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The 20 Most Important White Women in Gaming

May 26, 2008

Bonnie Ruberg blogged over at Heroine Sheik about her piece over at Gamasutra, “Women in Games: The Gamasutra 20”. Which is great! We need more pieces about women in the gaming industry – lord knows there aren’t enough of them (women, and pieces about them).

But, being the long-time veteran of the Internet that I am, I already knew what was coming before I even opened up the 21-page article. Click.

White woman.

Click.

White woman.

Click.

White woman.

And so on, and so on.

From what I can gather, the article’s nominees were recommended and deliberated by a panel of Gamasutra editors. Now of course I don’t know who was on that panel, but I’m willing to guess they’re white, too. So we have a panel of white people in a white-dominant industry talking about some of the other great white people they know. I get that it’s also a white male-dominated industry, so I’m all for pieces like these that highlight the important work that non-white-men are doing in the industry, but it seems pretty shitty to give women of color the short end of the stick.

The tricky thing about all of this is, I doubt any of this was intentional in the least; I can’t imagine Ms. Ruberg calling a secret meeting of her local chapter of the Gamasutra White Supremacists to figure out Yet Another Way To Keep Those Pesky Colored Folk Down. In fact, I have no doubt that the article’s nomination process sounded like a perfectly good idea at the time, whatever it was – and it could have been something as innocuous as a few people getting together and talking about women that they really admired in the biz. The point to take away from all of this is not that the gaming industry is racist (if you’re taking that away from this article, you must be a newbie to this blog) but rather, if the status quo is an industry that excludes people of color AND women, doing a project aimed at promoting the women in the industry without any kind of thought for race produces a project that still leaves plenty of people feeling screwed. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The response to this kind of criticism is, inevitably, along one of two lines:

1. We would have more women of color on the list, except they just didn’t seem to measure up along our eminently objective standards of XYZ. This basically translates to, “women of color just aren’t good enough to hack it with us. That’s not racist at all!” Um, yeah.

2. Well, Pat, since you’re so smart, what women of color would you have added? To which I say, considering I don’t work in The Industry, I haven’t the faintest idea. But I wonder: was Nichol Bradford, Global Director of Strategic Growth at Vivendi Games (parent company to Blizzard Entertainment, among others) was ever considered for nomination? Considering her rather impassioned speech at last year’s GDC, and the work she’s doing with arguably the most influential gaming company of the last few years, I can’t imagine it would have been for lack of impact.

That’s enough from me at the moment – I’m currently still reeling from a bout with tonsilitis. Peace.

pat m.

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8 comments

  1. There’s no chance that you’d be interested in doing an article for Cerise highlighting women of color in the video game and table top industries, is there? *gives you her best puppy-dog eye impression*


  2. African Americans are rare in the overall world of IT, so I’m not surprised to see them missing from games. But I am surprised to see a lack of Asians since they are so plentiful in IT.


  3. I would guess that she probably wasn’t very strongly considered. Most of the people on the list were pretty firmly on the creative or game development side of the business, as far as I could tell. The only marketing person I saw on the list was Perrin Kaplan, and she ran Nintendo’s PR for 15 years. Kind of a tough person to displace.


  4. One thing worth noting, and you certainly do make a strong point, is that there were any number of women left of that list who others would put on it, not even considering race. The first name that leaps to mind was found in the comments, Amy Hennig. Again, white, but the point I’m aiming for is that the list is really more of an interesting read on the opinions of a small group of people. Also, sad but true, there are so few women of color in games I’d imagine the list of even influential women of color would be far shorter than 20, so it’s possible they legitimately believed these choices to be more apt than any women of color. Of course I’m white, so I’m biased as well. Plus I’m a man. Which makes it even more difficult. Still, good to see you pointing it out and hopefully getting some notice as well. Talking about it helps, even if only a little.


  5. Another thought-provoking piece, AS USUAL.

    And sorry about the tonsilitis. I’ve had it twice in the past 6 months. It’s no joke.


  6. You make a great point in the post. Perhaps you should take tekanji’s idea and blog about it.


  7. Srsly, no Aznz? I distinctly remember a couple of women of East Asian descent in E3, but I can’t tell how prominent they were.


  8. Celeste Thorson is a hot asian gamer and model you should do a story on myspace.com/celestialstorms she was a stage host at E FOR ALL. IGN just did a write up on her too http://stars.ign.com/articles/912/912020p1.html



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