Sexism, Racism and Education: The first levels

In recent months A LOT has been spoken bout regarding videos games and the industry as a whole from it is sometimes seen as sexist attitudes towards female developers recently prevalent in the GAME_JAM incident to accusations regarding race, social and political backgrounds and wealth regarding indie developers as a whole. Firstly, the wonderful thing about game development is that anyone CAN do it even if you do not have a computer, games transcend media and there is NO right way to go about it (despite what some may say).

Today I am going to touch upon some of the negatives currently viewed and the WRONG opinions expressed mainly centring on the indie game scene initially (may follow up in future with some collaborators or re-explore). It is true to say that globally currently percentage wise there is typically a higher percentage of male game developers compared to female developer community and the main reason for this has been old fashioned views, historical heritage and a bloody minded approach towards game development and genres as a whole up until recent years. First off, I am going to say female gamers do not want female only games and many my girlfriend included enjoy games typically viewed as a male centric genre/IP because games should NOT be limited to one gender or another but sadly, in the development scene this has not moved on. Video games mainly have been around since the late seventies and eighties a time where male dominance in computers was the norm, a lot of the BIGGER companies we know and love today are run by these same individuals. Now I am NOT saying that any of them are bigoted or sexist in fact many have spoken out about this plight and topic and should be commended, what has occurred and slowly fizzling out is this expectation trend. Games are not treated in primary school and secondary school settings as a genderless activity, games are made with a male focus even today look at how many games shamelessly feature semi naked females compared to equally merited leads. As a culture, we are reluctant to change and this needs to end, we need less “flash breasts on this to sell” titles more socially conscious titles that empower not diminish people.

I know a fair amount of female game developers from the Twitter sphere and they are on equal (many better) footings to any male programmer or designer, to change culture it’s all about educating people and that is where my final point will lead us.

Racism and cultural insensitivity is something that thankfully is not too prevalent in the video game scene with many titles actually using racism as a cultural voice to change misconceptions in a positive light. As any medium or open discussion topic there are those whose voices should not be as loud as they are, those that would put down others in order to make their own insecurities less prevalent and to be honest it is not worth biting back, it is better to educate then scold. Essentially this is all boiling down to my last discussion point – Education.

Games are an excellent tool for learning; they engage, simulate and can even pull groups together regardless of gender, creed or wealth. Games can unite us but also if mishandled divide and its all down to appropriate education. Schools need to get past the motion that games are evil and waste of time and look past the so-called spoon-feed education titles to actually engage students in open debate masked by the cover of play. Children who are simulated and ENGAGED are statistically more likely to listen and thus take away a view from their experiences; bringing games into the classroom should become the norm. I am hoping that this would in turn lead to more socially aware and diverse game scene, the independent development scene is to some degree covering aspects of this however the pursuit of profit can blind the greedy and corrupt the message and the faith in humanity, that said as developers we need to be able to survive. We need less cloning and more collaboration else the indie scene will quickly become the next AAA market and the cycle will begin afresh.

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