During the month of January, I did a couple big features that gathered perspectives from many developers — the first of these is about the supposed self-promotion age and how it affects game developers.
Inspired by a blog post of self-promotion tips from Raph Koster, I spoke to a range of developers, from grad students to visible indies, about the pressure not only to do marketing for one’s game, but for oneself, in a sense — how necessary it is to stand out in the landscape as a creator and ways to go deal with the complicated feelings that arise.
This becomes increasingly relevant as artists and creators are looking for ways to make a living outside an increasingly-strained infrastructure, and seeking funding from fans is a major avenue. I wrote an editorial about the launch of Double Fine’s Broken Age (which I backed, but still have yet to play) — it helps encapsulate the ways that for every new opportunity crowdfunding offers, there are new disruptions in the traditional creator-audience relationship, and things get complicated.
Last year there was much talk of “developer dads,” and the tonal shift in commercial games that comes from devs having kids of their own. But mothers make games too; some of them balance parenthood with indie careers, and want more visibility on their experience. Here’s my feature on indie moms, their unique opportunities and challenges, and how the culture of game development tends to shut them out of the conversation.
I spoke to Samantha Kalman about her multidisciplinary background in music and tech, and how it led to her successfully-funded Sentris game; I also spoke to Mitu Khandaker about Redshirt, her cynical space social media sim, and creating a healthy community around a game about how reality can be awful.
In addition to Kalman and Khandaker, in these and other articles I interviewed Brianna Wu, Katharine Neil, Tanya Short, Elizabeth Sampat, Beth Maher, Leanne Bayley, and Nina Freeman just in the past four weeks or so.
In the month of January, every interview about game development that I have published, am currently at work on, or will file focuses on or includes a woman dev discussing her work and the landscape. Both pieces with more than one source include more than one woman.
I thought I’d quietly see if this was possible in the new year — not everything I file in a given month is an interview or includes quotes, but much of it is, and I wondered if I could spend a month covering game development while always including — even centering on, where possible — the voices of women working in the space, in a way that came naturally and kept the focus on the creative space and the developers’ work.
It came surprisingly easily. It took half an effort. There are so many passionate women in games, many of them eager to share their work and experiences, and not only when it’s time for a “women in games” panel.
I believe cultural change comes with increased visibility on the people who share your wish for change, and that’s something I can contribute as a writer. There is always more to be done — I certainly don’t want to seem to be patting myself on the back for paying attention to a handful of mainly white, young women I know on social media and from events — just to show others how possible it is to take even a basic step; how simple, and how low-friction it is to shift conversation about games to include women without decreasing the utility of the piece or narrowing its potential audience.
It’s easy to get more coverage of women in games; it’s easy to include women speakers at your event (as my friend Courtney Stanton aims to do with her Boston conference, No Show). If you “can’t find” anyone, or if the panels you do attend or articles you do read are always about the same people, you can keep looking, and you can try harder. I’ll try harder.