This is a guest post I did for a good friend and amazingly talented writer — Rainy of the Dark. Check out her website and I hope you enjoy the post.
Yes the title is a bit dramatic. No I’m not starting a revolution, although… nahh, not today. What I am saying is that we game and tech geeks of the female persuasion need to stick together. Being a woman is tough, but being a woman in the gaming and technology world is crazy tough. I worked in the IT field for nearly 20 years and it was definitely a man’s world. When I started back in the early 1990s there were only a handful of women in the field. Getting anyone to take you seriously back then was like trying to push a rope. If they didn’t outright laugh, they would just ignore you and hope you went back to your knitting.
Things have definitely changed in the last couple of decades. Women are getting closer to being paid fairly. We’re not quite there yet, but moving in the right direction. I see a much larger number of women in the IT industry now as well. It’s becoming much more popular and we are actually being viewed as competent, successful members of that society. Considering it’s been less than a hundred years since we were granted the right to vote, I think we’ve come a long way. It just goes to show that with enough time, courage, and downright stubbornness we can accomplish damned near anything.
So, here we are, an enlightened society who, by the grace of our own virtue, have created relative equality for all humans (I know that’s a big stretch, but work with me here folks). Can someone please tell me why I can’t get a female character to play in Assassins Creed or a female version of Link in Legend of Zelda? Why is that such a huge issue for this industry? There is a huge disparity between the number of games with female protagonists to ones with male. The number of games that have any female characters to choose from at all is limited. When I do see one it usually restricts me to one girl. Can anyone tell me why the hell that girl is always a ranger, witch, or sorceress? Come on guys, really?
Don’t even get me started on the clothing. In what universe would anyone, regardless of gender, wander out into the frozen north to fight the evil trolls wearing nothing but a chain mail bikini bottom and nipple pasties? Seriously? Tell me this industry isn’t still male dominated. Imagine, for a moment, a world where female teachers, nurses, and business women were portrayed in the mainstream media as bikini wearing sex goddesses. Imagine the outrage that would cause, and yet we still see it in the gaming world on a regular basis. Now don’t get me wrong, I like playing a strong, sexy, bad ass girl. I just don’t want them all to be airheads with giant boobs, a terrible sense of fashion, and a complete lack of common sense.
As a freelance writer specializing in games and tech, I have noticed a lot more women in the profession now than ever before. In fact, according to the Washington Post:
“The stereotype of a “gamer” — mostly young, mostly nerdy and most definitely male — has never been further from the truth. In the United States, twice as many adult women play video games as do boys..”
If that’s true then how in the world is the industry still so lopsided? I do hear a lot more of my sister’s voices in the media and see a lot more on YouTube and that fills my heart with pride. I suppose, as with most issues, that we have a log way to go. I do think we are on the right track. We just need to stick together and keep our voices unified.
I tend to make light of and poke fun at our community, but I know the struggle is real. Gamergate has opened a huge chasm and caused an enormous amount of animosity between traditionalists and the rest of us who think the gaming industry should wake up and join the rest of the 21st century. I won’t go further down that road, but if you don’t know about Gamergate or would like to know more, please read The only guide to Gamergate you will ever need to read by Caitlin Dewey. It was an ugly and frightening mess that affected me personally as a journalist in this community and still does today. Suffice it to say that this is not a one off incident, but an ongoing struggle in the battle for women’s rights that is continuing on a whole new front. Misogyny is alive and well and it’s hiding in the dark corners of the gamer culture. The only way to stamp it out is to bring it out into the light. So lets stick together ladies and keep our heads held high.