A couple of times these last few weeks I have been asked to keep quiet. Not in so many words, of course. No one has actively told me to shut up, but the implicit meaning has been to STFU and (also implicitly) be a good girl. Don’t rock the boat. When that happens I tend to do the opposite and speak up. The implicit request for silence rests in the game dev environment. “We should focus on the positive”, “you are scaring women away from the business”, “you can’t use irony to express yourself”. In short, a lot of policing what I can and can not say. My opinion is of course that I can say whatever the fuck I want as long as I’m not breaking any laws or actively hurting anyone.
I was at Gotland Game Conference last week. While I was there, Jenny Brusk said something that stuck with me. Knowing what kind of world we work in, is it really fair to bring more women into the business? Is it? Do we really want more women to get ground down in the mills of game development the way the business culture looks at the moment? With that said, it is not a very good working environment for men either, so is it okay to trust that young men should – in the worst case scenario – sacrifice their health to entertain the hungry masses of gamers? Is it fair? I’ve been told “if you were my daughter, I’d tell you to get the hell out of there”. That’s not very encouraging.
And on top of that “don’t talk about it”. This is – to me – a perfect example of the stoic, show no emotion and no weakness macho culture of game development. Don’t talk about the issues in the hope that they will go away or that they will fix themselves. Let’s not talk about our issues. Talk about the good stuff and only the good stuff.
I’m not convinced this is the best way to get a handle on the issues in the game dev business. Rather, I think it is an excellent way to shove our heads in the sand and forget that the problem exists.
Considering the reactions to Anita Sarkeesian’s comment about female protagonists, or the lack thereof, is it really a good idea to keep silent? Even though I’m not actively being hunted by offended men, I still think even a fraction of this behavior is problematic, and do we really want anyone to have to deal with this torrent of hate and disrespect?