Saturday, 19 January 2013

Finally! A Voice Of Reason!

I'm updating very soon after my previous post but it's just going to be another short one. Very short. It's basically just to promote an article by Gabrielle Toledano, executive vice president and chief talent officer of Electronic Arts. In this article that she wrote for Forbes, entitled "Women And Video Gaming's Dirty Little Secrets", Gabrielle offers her perspective on the lack of women in the gaming industry. It's certainly illuminating and a viewpoint that I didn't see much of last year, during the #1ReasonWhy campaign.

I don't want to delve into the article or analyse it too much, since I think it's better that everyone just reads it for themselves, but Gabrielle's three "Dirty Little Secrets" about women and the gaming industry are:
  1. Women play games - a lot of them.
  2. The video game industry wants to hire more women.
  3. There aren't enough to hire ... yet.
I was pleased to see the third point in particular because Toledano confirms many of the beliefs I had about the reason behind the gender disparity in game development. Back in my blog on #1ReasonWhy, I wrote the following:
"Remember back at the start of this blog? Luke Crane asked 'where are there so few lady creators?' I said this was a simple enough question with a simple enough answer. The simple enough answer is this: 'there aren't enough women who are interested in games development enough to get involved in it'. That's it. The #1ReasonWhy tweets are looking for reasons why women aren't interested in games development but [...] the fact is that it's simply an industry that appeals to more men than women."
Gabrielle goes into much more detail, highlighting the lack of women working in the technology sector. She thinks the key to getting more women working in the gaming industry is to encourage them to enter technology fields, particularly engineering. I'm glad someone in such a prominent position has come at the issue of women in the gaming industry from such a mature, logical standpoint. I'm sorry to keep mentioning #1ReasonWhy but Gabrielle's views are a stark contrast to the tweets that we saw during that movement; Gabrielle adopts a mature and logical stance while #1ReasonWhy seemed to be all about determining what to scapegoat next.

Speaking of which, Gabrielle makes it clear in her first two paragraphs that her viewpoint is very distinct from that of the women (and men) who were tweeting during #1ReasonWhy:
"We’ve all heard the debate – many have accepted as an article of faith that sexism keeps women out of game studios.
As an insider, I find this argument is misguided.  It’s easy to blame men for not creating an attractive work environment – but I think that’s a cop-out.  If we want more women to work in games, we have to recognize that the problem isn’t sexism."
I am eternally thankful towards Gabrielle Toledano for this part of her article. Be it about objectification, lack of female protagonists or being groped at conventions, there was a lot of male-blaming during #1ReasonWhy. I sincerely hope some of the women who cast blame back then read Gabrielle's article very closely and start treating the situation of the lack of women in game development with more intelligence and logic. Not just casting blame on male developers. Toledano isn't the only one; remember Christine Phelan of Valve, being interviewed for FMV Magazine?
"There are a ton of dudes in the games industry, yes – it’s a bit of a pickle jar.  I have never, however, been treated as anything but a team member and an equal by my coworkers and it’s a major disservice to them that folks automatically assume they will treat me differently because I am a woman."
A small part of me wonders how a male employee of a games company would be treated if he made the same claims that Toledano did ... but that's not important right now. I'm actually glad women like Toledano and Phelan have had the courage to come forward and say "actually, things aren't like that/aren't for the reasons you say". I'm certain they'll have their critics but, fingers-crossed, perhaps more women will take a leaf from their book and be inspired to consider the gaming industry as something other than an unrelenting mess of misogyny.

As always, feel free to comment or send me an e-mail at