Green Ronin Publishing recently put out an open call for female game designers for a specific project. I used to be one of the Ronin, and I was proud to see them doing something that everyone should have been doing years ago: forcing the issue to give women more of a chance to be game designers. Here’s the LINK so you can read it.
The outcry was immediate and vitriolic. I refuse to link to any of the trolls involved, but cries of discrimination against white men were on all the major gaming discussion boards, some gamers even suggesting that Green Ronin was destroying their company, alienating their fan base by committing such a heinous act against men. It would have been hilarious had it not mirrored so closely what passes for public dialog in the United States.
All it really takes to obliterate the favorite claims of these knuckle-draggers that being a game designer is a “meritocracy” is to look at the number of gaming projects out there, and how few of them include even ONE, SINGLE woman in a writing or designing capacity. There are damned few, and mathematically, that doesn’t bear out any kind of reasonable statistical analysis. Women are slightly more than 50% of the population, yet probably less than 5% of game designers are women.
John Wick Presents has made a point of specifically recruiting talented women to work on the wildly successful reboot of 7th Sea, as well as other projects, but I’ve noticed much less outcry over their approach (which is not to say there wasn’t any: I just didn’t notice it.) Another notable player in offering women a real chance is Lone Shark Games, producing beautiful, substantial, enjoyable tabletop games. Again, haven’t heard the hue and cry over Lone Shark’s progressive policies, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn there was a great deal of complaining going on.
Green Ronin has long been a target of trolls. Their left-wing politics make them an easy target for the Alt-Right and the Men’s Right’s Movements, both of which seem to have missed the entire point of being human. That point is that we don’t have to kill each other over scraps anymore. We no longer have to live in caves and scratch a living in the dirt; we can help each other, giving opportunity to those who have less. Women still only make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns doing the same work at the same job; if you can’t see that as discrimination, you are willfully blind.
Look, being a game designer/writer isn’t easy. You deal with tight deadlines, pay low enough that making a living at it is nearly impossible, and a lot of grief from “fans” who are sure they know more about something you created than you do. That doesn’t mean we can’t help each other out by passing along word of interesting open calls, or sharing information about companies we’ve worked with, good and bad. Those goofballs who claim they’re are being passed over for freelance jobs because of women need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. I consider myself a mediocre writer and I’ve had no problem finding work in the gaming biz. Someone who really tried and worked hard to improve their craft could do better than I have. If you have to blame someone else for you not getting work in tabletop gaming, it’s pretty clear to me where the problem really is.
An article was reposted recently by a friend of mine on Facebook. In it, the author recounts tales of women being treated poorly (at best) by male gamers. Here’s that link:
I was surprised: not that what the author recounts had happened, but at how many men were outraged by this essay. Most of them were saying things like “I don’t do that!”, defending themselves as if they were the specific target of the article. Commenters at gaming website Board Game Geek exclaimed “She couldn’t possibly have experienced all of this!”
She could have experienced all of that. Easily.
And even if she didn’t, that it happened to someone else DOES NOT invalidate the article, or the point it makes.
Maybe those men who say they don’t behave that way really don’t, but I’ll bet they also don’t stand up — or even notice it — when other men do. Know how I know that? Because I had an experience over the last few years that proved to me how blind I was to this sort of thing. An individual was labeled harasser by a number of women, and I had a difficult time believing it was true because this person was a friend of mine in one of the circles with which I sometime engage, and I’d never seen him behaving that way. However, now being aware that it was an issue, the next time I saw him interacting with others, the harassment of women was clear, and obvious. It opened my eyes.
Too often men let that kind of behavior go with the excuse of “not making waves” or “He’s just kidding around.” If men don’t stand up to defend others of any skin color or gender being picked on or harassed — sexually or otherwise — by people who have every advantage in life, we are not men: we are frightened, insecure boys. Men are obsessed by their balls; maybe it’s time for us to actually get some.
If you take away only one thing from this article, let it be this: Believe women when they say they’re being harassed.