Over the past 24 hours, the online gaming community has taken to Twitter to hash(tag) out their thoughts on gender discrimination, inequality and online sexual harassment within the gaming world. It started when a Twitter user asked, “Why aren’t there more female game creators?” In response, dozens of women have shared their own stories of sexism and marginalization in the game industry.
Collated under the hashtag #1reasonwhy, women who work or play in the gaming world, along with some of their male allies, talked openly about the rampant sexism that exists online in 2012. The results are depressing, not just because of the apparent discrimination and harassment female gamers have faced online but because of the sheer volume of tweets on the issue.
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They make for a sobering read. Echoes of sexism, misogyny and marginalization came not only from gamers, but from big players in the industry, including game writers and designers. Everything was on the table from the overt-sexualization of female characters (“Creating appropriately dressed female characters is viewed as a rarity, rather than the norm,” tweeted Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett) to business strategies (“There’s not enough investment in AAA games about something other than war, cowboys, football, cars,” said Jane McGonigal, a game designer and author of the book Reality is Broken) to workplace harassment (“You shouldn’t have to be this brave to just go to work when your job doesn’t involve violence, weapons or risk,” tweeted Leena van Deventer, the video game correspondent for Tech Talk Radio) to unequal pay (Lindsay Morgan Lockhart, the narrative designer for Halo 4, called the pay gap between men and women “staggering.”)
While sites like FatUglyorSlutty.com have collected the most sexist, creepy, disturbing and offensive messages sent to female online gamers, #1reasonwhy brought the issue out of the gaming world and into the forefront for Twitter users around the world. Here are some of the tweets:
Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me. Really. I've been groped. #1reasonwhy—
(@filamena) November 26, 2012
BECAUSE ONE OF THE HULK MINIONS GAVE UP AFTER BEING HARASSED NONSTOP ON HER FIRST DAY OF GAME COLLEGE #1reasonwhy—
HULK GAME CRITIC (@HULKGAMECRIT) 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 I got blank states when I asked why a female soldier in a game I worked on looked like a porn star. #1reasonwhy—
Caryn Vainio (@Hellchick) November 27, 2012
If you're an aspiring female game dev and need encouragement and advice and help, I will be that, full stop. I won't be another #1reasonwhy.—
Elizabeth (@twoscooters) November 26, 2012