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Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett discusses impact of #1reasonwhy Twitter campaign

Tuesday, 7th May 2013 09:29 GMT By Dave Cook

Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett has discussed the impact of her #1reasontobe and #1reasonwhy hashtag campaigns, which called on females working within the games industry to reveal moments where they felt they were being ether harassed or treated with inequality due to their gender, and to raise awareness on the positives of the industry respectively.

Speaking with RPS, Pratchett explained how it felt to be viewed as a leading voice in the gender equality debate, “I’ve really realized in the last year how much being a visible industry female matters to people. Not necessarily as much to myself, or to other female developers already in the industry, but those who are um-ing and err-ing at the side-lines. Hesitant to make the jump, or even try to”.

Since then Pratchett has given talks at schools to show females that the industry is not a walled fortress for men only, and that there is a place for them as equals. But rather than focus purely on the negatives of gender equality, the writer stressed that the industry also needs to be celebrated for the wondrous thing it is.

“If we’re ever going to change the gender balance of this industry – which I think is the main thing that’s really going to help the situation – then we need to emphasize the positives, as well as being honest about the negatives,” continued Pratchett.

“The problems highlighted by #1reasonwhy were shocking, saddening and predictable in equal measure. It doesn’t matter how ‘special’ your industry is, there’s no excuse for some of the sheer asshattery which that hashtag revealed. However, maintaining a sense of perspective is vital. Yes, it’s important to talk about the fight, but it’s just as important to remember what we’re fighting for.

“The main reason why I started #1reasontobe is because I believe that raising awareness of what a great industry this can be, and what opportunities there are for men and women alike, is fundamental in tackling these problems.”

Although Pratchett’s #1reasonwhy campaign threw up some appalling examples of gender equality and an embarrassingly negative reaction from some male commentators, she agreed that there is change in the air, and that the industry needs to continue enlisting women into its ranks.

Pratchett added, “The best weapon against sexism in the games is to get more skilled women into the industry, keep them there and generally level the playing field.”

Where do you sit on the whole gender equality issue? Is enough being don to redress the balance or is there still a long way to go? Let us know below.

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4 Comments

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  1. silkvg247

    I think the problem with the industry is that there’s just no way to get into it, male or female – they all want prior experience in games programming.

    You either need contacts or you need to be a young grad brought up at the right time with the right pieces of paper.

    Look at me, I’ve written a games engine myself from scratch, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s kind of like.. industry experience or gtfo, but how do you get industry experience? I haven’t yet seen a job I am even eligible to apply for – it’s all either graduates or prior experience.

    It seems the videogame industry is unique in this regard – for example the fact that I’ve mainly done retail development won’t stop me getting a programming job in pretty much any other field. People don’t ask for retail experience to be a programmer in retail – sure, it can be a bonus but that’s about it.

    When people need AI or 3D programmers at a senior level I totally get it, I get the need for specific skills. But other than that? I could use all the skills I have today to contribute massively to pretty much any games company. I can write back end SQL stuff, design database solutions from scratch, I can code anything they might need in .net or hey.. any language given a few weeks to get to grips. I can lead teams. I can offer solid support and great ideas.

    That came across as self promotion, but the point I’m making is that games companies need to be a bit more flexible if they really want to recruit from a wider selection of people – because if they stick to grads only then let’s face it, how many girls take up a videogame related degree? It’s hard enough finding a chick that’s taken a programming course (I hadn’t, I learnt on the job).

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Fin

    @1

    Think you’re looking in the wrong places. When we hire, games experience is nice to have, but it’s far more important that someone is competent/elite in their (and our) programming field.

    Basically, if someone’s got good C/C++, and they interview well, then they’re likely to be hired.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Kalain

    @1
    Its the same no matter the area. It took me a long time to break into my area of expertise, Messaging and Security, because companies wanted people with the experience of both sectors, where as I only had one.

    Some companies want you to hit the ground running, hence they want the desired experience/qualifications whilst others are more flexible. I was lucky that a large company took me on due to my messaging experience, but I’ve been rejected several times due to having no experience in security.

    I have put the question of, how do I get the experience if I don’t get the chance to get the experience, to several companies and they all came back with the same answer of ‘From working in another company’. Its a catch 22 and can only lead to the pool of people to draw from getting smaller and smaller.

    You just have to persevere and take the rejections, or start your own company up. Admittedly it is easier said than done, but it is still a way of showing how eager you are and generate your own experience in the industry.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. PEYJ

    Looking at the above comments it appears that Pratchet is looking at the wrong issues.

    #4 1 year ago