Monday, April 08, 2013

Women in Games: Why no naked parties?

With the recent controversies surrounding women in games, especially the IGDA party incident, I have fears of what the backlash will bring to the gaming industry as a whole. I guess that's why I waited until the furor died down a little bit before voicing (very quietly) my opinion.

I believe you.

First, I know that I've posted that I've been very lucky not to experience the misogyny and sexism that occurs in the gaming industry. I don't really have any horror stories to share, and I've been lucky in gaming as well. I play heavy PvP games with a group of really great people, and I simply don't end up dealing with people abusing me for my gender. They might abuse me for my playing skills, but that's just about it.

Having said that, I BELIEVE the stories that many women have shared. I feel for them, and I'm incredibly thankful that I've never had to experience it. I find myself worrying and, at times, being hypersensitive because I know it's out there. Just because I've posted that I haven't experienced it does NOT mean that I don't believe that it happens, and it does not mean that it's not a problem.

I point out my experiences because I believe that healthy environments exist within the gaming industry, and I strongly encourage women to seek out those environments if they cannot make the ones they already exist in better. Those companies don't deserve you, and there are so many out there that would cherish you for being who you are, not because you're a woman but because you're a good game designer, artist, musician, etc.

Just because my experience differs from yours does not mean that I am on the "wrong side" or that I should be ashamed of myself. I'm not ashamed that I've never had to face the indignities that others have. I'm blessed.

It's okay to be hot... or not!

I want to point out that the people who objected to certain GDC parties being hosted by half-clothes girls do not "hate themselves" and are not all "dumpy geeky women who hate beautiful women". Please be aware that  the fashion magazine and celebrity tabloid industries (both filled with beautiful women) make billions of dollars a year. Guess who buys those magazines? Yep, it's women. Women absolutely love beautiful women. We like to be friends with them. We like to look at them. We like to be them. So then what's the problem with the party?

Technically, there's nothing wrong with those parties. I rarely attend parties without my colleagues, friends or husband anymore, especially if I'm attending an out of town convention. I'm there to meet up with friends or colleagues, and a mutual party is a great place to meet up. The problem with having women there purely as decoration is that you absolutely have no idea what to do with your eyes if they happen to accidentally land on one of those decorative pieces because that "piece of decoration" is a living, breathing person and shouldn't be decoration. What if that decoration meets your eyes? Do you say hi? Do you ignore them? Oh, my goodness, what if your eyes just happen to land on the wrong part of the decoration? What if your friends notice you looking? Do you acknowledge it? Do you talk about it? So much stress!

It gets even worse if you attend a party like that with a husband. I have no problems with my husband looking at beautiful women, but man, I can't help but hate it when he catches me looking at beautiful men. That's why I absolutely refuse to go to a male review with him. Even if he comes with me, I don't want him watching me watch stuff. I don't want anyone I know watching me watch stuff. So, if we flipped it around, and there were guys walking around a game development party with skimpy loincloths on, I would have to leave simply because I wouldn't know where to put my eyes. I'd know where they'd land eventually, and then I'd have to be gone. Why? Because I can hang out with my friends somewhere less stressful; somewhere I can put my eyes wherever I want without thinking about it.

(And as it is, if models are topless, they just about poke me in the eye with their stuff since I'm 4'11". Talk about uncomfortable!)

I left out pictures.

I decided to leave out pictures for this. You've all seen the party pictures, the cosplay pictures, the objectifying (or not) pictures. I think my words serve my purpose here.


Michael said...

Like most red-blooded American men, I'm not averse to boobies. But that doesn't mean I want them in my face when I'm at work related events.

I also don't want them bouncing around in the open when I'm trying to hang out with friends, potential business colleagues, media, other developers, or generally people I actually want to talk to and get to know.

GDC, PAX, E3, events of that nature are rare, expensive, and tiring events that present opportunities unavailable to you most of the time. You really should make the most of these events and part of that is networking at evening events.

I don't want or need naked or half naked models detracting from that.

It is one thing to go to Vegas with friends and see a show that has some nudity in it. I've never seen one, but I've heard some of them are pretty amazing spectacles and very entertaining.

I don't have a problem with nudity.

But there is a time and a place for everything, and events designed for industry networking are not the place.

Diane Carlisle said...

I agree with Michael. There's a time and place for mixed company with naked women or half naked. I call them strip clubs. I don't have a problem with strip clubs, because when you go to one, you know everyone in there is looking at the naked dancers, having drinks, and tipping for attention. It's what you expect.

Likewise, you want to go to other places with the expectation you and all others will be experiencing the commonality of what brought you to the event. I go to Websphere conference, I expect everyone there is interested in Websphere"ish" stuff, not ogling at scantily clad women. When the conference is over, if you so choose, drive to Phillips highway and pay coverage into The Gentlemen's Club.

Every event has it's theme and I don't like distractions. It's like introducing a sex scene in a horror novel. Really? It's out of place.