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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry 962

Posted by Soulskill
from the requiring-a-cultural-shift dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Brianna Wu, leader of a game development studio, has an article exposing the constant harassment of women in the games industry. She says, "I'm not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I'm writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words." She goes through the individual stories of several women targeted by this vitriol, and tries to figure out why it happens. Quoting: "We live in a society that's sexist in ways it doesn't understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. ... This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it. ... Growing a thicker skin isn't the answer, nor is it a proper response. Listening, and making the industry safer for the existence of visible women is the best, and only, way forward."
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

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  • Re:Pft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:26PM (#47511559) Journal

    From what I hear, death threats are quite normal in the video games industry. Certainly the vitriol flies on gaming forums (can't imagine how busy the moderators for official game forums must be). This article seems to boil down to "but women get rape threats too". OK, sure, men don't often get those, fair point. But in an industry thick with death threats, how many developers or commentators have actually been lynched by angry fans since the beginning of time? Roughly zero? It's not rational to actually be creeped out or worried about this stuff.

    For goodness sake, Jack Thompson is still alive and well. If any of these threats of violence could be taken seriously, he'd be the first casualty. Think you're more hated than that guy?

  • Limited perspective (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:26PM (#47511565)

    From the small sample of these accounts I've read, I get the sense that the women in question have a limited perspective. My impression is that in many cases, they encounter career or workplace challenges, and falsely assume that only women have those challenges.

    Balancing work and family responsibilities? Please, do you know how many days I've left work after sunset and nearly cried for not having that time with my little kids?

    Getting criticized harshly? Shoot, I deal with that often. I just don't blog about it. What I do is go home, try to shake it off, and maybe talk to my wife about how it's bothering me. I don't cry about it, and maybe this is a guy thing, but I cry almost never. But that doesn't mean it doesn't bother me.

    And then there are some complaints which seem more about personal choices than about unfairness. I don't come across many good, female software engineers. You know what else I rarely come across? Female aspiring software engineers who spend their nights hacking away at code to improve their skills.

    Now I have no doubt that some challenges really are unique to being a female developer. Sexual harassment is probably the top one. But that issue kind of gets drowned out of the conversation given all of the kvetching that some women have regarding other issues that they wrongly assume are peculiar to them.

  • Re:Pft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WarSpiteX (98591) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:38PM (#47511657) Homepage

    I'll grant you all your points. Women are singled out.

    Until there are too many women to single out.

    The same thing happened when women went to work, when they went to medical school, when they went into politics, as you said. And eventually, they become accepted by their peers, and any hate they get from the public is just like the hate that their male counterparts get from the public. Except that instead of "Go fucking smoke some pole, you Kenyan Muslim faggot", they hear "Get your bitch-ass in the kitchen, you stupid cunt."

  • Re:How do you (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:39PM (#47511669)

    Why does she get to stereotype men? Why do women get to put all their problems on men? When men do this, we're misogynistic. When women do this, well, men need to be more sensitive.

    I think you have a point, but I also think you're confusing two issues.

    She may or may not be making a valid generalization. I haven't read her article, so I can't say. But issue #1 is whether or not her complaint is worth considering.

    Issue #2 is whether or not it's hypocritical for a women to paint men with a broad brush. But that issue can be treated entirely separately from issue #1.

  • Re:Pft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:43PM (#47511695)

    The particular phrasing of the threats may be selective based on the gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. of the person being insulted.

    But I think a more important issue is whether or not women are getting more vitriol than are men, regardless of the particular phrasing. For example, if 20% of women players get called cunts, and 20% of gay male players get called faggots, do those women have a point about being singled out? I'd argue no.

    However, if 20% of female players get treated with scorn, and only 3% of male players do, then the female players have more of a fair point about being singled out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:45PM (#47511715)

    I've had the misfortune of working with many ex-videogame developers in my line of work. These people were basically uncivilized and reminded me of the mindset of what LAN parties were like back in the 90s when I was a teenager. Racism, sexism, ageism, profanity, and behavior that made you embarrassed to be around them in public. That kind of thing was funny when I was 16, but we were all immature then. It's very disturbing to see adults carry on like that.

    Don't get me wrong, that industry has also created some very hard-working, kind people that I feel truly blessed to have had the fortune to work with. But those types are hard to come by, and the out of control manchild is all too common. A few of the most vitriolic, passive-aggressive trolls I've known were former EA prodigies (their words, along with every other kind of self-adulation you can think of) and they absolutely thought they walked on water. They'd show up to work drunk, or high, and brag to everyone about how much weed they smoked or how they partied all night. There was no self control and it spilled over into mistreating their peers.

    There's a very sharp divide between the kind of people that go into games programming and all other programmers, and it's entirely about maturity, and at least in my experience it's uniquely American.

  • Re:How do you (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:49PM (#47511739)

    "A man threatened to rape my mouth with a shit-covered horse-cock this afternoon."
    "Oh you're so melodramatic. That's not even remotely true!"
    "Um, yes, it is true. Here's the post."
    "It's a fact, everything you're saying is not true."

    In your response, you're creating what's known as a straw man - "a sham argument meant to be defeated." She never said "all men everywhere are threatening to rape women!" Unfortunately, until you stop reading every article like this as if it's a personal attack, the problem will persist, too.

  • Re:Pft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:57PM (#47511795)

    Melodramatic? Have you ever listened to the audio chats of FPS co-op games when women are playing with men? I've heard guys who threatened to hunt down their female opponents so they could rape them and murder them just because they got their ass handed to them in a game. That is not juvenile "boys will be boys" behavior. That's somebody who might violently act out if the right circumstances (alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, stress, etc..) were to happen.

    That's just gaming. You should read some of the stories about women who get involved in politics. Some people get really unhinged when you attack their personal values. Then you have some guys who go completely off the deep end when it is a woman doing it. Threats of murder come quickly and often. It is sadistic and it is ugly.

    That's why I don't do voice chat. Letting random strangers whisper in your ear is a terrible idea.

    I'm male, I've had men threaten all the same bullshit you just said. I think what women mis-understand about men is that men do this to men as well. I've been violently assaulted by other men before. In highschool I was put into the hospital. The "perpetrators" didn't even get suspended. I've had my tires slashed, guys show up at my house with baseball bats wanting to fight only to find out I'm armed to the teeth and that bats not going to do them much good.

    I know a lot of guys don't get that sort of thing, but a lot of us do. Women aren't the only victims, and turning male violence into a womens issue is somewhat insulting. Men don't talk about it like women do because of social stigma, but it's a real problem. In the workplace if a man even smiles funny at a women he's walked out the door. The same man threatens violence against another man and it's treated as a joke. At least women have some legal and social protections. If you don't think it's true, here's a thought experiment for you... a Man shows up at work with a black eye... what's your first reaction? Now a woman shows up with a black eye... why should your reaction be any different based on their sex?

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @08:23PM (#47511995)
    I don't believe it actually happens that way. Would you care to debate the point?
  • Re:Pft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zaelath (2588189) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @08:33PM (#47512049)

    Yeah, but she has a game "close to launch". Google her name -> Giant Spacekat -> Revolution60.

  • Re:Pft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @09:34PM (#47512331) Journal

    As a straight male, I've been called Noob, loser, moron, fag (though it doesn't apply), n*gga (though it doesn't apply), whatever.

    As much as I hate internet tracking, something I wish it was a little better in terms of these losers. Maybe if the game corps could better track the useless trolls and accept feedback then things would clean up.
    DOTA2 had a $10m tournament this year. It's big news. Yet the only real categories they have for reporting are the broad "communication abuse" and then feeding/etc. Maybe if had better ways of identifying (and warning/enforcing) the racist, sexist pricks we could clean some of this crap up. Steam and Origin capture most of the non-console game market, so getting a perma-ban from multiplayer on both platforms (not just the game, but the whole thing) would go a long away to showing that this shit isn't acceptable.

  • Re:Pft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @03:41AM (#47513669)

    "I have a guy who’s writing fan fiction starring me and him. It’s a pornographic fanfic, and he's on chapter 6. He anonymously submits chapters through my website"

    That's hardly unique to women. Richard Stallman once replied to someone who anonymously submitted a pornographic fanfic involving himself and Stallman. The reply was rather thorough in describing how unrealistic the fictional situation was. I'd look for the full text but I'm at work.

  • Re:Pft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dwpro (520418) <dwpro777@yahooCURIE.com minus physicist> on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:15AM (#47514479)

    I found nothing definitive, but here's what I gather (using US as baseline since we're talking American football):

    Women
    weight: 163 lbs
    Bench Press (untrained): 80 lbs
    Bench Press (novice): 90 lbs
    Men
    weight: 163 lbs
    Bench Press (untrained): 135 lbs
    Bench Press (novice): 175 lbs
    Linebacker
    weight: 245 lbs
    Bench Press: 370 lbs

    My results are inconclusive but my best guess is that linebackers are modestly larger and stronger ((26% & 111%) proportionally to average men, versus men to women (18% & 94%).

    Sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.exrx.net/Testing/We... [exrx.net]
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What... [answers.com]
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/... [go.com]

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