Published on September 7th, 2012 | by J3SS0
The State of the Videogame Industry: “Just a Guy Buffet”
Fan Expo Canada rocked my face off. I didn’t get to hit up every panel I had planned, but I did make it over the “History of Videogames” hosted by industry experts, Scott C Jones, Syd Bolton, and Victor Lucas.
While most of the panel was spent discussing the best and worst superhero games throughout videogame history the last ten minutes really resonated with me when the conversation veered toward overlooked heroes in the industry. A male audience member asked the panel how they felt about not having enough female heroes in videogames. Victor responded:
I think that’s endemic in the business and in fantasy and popular media women are really put in the background, it’s disconcerting. I mean, why the fuck hasn’t there been a Wonder Woman movie? She’s a huge property and an amazing character that needs to be put on the same pedestal as any of the male heroes out there. There needs to be a real change in thinking. These are the sorts of things the game industry needs to be grappling with, not Kinect, not touch screens. More women, less guns.
So what you’re saying is, down with Call of Duty?
The entire room erupted into applause. It seems the masses have spoken, and they’re sick of “Modern Warfare”. As the discussion continued focus shifted to the fans themselves, with just a few women in the room, Scott mentioned how Fan Expo Canada is different from the conventions he’s attended in the past.
It’s funny. I’ve been going to conventions for ten years, and it’s all dudes. [Fan Expo] is probably the most gender equal event.
That was what depressed me about E3 this year, apart from the Call of Duty banners and the Assassins Creed banners, love those games, don’t get me wrong, but they could just leave the banners up every year because you know they’re gonna be back next year. Apart from that, watching the escalators, it was just guys, just tons and tons of guys. I’ve been going since 1995, and it’s just one big sausage party every year. Nothing has changed, and that really got me down.
Just a guy buffet.
When you hear of studio closures, restraints and restrictions and lots of indie teams trying to make their way and get some iPhone games out there, the fact that the business has not matured the point where we are actively trying to include a wider audience out there, that really really got me down. Give some women some big jobs in the business. Let’s see some more Amy Hennigs in the business.
There are obviously game titles that are the exception but the real question is why are those titles the exception? Why are they not the rule?
I’m not saying don’t make games like “Call of Duty” but devs need to stop pretending that women don’t play those types of games. Would it really kill anyone to throw in the ability to play as a female? Are women not in the military as well?
When I was younger, I would purposely choose games that had female characters. In fact, that’s exactly how I discovered “Mortal Kombat” at the arcade.
Obviously the women are almost always scantily clad and I have no problem with that. My problem lies with the way these women are usually portrayed which is either the useless damsel or the hypersexualized vixen. Hiding behind the veil of an all male development team is a cop out, and we should all know better by now.
You can take Rocksteady, who nobody knew about, as one of the best developers on planet earth because they made an awesome Batman game that appealed to every fan across the entire spectrum. How do you not do that again in Spiderman or Ironman, or Thor or Captain America, or Wonder Woman? It’s crazy.
We really need more attitude from men like Scott, Victor, and Syd in the gaming industry. It’s comforting to see that they have our backs and don’t see our interest in gaming as some kind of feminist threat. I’ve always said it’s not about us versus them, male versus female, it’s about games. Unfortunately, at this time in our backwards society, the gaming industry is a male dominated universe… on the development side. On the player’s side, it’s closer to 50/50.
I definitely agree that we need more women in the driver’s seat when it comes to development and decision making, but I think blaming the state of the industry regarding women solely on the fact that we are not present in the boardroom to defend ourselves is bullshit. Why do we need to fight to be included? At this point, gender equality should be as natural breathing; especially in a fantasy world where we, the people, create and control the environment.
If you’re tired of this kind of crap happening in your games, speak up! Let developers know that you are paying attention and stop supporting companies who refuse to evolve like the rest of us.