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The IeSF, or International e-Sports Federation, is a global organisation based in South Korea that is comprised of e-sports associations from across the world. Their stated aim is to promote e-sports as a “true sport”. The IeSF’s sixth World Championship will take place this November, in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Here’s the tournament list, from the organisation’s Facebook…
seeing the things people send you makes me worry about starting to make my own games. i'm weird too and i'm afraid that i'll be treated bad. what should i do?
Look. I’ve barely gotten any decent sleep since getting back in Boston so I might be a little aggro and cuss-heavy on this but I feel like I get this enough that I need to be.
Don’t let assholes stop you from doing what you love, if at all possible. Being weird is one more reason we need you here if you’re feeling up to it. Everyone is weird, come be weird with those of us who won’t treat you like shit for it.
If we’re not made to feel welcome in any “scene” because their image of what it is and what it can be and what a game designer looks like is so fragile that it can’t handle us, then we can make our own scene. People who resist change and new ideas and acceptance of growth and people who aren’t like them are standing on melting ice. We can throw better parties.
It’s sincerely fucked up to me that some asshole who has nothing better to do than to do the internet equivalent of shouting insults from car windows at passerbys could potentially keep someone from something that could change their life for the better as much as learning how to make games and program has changed mine. You know who doesn’t leave bullshit messages like the ones I get?
Anyone with anything interesting to do.
I wouldn’t ask anyone to take on this kind of work if they legit think that this kind of thing would destroy them - but I do want you to know that you would not be unsupported. I thrive because of other developers who commiserate with me and share their own struggles, and there’s no shortage of them from any background you can imagine. And think of it this way - if you’ve seen the (frankly small sliver of) hate that I get that I let the public see, then you know how toxic people can get. I’ve been very frank and upfront about how it’s impacted my life. But you also know another key part of it, the most important part of it.
I’m still here. I still love what I do. And the messages barely touch me anymore. I eat hatred and shit bad jokes in response on the days I can, and on the days I can’t I’m getting better at transmuting it into working on the projects that piss them off so much. Sometimes out of spite, sometimes out of feeling like I have something to prove, and sometimes out of needing to balance out the bile with love. The days I drink to deal with it are getting fewer and fewer, and I’m destroying myself over it a lot less these days - partially because my work and those who I work with rely on me, and I want to honor that in the ways they should be. It can get better.
None of them have scared me off, and they’re not going to. And while I still have a voice that’s worth anything at all in this industry, I will try and use it to help other people find theirs as well. You have my sword. Any of you reading this right now do. I mean to pay forward all the same support that’s been given me, ideally with at least a x2 modifier on it. And I’m far from the only person who feels that way.
Don’t feel the need to change yourself. Don’t be scared away outright. Don’t stop being you because some asshole can’t handle how rad you are. Don’t even heed any of this if it’s not good advice for you in particular. But if you do decide to walk this path, it doesn’t have to be alone, and it doesn’t have to be while bending to anyone’s will.
If you feel like joining us, we can do this together. No one has to be alone. And even the worst of shit gets easier in time.
It’s our medium too god damnit. Games are for everyone.
In the middle of our E3 shows, this popped up in my Twitter feed:
Watching a bit of the e3 @giantbomb bombcast from last night and damn that is a lot of (white) dudes. :-/— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)June 13, 2014
I know so many women at all levels of game stuff and I’m way less connected than @giantbomb, how hard is it to find more than 1 per panel?— Elizabeth Simins (@ElizSimins)June 13, 2014
That hurt, but it’s also true. I don’t run Giant Bomb, but I did, for the first year ever, have control over our nightly E3 shows. That was, previously, a job shared between myself and Ryan Davis. When Ryan passed away last year, I reluctantly took over that job, hoping to do the man proud. Someone needed to do it, and I was happy to give it my best shot. I wanted to honor what he’d created, while putting my own stamp on it.
I want to make one thing clear: criticism like this is important. Yes, even when it’s directed at yourself. There are reasons our E3 shows ended up the way they are, reasons I’ll outline below, but simply because I’ve advocated for certain positions in the past shouldn’t absolve me from criticism, especially when I find myself in a position of power and influence. When I saw these tweets and some others like them, my initial reaction was to be upset: don’t these people know I’m on their side?!
But it’s not hard to see where this line of criticism came from. We had more than 50 guests on our shows this year, and five were women. That’s not a particularly good ratio, even if it’s leaps and bounds better than what we’ve featured on Giant Bomb in the past. You don’t get credit simply for trying, and it’s always worth acknowledging that you can probably do better the next time around. That’s true here.
Our guest list started with a document outlining the shows. We’d start every night an hour after the close of E3. Every hour, we’d rotate guests. That would happen two or three times, and, then, we’d break for the night. I was informed that we were technically capable of handling up to eight or nine microphones at a time, though that’d be an extreme. (If I recall correctly, we only hit that maximum capacity once during the entire show, but we came close a few other times. It was too much.)
There were several forces at work here. Since I was the only person booking guests, I was terribly afraid no one would show up. I wanted to do a kick ass job, and not let my colleagues down. Ryan set a high bar, and I wanted to hit it. I was worried we’d have people who couldn’t show up for one reason or another, or would have to leave before there was an open slot. To that end, I booked everyone for specific time slots and…booked too many guests. In years past, our shows have taken place both offsite and in locations that were…well, they were colorful. This year, we were right next to the convention center, which meant not only did nobody drop out, but people brought others with them.
This is no one’s fault but my own, but when you only have a handful of women on your show already, cramming more men into the frame only skews the ratio even higher. I considered grouping women on the same panel, but worried a “woman panel” separate from the “other panels” would be equally terrible.
The optics of the situation were only part of the problem, though.
Through this, I have a better understanding of what it’s like coming on a Giant Bomb show. Part of what makes our site work is interesting personalities coming together to talk about games (most of the time). This stems from a rotating crew of regulars the community has gotten to know over the years. You can’t become a regular until you’ve been on more than once. If you’ve ever been part of a podcast, video show, or anything with a group discussion, it can be difficult to have your voice heard while learning the group dynamics. This was compounded by Giant Bomb having a series of very loud regulars on-hand (regulars I love, mind you!).
It creates a tough situation for newcomers. If you yell to keep up, you can look like you’re trying too hard. A problem emerged: a small but select number of smart, funny, insightful women eager to contribute found themselves sitting in a sea of men that had established chemistry with one another. The optics of a singular, seemingly silent women is a bad one, possibly worse than not having any women at all!
(I must say, however, that Alexa Ray Corriea’s lengthy breakdown of Lord of the Rings lore in front of Jeff Gerstmann, who hates that stuff, was one of my favorite moments of the whole conference.)
This problem wasn’t limited to women, however. We had several male guests on who ran into the same issue, and it all comes back to a day one problem: overbooking. Smaller, more focused panels would have given our new guests, women or otherwise, an opportunity to become comfortable with the format. As the person who booked the guests, I failed in giving them a proper platform. That’s all on my shoulders.
While all the above is true, it could also serve as a convenient excuse, one that doesn’t address the broader issue: the rolodex. More specifically, my rolodex, the people I personally know. Here’s an excerpt from an exceptional essay by critic Jenn Frank on the issue:
"This Rolodex analogy is how we keep perpetuating something called institutionalized sexism (also, institutionalized racism, plus institutionalized homophobia and transphobia). Really talented people—people who aren’t yet in a fellow colleague’s "Rolodex"—never quite get that foot in the door. Of course they can’t, because we’re all too busy consulting these Rolodexes of people we already know, rather than seeking fresh—and oftentimes unproven!—talent."
It’s not just about women. It’s also about race. Both issues come back to the rolodex. In addition to booking high-profile guests (Palmer Luckey, Phil Spencer, etc.), I plucked from my rolodex, and that rolodex has, as it turns out, a fairly limited diversity profile. In retrospect, it’s of little surprise the shows looked the way they did. It reflects who I know.
"Patrick, you should book based on talent! Not just to hit a check box."
That’s true. In theory. But that theory suggests that I’m pulling from everyone in the world. That’s not true. I want to book talent from a wider pool. The statement’s subtext is that there aren’t equally funny, amazing people outside of the people I (or Giant Bomb) already know. That’s certainly not the case.
Look, all of this might not make me a bad person, but it does make me a bit hypocritical. It’s easy to rail against the lack of diversity in an editorial, much harder to come to terms with your own limitations and admit you could be doing a whole lot more. Solutions require some introspection.
When someone calls you sexist, especially when you’ve spoken out against the issue, there are two ways to take it. One, you can get angry that no one seems to appreciate how you actually feel. For a brief moment, that was how I wanted to react. But, then, I took a breath. Two, you can realize you aren’t perfect, and the best of intentions don’t always have the best outcomes. Just because you’ve been called “sexist” doesn’t mean you are a woman hater. There is a difference between passive and active sexism. Active sexism would be going out of one’s way to be anti-woman. Passive sexism is the rolodex. It’s systemic, unnoticed.
At the end of the day, I’ll continue to book these shows based on on who will serve the audience best. That won’t change. But doing that justice means recognizing my own faults, the limitations of my own rolodex. It means introducing the audience to the wider diversity that reflects what our industry really looks like in 2014. I intend to reach out to people to help me accomplish that, and avoid what happened this year. I’ve already asked the women who were on Giant Bomb’s shows this year for feedback on their experience, and I’ll be asking them for recommendations on other people to come on our shows in the future.
It’s a small step, a first step. But if people didn’t hold my feet to the fire, I wouldn’t have an opportunity for these moments of reflection. Thanks for that.
It’s been a weird few days. A tweet of mine, what I thought was a completely mild, innocuous tweet, took off and has so far been retweeted something like 1800 times. A screenshot of that tweet was featured in a tumblr post that so far has about 140k notes.
In the tweet I’m talking about Charlotte Corday, of course. She’s the assassin that killed Marat and whose murderous act inspired the most famous piece of art to come out of the revolutionary period, David’s The Death of Marat (1793).
I’ve never been associated with anything like these numbers before, and, as you can imagine, I’ve been receiving lots of eloquent and polite correspondence on twitter as a result. Nothing as bad as if I happened to be a woman saying the same thing, of course. I’ve mostly ignored it, but I wanted to do something to catalogue some thoughts in response.
So here is an encyclopaedia of ignorance that I’ve seen so far, and some unorganised thoughts in reply.
- You don’t know anything about Assassin’s Creed. In previous games you don’t play as a real person. I know. No-one’s suggesting you play as Charlotte Corday (though that would be cool, wouldn’t it?). The point is that Ubisoft have assumed that a male assassin is the default, whereas the actual history of the period suggests the complete opposite. Maybe Ubisoft should be forced to justify why they’ve chosen a male assassin over the more logical and historically relevant decision to play as a woman. Why have they reorganised history?
- Ubisoft can’t be sexist. In Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, you played as not just a woman, but a non-white woman too. I do know this. I briefly got to know the writer of Liberation, Jill Murray, at an event we both spoke at earlier in the year, and I can’t imagine a smarter choice of writer to be involved in the series.I hope she is doing some great work on this very point behind the scenes right now. But you know the fact the AC games have had a woman protagonist before actually makes this decision—and its accompanying excuse—worse, don’t you? It’s not a precedent which excuses all subsequent offences. It’s a building block from which to move forward—and a pillar that proves that excuses of cost or workload when it comes to playable women are laughable.
- Charlotte Corday will probably turn up as a character in the game. Yep, it seems likely. That doesn’t change anything, really. I just hope that we don’t assassinate Marat with her looking on, as we rode Paul Revere’s horse for him in Assassin’s Creed III. That would, for obvious reasons, be bad.
- Because Charlotte Corday is famous/was caught, she wasn’t a good assassin. Or, as one person tweeted at me this morning, she apparently wasn’t an assassin at all (for reasons best kept to himself and his six followers). This actually really concerns me, because it suggests that there are people out there that truly believe that there have been real Assassin’s Creed-style assassins throughout history, the kind that successfully knock off dozens, if not hundreds of important targets and slip away into the crowd, or parkour off into the distance, to be unrecognised both by their contemporaries and by history. Seriously, if you believe this—especially about such a well-documented and widely-studied era as the French Revolution—then I implore you to pick up a book and read, and expand your understanding of history beyond the Assassin’s Creed games. I love the AC games. I have at least 20,000 words on them through my PhD thesis. They are fantasies of history. Real assassination is utterly unromantic and flawed. Charlotte Corday is the image of a real assassin—a newcomer to violence, working for all intents and purposes by herself, who either intended to be caught or understood it as an inevitability, and who planned accordingly so as to make a statement. Ezio is not reality.
Most importantly of all: by creating an all-male-protagonist French Revolution videogame, Ubisoft have entered a long-held tradition of downplaying or marginalising the role of women in the Revolution. This happened both at the time and through the writing of history subsequently. After her execution, Charlotte Corday was examined to find out if she was a virgin—if she had been ‘sharing her bed’ then surely we would find a man’s hand behind the assassination (this was not the case). Could a woman really have come up with this plan herself?
Women were repeatedly denied rights, both before the revolution, during it, and after it. The famous Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen remains silent on women, despite a preceding petition calling for equal rights for women. This situation lead to Olympe de Gouges’ complex and witty Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, which is ironically dedicated to Marie Antoinette, and declares (remember, this is 1791) that “This revolution will only take effect when all women become fully aware of their deplorable condition, and of the rights they have lost in society.”
Groups like the Society of Revolutionary Women were formed, and in 1793, outlawed and abolished by the Jacobin government. Then, the Napoleonic Code of 1804 reinforced French women’s status as second-class citizens.
And of course, then came the many conservative historians who had either an interest in downplaying the role of women, or whose privilege meant it was a question easily ignored. As Shirley Elson Roessler writes in her excellent Out of the Shadows: Women and Politics in the French Revolution, 1789-1795,
The topic of women’s participation in the French Revolution has generally received little attention from historians, who have displayed a tendency to minimize the role of women in the major events of those years, or else to ignore it altogether. In the nineteenth century those who did attempt to deal with the topic chose to approach it with an emphasis on individual women who had for some reason attained a degree of notoriety.
So you see that even a focus on someone like Charlotte Corday or Olympe de Gouges is a strategy that has been used to downplay the role of women in the broad fabric of the revolution. I’m pleased to see the historically-accurate presence of women in the Assassin’s Creed: Unity crowds, in the storming-of-the-palace scenario we were shown at E3—but the fact that women remain unplayable, as a hands-off role, as actors-but-not-protagonists, indicates that Ubisoft is taking a regressive step with Unity, not just for the Assassin’s Creed series, not just for the representation of women in videogames, but in representation of the women of the French Revolution.
Why are so many people demanding AAA titles to be all feminist and stuff when women don't even buy those games?
The long and the short of it is… because they do. Let’s explore that thought a bit with some actual research, hm?
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