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12/11/2007

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greggman

I don't know why I feel compelled to post and probably stick my foot in my mouth but I think it's arguable that neither Morgan Webb nor you are in the game industry.

I love reading your ideas and opinions but if you are going to title something as "Women in the game industry" then it seems to me it should be about women who actually make games.

I know you have a passion for games but the stereotype, and it fits usually, is that people outside of production would generally be happy in any industry. Sales people don't care if they are selling games or shampoo. The proof is in how often they switch industries. Marketing people also switch all the time as do upper management (CEOs, etc.) I suspect Morgan Webb just wants to be in front of the camera, she doesn't care that it's games.

I want to hear from women who actually make games. That's where we need them. Marketing, PR, Sales, there is not much disparity

Tiff Chow

Fantastic interview Jane, you eloquently covered all the bases with great strength.

dariusk

Greggman: I'm a game developer, and I do believe that journalists are part of the game industry. Journalists have a huge effect on where the industry is moving and what games sell and don't sell. On the other hand, I can see how some people might disagree: players themselves have an even BIGGER effect on what sells, and at that point the definition of who's in the industry becomes so wide as to be useless.

What I can't abide is that you imply that marketing, PR, and sales are not part of the industry. Granted, they're not on the development side of the industry (although marketing and PR do often own development of web communities surrounding a game), but they're employed by game companies and are essential to the creation and sale of games.

Now, I'm with you in that I definitely want to see interviews with female producers, designers, programmers, artists, and testers. I've even taken some journalists to task for focusing too much on women in the "maintenance" side of the industry rather than the development side.

greggman

I disagree that marketing, PR and sales are really part of games. I'm not saying they are not important but there are plenty of indie developers and there were plenty of developers in the 80s that did just fine without marketing, sales and PR. This is not meant as any disrespect but those people are support services by definition.

A game starts with the developers. If they want to be successful they hire the best sales, PR and marketing people or companies to help them sell their game but at the core the game only needs the developers. Same with any industry pretty much. Financial companies start with traders. Restaurants start with chefs. etc. As they get bigger they hire support so they can get on with the trading, cooking, etc.

Let's put it this way, you could outsource marketing, PR, sales, and game development. If you did, only one of those 4 would still be in the game industry.

Alice Lee

Jane, I posted a comment over at the multiplayer blog but I wanted to add here that I really enjoyed the interview and your comments in general.

greggman: I think you're turning a blind eye if you do not believe that PR, sales and marketing are having a large impact on how games are designed and made. At GDC 2007, Eiji Aonuma talked about how the direction for the Zelda series (Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass) was strongly driven by sales trends and the gaming market in Japan shifting. Indie games and small development groups are important, but for major development studios the non-development teams are equally important.

greggman

Alice, I think you're missing the point. We would not go interview Roger Ebert on what it's like to be in the movie industry. Because, he's NOT in the movie industry, he's in the journalism industry. Same with Morgan Webb.

Similarly we would not interview Gilles Jacob (president of the Cannes Film Festival) about what it's like to be in the movie industry as he's not in the movie industry. Same with Jane.

DannoHung

If you want good marketing or good PR, they'll be a part of the games industry.

If you want shit marketing or shit PR, then no, you're right, they won't be a part.

Internev

I can see where you're coming from, greggman, but I think you're defining industry as production, which is an integral part but not the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

I would interview Roger Ebert on what it's like to be in the movie industry because he is involved in the industry. Specifically his role is independent PR of titles through review but to fulfill his role he requires a depth of knowledge about the industry itself. Moreso than, say, an on-set grip (who I would interview if I wanted to find out about on-set production)

I've stretched your analogy but if we turn it back to Jane then she's an ideal interviewee for the games industry from a female perspective. She may not have much experience (yet?) in production but as part of her current role she must be across more information about the industry as a whole than a code-monkey needs to be.

It would be interesting to read an interview of someone in the production side of things but that doesn't invalidate Jane's interview (or Morgan Webb's).

The title is appropriate as it stands. If it was "Women in games production" and Jane was the interviewee I'd agree with you.

W.J.A

"it seems to me it should be about women who actually make games"

It seems to me you should read more before shooting your mouth of: right at the top of the article it mentions that she's taking a job in biz dev for a video game studio. I very much doubt that's her first job on the development side.

greggman

Maybe you should find out what "biz dev" does. It's not game development. People in biz dev generally do the same thing no matter what industry they are in and can easily switch industries because they are in biz dev, not game dev.

I'll get even more serious and I know because people like Jane (I do too) that they'll jump to her defense instead of actually seriously considering the topic but I actually see interviews like this as counter-productive.

We in the industry complain all the time that the wrong people get the press. We have an awards show and they show movie stars instead of the game creators. We throw press events and none of the creators are invited. Well, this is just more of the same. Instead of interviewing women actually involved in games we're interviewing people on the periphery. Instead of saying "women can create games" we are effectively saying "if you want to be even related to games and you're a women you're going to have to be on the outside."

It's nice that Jane and Morgan are getting some press. As a woman that organizes a conference and a another that's a presenter on a show that's great but it's far from being about "women working in games" and only highlights the issue which is there are almost no visible women working in games

raynaa

I'm sorry, but I have to agree with greggman. I had the same reaction when seeing the series, why are they talking to publicists and journalists? Was it really that difficult for them to find women who actually work in the industry? Or could they just not find any who were photogenic enough for their site?

I work as a game designer and I found it insulting that they aren't focusing on talking to the women who actually make the games. Seems like half-assed journalism on their part.

Girl_from_Mars

I don't think that it is misleading to say that these interviews are with those in the game industry. I think it's pretty unfair to say that an individual in one industry is interchangeable with another, especially as both Jane and Morgan have been IN games for a substantial amount of time, their commitment is unquestionable. Perhaps if we were talking about a PR person who has jumped from one industry to another, that would be fair, but otherwise, i think this is totally unfounded.
As well, i think it is interesting to look at a journalists' perspective, as they get to be insiders and speak with many different people, in many different roles at different companies on different projects. I work in a game dev. studio, and the only experience i can speak about is working on one project at one studio in one company, it's a very narrow view. I don't mean to say that one voice is more legitimate than another (as greg seems to like to reiterate) but i don't think it's open for debate whether or not they are in the industry. Hell, i have been a designer on projects, but Jane and Morgan are much more qualified to speak on the topics that they have been asked about.
I agree that it would be nice to speak to some women who are not just in the media, but these are only the first two parts in an on-going series... i think we would have to see the whole series to make accusations about representation. I enjoyed both interviews, and found both perspectives valuable.

W.J.A

"People in biz dev generally do the same thing no matter what industry they are in and can easily switch industries because they are in biz dev, not game dev."

By that logic, only game designers are in the game industry. By that logic, 3D artists and programmers and writers and sound engineers and network administrators etc. etc. etc. who work for game studios are also not actually in game development, since they can also easily switch industries. No: creating a game is a collaborative process that requires enormous resources and division of labor; creating AAA games especially requires all the elements to work, not just design, but art assets, and programming, and the logistics of finance and distribution and publicity. Anyone who doesn't understand this and pronounces only one small sliver of this development chain as being in the game industry doesn't understand the industry.

pia-filipina

Hello everyone!!

This is my first time posting as I just found this site yesterday. And as a women in a game development company, it's great to hear other's perspectives who are related to the games industry.

Being the only female game designer here, I do feel that my value here is based on my knowledge and how I can contribute to a team as opposed to be hired for being a woman. I wouldn't be here if I didn't do good work, plain and simple.

Great site-- I look forward to reading more and posting more!!

--
Pam

ladenedge

Roger Ebert probably knows more about the film industry than almost anyone else in the world..

Anyway, great interview.

I wanted to mention a couple of things regarding the Wonder Woman/Lara Croft issue. First, it's clearly true to me that artificial or fantastic women are found in all artistic mediums, not just games and comics. The women in film and TV today are quite often every bit as ridiculous as Lara Croft or Wonder Woman, and they're probably an order of magnitude more influential.

Second, I'm not sure the tolerance for Lara Croft-as-hero is really warranted. You're certainly right that 'how a character is used' is important, and that sexualization is easy to spot in context. Can't we claim that Lara Croft is sexualized even without that context, though? Even supposing her physique mirrors that of a strong woman rather than just the male's stereotypically and ridiculously proportioned woman (and I don't think it does), her dress is preposterous. Comparing her to Indiana Jones - her male counterpart - should reveal immediately the sexism responsible for her presentation.

I suggest the woman who holds her up as a hero is either desperate for a female role model in games or blind to some of feminism's primary claims of imbalance, and I don't see why anyone need by shy about saying as much.

Acleacius

Hi Jane,
First time posting, got the link about the story from Blue's News a site I regularly visit. I fall on the PC side of gaming as a fan and haven't read the Morgan Webb piece since your article was the first link I have seen.

Just wanted to say Well Done! :)

It's good to have a sense of womens views about games and where women stand on issues, in the industry, thanks. :)

I only wish it was this easy to get strait answers out of women in the RL. Now I know, to send an interviewer to get answers out the the women I know. :p *teasing*

As a PC gamer, I honestly haven't seen any of the controversies, in the console industry mentioned in your article. I do know that Ubi has shown more interest in women gamers by forming female gamer teams,touring them, advertising to some degree and trying to shift some development directly to women (iirc). As you point out it's tough line to balance for women and for companies in these seemingly early stages, there is not doubt there will be slips one way or another.

I am speaking as an outsider since I am not familiar with the story, plus I am a male and a PC gamer. :)
It's hard imagine a female in any high profile position in her 20s or 30s, not ready for questions relating sexuality in our (in Austin, US here) hyper sexualized media society. Not saying it's fair, correct or they should go along with an incorrect social (norms?) preconceptions, but if Jade was offended by being asked to do maxum cover/story (whatever) that seems a little shocking.

Maybe she was just caught off guard, I am not trying to be insensitive but it seems it would have been much better to take it as a complement, then use it as a stepping stone to her personal view, whether declining or agreeing to do it. I am guessing we are not talking about taking away a her/a womans right to do it if she wishes, correct?

Another thought is, of course she would have expected this type of question, as it happens all the time, so maybe as a savvy business women she had weighed the possible press of a positive but declining response and the negative offended response, seeing more airtime with the offended choice?
Apologizes if I am over analyzing. ;)

Oh, in regards to greggman, yeah you defiantly have your foot in your mouth, so you can keep rationalizing it or stop. As I guy I suggest you stop while your behind, cause you won't be able to get back to even, on this one. :)

Why? You came to the interviewee's site and complained about the interview's criteria set by mtv. You giving your opinion about something completely off topic accurate or not and I would guess slightly offensive to the Jane.

greggman

I posted because I know Jane is smart enough to take the topic seriously and not to take offence since none is meant.

Given that the topic of "Women Working in Games" is clearly very important to Jane I'd think it would be pretty clear to her she's not one of them.

She's a huge advocate for them. She's certainly someone knowledgable about the issues and from that angle is a great person to interview about "Women Working in Games" but she's still not herself one of those women.

phamtq

An excellent read. I just have a few questions maybe the folks here could answer.

Reading through and learning that companies hire women to create games that are directed toward women confused me a little. I was always under the impression that the best games marketed towards women were just good games.

For example, the Longest Journey was a very good game; period. The fact that 2/3 of the leads were female didn't really change anything. Had they been all guys or unisex aliens, it still would have been a great game.

So my question is, what exactly is a "girl game"?

bowler

The idea that one must be in the industry to comment on the conditions therein is just ridiculous.

I'm not a girl, but I work in the industry as a game developer. Technically, I shouldn't be "qualified" to discuss the issue of women in the industry because I lack one of the qualifying conditions of having a vagina.

EA_Spouse did not work in the industry, yet her commentary on it changed the industry for the better. EA has actually modified its business practices because of what she started.

I don't need to hold a political office to have an opinion on political issues of the day. People don't need to work in the industry or be a woman to be qualified to talk about human rights issues within any particular place or line of work. Let's get past the whole non-issue of "are they qualified to have an opinion on the matter" and actually start discussing the issues.

As far as the interviewer choosing who she did to interview, there's no doubt she chose who she did because there'd be a better chance that people would actually want to read about the individuals selected. That's a debate for a different day.

AJ

bowler,

"I shouldn't be 'qualified' to discuss the issue of women in the industry because I lack one of the qualifying conditions of having a vagina."

Just a little note, the presence or absence of various body parts is actually a poor method with which to define women (or men). For example, I am a trans woman and do not have a vagina. I may never; I'm not yet sure I want one. Even so, it would be quite wrong to suggest that I am not the woman I identify and live as. And I certainly see this industry we're in from a woman's perspective, which isn't always fun.

I know you meant no malice, it's just a common blind spot of non-trans people that's worth pointing out.

bowler

I should have clarified, that I was using myself of an example of how ridiculous the notion of body parts/sex = qualification to comment on social issues/injustices is.

I thought the rest of my comment outlined that I thought it was preposterous to make these qualifications.

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