A couple of days ago, LucasArts' Clint Hocking wrote a piece in EDGE that lamented the 'Viking' culture Hocking felt prevailed in games development and made a big issue of the gender imbalance in studios, outlining a vision whereby women might feel more at home in the industry.
Today, however, in correspondence with GamesIndustry.biz female game developer Quinn Dunki has criticised Hocking's column, suggesting that such rallying rhetoric is 'an aspect of the problem' and that gaming should be a meritocracy with those at the top making particular effort to be critical of internal biases.
Dunki, who has been in the development game for more than two decades and currently runs One Girl, One Laptop, creating 'quality free and low-cost software offerings' on mobile platforms and PC, reckons that Hocking is hindering rather than helping the issue by being so vocal about it.
I like the sentiment, but framing the debate this way is an aspect of the problem. The only way women are going to be comfortable in the industry is knowing that people don't care about gender.
Making an issue of gender is the issue. We need to get past that. Strive to be the pure meritocracy that most people agree we should have. If you're a man in a power position, that means keeping a critical eye on your own internal biases, and make extra effort to be fair. - Quinn Dunki
Although Hocking suggested working from the bottom up in development studios, Dunki challenges LA's creative director again by suggesting that in actual fact the changes need to begin earlier, in school. Her argument is that peer pressure and a lack of female role models dissuades young women from entering the industry in the first place.
The outreach needs to go down to the middle school levels. That's where the research shows girls stop studying math and science due to pressures from peers and other sources."
The only difference between me and my math-inclined, game-loving friend who does advanced needlepoint instead of engineering is that she succumbed to the peer pressure. Fix this problem, and everything else will come out in the wash in a generation or two.
In the meantime, the best thing we can do is provide role models. If you're a female engineer or scientist, put yourself out there. Give young girls someone they can look at and say, 'Hey, I can do that too.
What do you think? Is it better to raise the issue or simply do and not talk? Let us know in the box below.