastically brainless entertainment or more modest, smaller-scale expression. Overlap is worrisomely rare, and its results are mixed.

But there is hope. It’s just that, like many forms of change, gaming’s ideological shift is proving extremely slow-moving, for many reasons. For instance, I asked Warren Spector point-blank, and he said large-scale development rarely leaves him with the time (or the will, for that matter) to play other games. And while he acknowledged that it’s a huge problem, he wasn’t able to conjure up a solution. Meanwhile, Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams chalked it up to the bottom line. His game and others like it – whether due to slow-building narrative focus, mechanics, or some mixture of factors – simply haven’t sold well. Publishers, then, are often hesitant to greenlight more.

However, one of Witcher 3’s principle gameplay designers told me that, in the past couple of years, he’s turned to smaller games as his primary source of inspiration. Also, both Spector and Williams answered my questions while mobbed by chatty indies and students, exchanging various wisdoms, brewing up a brain storm that hummed electricity. Meanwhile, plenty of former triple-A devs gone indie – for example, the BioShock-tempered Fullbright Company and their brilliantly contemplative Gone Home – were in attendance, displaying comfortable confidence in their newly carved out middle ground. And of course, let’s not forget the elephant in the room: the (sadly console-only) Journey, which married small game experimentation with big budget production values to be met with critical acclaim, strong sales, and every award ever conceived – including the first annual “No But Seriously We’re Not Going To Give This One To Journey But Oh No We’re Doing It Anyway Hmmm Welp We Gave It Our Best Shot I Guess” award.

Where to from here, though? Well, I’m a-okay with gaming’s maddest hatters keeping largely to themselves, but I do think there’s room for something that lets creators break outside their normal boxes. Spec Ops’ Williams suggested a system more akin to Hollywood (which, admittedly, isn’t the healthiest industry itself these days), with box office dynamos still having leeway to cleanse their palettes on pet projects between major hits – sometimes via specialized studio divisions like Fox Searchlight. And it’s not hard to see (once again, only in console-land at the moment, unfortunately) something like Sony’s indie outreach program evolving to take on that role. The once-closed-off living room lord this year put the likes of Hotline Miami and Lone Survivor on a pedestal, which makes sense given that the PlayStation 4 is just a PC having a sleek, sexy identity crisis.

But there’s also the other side of gaming’s new equation: not the what or the who, but who it’s all for. Once again, GDC held a colossal mirror up to the industry and reflected progress, however slow. On one hand, big steps back only served to emphasize massive (though still very much in-progress) steps forward, with the Independent Game Developers Association getting swiftly reprimanded for alienating women via scantily clad dancing girls, stilt walkers, and stage performers. Meanwhile, panels like the brilliant #1ReasonToBe – which saw luminaries like Brenda Romero, Robin Hunicke, and RPS chum Leigh Alexander give one of the most important, impassioned talks of the entire show – and similarly themed panels from BioWare and Microsoft drew both cheers and tears.

It was, frankly, amazing to simply exist in that environment. After the #1Reason talk, hordes of people – men and women alike – rushed the stage to express gratitude. This wasn’t some targeted strike on all that longtime, exceedingly white/male gamers hold dear. It was a community no longer feeling excluded. Suffocating loneliness finally giving way to a little fresh air. Smiles, hugs, laughter. There was still plenty of hate (I got some for merely tweeting about the event; I can’t even imagine what fucking horrific nonsense the panelists had to deal with), but it felt like a hard-fought win. One battle in a long, nauseatingly drawn-out war, certainly, but that’s sometimes all it takes to turn a tide.

And while we could (and should, honestly, very soon) delve more deeply into the lack of similarly high-profile visibility for racial, queer, and other painfully marginalized issues, the big contradiction on this front involved blame and responsibility. Whose fault was the IGDA party debacle, which – to put things in perspective – saw a self-described advocacy group put this industry’s absolute worst foot forward, causing multiple talents including Brenda Romero and board of directors member Darius Kazemi to resign? Well, to hear the IGDA tell it, San-Francisco-based developer and partial party host Yetizen was entirely to blame. Yetizen, meanwhile, contends that the IGDA’s flubbing facts and it – for its part – hired “avid gamers, who happened to be models, to discuss gaming with the invited guests.” Uh-huh. Also, Brenda Romero’s apparently eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil and out to get them or something. I don’t even know anymore.

Here, let me solve the great mystery for you: both party-hosting parties screwed up. Everyone was wrong. Shock. That never happens all the damn time in the case of nearly every mistake made ever. But hastily hurling the buck into someone else’s hands – at the absolute best – makes you look like a complete coward and, at worst, stops the learning process dead in its tracks. Case in point: Yetizen has made the exact same incredibly dumb choice multiple years in a row. Despite this, the IGDA for some reason decided to get involved with them.

Gaming companies: accept responsibility, learn, and for the love of god or whomever else, don’t do this.

And yet, even in light of all sorts of back steps, side steps, and face-palm-worthy face-plants, I do think this year’s GDC represented forward motion. We still have all kinds of mountains to tear down, but we’re making real, tangible progress both in terms of what we create and who feels like they’re welcome at the table when we consume it. The real takeaway here? Now is not the time for pats on the back. The gaming industry has momentum. So let’s keep pushing. It’s a shame that GDC only brings this many brilliant people into the same building once per year, but eh, walls are overrated. So let’s bust them down year ’round.

How’s that for destructible cover, EA?


  1. zeekthegeek says:

    Mainstream games that sell really really well continue to exist in GDC shocker, is what I’m getting out of this article.

    • Brun says:

      I’m getting that the industry is becoming more and more divergent between the AAA side and the Indie side.

    • Hahaha says:

      I’m getting that eye candy is bad

      • frightlever says:

        Maybe games are going through the phase that comedy did in the 80s. Obviously not mainstream games, or mainstream comedy. but you had a lot of “politically correct” comedy back then that is pretty much irrelevant now because people moved on. This is just an attempt to legitimise games and gaming by making it “socially responsible”. Trouble is society has little interest in being responsible and wants to be entertained with sex and violence.

        Are there po-faced media commentators observing how sexist Game of Thrones is because many of the female character are portrayed in an overtly sexual manner? Yes, of course there are and they represent a small tinny voice drowned out by the general chorus of approval from a multitude of fans from both sexes.

        • fn8rd says:

          funny that you should mention game of thrones:
          isn’t margery using her “overt sexuality” because its her most powerful weapon (and to exactly that extent)?
          isn’t hows-the-big-blond-one-called stifled in her every try to fill a traditionally male job?
          isn’t lady stark dressed up to her chin at all times?
          but, whatever, there was also some sex in there sometime, let’s just throw it in with all the sexist crap there exists … >:(

      • Chmilz says:

        As with all of these types of events, I go for the content, not for the tacky rental babes. There are places that specifically cater to dudes looking to gawk at women, and these are not them.

        • domogrue says:

          This. In spades. I was at that party and I thought it was incredibly unprofessional and weird to have this, because every other party was about networking, blowing off steam from the day, and being this mature professional who’s come for the sake of their career and learning. Imagine coming back from the #1reasonwhy talk and seeing well… sexy club girls when you’re trying to talk to someone you worked with 2 years ago in another company or meeting the CEO of a start up studio. It’s like going to a nice quiet dinner party and someone brings in strippers and a 12 pack of bud.

          Also there was no open bar and the stage performers sucked.

      • colossalstrikepackage says:

        Can’t tell if OP is trolling or deploying a rhetorical, but here is a response, for all it’s worth.

        Human beings are not eye candy. People are much more complicated than that. But beauty lies in the eye of the social norm. And that is what’s being challenged. I say tear it down. These are not the Middle Ages, and we shouldn’t be alienating 50% of the world’s population – regardless of their participation rate. And do parts of society enjoy sex and violence? Yes. Some people enjoy blowing others up, too. But should we put up with it in the ‘mainstream’ culture, which games certainly have a voice in shaping? I’d argue not.

        • Hahaha says:

          “Human beings are not eye candy. People are much more complicated than that. But beauty lies in the eye of the social norm.”

          No it dosen’t and as you say humans are lots of things, being nice to look at being one of them.

          link to

          How come scantily clad men in games are fine? (I can’t remember RPS ever complaining about that, maybe they have)

          • colossalstrikepackage says:

            Well we agree that people are more than their looks. Thank goodness for that.

            But let me get this straight – you think that objectifying men in computer games has reached epidemic levels and you’re angry at RPS for this lack of coverage? But you think that this is okay to do to women?

          • Hahaha says:

            No and I don’t care enough about this to be angry.

            RPS need to reach out to cosplayers and tell them to stop supporting the way woman are portrayed in games.

        • Grape says:

          Human beings are not eye candy. People are much more complicated than that.

          Humans are eye-candy as well, colossalstrikepackage. Stating that they’re not, is one of the dumber things one could possibly say.

          • colossalstrikepackage says:

            Thanks for making it personal and calling me dumb! That really ups the tone of this already elevated conversation.

            In case you care about the issue at hand, Eye candy inherently objectification. And objects don’t have feelings or personalities. So by definition, eye candy is a mutually exclusive term of objectification. Something cannot be eye-candy and have feelings, by definition.

          • Hungry Like the Wholphin says:

            Some objects have feelings and personalities.

            Have we learned nothing from Portal?

            Also life isn’t all a uni course on the male gaze. It’s a great big world out there.

    • Tasloi says:

      Yeah. The first few paragraphs described variety to me. I thought this was what we wanted all along? I suppose one can argue about the lack of variety within triple A games. Though to be honest I think that category is always going to be dominated by a certain type of game. In the end I agree with Williams’ reference to Hollywood as the natural evolution of gaming. This will end up pleasing a larger and more diverse audience than is the case nowadays. Of course for those with a certain agenda to push it’s obviously not going to be good enough.

      • BigJonno says:

        The issue is that it’s becoming more and more of an either/or situation. Either a game is a AAA, shallow, mainstream-pleasing blockbuster, or it’s a small indie thing. There’s worryingly little in the way of a middle ground. When Tomb Raider can sell over three million copies in a few weeks and that not be enough, there’s an issue.

        • Tasloi says:

          I’m afraid we’re gonna have to agree to disagree. I think we’ll be seeing more and more games occupying the middle ground long term. Of course it all depends on how you define small indie and middle ground. Personally I believe the latter to already be increasingly well-represented.

    • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

      Reading is hard, is what I’m getting from most of the comments.

  2. thegooseking says:

    I love YetiZen’s claim that they hired “gamers who happened to be models”.

    I just imagine them turning up at the rent-a-gamer agency and being told “Oh, sorry, all our overweight, goateed, ponytailed, parents’-basement-dwelling gamers are booked to another function. The only ones we have left to offer you are models.”

    • frymaster says:

      there is actually a model agency that specialises in gamers

      link to

      …though I’m not sure what that means

      “The Charisma+2 models have been used for all kinds of events including non gaming events, such as the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, where they were contracted to play Guitar Hero with the attendees”

      …apart from that, I think their target product is “booth babes who actually know about the product”

  3. sinister agent says:

    For each positive, there was an ugly negative.

    Oh hey, you read my memoirs!

  4. Hoaxfish says:

    The one thing I don’t get over the Yetizen mess was why Romero resigned.

    I assumed that Yetizen had broken some rules of the IGDA events, or broken some rule in place since they apparently caused similar issues last year, etc… but rather than impose some sort of penalty, or ensure that they never got an IGDA gig again… she ran away? Essentially saying that the IGDA was at fault, and that she had no power in her position to “fix it”?

    As one of those ironies… apparently Yetizen’s end of things was also a woman. So, woman on woman via women objectification or something.

    • RobF says:

      Why would you want to be a part of an industry body that’s supposed to represent you that continually fails to represent you? How is leaving that “running away” ?

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Maybe I misunderstand what “power” the position grants… but it seems like a fairly prominent position to exert at least some control over what the IGDA does. Such power would theoretically include pushing for alteration of the rules of the organisation to “frown heavily” on such behaviour, as well as encourage “proper behaviour” in every other company that wants to associate itself with them.

        Throwing your hands up and resigning from that “power” because of a single event (or accumulated events I guess) seems very much like the move of someone who admits they can’t effect any change whatsoever, or is unwilling to attempt it.

        The isolated reporting of the resignation seems like she simply jumped as soon as something was “offensive”, rather than trying to tackle the issue outside of an echo chamber. This was hardly anonymous internet harassment, people could be pinned down and dealt with.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          She may deal with discrimination on a daily basis for all we know. Gotta pick your battles.

        • RobF says:

          No, the IGDA doesn’t need saving or turning around. It’s perfectly OK to let it die.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I’m obviously unaware of any ongoing controversy the IGDA generates (and even in this particular event, Yetizen are the one’s being accused). Isn’t it useful to have some thing(s) that guide the overall industry with regard to this sort of thing, “fight the corner” with governments, etc?

          • RobF says:

            Only if it’s fighting for you not against you.

            What exactly are you hoping to prove here? That she should have stayed and tried to turn it around? Because that’s bullshit, it can die.

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            There’s been some talk about founding a new organization that’s actually useful, and hopefully that comes to pass. Shit needs to change, and it’s very clear that the IGDA is useless at best, if not actively counterproductive.

          • RandomEsa says:

            Could anyone shed some light on this whole igda business? This “controversy” is literally first time I’ve ever heard of it.

            What makes it so bad that it needs to wither away?

          • Hoaxfish says:

            As I’ve read it, Yetizen did something wrong. Yetizen is not the IGDA. Brenda Romero was somewhere at the top of the IGDA. Her response to Yetizen’s event, was to quit the IGDA… a powerful statement, but ultimately removes herself from the heart of the discussion, and any further ability to engage in that discussion as a representative of the IGDA.

            If everyone does the same thing, the IGDA will effectively be left to the people who found the Yetizen event perfectly okay. At the moment the IGDA seem to be speaking in support of Brenda’s point of view (even if they may not be happy with her resignation)..

            I’m not trying to prove anything. But nobody seems to have told me what the IGDA did wrong that she felt the need to resign from them, or what moves she has tried previously to make the IGDA more accepting of her view-point which apparently was “fought against”, or why she couldn’t get the IGDA to give Yetizen a good kicking.

            Hell, I’ve read in some reports that this whole thing was a political move by Brenda, with Yetizen providing an excuse to kick things off.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            Hoaxfish, you are shifting blame onto Brenda. Accusing a minority of not doing enough to protect their rights is a dangerous path to follow.

            Sounds really sinister, and I don’t think that was your intention, but it’s something to keep in mind. It’s all speculation unless she states her motive. She has the right to resign if she feels that she is not able or willing to do the job.

          • RobF says:

            Yes, quite. Trying to shift the blame for this in any way onto Brenda is fairly despicable. It’s been very clearly explained where and why this is a problem. The IGDA were fully aware of Yetizen’s plans. Yetizen have repeatedly pulled similar party stunts. Yet the IGDA went with them anyway. No surprises as to the outcome, right?

            Which is yet another nail in the continual failures of the IGDA as an organisation’s coffin. Despite the best efforts of some very, VERY good people (as mentioned above, Darius amongst others), as an org it continues to be useless at best, rotten at worst. It also continues to, often, work counter to the very people it’s supposed to support – clearly exemplified by getting into bed with Yetizen. When you have your members fighting for equality, when you have your members fighting for inclusion, shit like this is NOT acceptable. It is rotten.

            If all the good people leaving the IGDA leaves them with nothing but rotten apples, so be it. It is not an org that needs saving, it is not irreplaceable and if it wants to be left on the wrong side of history, so be it. No fucks will be given when it shutters then, right?

          • jalf says:

            Sure, but it doesn’t do that.

            For example, remember a couple of months ago when Obama wanted to discuss violence in games with the games industry (following the latest school shooting).

            Guess who weren’t even invited? The IGDA. Because they’re utterly impotent and irrelevant.

            As for Romeros “power” in the organization, why do you assume she has any? She’s not (or was not) President For Life.

            And well, they’ve pulled basically the same YetiZen stunt three years in a row. If she could have stopped it two years ago, don’t you think she would have? I’d say if an organization you publically support repeatedly pulls this kind of stunt, it makes sense to say “ok, I’m out. I don’t want to be associated with this any more”.

            I’m not trying to prove anything. But nobody seems to have told me what the IGDA did wrong that she felt the need to resign from them, or what moves she has tried previously to make the IGDA more accepting of her view-point which apparently was “fought against”, or why she couldn’t get the IGDA to give Yetizen a good kicking.

            What IGDA did wrong was letting this happen. They were co-organizers of the party in question, they should know what was going to happen, and if they didn’t know, it should be in their own interest to find out.

            Why couldn’t she “get the IGDA to give Yetizen a good kicking”? Why couldn’t she build a spaceship and fly to Mars? Why do you assume she *could*? Once again, she was not dicator and absolute ruler. And if the organization needs her constant vigilance to not be despicable, then you have to wonder what worth the organization has, and if it has no worth, why support it? Why not just let it wither and die?

            I’m puzzled by what you think the IGDA is. You seem to think that it’s… I don’t know… her personal lobbyist organization or something? It isn’t. It’s a loose association of volunteer game developers who have taken it upon themselves to represent the games industry and which is intended to affect positive change. It consists of a lot of branches, dedicated to everything from dealing with legal issues to encouraging students to become game programmers to campaigning against sexism to campaigning for better working conditions in the industry, and a dozen other things. But like most broad, volunteer-based organizations, there’s no single king at the top deciding what the organization should think and do about everything.

            And the last piece of the puzzle that you may be missing is that the IGDA is already very much irrelevant, impotent, useless and ineffective. Some people, such as Brenda Romero, have supported it because they *wanted* it to become relevant.

            Now, it turns out that the useless and ineffective organization isn’t even *worth* making relevant. It’s starting to seem like it’s a good thing they’re so ineffective and powerless.

            Now, imagine you’re Brenda Romero, and you want to make the games industry a better place.
            You have two options. Either you take an organization which currently is trying to fight *against* the positive change that’s occurring, but which is too weak and unimportant to do so, and you try to *both* help it become more relevant, *and* try to turn it around to actually become a force for good…

            or, you leave it alone, in the knowledge that it’s useless, and that this is a good thing, because it would be harmful if it had any power.

            I’d do want nothing to do with the organization. I’d choose to spend my time helping an organization which was actually trying to do good. (Or try to turn one around which had power, but was doing bad things. But I certainly wouldn’t bother working with a powerless but “evil” organization)

          • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

            Well, it was an IGDA event, and several members of the IGDA event didn’t want to look at it – that alone kinda proves that as far as they’re concerned they got it wrong.

            Clearly, as many are keen to point out, there’s nothing wrong with scantily-clad people, but if you’re picking scantily-clad people of only one sex to dance about at your event, it implies the event’s primarily or specifically for people of the other sex. Only the guys there (assuming a predominance of heterosexual people in the group) get to look at sexy people. It’s like holding an event somewhere which doesn’t have any women’s toilets – it’s not that scantily clad women/men’s toilets are bad, but if you have something there which only caters to one gender it implies the other isn’t really supposed to be there.

            It’s a pretty good definition of “marginalising”, that. And we don’t want people marginalised, be they professionals like Brenda Romero, female gamers, or anyone else in the industry who’s put off by indications that it’s a man’s club for manly men, which it clearly isn’t. Gaming is better when these people don’t feel like they can’t play.

    • Simes says:

      As head of a Special Interest Group and not a member of the board, she did indeed have no power to “fix it”.

  5. Snargelfargen says:

    Contrasting AAA publishers with indie devs ignores the growing mid-sized studios. Larian, SCS and CDP (who aren’t really mid anymore, but that’s how they got their start), for example. These studios are mostly based in eastern europe or other places with lower average wages, and while they aren’t doing anything quite as exciting as an artsy one-man studio, they are quietly innovating within their respective niches.

  6. Fred S. says:

    Oh no, attractive females in alluring costumes, how awful. We must suppress the possibility of male visual gratification at once.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      it’s all about you, Ready Freddie ;-)

      • Fred S. says:

        Well of course it is. I haven’t had much luck at having other people’s opinions lately.

        • AndrewC says:

          No, you really haven’t. Being able to work out what other people’s opinions are is one of those ‘basic requirements for being a decent human’ things.

          • Fred S. says:

            You seem to be confused. I didn’t say that I couldn’t work out what their opinions are, I said I don’t have them myself. I don’t change my opinions to fit in with the crowd, so to speak.

          • AndrewC says:

            Good, good. You certainly won’t complain when everybody completely ignores your opinions, then.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Sorry to crash your wonderful thread but, oh my, AndrewC do you read what you write? You must be confused or high.

          • AlwaysRight says:

            Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how mind-meltingly stupid, sexist or outdated.

          • AndrewC says:

            Go on, Ultra, gimme a third option at least.

          • AlwaysRight says:

            A – Confused
            B – High
            C – An alien from the planet Equalitium-50, sent to Earth armed with his dreaded empathy laser, you possess an inhuman psychic ability to be able to imagine what other people might be feeling.
            D – Fair

          • Fred S. says:

            I would have just said “progressive” but I didn’t want to be so insulting.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Textually provocative, mentally wild, unburdened by logic or sense, silly nilly?

            @AlwaysRight – I don’t think being space alien is a basic requirement for being a decent human being, the empathy laser included.

          • Brun says:

            E – Incredibly condescending.

          • colossalstrikepackage says:

            Calling out a lack of empathy is a valid point. Personal attacks are not. Come on people, this is RPS. Let’s keep it civil and refrain from personal attacks?

    • dsch says:

      We must cover them up. Where’s the hijab stash?

      • Fred S. says:

        Oh dear, mustn’t mention the hijab. Being called an “islamophobe” might be even worse than “sexist”.

      • colossalstrikepackage says:

        Ok chaps, it’s just hit me. Take a seat because it might blow your mind too. Are you both comfortable? Good.

        How about letting ‘them’ decide for themselves, regardless of our own opinions? You know, kind of like how we can too? And treating them how we’d like to be (and often are) treated.

        • dsch says:

          You think someone forced those girls to go to a party?

          • Tritagonist says:

            The all-determining ‘society’ forced them to think of themselves as objects-without-feelings and rent themselves out to be gawked at by silly male gamers. Or, much more likely, a quick way to earn a nice bit of cash for students who – shocker – don’t take this nearly as serious as some commentators do.

    • Gap Gen says:

      When I’m a famous game developer, I’m going to hire men in speedos emblazoned with my company logo to go round hitting on people, but only if they look like it would make them uncomfortable.

      • sass says:

        What you should should do is ditch the speedos & go with LEDs on their wangs, much like those fans: when they swing ’em round really fast they can make pictures ‘n’ stuff.

      • deadrody says:

        And then you’ll stand around shocked that the men in attendance don’t instantly become OUTRAGED!!!!

        Good luck with that.

        • sass says:

          Outraged? No. I reserve the right to feel uncomfortable having a dude’s hairless, well-muscled body & junk in my face.

          Unless I’m choosing to go to an all-male review or similar; then I’ll waive my right to feel uncomfortable.

          Context is everything.

    • Grargh says:

      Is it really that hard for all of you to comprehend why this was bad?

      This was not a let’s-all-get-drunk-and-see-who-gets-laid party. It was a platform for all the industry and press people to mingle outside of the panels and presentations, to chat and exchange ideas and to get to know each other. If you throw sexily clad, sexily acting models into that, you immediately change the atmosphere of the whole event. Every (hetero) guy who sees them will subconciously get aroused and see the other women at the event in a different light. This is what makes the presence of sexualised women so uncomfortable for women who want to be seen as actual persons.

      Would you like it if some scantily clad and oiled Men’s Health models were running around a dinner you frequent, causing all the ladies to look and giggle and silently compare you to these guys? It absolutely poisons the atmosphere, and to do it only to one gender is simply sexist.

      • deadrody says:

        If you throw sexily clad, sexily acting models into that, you immediately change the atmosphere of the whole event. Every (hetero) guy who sees them will subconciously get aroused and see the other women at the event in a different light. This is what makes the presence of sexualised women so uncomfortable for women who want to be seen as actual persons.

        Thank you, Dr. Freud. Now if you could kindly furnish your professional psychiatric credentials for our review…. Oh, no ? Well, then. I guess your opinion on the matter is no more valid than anyone elses.

        And as far as scantily clad men about… Again I point out that you will be shocked to find out no men would be outraged at such an idea.

        • Jamesworkshop says:

          being offended isn’t the problem i just don’t think men think women fancying men magically makes them not a person, it’s a pretty absurd statement.

  7. Phoibos Delphi says:

    Brenda can´t stand women in revealing outfits in 2012, but she took the money for the development of “Playboy: The Mansion” in 2003 according to wikipedia. Now, while on the topic of hypocrisy…

    • Phendron says:

      Wow, I guess 9 years is too short a time for people to change perspective.

      • Phoibos Delphi says:

        Tell that to the guy who probably reads comments about the time he made “every gamer his bitch” in every article written about him 13 years after Daikatana came out…

      • sinister agent says:

        Also apparently context is not a thing.

        • Phoibos Delphi says:

          Context in this case: Things you did/said will stick like toilet paper to your shoe, especially if you choose to state the complete opposite at some point later in time. It won´t help your believability if you make a 180° opinion-wise. I don´t say you can not or must not do it, I just say it hurts your credibility.

          • RobF says:

            Context clearly is everything because making and researching sex games, looking into sexuality in games, supporting women in games and not promoting some puritanical approach to the human body (and also being vociferously anti-censorship) entirely means you can’t fight for less objectification of women, means you can’t fight for equal rights and you can’t fight for more women in games because why is that again?

            Oh right, she made a sex game! She can’t talk about women now. Get out with that.

          • Phendron says:

            When did obstinacy become such a fucking virtue? Having changes of opinion or belief isn’t flighty or fickle, it’s part of being human. Re-evaluating the industry and your own worldview is important.

            Obviously having a hand in a large field of differing viewpoints is hypocritical, but long term public record shouldn’t be a scar on credibility.

          • sinister agent says:

            I was talking about the context of the nudity, actually. It’s one thing to have semi-naked women in a game about an industry that exists to sell pictures of semi-naked women. It’s another to have semi-naked women absolutely everywhere because women are just convenient pieces of meat to drape over anything else you want to sell.

            But for what it’s worth, that aside, it is absolutely not the case that if you made a decision ten years ago, you can never re-evaluate whatever opinions or perceptions influenced that decision for the rest of your life. If it were the case, nobody would ever get anything done, because we’d all be too saddled with stupid shit we did aeons ago to ever move on.

          • Phoibos Delphi says:

            @RobF: a) she made a sex game in which you organize parties with objectified women to further the success of your company and b) as I stated before: She absolutely has the right to speak up for womens rights, but I have the right to doubt her credibility after she made a game(for the sake of money and personal success) that does exactly the thing she is demonizing now.

            You make it sound like “Playboy: The Mansion” is a feminist manifesto.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Does hypocrisy have a smell, and can that smell be sensed through the internet? If the answer is yes, then “hypocrisy” must be what is making some of the replies to Phoibos Delphi so odiferous. Seems like some here are picking and choosing.

          • RobF says:

            You also have the right to stick bananas up your bumhole, stick shamrocks on your nips and call yourself Aqua Marina, that’s cool. Knock yourself out with that.

            However, you’re still trying to say that making a game about tits in some way diminishes Brenda’s point about having dancers in short skirts on stilts at a party and that’s entirely your right to believe that. It doesn’t make any more sense than bananas, shamrocks and Stingray but it’s your right.

          • Phoibos Delphi says:

            Now you start sounding like a grown up!

          • Josh W says:

            I take this as a lesson, sometimes when you think people are making a dull and puritanical point, they’re actually saying something quite clever, but you have to look into it a little to see the difference.

            Not sure how to apply this lesson yet.

    • li says:

      On the contrary, that makes her point even more solid.
      Playboy: The Mansion is an erotic game, it shows sexy women and is intended for an audience who is aware of it, it’s fine.
      If Romero was involved in the development, that means she’s not reacting now out of puritanism, but because she sees IGDA as irremediably sexist.

      • Phoibos Delphi says:

        Oh, now I understand: Sexism is perfectly tolerable, if used in the right circumstances! And I thought, it is bad regardless of where it is used. Now, while on the topic of hypocrisy…

  8. Laurentius says:

    Well, if future of gaming is going to be Spec:Ops The Line…well you can keep it.

  9. Metalfish says:

    It’s really fucking tedious how self-centred and empathy devoid individuals seem to swarm to the comments threads to state the almighty truth that is what they think. Heaven forbid anyone else have a problem with the treatment of women in society and in the games industry -their positions will no doubt crumble in the face of your “but I want to continue objectifying other human beings” argument.

    • Brun says:

      I so far count one comment in this thread that might be taken that way. Hardly a “swarm”.

      • Metalfish says:

        I count two, but hey, maybe I can make someone stop and reconsider their view before it becomes three? Not bloody likely, but still, if I didn’t believe that then why would I bother commenting at all?

        • derbefrier says:

          some of us just get tired of this constant barrage of PC bullshit. Its a couple of dancing girls at a party for Christ sake. Pretty harmless in my opinion and I think it does more harm then good to the cause to put so much focus on frivolous things like this as it takes away attention from real issues that actually affect real people this is just a bunch of BS attention grabbing nonsense and the message is going to get lost in it I promise.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            “it takes away attention from real issues that actually affect real people”

            Yeah whenever I get into an argument I just shout incoherently about war orphans and cancer. You can dismiss basically anything, it’s great.

          • tigerfort says:

            Because systematically dismissing half the population as pretty objects to be stared/pawed at rather than treating them as real people doesn’t hurt any real people, right? (Or as Douglas Adams noted, “No-one was really poor, or at least, no-one worth talking about.”)

          • RandomEsa says:

            Dancing girls in a party != 50% of the earth’s population. Having 2 (paid)models at a party will not represent the games industry as a sexist sausage-fest where women are only to be gazed upon and lusted for.

          • jalf says:

            You think it doesn’t “affect real people”?


            Or do you perhaps just mean “it doesn’t affect me”?

            Perhaps you have heard about the #1reasonwhy hash tag that was doing the rounds a few months ago?
            Perhaps you should have read some of it. Perhaps you should get your head out of your ass and realize just how harmful your implicit support of this bullshit is. How harmful it is when people like you use “political correctness” as a reason to dismiss something.

            Or perhaps you just need to grow up, and get out more. Maybe talk to some of these mythical “women”, even.

            What exactly is your problem with “this PC bullshit”?
            That it is political? You are the one making it political. You are the one deciding that “it is wrong to make women feel welcome in the games industry industry”. The issue has always been political. But now your view is finally starting to be challenged. By the real people who are affected by it. You know, the ones you say don’t exist. And suddenly it’s “PC bullshit” and we shouldn’t take it seriously.

            Or is your problem with the “correctness” part?
            Is that in the same way that apartheid was pretty cool. Because it was political, but it wasn’t “correct”? Now it’s been abolished, that is such “PC bullshit”, isn’t it?

            Has it occurred to you that “political correctness” basically just means “try not to be an ass towards others”?

            I’m glad the games industry is growing up. Maybe one day the same will happen to you.

          • Erinduck says:

            So according to you, sexism isn’t a real issue and women aren’t real people.

      • AndrewC says:

        Wait a few hours for the word to get out?

        • lorddon says:

          Yean, I fully expect this to turn into another 20 page comment behemoth like every other RPS article exhorting equality. I’m guessing someone just hasn’t shone the MRA-symbol yet, and called the sewer-dwelling hordes.

          • Phendron says:

            Everybody loves E-Fights!

          • AlwaysRight says:

            I don’t, last time this happened I caught a nasty comment right in the eye.

          • Brun says:

            I used to love E-fights, but then I took an ad hominem to the knee.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Now now, the sewers aren’t quite that bad.

          • Twitchity says:

            Personally, I appreciate the opportunity to use the “block” button with wild abandon. The Internet is a much more soothing place when you can turn off the crazy.

    • Asyne says:

      Objectification isn’t defensible stance. Neither is assumption of objectification or prejudice.

      • Metalfish says:

        “Eye candy” = a pretty clear cut reduction of a person to an object. It’s up there^. I make assumptions all the time, although this isn’t one of those times.

        • Asyne says:

          Then you should voice that complaint at that one commenter, instead of issuing a broad, presumptuous, and preemptive challenge to everyone else.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        I have a friend who loves to be objectified. She gets paid well for dressing scantily at events like this and she’s open about enjoying her line of work.

        I’d call her ‘stupid bee’ if I wasn’t above that. How dare she undermine the efforts of intellectually blessed elite who, unlike her, see the error of her ways.

        Sex sells to low-income / manually working or intellectually challenged audience.

        Ever seen a fast cars show, or a chainsaw ad?

        That said, who are we to forbid the freedom to sell one’s nude imagery, as long as all the transactions are voluntary and with consent?

        Who are we? Are we better than Joe the Tractor who wants to enjoy the photographs in his Farmer Weekly Magazine? Are we better than Jimmy the Tuner who really wants that Lamborghini with side order of hot blonde?

        I guess we are, aren’t we?

        • sinister agent says:

          low-income / manually working or intellectually challenged audience.

          I don’t want to water down this amazing quote with more words.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Joe and Jimmy, straight-shooting, down-to-earth white males. It’s actually kind of awesome how you felt obligated to invent people to support your point and they ended up resembling yourself to a tee.

          I think your friend actually enjoys meeting people and seeing new places, not “objectification”. That is, if she exists.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Your radar’s off.

            But I believe you’re right – objectification probably isn’t what she likes.

            Walking around resembling a stripper, posing as a soft-porn accessory to a variety of company logos, on the other hand, she does like.

            As inconceivable as it is.

            Otherwise I’m sure she wouldn’t continue seeking these tasteless events. She’s a free, sane person, if perhaps not exactly a thinker.

          • Phoibos Delphi says:

            Here is what Brenda said about the E3/booth babe thing:

            “It felt like walking through a construction site. Why do I feel this way? I founded this fucking industry, you motherfuckers. I felt like I was receiving a lot of gazes I didn’t want to receive.”

            Maybe Jim and Joe work at that construction site? I think it is perfectly right for Ultra to use the same sexist stereotype she did!

            Edit: Typo

          • TheTuninator says:

            Who said anything about Jim and Joe being white? Bit presumptuous of you to project race into a dialogue which didn’t involve it at all, don’t you think?

          • Snargelfargen says:

            “Who said anything about Jim and Joe being white? Bit presumptuous of you to project race into a dialogue which didn’t involve it at all, don’t you think?”

            – It would be hard to come up with names less stereotypically “white” than those., especially in the short form.

            -If it”s presumptuous to guess at the race of two fictional characters, what about the person inventing them just to make an argument? An argument that includes the line “Sex sells to low-income / manually working or intellectually challenged audience.” That’s a pretty hard sell without any evidence.

            -Ultra has already brought intelligence, social status and gender up. The dialogue is already political, so it’s odd that race wasn’t mentioned, especially considering the names of his characters.

        • Gap Gen says:

          There are plenty of women who are conservatives, and as such are happy to accept a role as second-class citizens. Liberalism isn’t a gendered philosophy, just as the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s wasn’t a black-only movement. In my viewpoint, both traditional feminine and masculine roles and ways of thinking need to be crushed, or at least remoulded entirely. And they will be, since time doesn’t give a shit what a bigot in a nursing home thinks.

          • deadrody says:

            Leave it to a liberal to think the entire world thinks exactly like them. The VAST majority of the planet Earth is inhabited by humans who think the traditional roles of male and female are working out just fine.

        • Grargh says:

          Now, I don’t know your softporn modeling friend, so don’t view this as judgement of her specifically. But I have come to believe that most of the ‘sexy’ modeling is done because we as a society try really hard to teach girls to build their self-image upon how attractive they are. So the reason why objectifying oneself in this way feels good for some may just be a narcissistic desire for approval, even if it’s just ‘I’d sure hit that’-approval. Same goes for a lot of the cosplaying scene, obviously. I think this is not a very concious decision/process, and it reflects that many women have adapted a very shallow image of women themselves.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            I don’t think they have necessarily adopted a “very shallow image of women” – they don’t live in a vacuum, they are aware of powerful, successful women. ‘They’ have very good idea about who they are. It’s not their way of life – it’s their job, one which they enjoy.

            Where there’s demand, there’s a supply.

            What one sees as a tasteless sexism, other might see as an ‘easy’ way to make money – without any other qualification than good looks.

            Not everyone has the looks for sale and majority of those who do can do better than that. However there is a group of people who enjoy these lines of work (hostesses, models, strippers) and who would do WORSE in a society without the demand for their trade.

            If mindsets change, good. I and others on this site wouldn’t be swayed into buying a game because of sexist promotion – quite on the contrary, my favourite games are the least sexist games in existence (excluding Warhammer 40K).

            But before imposing my standards on others – I’d empathize with those who are really being targeted by this drama – the poor models.

            How do they feel ?

            They went to make a quick buck doing what they like and now heads roll because some people couldn’t stand their youthful hip shakes? What are they to do now? Math? Science? History?

    • Don Reba says:

      And what is wrong with consensual objectification, exactly? As far as I can see, it is a performance art as any other, with hired actors playing out roles.

  10. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Wow, I was just catching up on the post GDC commentary with Leigh Alexanders (already linked above) and Kirk Hamiltons articles, when I saw that so had been Nathan.

    Is there still no video of the full #1reasontoBe talk, anywhere?! please somebody link me!

    [edit for linkage]

  11. Soldancer says:

    On the one hand, it would be easy for people to dismiss this as over-reacting or a big mistake/misunderstanding.

    However, in light of the continuing sexist-leaning mores of the industry, especially in the last year, I think it’s totally reasonable to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards things you feel go against your beliefs.

    We have to remember that Brenda, Darius, and the others are people, with their own opinions and attitudes about what they are willing to tolerate in the gaming industry, specifically from an advocacy group. I don’t think it’s necessary to agree with their decisions as much as it is to understand why they made those decisions.

    I for one totally agree with the choice to leave IGDA, mostly in light of multiple cumulative problems, some of which have nothing to do with ostensible sexism.

    TLDR: you go, girl

    • Fred S. says:

      It’s nice that they have strong opinions about certain things, but why are we supposed to tolerate having them imposed upon us, any more than Brenda is willing to tolerate diametrically opposed opinions?

      • AndrewC says:

        You’re almost there! Having opinions imposed on you *is* really horrible! Imagine how it must feel!

        • Fred S. says:

          Really? Did somebody put Brenda up on that stage and make her wear go-go boots? Goodness!

          • AndrewC says:

            No, they forced her to be a representative of an organisation that had go go dancers. Tighten up your arguments.

          • Fred S. says:

            How dare they conduct a mutually beneficial transaction between consenting adults without the approval of the Progressive Purity Police!

      • Gap Gen says:

        It’s funny how people think of liberalism as this wooly philosophy where you can say or think anything you want. I suppose those people have never had Predator drones hover over their house.

    • RandomEsa says:

      “However, in light of the continuing sexist-leaning mores of the industry, especially in the last year, I think it’s totally reasonable to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards things you feel go against your beliefs.”

      This is one of the worst things you can ever possibly do. Having the completely different opinion challenge your worldview will either make you feel stronger about your opinion or question it.

      Personally I think that if you need to shut down the opposing beliefs then your opinion / argument isn’t a good one.

      • AndrewC says:

        False equivlilancy. Pointing out every example of oppressing 50% of the population is not the same as oppressing 50% of the population.

      • RobF says:

        Or the other beliefs are just rotten shit.

        • RandomEsa says:

          Well that’s like your opinion man.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Someone somewhere enjoys rotten shit passionately.

          One man’s rotten shit is other man’s breakfast.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Actually, in a choice between rights and democracy, the classical liberal would choose rights any time. I reserve the right to crush fascism in any way I feel that I can, for example. So yes, my opinion is that unequal gender roles need to end, and I reserve the right to try to stop people who disagree with me. That’s sort of how politics and human society work. Plus in any case, the fact that liberal society respects freedom of conscience more than previous social models doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of an inherent ideology that it seeks to promote.

  12. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Anyone got a link to pics of the dancers?

    • abandonhope says:

      In the interest of journalism or what have you: link to

      Another image: link to

      I was trying to find what the context and tone of the party was, and so far it seems really dorky and tame, especially compared to the Wargaming party, but still more or less in line with other parties at GDC, including the one thrown by Notch.

      yetiZen party (the sexified dancers can be seen on the left around 1:45, while two presumably unpaid dancers, a male and a female, can be seen to the right): link to

      Wargaming party: link to

      Notch party: link to

      • Azradesh says:

        Oh my golly gosh! Cover your eyes!

        • Jamesworkshop says:

          Somebody please think of my so far as yet to materialize children

          • Grayvern says:

            I wonder how someone comes to the conclusion that scantily clad models are a good Idea.

            Interviews always indicate it’s either of offense, it is tuned out, or causes discomfort; so what are they meant to achieve.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Good point, people attending these shows are the worst audience for promotional GO GO show.

      • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

        Hmm. When I heard the phrase “scantly clad” I must confess I assumed it was going to be something much more revealing than just a couple of women in short-ish skirts.

        Perhaps I need to update my understanding of definitions like these. Most of the outfits I see in the town on a Friday night make that pic look positively conservative.

        • dsi1 says:

          It seems that feminism has go so far since the late 1800s that it has looped back into “COVER EVERYTHING, BE AFRAID OF YOUR SEX” territory.

          • Metalfish says:

            EDIT: Wrong place. Damn you reply button.

          • Metalfish says:

            It hasn’t, don’t be silly.

          • Svant says:

            It has nothing to do with cover your sex, anyone is free to show of their sex as much as they like to, no shame. What the issue is about is organisations paying women to be scantly clad to entertain _men_, especially when said organisation is supposed to promote equality. No one has shamed the girls, no one even talks about the girls because that is not where the problem lies.

            Edit: Was supposed to be a reply…

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Well said. Don’t get me started on summer beaches. What are all those semi naked people promoting there anyways? Sea? Sand? Sunscreen?


          Sunscreen industry is rotten.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Well said. Don’t get me started on summer beaches. What are all those semi naked people promoting there anyways? Sea? Sand? Sunscreen?


          Sunscreen industry is rotten.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Your links will be ready in short moment, sir.

      In the meantime, may I indulge you in fresh paper towels and a single serving Nivea cream?

    • abandonhope says:

      I edited my previous comment to include another image and a few YouTube links, one of the yetiZen party and a couple other parties at GDC and it got flagged for moderation (too many links I suppose), so I think the sub-thread has disappeared. If you were one of the commenters, don’t freak out. And sorry about that.

  13. ZHsquad says:

    I remember when game makers made games because they liked games and money.

    Now it’s either money or games. Or neither. Let’s just bring back demo disks and more easter eggs. I like easter eggs. And funny cheat codes.

  14. Jambe says:

    Am I a bad person if I’d rather see lots of beefcake and more queer-friendly and racially-diverse models hawking games than a total desexualization of games promotion?

    To be absolutely clear, I think the IGDA, as supposed representatives of all devs, shouldn’t be pandering. I think sexy-peddling at the GDC and ftm any marketing at all at that venue is out of line with what the conference should be about. By the same token, though, I feel similarly about self-described “journalists” being there—they, too, are contributing to the GDC’s subsumption into the consumerism-driven advertising business. That may be inevitable when you’re hosting a conference (which is a financial affair, after all) but GDC is now another big loud, stupid, flashy thing with little pockets of interest sprinkled throughout. I’d disagree with Nathan’s opener; GDC isn’t E3’s opposite, it’s E3’s idealistic younger brother, and it likes its growing power and gravitas in the same way that Joe American likes his sugary drinks…

    Anyway, broadly speaking, if sexy marketing content had something like gender, ethnicity and orientation equality (which it obviously doesn’t) I wouldn’t have a problem with its use in marketing (in appropriate situations, mind). My core problem with sexy ladies selling games is that they’re virtually always the only people being sexualized in the context of game sales. Who says straight women and gay men don’t appreciate titillating visuals? ftm, who says straight guys can’t appreciate the aesthetics of handsome men? Why is it socially acceptable to assume things about people’s desires and preferences short of any actual insight into their lives or motivations? On the one hand that’s baldly incoherent and assumptive, but on the other hand it’s just damned rude and arrogant.

    There’s a related double-standard I really hate: I’ve met men who appreciate beautiful women standing at kiosks but are put off by gorgeous men doing the same. I can’t help but feel these types of people are sexually-insecure fuckwits who have some growing up to do.

    There are obviously numerous contexts in which “oo, bodies!” is inappropriate, but in a supposedly sex-positive culture I don’t see why it should be universally frowned upon. I’d even say such frowning is a regressive behavior—puritans can fuck right off, frankly.

    I also don’t think “objectification” is an inherent wrong, but that topic leads even further afield.

    • Metalfish says:

      I demand the right for all objects to be treated equally! :)

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      Who says straight women and gay men don’t appreciate titillating visuals?

      link to

      that’s why they made this

    • Matt_W says:

      “My core problem with sexy ladies selling games is that they’re virtually always the only people being sexualized in the context of game sales. ”

      I believe this is exactly the point that Romero was trying to make; the prevalence of booth babes creates a specific environment tailored to male, hetero, sexual tastes. It sends a very clear message to those whose romantic preferences tend toward men or who would simply prefer that their sexytime be segregated from their professional conference time that this is not their space. Add to this women’s justifiable nervousness about unwanted attention, and you might as well add cigars and smoking jackets and dead animal heads mounted on the walls.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        If you want to sell anything to me, make it Warhammer 40K

      • sophof says:

        I think most of us will agree with this, but it is I think the wrong approach to then try and ban such sexualization from anything that has anything to do with gaming. Imo it is sending the wrong message and not solving the problem. So instead of one problem we get 2.

        I really doubt that a lot of people agree with the puritan, sexualization of anything is bad approach this whole sexism-in-games movement is taking, but the ‘you are either with us or against us’ nature of things is pushing in that direction really fast.

        If I may play the amateur psychologist for a moment, I’m afraid that general American prudishness is way too intertwined with this whole discussion. The subjective issue of sexual morality is conflated with the much more objective issue that is sexism.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      I also think it would be helpful to make a distinction between wanting to have sex with someone and only wanting to have sex with them.

      • Jambe says:

        Yes, that’s an important distinction.

        From there one can consider whether it’s possible to appreciate a stranger’s pulchritude and sensuality without desiring sex with them (not that fantasizing about strangers is inherently bad).

        Anecdotally, I sometimes encounter beautiful naked people in sexualized situations, and while sex with them isn’t necessarily objectionable, that doesn’t mean I actively want to have sex with them. The pubescent boy in me does but he stopped dominating my personality long ago.

        When I’m out in public spaces, thoughts such as “she’s gorgeous!” or “he’s hot!” have occurred to me, but I don’t (usually) jump from there to thinking “we could be fuckin’ right now!” Honestly, at times I’ve been thinking about sex or a relationship when a strange beauty comes into view and my thoughts jump to imagined sexytimes, but usually I have more mundane or interesting things on my mind.

        I’d only object to fantasizing about strangers if one did so all the time, which seems unhealthy. I’m much more concerned with whether people have the strength of character to conduct themselves in a decent manner. A bit of introspection can go a long way.

        Sadly, I know many men who think women are sexual/pretty things first and people second, and I also know women who buy into that idea. Importantly, most of these people aren’t stereotypical dudebros or battered women—they seem like normal folk. Events like this IGDA kerfuffle are symptoms of larger cultural problems.

    • MajorManiac says:

      This is the first sensible comment I’ve seen on RPS on this topic. You’ve inspired me to finally comment on it. There are so many fields to discus, so I’ll try to be brief.

      I find it disheartening when I see the games industry and us fans doing the following:
      – Being sexist
      – Mistaking sexiness with sexism
      – Accusing each other of being ignorant

      If I believe someone is ignorant the worst thing I can do is insult then for it. As they’ll stop listening, and why should they listen to insults.

      • Brun says:

        If I believe someone is ignorant the worst thing I can do is insult then for it. As they’ll stop listening, and why should they listen to insults.

        Crazy talk! Don’t you know that ignorance makes you subhuman? Quickly! Round this one up for an extra round of mind conditioning!

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s always the notion of privilege – the fact that people who are not an oppressed social group don’t see a large part of that oppression. So beefcake, while amusing if it made homophobes unsettled, wouldn’t be an identical analogue to female models, because men are already in a position of relative social power.

      Think of it as having a bunch of people go on stage in blackface – it’s not the same as people going on stage with white face paint, because white people were (and, to be frank, still are) in a position of relative social power, and white face paint doesn’t have the same social connotations.

      So yes, I’m all for male models making homophobes feel uncomfortable at cons, but it’s not going to completely balance things out.

      (Just to be clear, this isn’t a criticism of Jambe’s comment, just a dimension of the problem that is important to realise.)

      • sophof says:

        I think you make a good point, especially because there’s also nothing inherently wrong about blackface (stay with me) and banning blackface would be a bit strange. Of course we have to keep in mind certain social backgrounds, but someone belonging to a ‘non-privileged’ group is not correct to feel insulted by default.

        One can question why someone would use blackface, since you know you will most likely offend some people for no good reason, but that doesn’t change the fact that getting offended by something so harmless is silly in concept. It is completely victimless, part of the battle is for society to ‘get over it’. the ideal is people running around in blackface and whiteface indiscriminently, not for blackface to be never used. I understand that people shorten this to ‘blackface is bad’, but I hope everyone saying that realizes that this isn’t actually the case and they just imply all the rest.

        And imo you can freely switch that argument back to the subject discussed here.

        • Deviija says:

          I think your phrasing makes what you are saying sound very questionable. To me, it is reading more like an ‘offended party/parties just need to get over it’ argument. After reading your comment several times, I do not believe that is your intent.

          Basically, the point is that privilege of a majority (that is in social power) will not suffer the same full effects of a disenfranchised/minority group, even when one tries to reverse/flip the social tables. People using white face, or scantily clad men. Whites and men would not see a large part of the oppression because of said privilege and social power.

          I, too, think it’d be great to have scantily clad beefcake running around these events, especially if it made homophobes uncomfortable. But no, even if scantily clad men were hired in a 1:1 ratio as women for these events, it would not completely balance out some of these social issue aspects.

  15. Lambchops says:

    Oh IDGA, move with the times. It would have been so easy to put on some entertainment everyone could have enjoyed, stick on some burlesque or something, everybody loves burlesque.*

    @ Indie/AAA middle ground

    It does seem to be suffering and it’s a shame because it’s this middle ground that brings you the likes of your Vampire Bloodlines, Alpha Protocols, Beyond Good and Evils and Psychonautses. Granted there are studios out there who seem to be coping OK with working in this area (Double Fine and Telltale spring to mind) but certainly it seems to be riskier ground to be treading on.

    *Fact. Well, OK not everybody, but it is very popular.

    • Grayvern says:

      Their are big problems with the narrative constructed around the polar opposites of gaming and the destruction of the middle.

      It’s heavily western biased, ignoring the carefully budgeted audience targeted games publishers and makers like Atlus and From and Nippon Ichi or even those that exist within larger companies like Intelligent systems.

      The middle was always dangerous too Troika closed before people really embraced the notion of the squeezed middle.

      It also seems to me that saying the middle fell away ignores the budget and team size differences that exist within the spectrum of big budget games, XCOM to Call of Duty.

      You can’t deny the large amount of studio closures but at the same time it’s not as if the type of games they were making aren’t being made but by different people with differing constraints.

      Some games produced with less money may actually end up more ambitious by accepting what they cannot do, the Kickstarter RPG’s in eschewing voice and full 3D prove this.

  16. Jamesworkshop says:

    I do wonder why sometimes people whos only real skill is PR work are soo terrible at it

  17. Kusz says:

    Does someone know about a video or at least a recording from that #1reasonwhy speach? A brief search didn’t yield any results.

  18. D3xter says:

    klol whatever (sorry, I’m all out of being able to even tangently give a fuck and this is just getting plain retarded now, this was my main reaction)

    People resigning their posts over women in a nightclub wearing this…: link to

    Meanwhile I found out that a new game (MMO) that borders on softcore pornography and is all about sexualization is apparently mainly played by women (some of them specifically stating that as the reason they play), if this is anything to go by about 60-70% seem to be female: link to and they seem to be having fun and nobody is being hurt by a bit of virtual T&A while RPS writers argue about banal shit perched atop their high horses.

    I’m done with this condescending shit and have removed RPS from sites to visit, I just wish there was a PC focused site out there to replace it that actually focused on games. Ban me for all I care.

    • Hahaha says:

      Lol you see worse on a night out

    • Nogo says:

      You’re missing the point.

      Like Cara has said: where’s her Dismembered Man Crotch statue? IDGA should have hired entertainment for everyone, not just straight men.

      • Hahaha says:

        I understand I just think it’s meh (“oh noooo they are paying female dancers but not catering to the straight females or gay men”), the mojang stuff is worse don’t see a mention of that.

        Out of curiosity how many complaints have you sent to coke?

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Just like the president of the FIA should resign because they put scantily dressed women, but no men, on trade shows? Just… please!

        Dexter is right. The level of condescending crap in this place has gone way above the tolerable. Even an all-time women’s rights activist like myself feels constantly embarrassed. To be fair though Nathan had nothing to do with it. It’s the commentators on this thread (many of them largely silent just a few years ago and actively collecting The Witcher cards) that in a typical monkey-see-monkey-do fashion have nurtured such extreme positions to the point of becoming false radicals (because outside RPS comment boxes I’m ready to bet they’ll keep collecting The Witcher cards. Call me cynical).

        Btw, getting so condescending to the point of ignoring Brenda Romero’s past as “people change” is just way too much for anyone with a clear head to handle. The actual argument that should have been used was “Alright, maybe she isn’t the best person to represent the outrage of that event. But we aren’t concerned with Brenda Romero here. It’s the event and whether it was bad or not”. But naturally that is an impossible trail of thought when one becomes such an ignorant animal bent on erasing any trace of sobriety from themselves and becomes a drunk with a cause.

        Moderation is an unknown word to these condescending pricks.

  19. Josh W says:

    I have a strong suspicion that the problem at the moment is really crappy funding is possible to get in large amounts, and quality funding models only operate on small budgets, so if you want to go big, you have to listen to a lot of people who want very boring things from you.

    In some ways I’d like to say “lets try to find ways for clever games to be be big hits, more minecrafts the maybe publishers will pick up on these things”

    but to be honest, I think publishers and how they get their funding are part of the problem, and we’d do better with a system based on mutual savings from success slowly building up to bigger projects, rather than bringing in debt and equity from a very boring financial world.

  20. Baines says:

    “Meanwhile, Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams chalked it up to the bottom line. His game and others like it – whether due to slow-building narrative focus, mechanics, or some mixture of factors – simply haven’t sold well.”

    Wait. Wasn’t the narrative focus one of the few or even only positive things people had to say about Spec Ops? People generally seemed to agree that it was the gameplay that was the weak link, maybe average, maybe worse than average. Good writing with a better game might have sold better. Though it probably still wouldn’t have sold the Halo/Battlefield/Call of Duty numbers that publishers want.

  21. harbinger says:

    This place reminds me of a Tumblr Blog more and more, “What did I get upset over today?” over “What game did I play today?” and then posting something of equal stupidity to this: link to (that is a real thing, I thought it might be someone trolling or something but it’s NOT, these are the thought-patterns and actions of a real person!)

    The sad thing is, I don’t think it’s very far now till RPS could have something like that verbatim in a “News Post”, I almost miss the John Walker rants from over a year ago now. Because even though you could disagree with him all day, at least he seemed to have some sort of coherent point. That seems to be less and less the case lately, the things one is supposed to be “offended” about seem to be getting more abstruse every month to the point that I don’t even know what there is to discuss anymore.

    “You didn’t approve of the female dancers at the party you attended (or didn’t?), so what?”
    “There was a single comment from over 200 in a recent News Post that I found objectionable, so I’ll take this time to bitch about it.”
    Also this: link to

  22. sophof says:

    This article could use some context. I tried following some of the links, but they all seem to assume you already know what the hell everyone is talking about (the #1ReasonToBe talk and the ‘scandal’). Maybe I’m lazy for not googling all those things, but some links would’ve been nice…

    Right now I get the impression that there were hired models at an afterparty, I hope I’m not being too sexist when I struggle to see a problem with that. I’m sure there’s more to it, so yeah, context next time please.

  23. Deviija says:

    There seems to be some confusion over what the issue is and what the issue is not. It has nothing to do with sexuality, nudity, or sex. This is not about shaming the women involved. This is not puritanical whinging over someone having the audacity to show their ankles or bare abdomen in public.

    It is that an organization is promoting diversity and equality (in games and in the industry and beyond), yet the entertainment hired by certain parties was of scantily clad women. There is a specific target audience in mind for such entertainment. The very same one that is, by and large, targeted in games and in the industry. The very same thing that this organization is trying to change to be more inclusive and positive for everyone. So yes, it emphasizes the issue.

    Flip the script. You are a marginalized, objectified, not-taken-seriously minority– particularly in x medium. You cobble together an organization that hosts an annual event where you invite not only people but awareness of the issues and ideas on how to improve these negatives in your medium. Then, bam, your entertainment reflects many of the problematic things that your organization and your guests have come to discuss is problematic within your medium.

  24. SoulDeliverer says:

    Great article, really interesting.
    I want to point out though, IGDA stands for International Game Developers Association, not Independent Game Developers Association as pointed in the article.