I love Twitter sometimes. When the 140-character “mini-blogging service” was still the newest thing, I certainly didn’t expect it to be a source for breaking news from citizen reporters, a call to arms for social reformers or a forum for public debate. Yet it seems to do those things better than any other social media platform. Last week, tabletop game designer and Kickstarter employee, Luke Crane, asked a simple question, “Why are there so few lady game creators?” I wonder if he was expecting the avalanche of responses he got.
Responders quickly created a hashtag, #1ReasonWhy, and this became a banner around which women game industry rallied, coming forth to share the crap they’ve had to deal with in a male-dominated field. Here are a few of the responses:
Every post-release positive review I’ve seen of games I’ve designed/published has couched praise for it/me in sexual innuendo. #1reasonwhy
Because men with a tenth of my experience and expertise feel they can condescend to me. #1reasonwhy
Because my favorite professor (male) had to apologetically lecture me on how to deal with harrassment WHEN it happened, not IF. #1ReasonWhy.
This last tweet, just a few hours old at the time of this writing, will sound familiar to any number of women breaking into new professional ground. Three decades ago it may have been advice for female ad executives, two decades ago, female programmers in Silicon Valley. You’d think we’d be past this, but we’re just not. Stories of sexual harassment at science fiction or comic conventions continue to pop up, but the bigger issue is not these sad, socially-awkward men who don’t know how to manage their hormonal longings, but the much larger number of men who jump all over a woman who brings forth a complaint.
The hashtag has already attracted more than a few mansplainers, ignorant of their own selection bias, drawing on the power of faulty logic and made-up statistics to back up their conspiracy theory that women just like to complain. I’m not overly fond of the aphorism, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” In this case, though, that’s a hell of a lot of smoke.
Yet there’s good news. One hash tag leads to another, in this case, #1reasonmentors, a spontaneous counter-current against the gender discrimination some women have struggled against their entire time in the industry, be they designers, testers, artists, journalists or what have you. If I were a woman in gaming, I think I would take a look. And as a gamer myself from way back, I’m up for some fresh perspectives right at the beginning of the design process. Maybe if the industry were a little less homogeneous, concerned parents wouldn’t feel the need to rewrite the game code for the sake of providing daughters with a hero they can relate to.
Image credit: Wiki Noticia