Thursday, 30 January 2014

Harassment and Silenced Sexism in The Game Industry


Video games are a prestige industry: a job market where supply is so much greater than demand that the primary currency of the industry is getting to work in the industry. Games professionals are notoriously overworked and underpaid relative to their qualifications, and labor issues are rampant.

According to a 2013 survey by Game Developer Magazine, women make up around a fifth of that workforce; they're paid an average of about 25% less than their male counterparts. At professional events, they are frequently assumed to be clerical staff or day labor. Online and at work, they face a gauntlet of harassment from fans and professional peers.

Anonymous game developer: "The code of silence is real, and it's very dangerous."

In an industry as fiercely competitive as video games, professional reputation and contacts are everything. Employment is uncertain and often project-linked. Massive layoffs are common, and the ratio of qualified up-and-comers to jobs is enormous.
In a machine where every part is backed up with endless potential replacements, no one wants to be a squeaky wheel.

"The code of silence is real, and it's very dangerous," writes one independent game designer. She's talking about Mattingly and Mercier, but also her own experiences with members of the press. "Why would a woman want to talk about abuse and harassment in an environment where her harassers are staff on game websites and her peer
s are jockeying for the same job as her? That's one powerful dynamic to contend with."

Sometimes, the danger of confrontation is more concrete: a group of women tell me about a team leader at a major company who they say serially and aggressively harassed the women he supervised, singling them out and isolating them from colleagues before he allegedly began to make sexual advances. They say that, when they confronted him or rejected his advances, as all ultimately did, he began to systematically undermine their careers, cutting them off from opportunities, leaving them out of critical e-mail threads, or simply ignoring them entirely.

"It still makes me sick to think of how many young women left the industry, an industry gasping for more female contributors, because of this one guy," one of the women he allegedly harassed tells me. Frightened for their jobs, she and several colleagues finally compared stories and collectively went to HR. They say that their harasser was fired but that he got an equivalent job—again, in a managerial position—at another company. The women who reported him, meanwhile, tell me they were banned from discussing the case.


Read Full Article by Rachel Edidin at Kotaku