Hey Geek Girls, Stop Whining!
Ouch! Who threw that rotten tomato? Now wait just a second and listen to me before you hurl any more rotten veggies in my direction. Let me start by saying I am now and always have been a Geek Girl. So, you could stay I’m reprimanding myself and not just pointing an accusatory finger out into the world. But, in truth I am pointing it squarely at all the Geek Girls out there who are convinced that being a girl is a major impediment to them if they want to do anything in the gaming industry or even be taken seriously when playing games.
This stems from a panel I attended at PAX East titled “Girls and Games: The Growing Role of Women in the Game Industry”. I thought I would hear how women are now being recognized as a significant part of the game market and how the successful women on the panel saw gaming as both women on the inside of the industry and as gamers themselves. I thought I might hear an interesting discussion about how companies are changing the way they market and what they market in order to tap into the increasing number of women gamers. That would’ve been really cool, but that’s not what happened.
Once inside, we took our seats and the floor was immediately opened to questions from the audience. People jumped at the chance and I couldn’t wait to see where the discussion would lead. Sadly, by the time the third or fourth person got a turn at the microphone, the tone had been firmly set and it sounded a bit like this…”Boys are mean. They don’t like to play with me because I’m a girl. They won’t play nice and they won’t take me seriously for game related jobs because I’m a girl. Oh, and they always turn women into nothing more than sexual objects in games and isn’t that horrible and unfair!”
I give the panel a lot of credit here, because they didn’t really agree with a lot of the opinions expressed within the questions and they tried to say in a dozen different ways that you just have to keep trying if you want to get into the game industry and that talent and perseverance will be rewarded. They acknowledged the sexy-chick-with-big-guns-and-bigger-boobs phenomena, but pointed out that not many of us knew any real life men that actually looked like Marcus Fenix either. And they acknowledged that some guys don’t like to play against women and can be jerks about it. Big deal. There are far more out there that will happily have you join their party.
The thing that surprised and saddened me was that so many young women seemed to think they were never going to get into the industry simply because they were women. This despite the fact that the panel on the stage in front of them was proof to the contrary. It’s a cop-out to use the notion that you aren’t where you want to be solely because you are a woman. Sometimes, the other guy (or girl) gets the job because of a whole host of subjective reasons that have nothing to do with gender. If you want a job in the industry, keep fighting until you get in the door. Never count yourself out just because you’re a woman. The minute you do, it’s you that’s keeping women out of the gaming industry, not the guy sitting on the other side of the desk.