Article on the "Culture of Fear" in the Games Industry

gold163gold163 Posts: 4,852
edited July 2015 in Off-Topic Discussions
Recently a game developer made an anonymous blog post venting about the current focus on gender politics within the games industry and the amount of FUD and misinformation being spread about it as a result. ... -industry/
From speaking to several women within the AAA industry, including one in particular who talks at schools about pursuing a career in the games industry, this narrative of women getting attacked for no reason, and the grossly incorrect view that the games industry itself is an actively hostile place for women, or a self-fueled ‘old boys network’, is making the problem WORSE. The number one question being ‘how will I survive in this industry’ despite the games industry generally crying out for female developers, and all of these women reporting their studios making them feel welcome.

After verifying the author's identity as a AAA game developer, TechRaptor published an interview with the author, expanding upon the sentiments from the original blog post. ... -developer

While the interview does deal with the developer's views on the gender politics scare-narrative that they feel is prevalent within the games industry, the interview also covers other industry-relevant issues as well, such as ethics in games journalism, the rise of YouTube and video coverage for video games, and the current consumer revolt in the games industry against unethical behavior by the enthusiast press as well as pushback against influential press platforms being used to drive social and political narratives.

Anecdotal experience with the perception of the game industry's attitude towards women:
TechRaptor: Have any of the women you’ve worked with confided with you about the perception of women by the media or the rhetoric pushed by people like Anita Sarkeesian? Or if they’ve received anything they perceive as harassment because of their role?

Developer: I’ve never worked with a woman in the industry who held these social justice views nor been attacked by misogynist trolls. I can’t speak for their entire experiences, but as I said in my original piece most of them express dismay at how women are represented, and how the role models put forward by the gaming press are the worst possible people to represent them. 99% of game developers have no public presence on the internet beyond their own personal twitter feed, and thus the potential for them ever to get trolled or harassed by the internet is practically zero, unless they are a major marketing force behind the game, being interviewed and the like. Most people in the games industry don’t ever have the opportunity to be trolled.

And in terms of in-studio sexual harassment, I’ve never known one incidence of this. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, and I’m sure it does. But I wouldn’t honestly expect the amount of sexual discrimination within studios to be any better or worse than in any other industry (adjusting for ratio bias of course).

I will however say that on more than one occasion a female dev has told me that people like Leigh Alexander’s constant complaining about how they can’t leave the house without constant cat calls and unwanted attention from men has made them feel extremely self conscious about themselves and hurt their self esteem, that they don’t get that same experience whether they would want it or (more likely) not. This makes me sad too.

On the industry's need to fix itself:
TechRaptor: What do you think that the gaming media, particularly journalists, need to do to fix this perception they’ve given themselves and amend their relationship with gamers and developers?

Developer: It’s hard to say, because the solution would be risky. The solution is for a sudden bloc of developers and journalists to stand up and say they won’t accept it any more, so the misogyny label is diluted. One person alone will be tore apart. It’s how to arrange such a thing safely that’s the sticking point though. No one wants to be the first to stand up. My insistence on anonymity is testament to that, as on any possible other issue I wouldn’t give a moment to worry about upsetting people with my opinions if I considered them important. I’m a pretty outspoken person, and the fact I’m cowed into silence on this particular issue only speaks volumes.

On customers holding the industry accountable:
TechRaptor: You also talked a little bit about publisher influence in the industry, and how that has effected not only developers, but journalists. What do gamers, be it through Gamergate, or League 4 Gamers, or any other entity, need to do to hold publishers accountable?

Developer: Vote with your wallet. Stop buying games with review embargos on release date, or preorders. Sadly voting with your wallet is hard to do when likely 99% of people who buy games don’t keep up on games industry current affairs, or contribute to discussions on the internet. As well as micro-transactions, DLC, DRM and all the other horrid things publishers have foisted on the industry, I do honestly feel a lot of the ethics issues do originate from the fact that to do their jobs properly, games writers, game sites need a copy of that game from publishers. They also need to make money to pay their writers and hosting.

On DLC and microtransactions:
TechRaptor: Do you think that the move towards DLC and Microtransactions are harming the development process of games?

Developer: Less so DLC, or purely collectible and cosmetic micro-transactions as I think there are examples of this been handled really well and adding value to games. There are of course many many more examples of developers abusing this and nickle and diming the customer. Particularly on mobile and F2P. The biggest issue I feel with microtransactions is it’s pressure to alter the game balance for the sake of encouraging people to spend money on it. There’s a real incentive to make a game less fun for the sake of making more money, and any system that makes this the outcome is one we should be very skeptical of, even if particular uses of it seem pretty benign in themselves. There are certain things we should be united in saying this is not okay.


  • PhanjamPhanjam Posts: 3,297 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for this Gold. Good reading, all of it.
    Torchlight 1 Class Pack (TL1CP) Mod for TL2: Steam | RGF
  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    Newsflash: companies are going to keep making horribly bugged games with zero optimization, because idiots will keep buying them anyway. What a surprise.

    And legally, you buy software as-is, so unless it is clearly misinformed *in content* you can't do jack :(.
  • gold163gold163 Posts: 4,852
    The developer has followed up to the Techraptor interview with an additional blog post: ... -followup/

    (Bolded emphasis mine)
    First off, you owe it to everyone to investigate the claims you support and perpetuate being made by people when they are accepting money from Kickstarter, accusing large groups of people of hating women, accusing specific studios and games of perversions, and dragging an entire industry’s reputation into ruin. It should not be my responsibility to show you videos that have already been sent to your twitter feeds countless times before. Secondly, and more importantly, a lot of these videos also come from people with outward and vocal political or religious viewpoints that may divide, and while these do not affect the validity of the arguments put forth, I don’t want to drag such things into my article as I feel it may detract from the unity about this one important issue, which transcends most political or religious views. If you want to find out how Anita misrepresents games, search on youtube for ‘Anita misrepresents games’. If you want to find out where she’s lied, search for ‘Anita Sarkeesian lied’. If you want refutations, go onto youtube and type ‘Anita Sarkeesian Refutation’ – It’s very simple and one could argue that since you’re supporting and signal boosting her views you should have probably considered doing this yourself already.

    Now, let me make this point clear. Remember that these people purport to be sensitive, progressive people who believe in equality, safe places, trigger warnings, and all manner of things to aid people in feeling safe, comfortable and not threatened either in society or on the internet. They claim to champion the support of people who feel oppressed, or feel marginalized or scared. Yet only seem to believe this should apply to a slice of humanity.

    They are not though, because in real terms they don’t really care about individual’s emotional well beings, just their own ideology and the slice of humanity their ideology claims to speak for.
  • BrianWBrianW Posts: 2,310 admin
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