A lot of anime, JRPGs and mobile gacha games are built around the concept of a fictional, prominent group of teenagers of audiences' sexual orientation saving the world, and that passes Bechdel tests, and seems to almost perfectly fit into "the" criteria. Teenage girl quantum physicist scantily clothed talking democracy and sacrificing their life, for a reason miles away from a dick but for a true greater good? I think those are just clicks away if that is what you want or what you need more to correct the world we are in.
But it's not what everyone wants, if not a polar opposite, so I don't understand why it's talked this often.
In fact they were enthusiastic about the task and she was given free reign- and this was a Texan company; Texas as far as I understand is the bastion of right wing politics in the US (I’m not American. Forgive me if I’m wrong), and here’s a foreign woman being given free reign.
So, what happened? 40 years later and I’m being told nearly constantly that games are discriminating towards women.
I work in games, have for close to a decade, and HR beats us over the head for not hiring enough women. (Then later on our executives seem to sleaze on those women, which we also get blamed for. But. Hey Ho.)
I’m asking what happened, which is an indication that… something changed, or was this an anomaly, or that the article is glossing over something
Why are people attempting to read the least charitable interpretation of things today.
HackerNews is usually more intellectually honest than this.
The key is to talk to the people who have the actual experience. Think of the absurdity of a bunch of men talking to each other about the experiences of women - like people in Quebec talking about how life is in Tijuana. If you want to sell something in Tijuana or Quebec, you'd ask the people that live there and listen to them, not talk among yourselves about it. If you did otherwise - if your market study for Tijuana was conducted among people in your Quebec office, your boss would fire you.
Well, in a way this is kind of like confirmation bias (or maybe a different bias term? or a tautology maybe?), I think. This is a story about a woman that we know got a job at that company, so she therefore met less obstructions in getting the job than everyone who didn't get a job (there or elsewhere). The fact that she got the job and was successful enough to be someone who had an article written herself is why the article was written.
Texas being a bastion of right wing politics doesn't really matter at all in regards to systematic issue when we're looking at just a single data point. For instance, NYC could similarly be argued to be a bastion of left wing politics, but that doesn't mean there aren't occasional instances of racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc in NYC in individuals or organizations. It may be rare, but if you're looking for just a single example, it can be found, but it does not mean that it's common.
> So, what happened? 40 years later and I’m being told nearly constantly that games are discriminating towards women.
What do you mean what happened? Are you implying that with Van Mai's hire, gender discrimination was suddenly solved and no longer existed?
Games these days are a bigger production effort than what it took to make Atari cartridges, and in big studios often require a CS degree. Women in CS went up for several decades until the mid 80s, and then started going down again. So gender imbalances in education play a large part in the state of things today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_disparity_in_computing#...
I don't think anyone's arguing that there's zero female representation. The argument is that there isn't enough and/or what representation there is is poor representation.
Is it really a bad thing for society that women don't have as many gamedev jobs as they otherwise could?
Having more female game devs is like having more Australian game devs who know when it's summer there. A big difference though is that unlike Australia which has less than 0.5% of the world's population concentrated in one area, women are over 50% of the world's population and are evenly distributed. You can have a lot of games without Australia but almost every game with people in it needs to have women or you'll be telling a strange story. Imagine a situation where most games have scenes in Australia but most game devs don't know it's summer in January there. That's a problem.
Where it can get mixed up is that a lot of "knowing the seasons" as a woman is knowing stuff that makes men uncomfortable. A female game dev making a realistic female character can introduce everyday factual experiences about things like sexual harassment, birth control, or feminine hygiene, and some male players might say she's trying to make an activist game and she can reply, no, this is just my life. It would be like getting mad at an Australian game dev for always going on about summer in January as if it's their fault the sun spends a lot of time in the sky around that time.
(This is leaving aside the economic argument that developer jobs tend to be good and therefore desirable, and it should be suspicious when any particular demographic is dramatically underrepresented in a field with mostly good jobs.)
If you want a concrete example of that, A lot of media that features Australian characters are played by Americans doing bad Paul Hogan impressions. It's dumb, but didn't make me want to play Borderlands or COD instead of Overwatch or BioShock (with that damn 0126 code too - who does this!?)
>(This is leaving aside the economic argument that developer jobs tend to be good and therefore desirable, and it should be suspicious when any particular demographic is dramatically underrepresented in a field with mostly good jobs.)
Gamedev jobs are mostly terrible, with low pay, immense amounts of unpaid overtime and chronic, stressful "crunch time". I don't know why men stay in the industry, let alone women.
Wrong weather and bad accents are pretty tame, I agree. Actual portrayals of women in games have been much worse. The "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" YouTube series by Feminist Frequency goes over a lot of these. Fortunately the industry has gotten better and games are now expected to include realistic female characters. That can be a tough ask for male game devs though. Most men couldn't accurately describe shopping for a pair of pants as a woman, let alone something more complex.
> Gamedev jobs are mostly terrible, with low pay, immense amounts of unpaid overtime and chronic, stressful "crunch time". I don't know why men stay in the industry, let alone women.
Nevertheless there are many women in much worse jobs who would take all of those terrible game dev jobs in a second if they could. The fact that they haven't suggests some systemic problem.
Tell that to all the people complaining about yellowface/Apu. It's genuinely on an "Ahh, I am honourable Chinese man, my family is honour" level.
>The "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" YouTube series by Feminist Frequency goes over a lot of these.
Wow, using Anita Sarkeesian - widely derided for being out of touch and over-intellectual - as a source and expecting to change minds.
>Most men couldn't accurately describe shopping for a pair of pants as a woman, let alone something more complex.
Seriously? Men complaining about going clothes shopping with their wives is goes back to the days of bad 1950s stand-up.
>Nevertheless there are many women in much worse jobs who would take all of those terrible game dev jobs in a second if they could. The fact that they haven't suggests some systemic problem.
I'm being serious here - child care, admin or even retail are much, much better jobs from the point of view of living a balanced life and providing for your family than anything in games dev.
I was referring to your Paul Hogan impression comment which I thought you meant was not a big deal to you. I can understand that a racist "yellowface/Apu" accent would be much more offensive.
> Wow, using Anita Sarkeesian - widely derided for being out of touch and over-intellectual - as a source and expecting to change minds.
I was using the series as a reference for tropes much more offensive than a Paul Hogan impression. If you don't want to listen at Anita Sarkeesian for some reason, you can find a list of tropes at https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebVideo/FeministFreq... with examples linked from there.
> Seriously? Men complaining about going clothes shopping with their wives is goes back to the days of bad 1950s stand-up.
I wasn't talking about complaining but instead describing the literal process. Where to go, shopping etiquette, dressing room etiquette, cost, fit, fashion. Plus the emotional context: some women find shopping very upsetting for reasons men might struggle to understand, let alone portray accurately in fiction.
> I'm being serious here - child care, admin or even retail are much, much better jobs from the point of view of living a balanced life and providing for your family than anything in games dev.
I was thinking of home health care workers. Over 3 million in the U.S., mostly women, average age in their 40s, median wage around 30k USD per year, taking care of sick or elderly people including physically moving them and cleaning up after them, sometimes living in the patient's home. I find it hard to agree that this job would better than being a game dev, but in any case you only need a high school diploma to do it so most game devs who want to change adult diapers in the middle of the night for much less pay and for their entire working life should be able to make the jump pretty easily.
I can't help but wonder where this statement came from. Men have sisters, mothers, daughters, partners.
It's not some kind of a mysterious and opaque world, to which they don't have any access.
Of course a willing male game dev could research anything necessary to portraying women accurately. Or, alternately, you could hire female game devs or at least some consultants and get on with actually making the game.
To be clear: I'm not agreeing with you. I don't think "most men" would fail at the task you mentioned.
I also think that men can generally tell if a female character is realistic, it's just not what they're going for in a game and the market responds to that.
Same with those romantic pulp novels people read on vacation. Regardless whether they're written by men or women, the men there are always hilariously unrealistic. This is by design.
You make an interesting point about unrealistic depictions. In a way it's even harder for a man to write an unrealistic man that appeals to female readers than to just write accurately. I'm reminded of this comic: https://www.shortpacked.com/comic/false-equivalence. Of course male authors can learn to do it.
It's obvious to me that if you want to depict women accurately in art, or as you pointed out create art for women, then it would be helpful to have more women involved in the process. If anyone is seriously arguing that a typical man can write women and for women as well as a typical woman can so it's okay that most game devs are men then I'm not sure what to say. Agree to disagree.
Yes, it is. Not because we need more game devs, but because there are women who actually want those jobs and are qualified and have a harder time getting them. And because when they do get them they deal with issues that the men in the same positions don’t have to deal with. And because they get paid less for the same work on average. These things are indeed bad for society, they make our environment worse than it could be otherwise.
We also don’t have enough games that represent the growing category of female gamer, we have too many Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto and Madden, and not enough games like, I dunno, Sayonara Wild Hearts or Celeste. We could generally speaking make more money by having more games that not just cater to female gamers but are made by women.
It's funny you mention Celeste, as I've not met a single woman who got into it. And honestly, it makes sense if you think about it for a second. Adding a female protagonist to a technical platformer won't automatically give it strong appeal in the female demographic.
Nor does the fact that The Sims, Stardew Valley and Bejeweled were created by men take away from the fact that they're extremely appealing to women.
I guess just part of me is always skeptical of activists ham-fistedly making design decisions, as it tends to lead to products that consumers either actively hate or don't care about.
Also, the economy is less efficient, with inferior talent making games, and the talented woman doing something else that they're not as well suited for.
One way to know when the problem is solved is when the rates of gender disparity, whatever they are, settle for a long time and are the same in all countries, and that women as a whole agree that things are fair. We’re barely ~100 years (1 human lifespan) from women having the right to vote in the US. Before that extreme cultural bias was baked into law. In some countries it still is. We’re maybe a bit over ~50 years from the start of computer science as a widespread field of academic study, the start of which involved very few women. The number of women in CS in the US went from zero to 37% in the 80s, and then went down (why?) and is now hovering around 20%. In Indian, the number of women in CS has in the recent past exceeded 50%. The fact that the numbers are changing rapidly, and that they’re different in India vs the US is proof of cultural biases.
You've explained that you think it would be solved if it looked like what you described, but it might never look like that even if it was solved, so we'd never know. Perhaps a more useful question would have been how do we know the problem still exists? What's the evidence that women are treated worse in the game dev industry because they're women?
Given this fact, at some level you should be asking yourself the question where is the proof that there isn’t a problem? If there’s any question whether we have a social problem, and it reflects on us poorly, then don’t we have a responsibility to investigate, as opposed to denying it?
Women are reporting their experiences, and stories of game dev toxicity have hit the national media multiple times, with studios subsequently admitting they have problem.
There is still a well documented pay gap.
There is under-representation of women in industry compared to numbers of women that aim for the field studying art & computer science.
I was also partly referring to the widespread documentation of bias problems today in all industries and in all countries, not necessarily specific to the US or to game dev. We just haven’t yet solved all sexism & racism, the evidence for this abounds, and it’s not that surprising since not enough time has passed.
If you’re really curious please actually do some active research of your own and don’t wait for someone on the internet to defend it. Read the history of Suffrage. Read about the glass ceiling over the 20th century. Take a look at the stats of women in various field over time. Read a little of some of the feminist thinkers. Talk to multiple women, game devs even, and get their perspective, they don’t all have the same experience nor see it the same way.
Perhaps it applies more to managerial roles in AAA game studios as that will be matters of corporate environment exploitation & survival than about pursuing life in creative content making, but that would be a wider issue than storylines included in products marketed to a target group, I think.
You're going to have to be way more specific why there are too many of the former, too little of the latter, why the latter attracts women more, etc. You can name hundreds of games like the latter two depending on your selection criteria.
>We could generally speaking make more money by having more games that not just cater to female gamers but are made by women.
This too I would like to see more support for, unless your only criteria is "women will buy games made by women".
Whether you think representation in video games is important or not tends to be a function of whether your personal identity is already well represented. If you don't think it's important, I'd encourage you to seek the perspectives of someone who is not well represented, ideally just a real-life friend. You might learn things you hadn't simply hadn't thought to consider, through no fault of your own.
As for game dev jobs, more women in them would probably mean more female representation in games too, simply because there would be more perspectives at key decision points. And it's hard to argue that there isn't negative pressure against women entering and thriving in the industry, when one of the biggest game developers on the planet is recovering from a deeply embedded epidemic of misogynism.
Agreed. If you don't have experience with something, the obvious thing to do is to talk to someone who does.
I've read so many stories from people whose fondest memory of games/TV/career/etc is finally seeing someone who looked like them, and how life-changing it was.
I've been playing games for 30-something years, and I think women aren't portrayed as well as they should be. It's come a ways over the years, but I don't think it's fixed. I'd call it a problem. If you think it's perfect as-is, then I guess it's not a problem for you.
As women increasingly hold higher degrees, raise their incomes, and need to work fewer hours to afford their lifestyles, they should have excess time and wealth that could be captured by gaming. Manufacturing female brand identities has been successful in other markets, and promoting female involvement or female exclusivity has been an effective continued motivator for engagement.
Planet Money (Podcast): A 12-year-old girl takes on the video game industry
Modern video games are interactive art. People have emotional experiences from finishing games with stories and performances that speak to them. Part of this emotion comes from a deep understanding of the "lived experience" of people. There are parts of the lived experience that drastically differ for women and men, on the whole. Does that mean that men couldn't write a story that women find powerful and challenging? Of course not. But men aren't going to fully grok the little details of how society treats women, which means a lot of relevant themes relevant go unexplored if there aren't women on creative teams.
Diversity of experience translates into diversity of ideas. Hell, I always thought that was a strength for FOSS, after all.
: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvskMHn0sqQ - Kurzgesagt
I'm not gonna assume what your thoughts are on the matter, but I will suggest that if you're actually interested in an answer to your questions and not just starting a discussion that might or might not be fruitful for anyone, your answers will be best found doing earnest research and especially talking to real people who are affected by a lack of representation.
There is some argument to be made that it is good to have someone that is at least remotely contained within the target demographic involved when creative decisions are being made, at the very least to avoid having to send every little thing out to a focus group. That is for example why metal bands are usually made up of people who like metal, and why session musicians who are jobbing it don't end up doing a lot of songwriting.
Why should males be represented in games? Do only men play games? Is there “merit” to male representation in games, and if so what is that exactly? The phrasing of your question is revealing some assumptions you’re making, isn’t it?
Why is it important for women to have representation in business or education or politics? What things have happened over the years that have lead to changes in the amount of representation? Which direction has it been going?
Why is it important that blind people are represented in city design, or in browser design? Why is accessibility important? Why is it important for black people to have representation in the US? Why is it important for people to vote in a Blue State or a Red State?
Or maybe ask some women! See what your mom or sister says in response to that question. Ask some local teenagers why they play games and whether the girls all want to play only Call of Duty forever.
> Would the world be a better place if males and females were both to be exactly equally well represented in the field of gaming, whatever that means?
How about instead of emphasizing “exactly equally well represented” since that seems a bit loaded, we focus on simply being better represented? Whether we’re talking about female story protagonists, or we’re talking about female programmers, all categories appear to have visible discrepancies due to known cultural biases today. If we know that there are cultural barriers to women, is it reasonable to worry first about just making sure those go away, rather than get hung up on “exactly equally”?
Did the world become a better place when women gained the right to vote, or to own land? Yes, it did. Will the world become a better place when women face less discrimination than they do now, even if it’s a small amount? Yes, it will.
Will those fields be somehow better with more male representation? Are men being discriminated against joining those professions? Or is the gender disparity that exists in pretty much all professions a product of our own differences in interest, social predisposition, or any number of different factors?
I'm not downplaying the discrimination women have historically faced and continue to face in the workplace, and the wage gap that still exists. But maybe we don't need to label any gender disparity as a social injustice that needs to be corrected.
FWIW, I don't think video games are a medium where the gender of the creator matters much. Like any creative art form, what matters is how the consumer experiences it. Do you care about the gender of the painter, or about the painting itself? Do video games really need to be created by a specific gender to be enjoyed by a specific gender? Why is gender even part of the conversation when video games are a creative outlet only limited by our imagination?
With how popular games are today, and how easy it is for anyone to start creating them, what exactly are those cultural barriers you talk about?
But you are downplaying the discrimination that woman are faced with now simply by demanding that cultural barriers are explained to you, when you are aware that the wage gap still exists.
> Will those fields be somehow better with more male representation?
> Are men being discriminated against joining those professions?
A little, but not in the same way and not as much bias as women who code or do other things, and men who join female dominated professions tend to be paid equally, unlike women who join male dominated professions.
> With how popular games are today, and how easy it is for anyone to start creating them
You’re asking a theoretical question that ignores the reality of the imbalance of how many people actually do make games, as if somehow logic can overcome history. Your question is one you need to justify asking - if it’s so easy to make games, and if women play games, then why is it a fact that so many fewer women make games and so many fewer women study CS? The answer has played out publicly with many women detailing the abuses they’ve suffered at male dominated dev shops, and these articles seem to bring out the same kind of skepticism and denial that you’re exhibiting, and the same kinds of baited derailing questions that started this thread on an article that had next to nothing to do with sexism. I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that this is being widely reported, and aware of exactly what cultural barriers are being pointed at repeatedly. Are you saying it’s being exaggerated and people are lying?
Not at all. What I'm saying is that those issues are due to a general discrimination of women in the workplace, which, yes, we should work towards fixing. They are the same issues we hear about in other industries as well.
But not that the gender disparity is necessarily due to that, nor that we should try to "represent" women in gaming more to fix it. As I'm sure you're aware, there are many strong women leaders in game development (Roberta Williams, Amy Hennig, more here), most of whom we probably haven't heard of, indie developers, etc. And there's a healthy representation of women in game streaming with a very large following.
Video games is an art form that can be enjoyed or created by anyone, regardless of gender or any other distinction. Nearly half of gamers are now women, and they seem to be enjoying the broad range of content that exists, whether or not it's specifically targeted at them. It's never been easier to start creating games as an indie developer, which is a good thing given how toxic the game dev industry is as a whole, for all creative people.
Maybe you’re making some assumptions about what “represent” actually means? What actions are you imagining people take when people say they’d like to see more female representation, as in this thread?
In my mind there’s no difference between saying I’d like to see more female representation, and work towards fixing discrimintaion in the workplace. More representation is synonymous with fixing the discrimination problems to allow more women to the table. In games this means not just more women engineers, but more women designers & modelers & environment artists & management. My personal experience in the games industry is that women were underrepresented in all departments except HR, though some departments (art) were higher than others (eng).
> As I’m sure you’re aware, there are many strong women leaders in game development
The only way I can read this statement in this context is as a suggestion that because some women survived ongoing discrimination, there isn’t that much of a problem, as literally downplaying the problem. While it’s some sort of progress that we have more than zero female representation in game dev, game streaming, and game players, that’s not a great reason to pat ourselves on the back. The industry needs to first move out of the toxic zone, and it hasn’t even done that yet.
> Video games is an art form that can be enjoyed or created by anyone
This, again, is a hypothetical that ignores reality. You can say the same hypothetical about almost any profession on earth. Airplanes can by flown by anyone. Politics can be done by anyone. It’s never been easier to start with any of them. And yet there are persistent stubborn disparities despite women having equal amounts of interest and ability as men in these fields.
If by ‘anyone’, you’re referring to being a solo indie developer on a mobile platform, the stats for people having a career there don’t exactly support your argument. And by “don’t exactly” I mean not at all. The majority of people who do game dev full time today work in a company, go through standard educational paths to meet requirements, and are subject to the company of other people and their, let’s say, foibles.
Or your daughter.
Addressing under-served markets means more money.