An interesting conversation thread happened on Twitter last week. Someone who works at Kickstarter as the specialist for games projects asked why there are so few women working in the games industry. It’s a huge question, one that seemed like a borderline troll question, given this person’s apparent disingenuous and condescending attitude in his follow-up tweets. Despite that inauspicious start, the discussion eventually became interesting.
The conversation evolved when game designer Filamena Young used the hashtag #1ReasonWhy to talk about how the games industry excludes women. It spurred more women to chime in. Women tweeted about misogynistic office culture, their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace, and other personal experiences of working in the industry while female.
The hashtag attracted a lot of attention. Most people were absolutely horrified at how bad it is for women working in the games industry. They had no idea. And why would they? More than one woman on the hashtag talked about a culture of fear in the industry and concern about losing their jobs if they did speak out.
— Fred Zeleny (@fizzbang) November 27, 2012
I already wrote my #1ReasonWhy, more than four years ago, shortly after I started my second job in the videogame industry. It was published on this very blog. I was torn about whether to publish it in the first place. I feel that it’s much more important for this information to be a part of a public conversation, given that the incidents happened in public. Far better to point out sexism, racism, and anti-LGBT bigotry, and speak out against it than to remain silent and let the bigots believe that what they did was remotely acceptable. I’m glad more women are telling their stories.
With attention, the #1ReasonWhy conversation also compelled misogynistic men to derail and troll the discussion. They defended the status quo, attacked women for talking about their experiences, made sexist jokes in an attempt to be funny (but only proved that they’re sexist assholes) and generally behaved in a way that proved the very point of hashtag in the first place.
Several positive things came out of this cathartic conversation, however. The first was the hashtag #1ReasonMentors, where women in the industry could tweet their willingness to mentor and support women who seek to enter the games industry. The second was another hashtag, #1ReasontoBe, where women could discuss why they love working in the games industry. Filamena Young later created 1reasonwhy.net, a place to continue to raise visibility of women working in the games industry, continue the discussion about the issues that women face in the industry, to spotlight women in the industry, and to help connect industry mentors with mentees.
I’m glad that women are leading this conversation and that it’s attracted mainstream media attention. This awareness and visibility is much-needed, given how slowly things are to change in the industry.
A selection of links about #1ReasonWhy:
- The Border House: #1ReasonWhy: Female Game Devs Speak About Marginalization in the Industry
- The Border House: My More-Than-#1ReasonWhy – Tami Baribeau’s #1ReasonWhy
- Alive Tiny World: Too Many Reasons Why – Katie Williams’s #1ReasonWhy
- Ashelia.com: I’m Starting to Suspect She Likes the Abuse – Rhea Monique’s #1ReasonWhy
- Storify by pixelsprite: #1ReasonMentors Resource – A comprehensive list of games industry women who volunteered to be #1ReasonMentors
- Storify by Patricia Hernandez: #1ReasonWhy – A selection of some tweets from the #1ReasonWhy conversation
- Gamish Designer – Adventures in Game Design: #1reasonwhy – Comment for Allies and Such Things – What men can do to support women and others who are marginalized in the games industry
- Slate: Video Game Industry Has Twitter Powwow on Sexism With #1ReasonWhy -I’m quoted here. :-)
- Games Industry International #1ReasonWhy – The night Twitter took on the industry’s sexism – I’m also quoted here.
- Rock, Paper, Shotgun: #1ReasonWhy We Are All Responsible
- Gamasutra: Twitter hashtag ‘#1ReasonWhy’ exposes sexism in game industry
- Gamespot: #1ReasonWhy You Should Pay Attention
- Kotaku: Here’s a Devastating Account of the Crap Women in the Games Business Have to Deal With. In 2012.
- Kotaku: And Here’s Why Women In The Games Business Put Up With So Much Crap