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A Female Perspective On The "Viking" Dev Culture

| 7 Jul 2011 20:41
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Yesterday we brought you Clint Hocking's thoughts on the male-dominated gaming industry. Today we present a female perspective.

To recap: Clint Hocking is the creative director at LucasArts. In a recent opinion piece, Hocking slammed the lack of diversity in games development. In sum, Hocking believes that the dearth of ladies creating games ensures a field of products that fail to represent the values and opinions of humanity as a whole.

Continuing, Hocking offered steps which he believes will improve the industry's ability to tap into the feminine aspects of the cultural zeitgeist, as well as solid fiscal reasons for publishers to pursue a more gender-diverse workforce.

This morning I received an email response to Hocking's ideas from Quinn Dunki, programmer of Trucks And Skulls, head of One Girl, One Laptop Productions, and noted female. In the interest of gender equality and generating page views via controversy, we present her counterpoint:

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. Really the worst compliment you can hear in this business is when someone says, "She's just like one of the guys." That sets the male standard as the ideal. 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.

This is bigger than an industry problem. 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!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in the habit of publishing opinions that I don't directly create myself, but I can't really fault Dunki's logic here. "Pure meritocracy" should be the key buzzword for every gaming industry human resources department until the heat death of the universe.

Though I agree with her, I don't know that Dunki is giving an appropriately vast scope to the root problem. Assigning "appropriate" roles to either gender is a widespread phenomenon in every aspect of society. Lessening this effect is a noble goal we should all strive for, but I'm not entirely sure that it can be eradicated without completely dismantling widely held cultural mores.

Of course, that's assuming it isn't some ingrained biological thing left over from the days when both genders lived in constant fear of disembowelment by cold, calculating velociraptors.

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