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Gaming's Women Raise Sexism Awareness With #1reasonwhy Movement on Twitter

It's easier to keep quiet about the industry's problems, but that doesn't change anything.

Mirror's Edge, featuring one of gaming's most memorable protagonists regardless of gender, was (surprise!) written by a woman.

It’s always healthy to seek out new perspectives, especially when they're coming from folks whose life experiences couldn’t be more different than your own, and it challenges your assumptions.

It’s why I’d strongly encourage you to scroll through the #1reasonwhy hashtag on Twitter, a movement over the weekend to encourage women in game design to relay stories from being a female in the video game industry, and why it can be so hard.

Is every woman’s experience in the industry a negative one? Of course not, but it would be ignorant to ignore what is obviously a very real issue regarding sexism in the games industry. It's a topic that could use the spotlight, and given the general Internet reaction to talking about problems like this, useful to (try and) motivate thoughtful discussion, despite any blowback.

Please keep that last sentiment in mind as you read through some of the contributions I’ve picked out, and if you’re a woman in games hoping to reach out to those struggling, that’s what the #1reasonmentor hashtag is for.

And if even if you look at these tweets, and roll your eyes at this latest flareup, take a deep breath, scroll through the hashtag, and try to imagine yourself in their place. The tweets are genuine, the stories are real, and it's not mindless complaining about how hard life is. As a male, the hardest part about this discussion is you really can't imagine yourself in their place, which is why I suspect these movements have, like clockwork, intensely negative responses. I can't profess to know what it is really like to be a female in the video game industry, and I'll never know, but I can do a better job of listening to those who are living it right now, and do my part to make it a better environment for them.

Here are a few of their stories:

#1reasonwhy b/c when my desk was nr the door, most clients thought I was the receptionist. This didn't happen to male dev after desk swap

— Helen Smailes (@helz_bells_) November 27, 2012

#1reasonwhy because when I tell people I'm a designer, I without fail get "Really? You don't look like you play games. Guys must love you."

— Alexis(@VernaVenisa) November 27, 2012

I'm hesitant to do PR for the game I'm working on, for fear of backlash. #1reasonwhy

— Jennifer Keating (@jm_keating) November 27, 2012

#1reasonwhy Because I still have to keep saying: “But what if the player is female?”

— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) November 27, 2012

Because our lead designer used to yell about there being "a vagina in the room" and nobody called him on it, boss included. #1reasonwhy

— UrsulaV (@UrsulaV) November 27, 2012

I'm ashamed to admit I've also been conditioned to be critical of my fellow females in the industry just because of their sex #1reasonwhy

— Caitlin (@CritterBucket) November 27, 2012

#1reasonwhy: Because gamers assumed I was a 'booth babe' at a games convention, and always asked my male colleague the "serious" questions.

— Amiz4Eva (@Amiz4Eva) November 27, 2012

#1reasonwhy Because at a games networking event, someone asked for my business card and proceeded to flirt via text the next morning.

— Kristen Halloran (@anetherealtwist) November 27, 2012

BC when, females in the game industry are really made visible by the media it's bc of this and not bc of the games they make. #1Reasonwhy

— Sebastian Jackel (@DerDackel) November 27, 2012

When every female character I want to include "has to make sense" but making everybody a dude needs no explanation #1reasonwhy

— Bridget N. (@Barbeauxbot) November 27, 2012

And why do people continue to stay quiet about these issues? Take a guess.

#1reasonwhy You're all crazy aren't you? Just DONT GIVE A FUCK,jeez stupid women.

— Andrew.V. (@AndrewVareikis) November 27, 2012

#1reasonwhy Men have as much problems in the industry, difference is most men get through those hard times and fight for there place.

— Menno Gouw (@Madmeyno) November 27, 2012

I contributed my own bit to the #1reasonwhy movement last night with this:

#1reasonwhy is, as men, most of us can't, won't or don't understand, and we don't try nearly enough to. Because it's hard. We can do better.

— Patrick Klepek (@patrickklepek) November 27, 2012

I don't think that's too much to ask.

Also, I just got this press release in my inbox. Good timing, Tecmo!

Patrick Klepek on Google+
1671 Comments
Posted by Faint

I wrote a paper on this just a few months ago at university and my lecturer was interested in what I wrote although obviously reserved as to how I could condense such a large issue into a smaller piece of writing that entertained the bigger picture - I study a Bachelor of Video Game Design. Going to get opinionated here however. I have to say is that this topic is almost like something you would throw to the vicious 'The View' sharks to be loud over for no reason. Whether this is in fact an issue or not, really comes down to individual perception, but one thing that I believe to be true is that this is a matter to do with deeply engraved societal behavior. This isn't just games and furthermore as many people seem to conveniently forget to my annoyance - this isn't just about representation of women. Last I checked male protagonists don't reflect the appearance or behavior of game players - and that's part of the point. Games are escapism and it would be farfetched to think that they would provoke thoughts and feelings superior to that of real life social structures. There are some nerdy, little perverted game makers out there who do things like give Ivy from Soul Calibur huge breasts, sure, but it obviously doesn't bother anyone to the point where they choose not to buy the product which would rectify the situation in that the product would cease to exist or they would be forced to make changes. Vote with your dollar - if you see something you don't like - don't buy it. don't support it. and if enough people feel the same way, it will go away.

If there isn't enough - loop back to the greater underlining societal/social problems. Don't just complain about an issue, or pretend to support it when you aren't actually prepared to try and do anything about it.

Posted by coaxmetal

I wish the pic was faith doing sick jumps and stuff instead of punching a dude, the jumping parts were the good parts. Least she isn't shooting a dude though.

Posted by Meowshi

@Trainer_Red said:

@kalparun said:

@mellotronrules said:

@kalparun said:

@mellotronrules said:

@Trainer_Red said:

@kalparun said:

Thing is, you can't really oppose feminism in video games without feminists automaticaly labeling you as a sexist chauvinist so I'll let a woman handle this issue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZueOCLGt1tw#!

Wow. Awesome video.

that was an interesting take. thanks for sharing that. and she isn't wrong- i doubt most games are designed from the perspective of a 'misogynistic agenda.' but you can't look at a game like duke nukem (whatever permutation you choose) and not notice it's treatment of women. yes, it's probably 'all in good fun,' but that doesn't change it's treatment. also, when she says (direct quote from 4:50) "videogames are meant to be fun, and for recreation and relaxation. they are not supposed to be a social message on the real problematic views in society." that's a judgement call- what they are 'supposed' to be is all well and good (and open to interpretation), but to deny that there's any sort of social undercurrent or implicit messages in media is to claim they exist in a vacuum, devoid of any authorship or humanity. which in my opinion, is bulllshit. but that's another argument entirely.

regardless- her arguments are somewhat tangential to the discussion here. she's speaking specifically to misogynistic design- that's it's own argument. this article is speaking to women and their personal experiences with the gaming community- which are personal by their very nature, therefore very difficult to dismiss. you can take issue if someone personally claims you're a misogynist- but to claim others are somehow discredited by venting about personal experiences- that's pretty absurd and/or unreasonable.

Now that you say that, I was wondering...

How does the portrayal of the women in Duke Nukem hurt women in real life society?

I mean really, it hasn't changed the way I treat my mother or girlfriend in any way. Did it change yours? I'm sure not.

Perhaps, instead of trying to censor potentially hurtful media, we should actually provide people with the education to fend off such messages.

And if that fails, the problem is not sexism, it's education.

But by the same logic, how is the portrayal of Duke Nukem himself NOT hurtful to males?

well, i'm not a woman so i can't argue from a female's perspective. but i would imagine women might take issue with the way they're 'used' in duke nukem- less individuals with personalities or contributions, and more objects to be fondled or saved. and it's fantastic that "it hasn't changed the way [you] treat [your] mother or girlfriend in anyway." that makes you a sane, reasoned person. because if that wasn't the case, and the media did directly affect us, we'd be mindless parrot-like husks that simply mimic what we see. we'd all be dead by now. but to argue it has zero effect is equally extreme. duke nukem is an institution in video games- and all that baggage comes with him.

and you're absolutely correct that education is essential to negotiating the media. but arguing that we should simply be 'better educated' as opposed to expecting more from games and it's culture is somewhat self-defeating. we need both education, and to demand better. just because i'm educated enough to recognize the mediocrity that is duke nukem doesn't make it any less garbage. wouldn't you find it depressing if you were of a society that produced garbarge, or mistreated it's own?

and for the record- men should take issue with duke, if only from a masculine perspective. dude is a huge douchebag, by any stretch, and an embarrassment to the sex.

1) I'm sure the effect you're talking about can be seen on some people but my question is WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

My guess is that they wouldn't have treated women nicely in the first place. Censoring and removing content won't help them.

Removing, filtering and censoring content isn't the way to "expect more from games" as you said.(read my second point on how to do that)

Just because someone might take the wrong messages and discriminate against his wife for example, it doesn't mean that I should get restricted content.

In fact that guy was crazy in the first place and blaming it on random portrayals in video games is really just illogical. I mean really, was sexism less of an issue before video games? Even if video games have an effect, I can imagine how that effect takes place in just a negligible percentage of men, who WOULD discriminate against women anyway.

If you can prove me wrong on this last point (with actual proof, study etc), I'd be glad, because it's been troubling me for quite some time now. If not, I think the issue lies elsewhere and we should let video games alone.

2) So how do we actually ask for MORE out of this industry?

Not by censoring inappropriate content but actually ENCOURAGING the "CORRECT" portrayal.

That's really a more creative way, a healthier way. Shout out for Faith's portrayal if you like it, praise Alyx Vance and that girl from portal if that's your thing! Give a hint to developers and publishers!

I really don't like the SEEK AND DESTROY process some feminists have gotten into use.

What might or not be cause of something negative for someone, might be the cause for something positive for someone else.

For example, I admit I did enjoy the boobage and butt shots in Duke Nukem and at the end of the day, I still held respect to my female friends. Is that so bad?

Let's be creative and show the way forward; being destructive is only going to drive us backwards. Cheers.

IM SORRY I RESPONDED, BUT CAN YOU GUYS STOP QUOTING ME?

All I did was like a video >.<

I agree with Trainer_Red!! Men are clearly the problem here and need to be eliminated.

Posted by Trainer_Red

@Meowshi said:

@Trainer_Red said:

@kalparun said:

@mellotronrules said:

@kalparun said:

@mellotronrules said:

@Trainer_Red said:

@kalparun said:

Thing is, you can't really oppose feminism in video games without feminists automaticaly labeling you as a sexist chauvinist so I'll let a woman handle this issue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZueOCLGt1tw#!

Wow. Awesome video.

that was an interesting take. thanks for sharing that. and she isn't wrong- i doubt most games are designed from the perspective of a 'misogynistic agenda.' but you can't look at a game like duke nukem (whatever permutation you choose) and not notice it's treatment of women. yes, it's probably 'all in good fun,' but that doesn't change it's treatment. also, when she says (direct quote from 4:50) "videogames are meant to be fun, and for recreation and relaxation. they are not supposed to be a social message on the real problematic views in society." that's a judgement call- what they are 'supposed' to be is all well and good (and open to interpretation), but to deny that there's any sort of social undercurrent or implicit messages in media is to claim they exist in a vacuum, devoid of any authorship or humanity. which in my opinion, is bulllshit. but that's another argument entirely.

regardless- her arguments are somewhat tangential to the discussion here. she's speaking specifically to misogynistic design- that's it's own argument. this article is speaking to women and their personal experiences with the gaming community- which are personal by their very nature, therefore very difficult to dismiss. you can take issue if someone personally claims you're a misogynist- but to claim others are somehow discredited by venting about personal experiences- that's pretty absurd and/or unreasonable.

Now that you say that, I was wondering...

How does the portrayal of the women in Duke Nukem hurt women in real life society?

I mean really, it hasn't changed the way I treat my mother or girlfriend in any way. Did it change yours? I'm sure not.

Perhaps, instead of trying to censor potentially hurtful media, we should actually provide people with the education to fend off such messages.

And if that fails, the problem is not sexism, it's education.

But by the same logic, how is the portrayal of Duke Nukem himself NOT hurtful to males?

well, i'm not a woman so i can't argue from a female's perspective. but i would imagine women might take issue with the way they're 'used' in duke nukem- less individuals with personalities or contributions, and more objects to be fondled or saved. and it's fantastic that "it hasn't changed the way [you] treat [your] mother or girlfriend in anyway." that makes you a sane, reasoned person. because if that wasn't the case, and the media did directly affect us, we'd be mindless parrot-like husks that simply mimic what we see. we'd all be dead by now. but to argue it has zero effect is equally extreme. duke nukem is an institution in video games- and all that baggage comes with him.

and you're absolutely correct that education is essential to negotiating the media. but arguing that we should simply be 'better educated' as opposed to expecting more from games and it's culture is somewhat self-defeating. we need both education, and to demand better. just because i'm educated enough to recognize the mediocrity that is duke nukem doesn't make it any less garbage. wouldn't you find it depressing if you were of a society that produced garbarge, or mistreated it's own?

and for the record- men should take issue with duke, if only from a masculine perspective. dude is a huge douchebag, by any stretch, and an embarrassment to the sex.

1) I'm sure the effect you're talking about can be seen on some people but my question is WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

My guess is that they wouldn't have treated women nicely in the first place. Censoring and removing content won't help them.

Removing, filtering and censoring content isn't the way to "expect more from games" as you said.(read my second point on how to do that)

Just because someone might take the wrong messages and discriminate against his wife for example, it doesn't mean that I should get restricted content.

In fact that guy was crazy in the first place and blaming it on random portrayals in video games is really just illogical. I mean really, was sexism less of an issue before video games? Even if video games have an effect, I can imagine how that effect takes place in just a negligible percentage of men, who WOULD discriminate against women anyway.

If you can prove me wrong on this last point (with actual proof, study etc), I'd be glad, because it's been troubling me for quite some time now. If not, I think the issue lies elsewhere and we should let video games alone.

2) So how do we actually ask for MORE out of this industry?

Not by censoring inappropriate content but actually ENCOURAGING the "CORRECT" portrayal.

That's really a more creative way, a healthier way. Shout out for Faith's portrayal if you like it, praise Alyx Vance and that girl from portal if that's your thing! Give a hint to developers and publishers!

I really don't like the SEEK AND DESTROY process some feminists have gotten into use.

What might or not be cause of something negative for someone, might be the cause for something positive for someone else.

For example, I admit I did enjoy the boobage and butt shots in Duke Nukem and at the end of the day, I still held respect to my female friends. Is that so bad?

Let's be creative and show the way forward; being destructive is only going to drive us backwards. Cheers.

IM SORRY I RESPONDED, BUT CAN YOU GUYS STOP QUOTING ME?

All I did was like a video >.<

I agree with Trainer_Red!! Men are clearly the problem here and need to be eliminated.

Oh no you didn'.

Posted by Christoffer

@EnduranceFun said:

@Christoffer: Citation needed? I could as easily claim no one who viewed this article hadn't already formed an opinion. If they didn't make a comment then I'd say it's unlikely they feel strongly about the issue, as a lot of people chimed in with a single sentence even and avoided the 'mess.'

It's a little insulting how quickly you rubbish my original post based on this huge assumption.

Well I think I interpreted your original post a little different then. But from other posts I've seen, you seem alright so forget about it.

Posted by michaelfossbakk

"I can't profess to know what it is really like to be a female in the video game industry, and I'll never know, but I can do a better job of listening to those who are living it right now, and do my part to make it a better environment for them." - Patrick Klepek

My feelings exactly.

Posted by MiniPato

"Mirror's Edge, featuring one of gaming's most memorable protagonists regardless of gender"

Sorry Patrick, I love me some Mirror's Edge, but the story and characters were in no way that game's strong point.

Edited by TMBaker
Posted by Boopie

DOTDOTDOT

Posted by mik_fox

Is there a way I can downvote this article somehow? I'm genuinely disgusted and really feel the need to express my disgust via some sort of thumbs down button, that would certainly make me feel better (since I can't improve this horrible situation with white-knighting on the Internet and destructive feminism in the videogame industry in any way).

I could expect this from Kot.. eh, some other "quality video game journalism" site, but this place.. damn, this kinda ruined my day.

Posted by JasonR86

You know, as dismissive of the article as I was at first I enjoyed the conversations I had with some of the members. I think the more reasonable members became more reasonable even if the details of discussions weren't necessarily agreed upon. That's a hell of a result for an internet message board conversation.

Posted by wondergirl246

I wrote about a similar issue over at ComicVine (I think this is my first post here) so I just wanted to add my two cents. I'm always a bit ambivalent about these sort of things.

I mean of course I'm against sexism. No one should have to endure a hostile workplace. The problem is that it's subjective. A lot of the comments I saw seemed pretty trivial. So what if someone thought you were a receptionist? Companies need to do a better job of communicating their culture to new hires so that the looser, more fun work environments can stay loose and fun. There is no clear objective line between joking around and "OMG I'm offended!"

But this whole campaign isn't really just about sexism. It's about women infiltrating a male-dominated culture and expecting its norms to turn on a dime. The fact that the gaming industry worries more about catering to men shouldn't shock anyone given that for most of gaming's history, the percentage of female enthusiasts was very low. It's really only the last decade when geek culture started to become trendy that a lot of ladies started getting into it.

Now that women are wading into this culture at various levels, from players to developers, they're shocked to find that this rich, intricate culture of gaming, with its decades of history built by the uncelebrated quiet nerdy guys they mocked in middle school, doesn't follow every commandment of modern PC discourse. Rather than adapt and slug it out with the guys to prove themselves, they want to complain about men's "assumptions" and "tone."

When you go to a foreign country, you may not like some of the customs, but you don't have the right to demand that everyone adopt your values; YOU have to adapt, and if you want to change norms you have to work a long time by proving yourself within that environment. I think subcultures should function similarly. Maybe I have some internalized misogyny, but I kind of preferred the days when fewer women were into games and guys just didn't give a shit about how they felt.

You see a different side of men when they're free to be themselves and not worry about female approval. Women are the same way. We like our spaces, and men are generally respectful about entering them. They'll either adopt the culture (metrosexuals) or stay out. I have yet to see a twitter campaign of male nurses and romance novel fans complaining about the assumptions they have to deal with.

Posted by mik_fox

@wondergirl246: People like you don't let me become a misogynist after I read articles like this one. You worded it out really well, I only wish the article's author was as rational as you.

Being a journalist is a great power, journalists are the only people who can influence current situation. And as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.

I understand and support women fighting for equal rights, but this has nothing to do with rights. There are plenty of women in the middle east and elsewhere who do in fact have miserable oppressed lives, but you don't hear them mentioned nearly as often as the petty first world non-issues that so-called 'feminists' like to rally over.

They're blatantly self-serving and nothing more, they don't actually care about anything beyond their own petty whinges. I'd even go as far as saying that they give women a bad name.

Unfortunately, pointing this out in reality only gets you accused of sexism.

I don't know who I am disgusted with more - self-serving women who use 'feminism' to disguise their egotism, or weak white-knighting men who can't even stand for themselves. In any case, thank you for your post. And no, that's not internalized misogyny you have there - you're just a normal human being, capable of understanding the nature of subcultures.

P.S: please disregard my grammar, English is my third language.

Posted by monsterelite

Nope, not even gonna touch this one!

Posted by NickMBMBAMCCoffman

I love the initiative but it's just all for not sometimes.

Posted by The7thDraconian

One thing that has bugged me in both video games and media is the fact that having a female main character is still considered unique or subversive. Why is it not as natural to have a female main character as it is a male character?

Posted by Video_Game_King

I feel it's both appropriate and ominous that I was listening to this music when I saw that this article was bumped.

Posted by me3639

The #2 most tired discussion/articles written in 2013 behind is Nintendo dead. I will predict 2014 that gender will become race and Nintendo dead will become Nintendo rises again(which it really doesnt).

Posted by Video_Game_King

@me3639 said:

The #2 most tired discussion/articles written in 2013

Patrick wrote this in 2012.

Posted by Octaslash

I feel it's both appropriate and ominous that I was listening to this music when I saw that this article was bumped.

It seems extra appropriate that it's from Patrick's favorite Final Fantasy game.

Posted by Ravenlight

I feel it's both appropriate and ominous that I was listening to this music when I saw that this article was bumped.

I'm tripping on NyQuil and now I have the perfect soundtrack to pass out to!