If you follow any sort of gaming people on Twitter this week, you probably saw the #1reasonwhy hashtag. It all started with a simple question: “Why are there so few lady game creators?”
The hashtag #1reasonwhy was created in response, and it blew Twitter up. While initially it was about RPG design, it exploded across the tech and gaming industries, with women from all over explaining why they personally haven’t attempted to design a game, or the struggles they’ve faced when they have made the attempt. Everything from women’s statistically greater burden in housework responsibilities to gross tales of sexism, misogyny and assault were shared.
And like a phoenix from the ashes, stories of triumph appeared as well, with the introduction of #1reasonmentors, where women (and men) who have “been there” volunteered to help women who want to move forward, in whatever capacity is necessary. Discussion of the nuts and bolts of game design, a cheerleader, introductions to other people in the industry, you name it and it’s being offered.
I haven’t had much time to participate in the conversation yet (in a mad dash to try to “win” NaNoWriMo), but from what I’ve seen, I’ve been alternating between nodding along in agreement and wanting to cry. So many of the stories being shared are my stories of fear and frustration. And so many stories are so terrible it’s hard to continue to have faith in humanity (and the continuing discussion continues to test that faith – while I commend Kotaku for addressing the discussion in the first place, the discussion that happened in the comments was often disturbing. It’s one thing to hear a woman’s second hand story of sexism. It’s another to hear another person putting forward such sexism as their own honest opinion).
The place of women in gaming has been a hot button issue for ages, but it seems to be cropping up with increasing regularity this year. As our mothers hoped when they were marching for equal rights on a much broader scale 40 years ago, I hope this is the first wave of a sea change in the industry and our gaming culture. And I intend to be part of that change – while others made November their game design month of choice, I’m shifting gears away from novel writing in December to start tackling an original game idea or two that have been begging for attention all month. And I promise to keep our loyal Fandible fans in the loop as I work towards developing and debuting my game!
If you want to read more about the #1reasonwhy saga, start with this Storify page. The excellent social justice and (mostly video) gaming blog The Border House has a summary and a boatload of links as well. Additionally, Filamena Young, the first one to start using #1reasonwhy, has set up 1reasonwhy.net to continue collecting stories, including offers of 1reasonmentors and hopeful 1reasontobe!