My Take On #1ReasonWhy

This week an incredible hashtag started trending on Twitter, namely the #1ReasonWhy tag. It all started off – in terms of the trending topic – when Kickstarter legend Luke Crane Tweeted:

Why are there so few lady game creators?

This simple Tweet initiated the ensuing rush of impassioned responses that caused the #1ReasonWhy tag to explode. And it has been glorious. What has been apparent for many years is that the female side of game development is nowhere near as widespread as it deserves to be, and like it or not there are still a great many industries where this is the case, gaming included. Obviously there are a number of notable women involved in the industry, but those who are often face issues involving sexual harassment  misogyny and a general lack of respect for their works.

Now I didn’t get involved, I am not a sycophant in any sense of the word and was more than happy to read streams of comments and claims from people clearly frustrated by the state of things at this moment in time. A search on the tag right now brings up these examples:

#1reasonwhy Women are objectified in many areas of this industry. A lot of women are raised believing this is a boy’s club. I could go on…

#1reasonwhy Because it’s *still* considered acceptable industry wisdom to treat 47% female audience as “added bonus” but not who you target.

Just wanting to add support to #1ReasonWhy today. It’s been a great year for starting these discussions and will help evolve our industry.

RT @jennatar Because the folks in marketing don’t bother doing their jobs when the video game stars a lady http://bit.ly/U0duoy  #1reasonwhy

Because people are happy for your expansion when you add male writers, and question your motives when you add female writers#1reasonwhy

#1reasonwhy is important, but I’m creating #1reasontobe because I’d like female devs to share why they’re in games & what they get from it.

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

Check out #1reasonwhy for thoughts and feelings from women working in what is still, even now, a largely unwelcoming games industry.

Because it hurts when people love you, agree with you & want equality, & they’re still scared to stand with you in solidarity.#1ReasonWhy

Because you shouldn’t have to be this brave to just go to work when your job doesn’t involve violence, weapons or risk. #1ReasonWhy

#1reasonwhy because there’s not enough investment in AAA games about something other than war, cowboys, football, cars. sorry, but it’s true

Most telling #1reasonwhy? “Because I’m scared to post this on Twitter.” http://bit.ly/112v6q8  See: How sexism creates its own invisibility.

#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.

#1reasonwhy because even freelance i produce as much industry content as some entire websites, and i’m still ‘that feminist writer.’

#1reasonwhy because my male colleagues are allowed to occasionally be obnoxious, silly, immature, annoying, drunk. i’m not.

#1reasonwhy because if men express anger, they’re strong/powerful. If I express anger, I’m “overreacting/causing drama”.

And that’s just the tip of a wholly justified iceberg. Now as someone who genuinely feels that – as a direct result of a lecturer of mine years ago explaining the ‘glass ceiling’ to me – that women in many industries genuinely do not get the credit that they deserve. Obviously there are men who also go without due credit, but generally it is nothing to do with their gender. When I read through the tweets I found myself angry that this situation exists, but also immensely proud of everyone who stood up to have their voice.

The whole hashtag eventually led to another couple rising up alongside the more critical one with #1ReasonMentors that led to this feed being created with people volunteering their time and advice to provide a support network, which is all kinds of awesome.

The other tag was the #1ReasonToBe tag that gave a more positive spin on getting into the industry at a time when it was looking like an incredibly depressing place to have ambition to work within.

From my point of view I have always been, and will always be, keen to see the great developer as a great developer, not down to gender or skin colour. Great games come from great minds, and anyone can have a great mind. So for every Jade Raymond issue there is a Kim Swift success. It’s not just the industry folk either, ‘Girl Gamers’ is a term I have sadly over-used over the years as a generalisation of the fact that a gamer has a gender, is it a surprise? I used to play Summer Games with my sister on the Master System all the damn time. My wife loves Gears of War, it isn’t surprising to me, but pleasing. I want to game with friends and family. The awful video shot at Eurogamer Expo this year ‘starring’ the supposed ‘Pro Gamer’ KSIOlajidebt generally making a twat of himself and showing off the darker side of the oppressive male gamer gene and regardless of his claims that he wasn’t trying to offend, that kind of highlights to problem for me. In an industry where the booth babe phenomenon states outright that ‘women are tools to titillate and promote’ and with gamers being told to ‘Go make me a damn sammitch’ when gaming on-line we really have to take a long hard look at the bigger picture and start to make some stark changes. I already report people in-game for sexist and misogynistic attitudes – I really don’t differentiate it at all from racism – and you should too. Celebrate the games of great developers and don’t pay too much attention to the shock fact that a woman might have been involved. When Wreckateer was demoed at E3 I was sent six tweets commenting on the woman’s appearance, but nothing regarding the game, the controls, Kinect or the fact that she was part of the dev team. It seemed that for many a shutter came down and just saw it as ‘a chick playing a game’. It’s just not acceptable.

So, do yourself a favour, search out the hashtags and enrich your mind a little. Giving a voice to the industry is the start of a great potential for change. I want it to happen, and you should too.

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