…where using the phrase “straight from the horse’s mouth” is TOTALLY inappropriate in this context!
We’re fresh off a successful PAX East in Boston over the weekend. While not expected to blow up any huge headlines around the ole’ interwebs like an E3 or CES would, the event still managed to provide several tidbits of new info (as well as some valuable insight into the industry). Several panels peaked my interest (as I highlighted in this article.) However, one that some of you have asked me about via Twitter and email was the Sex, Sexy & Sexism: Fixing Gender Inequality in Gaming.
While I didn’t get a chance to make the trek to Boston myself, I did keep up on several PAX happenings over the weekend, the sexism panel specifically. It included a mixture of male and female voices, all expressing their opinions on the state of gender in gaming today. Without giving an exact point-for-point recap here, the gist is that everyone at the table agreed: sexism exists in gaming. Susan Arendt (who is Managing Editor for Joystiq) explained that the status-quo has been in place for so long, it just became the accepted standard. However, she says that “calling bullshit” on this practice is not only required in order to make headway for the future, it’s happening more and more.
But comments from gaming journalist and those on the outside of the bubble are one thing. What we need here is an inside voice.
And that’s what we received from Jade Raymond recently. She is a walking, talking example of the inequality that exists in the games industry. I’m willing to bet that most reading this, until now, had no idea who she was or that she is one in the small handful of females holding a high profile position (acting as head of Ubisoft’s Toronto studio). As I said before, guys like me can talk ‘till we’re blue in the face regarding the hardships of overcoming stereotypes in gaming. It simply doesn’t resonate like it would coming from a strong woman like Raymond (who can speaking from first-hand experience). Not shy about calling out her male counterparts (whom she works with every day), Raymond suggests pandering to the teenage mentality is the first hurdle they must remove. “I don't like the assumption that all people who play games want big chainsaws and women in bikinis.” She says, “It's like, really? Not all gamers are teenage boys… there still isn't a game where you get to play an old lady. That's my dream.”
Hearing a new point of view (or in this case a more informed point of view) from women like Raymond, Joystiq’s Arendt or even those talented writers of the female persuasion here on our own site, is certainly a breath of fresh air on the subject.
Let’s hope that more panels like the one at PAX are in our future. If there is one message to take away here, it is this: nothing gets done on its own. Unless people like us (and them) continue to bang that drum, the norms of our industry will continue to go unchallenged. I often compare gaming to other mediums like film and TV. Unfortunately, I feel we’re a bit behind the times in this case. Both have done well to propel females to the forefront, yet our hobby still fumbles to figure things out. It’s apparent that it will take more push-back from the silent majority to make any real progress in this area.
Hell, if by the end of this article you’re not at least SOMEWHAT questioning whether sexism is truly an issue in our industry, consider this. I just called females the silent majority, and I have no fears that anyone will contradict me on that point.
And that my friends, is a real problem.