Erin Hoffman is a game journalist I was previously unfamiliar with, but I think I’m going to keep an eye on her work from now on. She wrote a piece for this week’s Escapist called The Double X-factor, that is pretty on point about how women are treated in gamer communities and why we are a minority in the game development industry. For example:
The reality, alongside the reality of the largely over-25, non-dyed, non-Jazzercised female population in the industry, is not glamorous. It involves a steady, patient, unflinching
process of slowly coaxing more young women into game development through direct mentorship – the same challenges faced in the even slower process of getting more women into boardrooms. This does not mean hiring someone of inferior talent simply because they are of a diverse group, as some automatically assume diversity to imply, it just means getting them in the doorway to begin with, and that means reaching out through game content and human resources. What some (white, male, 20-50-year-old) developers need to fully comprehend is that a larger talent pool is not scary.
I’m glad the Escapist is featuring articles about women and games actually written by women these days, but I’m unhappy with some of the images they chose to accompany the article. On the second page is the shot of a woman with a tiny tiny waist stipping before a white man. She had no face. A quote from Hoffman is laid over the image and reads:
God forbid a woman should want to play something to do with sex – someone call Nathaniel Hawthorne, stat.
This editorial choice makes it look like Hoffman is arguing women are only interested in sex to be sexy for men–from the gaze of the male gamer, we’re another console accessory. And I think it’s fair to say Hoffman is arguing something rather contrary, with quotes like:
The problem is that if your body type or personal style differs from the Hollywood femme-du-jour, you get called a dog – which, considering the source of these comments, is pretty damn ludicrous on its own – and if you’re attractive, it isn’t much better. Guys on the internet even seem to think they mean well in drooling over an attractive woman associated in any way with the industry, and it can be flattering at first, but in the end, it’s the same old debasement, the same old problem in a nicer wrapper: You can only be worth something as a woman if you are – scratch that, if your body is eye candy.
Yes, women have interests our own, be them sex or gaming, that don’t stem from entertaining men!