I had dinner with a friend yesterday and he said something very memorable to me when we ate. He said ” I know we’re okay, because our studio is the first place I’ve run into mediocre women devs. Normally they’re outstanding.”

While I understand that this sounds not that overwhelmingly great – you kind of want to work with outstanding developers – his point is this. We’re surrounded by mediocre white men in game development. I’m sorry dudes, but some of you are even substandard from the point of view of the work you do.

Image of the shark from jaws lunging up on a boat, saying "not all men".

All the marginalised people I’ve met in the industry have so far been way above their level and they do work that is remarkably good.

This ties into that as marginalised people we have to be outstanding. Our work is judged by much harder standards than that of white men.

Because of our marginalised status, we also have fewer points of entry. No one is going to call us up, say “hey, I’m starting up a studio. Let’s get you in here!”1 No one is going to go “we need so and so roles. Let’s call [insert my name here]”. Well, maybe they will, if I have all the right contacts and all the right skills, but let’s face it, if you are part of a marginalised group, the odds of that happening are much smaller than if you’re a white dude.

Did they interview any women or people of colour for open roles? Hutchinson wasn’t sure, but said that most of the starting hires were people they’d called directly.
Ex-Far Cry Dev’s New Game Studio Is 4.7% Women, Ready For More, Ethan Gash, Kotaku

My friend’s words stuck with me, because he’s right. A company is okay not only when there’s something approaching a balance, but when marginalised people have the right to be not perfect.

Balance takes away the pressure to fit in among the dudes, culture makes it okay to be a part of a marginalised group without becoming a stereotype or a token, and retention secures a future where mediocre developers of a marginalised ilk is okay.

For my part, I look forward to the day when every day isn’t a struggle, when I can feel safe knowing that who I am won’t have a negative impact on how my work is perceived. We’re not there yet.

  1. To be fair, I have been approached ONCE in my 21 year career with an offer like this. That was fairly recently.