Brenda Romero resigns from chair position with IGDA over GDC party

Thursday, 28th March 2013 19:17 GMT By Phil Owen

The International Game Developers Association held a part in San Francisco for GDC Tuesday night featuring some scantily clad dancers on a stage, and as you might expect not everybody is happy with this turn of events. Game designer Brenda Romero, co-chair of the IGDA’s Women in Games SIG, resigned from the group in response.

Romero was on the #1reasontobe panel at GDC along with a handful of other women who work in the games industry, and they discussed reasons why women should be working in the industry as a sort of follow-up to the #1reasonwhy discussion of sexism in our community that took place on Twitter late last year. Romero told Kotaku that the panel “uplifted” her, and the contrast between that experience and “DMs, texts and links to news of the IGDA party” she received this morning was upsetting. And so a few hours ago she tweeted this:

The IGDA party was put on by a company called YetiZen, which got some heat last year for doing pretty much the same thing at GDC 2012.



  1. No_PUDding

    Which is the right way to handle it.

    Courtney Stanton can’t say she dealt with it brilliant “fuck them” is about as adolescent as the issue.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. fihar

    I thought developers were supposed to be the smart one.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. No_PUDding

    The developers didn’t make the mistake, the IGDA did.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. ApplePieChart

    How unprofessional. Now people are quitting on Twitter? #HaveSomeClass

    Oh, no. People tweeted her and texted her and they were sad, so she quit. Undoubtedly so she can become a blogger who does nothing but complain about sexism in the industry. When she, I dont know, could have done something about it, instead of slamming the door on the way out.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Fin


    Really missing the point aren’t ya.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. roadkill

    All right all right now on to the important stuff! Did anyone take pictures at that party? :))

    #6 2 years ago
  7. ApplePieChart


    What is the point? Someone else was offended by something. Again. People describing something innocuous as evidence of sexism in the game community. Again. I’ve been seeing that point made almost daily for quite some time now.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Fin


    A) You imply the only reason she quit is because people were “sad” (which is trivialising the issue)
    B) Implying that’ll she’ll turn into “a blogger who does nothing but complain about sexism in the industry” is putting her down
    C) Quitting IS doing something
    D) People like you are the reason the games industry is sexist
    E) You’re a prick

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Clupula

    @8 – The industry is sexist because someone taking their ball and going home is being questioned?

    She will change nothing from her couch. In a position like this, she may have been able to have had some impact on things.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. FeaturePreacher

    This is great news. Now instead of just being scantily clad, they can be topless. I only hope they replace Romero with a guy, hopefully one of the guys from YetiZen, they seem to know how to have a good time.

    What really needs to be examined is what #6 said. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. xxJPRACERxx

    What!?! A party with music and dancers!!! Are they crazy!!!

    It’s a fucking party! What do you expect in a party? People playing chess in silence?

    The dancers were professional dancers. They were not female programmers that were forced by their employers to dance on the stage otherwise they’ll lose their jobs. It’s a party! They’re entertainers!

    If she resign because of that then she’s an idiot!

    #11 2 years ago
  12. buyme218

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    #12 2 years ago
  13. silkvg247

    @11 As a gamer, if your entire gender had next to zero representation in games, and had somehow turned into nothing more than titillation for female gamers, you might also be starting to get a bit weary of the whole situation.

    #13 2 years ago

    …if your entire gender had next to zero representation in games…

    That’s a huge exaggeration, to put it mildly.

    Ok, how about this… I’m a black guy, but my race has way less representation in games than women, when it comes to leading characters.

    Should I start a campaign to paint the entire games industry as racist??

    Should I claim that black characters are usually only ever cast in a supporting role, as someone with super brawn, and barely any brains?

    Cole Train, anyone?

    Of course not, because that would be absurd.

    Which is exactly how so many of these newfangled ‘gaming feminists’ come across.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. nollie4545

    I don’t think the industry is sexist.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. silkvg247

    @14 You’re comparing race to gender. That, my dear, is what we call absurdity.

    How could you possibly know it’s an exaggeration? When was the last time you even bothered to take notice of which games do or do not allow female avatars?

    And of those that do, how many of them are AAA titles?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. YoungZer0

    He’s making a good point though. From the top of my head I remember only two games that were released last year that featured a black protagonist.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. salarta

    This whole situation is incredibly bizarre to me. The controversy is over women appearing on the stage in sexually suggestive clothing, something which a FEMALE co-chair found not only acceptable but uplifting… but because some people thought that portion was offensive, this female co-chair needs to resign? It would make sense to me if it was a man, because men can never truly understand what it’s like to be a woman.

    I think the industry has fucked up priorities right now anyway. Everyone’s up in arms about if you can see a little cleavage, but women acting like they’re inferior to men in every respect, that’s acceptable in video games. A woman showing cleavage is a travesty to people, but that same woman about to break down into tears because she’s afraid of combat and needs a big strong man to save her, that’s completely okay. It’s like everyone thinks that the only potentially offensive way to depict women is to emphasize the fact they have boobs.

    EDIT: Re-reading the article, I realize that the party and the panel mentioned are two separate things, so sorry for the mistake there. However, I see by a different article that the group’s executive director is female as well, so… same argument applies.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. YoungZer0

    Yeah, I too think the Metal Gear Solid series represents women poorly.

    Seriously, dude. You’re getting obsessive. If I give a hand puppet to you, can you show me where exactly the new ‘Tomb Raider’ touched you?

    You said it yourself “Men can never truly understand what it’s like to be a woman.”

    Tomb Raider: Written by a woman. Loved by women. Yet you keep bitching about it demeaning women and being sexist.


    #19 2 years ago
  20. Clupula

    @19 – Don’t you understand, Zer0, he’s going to defend women from themselves. They don’t even know that they’re supposed to be offended, so he’s going to ride his white horse to the rescue and save poor, besmirched Lara Croft from being anything but his ideal.

    And you do remember his weird Naomi obsession, right?

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Digital Bamboo

    @18 You seem like a fairly intelligent person, but your tone and stance on certain fictional female characters has been puzzling of late, to say the least:

    “As said before, I’ll be interested if the real Harley Quinn is back in the game, otherwise I’ll be skipping as per usual.”

    You do realize that there is no “real” Harley Quinn, don’t you? (Just as there is no real Lara Croft, and therefore no injustice done to her in the recent reboot.) And that skipping a game based on the redesign of a single supporting character is a bit…extreme

    Anyhow, consider this an intervention. We’re just getting a bit concerned about you, man.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. salarta

    @21: I find it a bit strange to see such words taken in such a literal way. I figured by real, people would know I was referring to the character as they were created to be.

    And I do not think skipping a game based on the redesign of a single supporting character is extreme, because whether or not it’s extreme is entirely subjective to the importance you place on that character. Though this is a horribly skewed example because it’s far more serious than the subject we’re discussing, wouldn’t finding out your father died affect you more strongly than finding out it happened to someone you knew in third grade? The same basic principle applies: subjective interest affects subjective response.

    Discussing things around here doesn’t really affect my day to day life nearly as much as some people think it does. I still work, I still play games I love, I can spend the rest of my day thinking about and doing things without ever thinking of poor representations of fictional characters. I can get extremely impassioned once I start talking about them because I start to remember why they matter to me, but often after I say what I need to say, I feel an immediate need to go deal with things that are more positive or productive.

    The only thing that’s really changing over time as I post on here is increasingly feeling like posting on here is a waste of time, and that I should be doing something better with my time than spending it on people that care more about petty jabs than serious discussion. That statement does NOT include you, to make that clear; you seem perfectly fine. But I’m starting to think I should actually take the advice of an online contact of mine, that I shouldn’t bother arguing with many of the people on here when doing so amounts to petty bickering when I could be doing things that would go much further toward achieving the same goals.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Digital Bamboo

    @22 You’re right to find it a bit strange, because I wasn’t being entirely serious. I don’t think you’re insane, but I have found a number of your comments puzzling, and merely wanted to express that your feelings about female characters/portrayals in contemporary gaming are well known, without sounding like too much of a dick.

    I like the classic design of Harley Quinn as well, but think it’s a bit cartoonish for the Arkham series, and wouldn’t let that stop me from playing a great game. Different strokes.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. salarta

    @23: My issues with what has happened to Harley’s design are not as cut and dry as that, a little more complex. I bought, played and enjoyed Arkham Asylum, and while I only slightly disliked the change of design, I was able to accept it as it was merely a video game alternate universe variant of the character.

    Unfortunately, when DC saw the positive reception to the new design introduced by Arkham Asylum, they interpreted it as a sign that her original design was considered bad or unpopular by current audiences, so they virtually erased it from all public use in favor of a newer, “edgier” look that lost all sense of the harlequin/jester theme she was meant to possess. Her current design is so unlike the theme intended for her that calling her Harley Quinn is about as reasonable as permanently dressing Batman like a chicken and still calling him Batman.

    I liked Harley Quinn quite a bit. I wasn’t what I would consider a diehard fan of her, but she was one of the few characters I liked enough that I read most of her ongoing (I stopped reading the issues after Karl Kesel was off the comic since the person who took over from him had no idea how to write Harley). I think of the entire DC universe, I actually liked her the most of all their characters. So when DC decided that Harley Quinn needed to be changed from everything I liked about her to this new thing, my natural reaction was the same as with most companies: swear off their products until Harley Quinn is back.

    And this is really all just an extension of a core concern of mine, that almost all the reboots happening today are done under the premise that the history of that character or franchise was horrible and needs to be “redone” to “be better”… by the assumptions and values of the current culture, or at least of the people that have creative control. For some reason, most people look at recent reboots and reimaginings of characters and think of them as some kind of great intellectual advancement, as if they think they’re supporting taking something shitty and making it into gold. What I see is people that have no understanding of what these characters and franchises were all about, nor do they WANT to understand. Understanding why people ever liked the character and franchise to begin with is anathema to them, completely worthless. The characters and franchises are only there for them to twist and snap to their personal whims, and anyone that actually valued what came before and wants to see it preserved and respected is “against progress.”

    The recent Tomb Raider reboot is the prime example of this. With a few rare exceptions, almost all the remarks have been about how the old Lara was supposedly a horrible character, only good for ogling her tits, a man’s fetish paradise and nothing more. Recent reboots aren’t built and supported on a foundation of love and admiration for the IP; they’re built on loathing and disgust of it, and a desire to force the IP to change to fit their vision. If I did that, I’d have a field day. There are all kinds of absurd ideas I could slap on any IP you can name that would fit my wildest dreams. The difference is that at the end of the day, I know these IPs and the people that created them deserve more respect than that, and I try (and sometimes fail, but still try) to treat them that way.

    #24 2 years ago


    It’s an exaggeration. This list is by no means comprehensive, but there’s no way that it can be described as “next to zero”.

    And please tell me the difference between a black person wanting to play as a black protagonist in a game, and a woman wanting to play as a woman.

    Go ahead.

    Educate me.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. zinc

    ^^ No your being obsessive & trying to justify your inability to let go with bizarro socio-psychological claims.

    Reboots are being made more dark & edgy, because that’s what the market researchers think people want. End of.

    And designers have no problem with that, as they figure it separates their work, from some of the more over-the-top designs of old.

    Fashion tends to follow a cycle, so no doubt whatever you found so cool, will come back round again. Don’t panic.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. YoungZer0

    @20: Yes, he’s the sexism prophet.

    With am extremely weird Naomi obsession.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. Clupula

    And Jill Valentine. And Aya Brea. And Lara Croft. And Harley Quinn. And Claire Redfield.

    I’m sure I’m missing some.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Djoenz

    Screw that where is my game I can play with an afro american female that happens to be a lesbian.

    That game would kick ass and everyone in the face.

    I think Prototype 2 has a black protagonist and The Walking Dead.
    Hmmm Gigahurtz I get your point bro.

    Ive seen a lot of foreign protagonists from different races but not many black ppl. Im talking about playable main chars.

    Anybody remember tht matrix game on ps2? :p great times.

    #29 2 years ago

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