#1reasonwhy has provided a plethora of stories and snippets surrounding sexism in our industry, and by design delivered a number of troubling accounts and negative snapshots of the things women involved in video games can face on a daily basis. Then came #1reasontobe, pioneered by Tomb Raider scribe Rhianna Pratchett, with the aim of providing a complementary, more optimistic flip-side to the discussions: the reasons why it can be awesome, and why more women should look to get involved.
And it even spawned an absolutely cracking GDC panel.
In a new interview, Pratchett has discussed her own feelings on #1reasontobe, and said that it's not about the "pinking" of games, but rather "making them better for everyone".
"The industry is used to targeting the male demographic, at least when it comes to triple-A, non-casual titles," she told RPS. "And it is still, in many ways, stuck in that rut, either uncertain of how to change, not interested in changing or simply averse to straying from the established path.
"In the movie industry they talk about the desire for ‘four-quadrant movies’ – namely those that appeal to men and women, both over 25 and under 25. Those kinds of movies – such as Avatar, Titanic, The Hunger Games, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, etc – really clean-up at the box office. They do it through strong story, characters, exciting action and thrilling set-pieces. That’s the kind of thing we need to look at more closely and find a way to emulate, not through whole-sale copying, but in a way that really works for our industry and players.
"It’s not about the ‘pinking’ of games. It’s about making them better for everyone."
Pratchett is unequivocal in her assessment that sexism still exists in the industry, but says that it's symptomatic of sexism still looming large in society as a whole. She's keen for change, but for a shake-up that benefits all parties and the industry as a whole, not just to tick boxes.
"Sexism exists in the industry, because sexism exists in the world. When you have any industry that’s skewed in one gender direction or another, then sexism is an unfortunate by-product. Men don’t always get an easy ride in the field of nursing, for example.
"Changing the world is a tall order, changing our world, or at least reshaping it a little, seems doable. By and large most male developers I’ve met and worked with would actively welcome more women into the industry, providing they had the necessary skills to do the job they’re hired for.
"It’s tough – although not impossible – to change an asshole, but my gut feeling is that, by and large, it isn’t necessarily male attitudes which keeping women out of games development or cause them to burnout. Instead, it’s a combination of a poor work-life balancing conditions, a lack of awareness of the opportunities out there and dwindling creative diversity. And these are problems that have a huge impact on the industry as a whole.
"Yes, this industry’s in need of a shake-up, but one that should be designed to benefit all developers, males and females alike. We need to place stronger emphasis on improving working conditions, burnout rate and industry awareness. Ultimately, that’s what will improve the quality of the games and the lives of those who create them. And that’s what really matters."