We have problems in the games industry. Most of the time those problems can be attributed to men. Considering most companies have an 80/20 split between men and women, maybe it is not that weird.
As a developer, if you find yourself in an interview and come across any of these situations, it might be worth listening to your gut a wee bit extra.
- You are the only woman in the room. This means that the team either hasn’t considered what a panel consisting only of men signals.
- The men talk mostly about themselves and their role in the company. They don’t make time for you or don’t seem interested in you. Example: In one company I had a 30 minute slot with a CEO level type. He spent 25 minutes talking about himself and how awesome he was. I got 5 minutes to explain who I was and even then he corrected me and told me what I actually wanted from the role I was applying for.
- Any questions about “being emotional”, “being a feminist”, “being alone among men”. At one interview I was asked whether I would be okay with being a feminist in a male dominated space. My response was that I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but…
- Interrogations about specific games and specific gameplay, unless it is relevant. Most of the time it is easy to tell when it is not.This is gatekeeping.
- Overtime and crunch as something admirable. The interviewers brag about how much overtime they work. The bragging aspect is usually hidden under a work/ life balance spiel. “Oh yeah, I remember when we were in the trenches, three weeks without sleep, but we did it!” This attitude is not going to go away. These are people who are proud of how resilient they are rather than ashamed of their crappy project management.
- If they can’t answer what processes they have, they are going to be working in mildly disorganized chaos. In combination with the previous attitude, this is a clear indication to run.
- No equality/ inclusion/ diversity plan. This in itself may not be a red flag b it together with other red flags it may be pretty big.
- Dudebro culture. If there are less than 20% women in the studio, and there’s pride surrounding the culture of the place, beware. Most likely the culture that people take pride in is a very male oriented culture, and that might not be a red flag in itself, but in combination with other red flags it is pretty bad. Also the dudebro culture is excluding to non dudebros.
- Alcohol as a reward. Partying and in particular alcohol as a reward for work rather than the party in itself is a huge red flag. If devs need alcohol to wind down, the work is probably very stressful. Ask about how the studio celebrates wins.
- Look at the content of the games. If the studio is only putting out manly men games with manly men in them, this can be a red flag.
- Track record. Has the studio been in the press about bad practices? Do they have discrimination lawsuits on them? Ask about it and what changes have been implemented since those stories ran. If they have good answers, great. If not, red flag.
I think the main takeaways is don’t be afraid to say no if you get bad vibes. I’ve started working at a few places where vibes were off and then also turning out to be not so great places.
Most of this can be offset though, if you have a good team and surround yourself with good teammates. Always ask to talk to the team before you accept an offer.