The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line!
When I applied to write for The Oceanic Gamer, I told myself that I would never write this article. It is something that has been talked about for so long and it’s really getting to the point where I feel that if people just don’t get it now, then they never will. It’s not like there aren’t already plenty of articles out there by people a lot more knowledgeable and smarter. People better at getting their thoughts, opinions and more importantly, their feelings across.
However I feel I should at least give it a try after seeing the recent twitter campaign #1ReasonWhy. This twitter campaign saw women and men raising awareness of some of the battles still fought by women within the gaming industry. These were women that are making our games, expanding our knowledge and bringing gaming to everyone.
Before I started writing, I thought for a very long time how I am going to write this. I thought about what angle I should approach this from, how I should handle it. How I could maybe bring something new to this subject. In the end, I decided to bare all and go for the all natural stance, just like my column is named. I figure if I can’t talk truthfully and honestly about our current situation than there really isn’t a point in writing about it at all.
I wanted to start over ten years ago. This is because while I’ve been gaming since before I went to Kindergarten, it wasn’t until the ‘90s that I got into online gaming and I guess I became a part of the larger gaming community. So much has changed so quickly and I feel that the gaming industry is actually getting worse and moving backwards instead of forwards.
Roughly twelve years ago, I was really getting into MUDs (Multi-User Dungeon). They were awesome and as someone with a crappy computer and an even crappier internet connection they were the poor man’s MMO. This didn’t make them terrible games at all though. MUDs were text based and so they ran off player’s imaginations. You could create anything in a MUD just by typing. There were fewer constraints and it meant that people were creating systems that are amazing even by today’s standards.
I got to experience this first hand and it was my first experience being on the other side of the code. I got to be a world builder for a pretty amazing MUD. There were only two of us that got to play around in the game and create whatever we wanted, and I felt very lucky.
You may have already noticed where this is heading. My world builder colleague was indeed a male. There were three of us working on this game and the owner/coder of the game was also male. You may be already cringing thinking of the horrible tale I am going to tell but the truth is, there is no horrible tale. Everyone knew I was female, I was even titled the Goddess of Chaos, but no one cared. I was never once told to go make a sandwich, get back to the kitchen or even to show people pictures of my naked body parts.
No one cared.
I created amazing areas in that game. My world building skills were centred more about creating zones that were filled with their own sort of story, with hidden passages and brain teasing puzzles. My counterpart tended to make more killing zones, packing in as many baddies as possible and letting the player kill or be killed. This partnership meant we created a world with something for everyone and was targeted to all gamers.
When I think back to this time, I can’t help but wonder where everything went wrong. My first experience as a part of the gaming industry was great. My last experience though was completely different.
I worked extremely hard running a Community Team for an Indy MMO developer. I did an amazing job but I still felt constantly that the only reason I was there was because I was female and not because of all I had done.
It started as jokes like when discussing possible competition prizes – it was actually suggested that they could give away game shirts that have been worn by me (including a photo as proof). It continued when I was working to make the community a better place and was told how the directors made the right choice getting in a ‘girl’. It ended when we were going through the job description and one of the perks was going to game conventions. I said that I can’t sell the game, I’m not hot enough. The reply was, ‘don’t worry you are plenty hot enough’.
It was horrible seeing the hours of work I put in be pretty much squared down to the fact that I am a woman. It was hard to feel any pride in the amazing direction the community was taking when it was simply because I am a woman. It doesn’t help that I would take my developers hat off, put my gamer one on and get the exact same treatment.
And people keep asking me why I left such an awesome job.
So these are my experiences from the beginning and the end – I won’t bore you with the middle. Next week I will be coming back to this subject and exploring why this is happening instead of just my experiences. I will also be explaining the full reason I am writing these articles when I said I never would.
So stay tuned for what I am hoping will be at least a slightly interesting take on the gaming industry from my personal experiences.