Hrm. I May Have Been Wrong About Our Wee Industry.

Others have said more eloquent things on the topic of Jade. There have been some that have been more philosophical. And some people know their demographic very well, and used plenty of pictures to keep things simple. So I have very little to add, really. Other than to say that I may have been somewhat off base, trying to judge gaming and the condition of women therein based on my little tenement in the ghetto. Maybe it really is different in the console end of things. I like to admit it when I’m wrong, and this little drama does illustrate a dark corner I’d never walked past.

Of course, I have a few points:

Community men and women are called worse, every day. It’s simply part of the business of being online surrounded by anonymous jackals. I didn’t call this site Eating Bees because the PA boys were so off base. Admittedly, bukkake is worse than the legendary picture of me photoshopped onto a cow taking it up the chute. But all I could do was laugh when my picture was posted with “three bagger” across my chest. (To be fair, it was a dreadfully unflattering still frame from a video, shot under fluorescent lighting on a day where I had on no makeup. I’m shallow enough that I wouldn’t sleep with me if I looked like that 24/7.) Certainly no one sent cease and desist letters on my behalf. This kind of abuse is part of the job. Take it or leave it.

One of the commentators suggested that those of us who do community work are on the fringes of game development. Um… no. It’s so cute when the ill-informed think community is just PR. If you think so, I invite you to shadow your community weenie on patch day. Launch day. CEO decides to post day. That should clear up your illusions. Trust me, the producer goes home hours before the community person does. And the community person doesn’t turn off their Crackberry when they go on vacation, either.

My point, before I got sidetracked: If it’s okay for your spokespeople to eat shit sandwiches, let’s try not to be shocked, SHOCKED when eventually the producer gets served with a big steaming pile. Sauce for the goose and all. This is not a gender issue. This is an issue of respect. If you’re not defending ALL of your employees, hush up. If you’re only defending your females, hush the FUCK up before I march out of this corner you’re painting me into and kick your shin.

The sexual nature of of the comments is horrific… but perhaps not what it seems. One commenter (male), in one of the above stories, made an excellent point in response to someone that tried to pass off the abuse this girl is getting as the usual internet hate:

“So I assume, since she’s catching the “same kind of withering internet fanboy flak” as everyone else, that you’ve got a link to the Reggie Fils Aime bukkake porn. Right? No? Shocking! Why, it’s almost like the attacks on her are radically sexualized in a way that attacks on men are not!”

Again, “radically sexualized” attacks are nothing new if you’ve been in community for more than ten minutes. However, it is unique to the female CMs. I don’t think my favorite homie Alan, Charlesie the wonder snuggle, or even the disturbingly delicious Troy have received invitations to be present at a gang bang with themselves as the guests of honor. I’ve had six. (However, I’d bet a nickel all of us have received invitations to attend our own skullfuckings. We all have eyesockets, no matter how we pee. Really, the internet IS the great equalizer.) So, the question is not “DO women get abuse of a sexual nature” but “WHY do they get this abuse?”

And I think the answer is because it’s the easiest thing the dumb part of the internet can pick out. Can’t think of something insulting to say? Pick the most obvious thing about that person! Bonus points if it’s something they can’t help! Fat, stuttering, the presence of a vagina. God help the first female producer with a stutter and a fondness for Haagen Daaz. Our society uses the female form to sell stuff – ideas, objects, experiences, and aspirations. Everyone is programmed to notice gender FIRST, which is why people do double takes when they meet transsexuals (even if the transsexual stuff is the only “different” thing about the person). I don’t defend the status quo, but I believe understanding the lowest common denominator is the key to writing equations that cancel it.

– Ubisoft made this mess, and a large number of us suspect half of it was on purpose. This is the company behind the Fragdolls, as many have noted. Aside from the weird overpimping of a producer, their lawyers reacted to someone posting something foul on the internet by… demanding that the hosts take it down? The fuck? What is this, 1995? Did their lead counsel just crawl out from under a rock? I don’t think so. This was either wildly mismanaged or someone saw some free publicity for the taking – at the expense of the producer. They could have just sued the little shit who drew the bukkake comic and ignored the rest. Instead, everyone and their dog is linking to it, or very pointedly NOT linking to it, resulting in Google searches out the wazoo.

If I have to choose between stupid and evil, knowing what I know about the industry, I will generally vote for stupid. But let’s not discount evil. I think the choice to react with the C&D letters was made with open eyes.

– The ninny who drew the comic is a loser. But he’s not a particularly outstanding loser. I’ve seen dozens like him, and it’s hard for me to get all that worked up these days. Oh, and for those of you who think the whole thing was a delicious display of satiric meta gonzo comedy or whatever… oh, PLEASE. You bore me.

Finally:– Game “journalists” made this mess. I expect the real journalists to clean it up. If I have to be a credit to my gender against my will and principles, surely some of you nice boys out there can take one for the team. Stop painting her as a victim, because that marginalizes her even more than the original “articles” did. Also, through all the drama, anyone who actually listened to HER noticed she was not even remotely a “poor me” kind of lady. She’s tough and funny in the few interviews I’ve seen. So let’s call a do over. Let’s see some interviews with this producer that never once mention her femininity in any respect save the usage of the feminine pronoun, let’s police the comment threads a little more stringently, and let’s vow to do better this time.

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22 Comments

  1. Krinsath said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I do hate to be a cynic (ok…I’m lying there), but I think this goes back to the idea of “Journalism is dead’. There is nobody interested in reporting facts anymore, it’s “how can we sensationalize this story?” since sensational stories move papers and page views alike. Skipping ahead to your next blog post, most reporters (and ESPECIALLY their editors) sit down and do everything with the though of “how does this bring in readers (and thereby justify my paycheck)?” Hence the stories of “A compound in your house right now might kill you…find out which one at 11” which are of the same category as this one. News where things are taken out of context and inflated to drive up the controversy and drive people towards their sites and, by extension, their advertisers. Not to say that this comic wasn’t an awful thing to do to insult someone both personally and professionally, but that it has since developed into a summit of most incongruous proportions with the issue and as you point out, Jade is not being accurately represented in this incident…which would be the root cause of the whole thing anyway that she’s been relegated to the ranks of “the pretty one” and not “the producer”.

    To change gears slightly and bring a tiny bit of gender equality into it, I don’t recall the PA guys going insanely off their rockers when an animation of them having gay sex with each other came about…I’m sure they were a bit miffed but hey, it’s the Internet and I think at one point they even linked to it themselves. I’m sure Jade has taken this in much the same stride of “Wow…that’s…really screwed up…” but moved on with life. That’s boring, nobody wants to read about that…”Woman made fun of, ignores idiots” is not a great headline after all. They want to see Jade in tears, talking about how she’ll never be able to look at another man without the image of this comic in her mind…or swearing a blood oath to seek vengeance like the character from Assassin’s Creed or some other craziness.

    Maybe that she drives cross-country nonstop wearing a diaper to confront the author? Been a while since we’ve had a good crazy-chick-in-a-diaper story…

    Anywho, I think I’ve ranted enough in your blog today about the sad state of the overall news media. It does suck that a talented producer gets the professional aspects of her life shoved off to the side so that people can talk about her in a sexual context. I blame the Puritans, really…in the spirit of Thanksgiving! 🙂

    Oh! Have a happy Turkey Day Tweety & Co.!

  2. Nick said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    In the age of the instant news cycle, all the blood has been wrung out of the stone within the first day. There’s little left to say. Obviously it’s sad that things went so far. I can’t make up my mind if it’s really Ubisoft’s fault – when Will Wright hits the press circuit, and team shots circulate with him standing in the front, no one cares but the fanbois. In that sense, there’s nothing out of line with Ubi putting the “star” of its show out there. On the other hand… it doesn’t take much foresight to see exactly where all this was headed from day one.

    On a brighter note, none of the friends I’ve ever had in DAoC, WoW, or FFXI has ever been like this. Just as you’re aware the absurd behaviour in the forums of an MMO isn’t representative of the MMO’s population at large, absurd behaviour in forums in general isn’t representative of the general population. Most people aren’t, for want of a better word, fucktards.

  3. savagex said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    I kind of blew the commentary off because of the general mentality of the industry’s fence sitters (those not in the industry but making commentary about it,) is that of 14 year old boys who have discovered girls for the first time.

    Jade *is* pretty. I just kind of shake my head and sigh because being a girl in the development world seems bad enough, but then if you stack *highly attractive* on top, it is pretty scary.

    Hell the fact that she is showing up for work after all the jackassery is a testament to her character.

    The females who do community work in software are very good at what they do, they know when to pull punches and when to blow off idiots. I hope she gets to make the little boys eat their hats when she talks circles around them and makes them look like idiots.

  4. Stupid said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    ”Woman made fun of, ignores idiots”

    We should do the same.

  5. November 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    […] As happens, this post started out as a comment. In this case, it was over on Sanya’s blog, in response to her post about the Jade Raymond … thing. […]

  6. Michael said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    My comment turned into a full on post over at my site. As it does.

    Grr.

  7. Union said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve been waiting for you to weigh in on this. It would seem this is just a perfect storm of lame PR, shitty ‘journalism’, and “rule 34 of the internet”. I wonder if gaming has grown so large that we are already set to start tossing virgins in the volcano in order to secure a successful launch. If anything, savvy marketers have learned exactly how to whip the gaming massive into a blurry-eyed frenzy. Part of me hopes you are right about real journalists cleaning this up, while the other part of me hopes the next good flush will just bring a different shit-pile down the tubes for the bloggers and podcasters to feast on.. Here’s to hoping SoE fucks with the SWG kids again!

    ps. “We all have eyesockets, no matter how we pee.” – Why you’ve never pursued a career writing bumber stickers is well beyond me.

  8. November 21, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    […] readable Sanya Weathers (who is also a real girl, but moreover also can and will kick your ass) has well-thought-out points as well. Filed under: Industry   |   Tags: Assassin’s Creed, Game Journalism, I Hate […]

  9. November 21, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Is this where I admit to calling the Frag Girls shills (others said worse later in the discussion thread, of course) on Corpnews way back when?

    The entire thing makes me wince, though. I can’t see how this is really going to encourage more females to work in game dev. The smell of testosterone gets really, really old after a while.

  10. Dartwik said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Action games audiences are dominated by young men and boys.
    Young men and boys think with their dicks first – brains second.
    The media for actions games serves its audience.

    If anyone seriously disputes those points they are deluded.

  11. November 22, 2007 at 12:00 am

    […] Hrm. I May Have Been Wrong About Our Wee Industry. Others have said more eloquent things on the topic of Jade. There have been some that have been more philosophical. And […] […]

  12. Kyle said,

    November 22, 2007 at 2:20 am

    I’ll take point #3 for a ton of free PR and to look only mildly silly thank you 😉

    In regards to the rest…there really should be more things said in a sexual nature, just to even things out

  13. dartwick said,

    November 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    I saw the comic now and I think Sanya like some others are misrepresenting it.
    Yes the comic is mean, distasteful, unfair and dirty – I dont like it(although its not pornagraphic.)
    Here are 2 points to note.

    1 Its a seemingly mindless point but she is giving blow jobs its not a “bukkake” comic. I mention this because I think the word “bukkake” is being used its gets more attention lately. And more important I see the point was to imply shes a “protitute” not a some weird sex fetish chick.

    2 The comic is is satirical.
    To quote Sanya is reference to UBI “Aside from the weird overpimping of a producer”.
    Then you say the comic isnt saterical? The comic is saying pretty much the exact same thing but in an a more nasty way. The comic attributes the the whoring to Jade herself, you attribute it to UBI – thats splitting hairs and you know it.

    I have seen Sanya complain about people playing loose with the facts – she is doing it here.

  14. baronzemm said,

    November 23, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    In response to 9, working in a homogenized environment is tiresome regardless of the industry.

  15. CR Scott said,

    November 26, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    This stuff has been going on since the UO days, but back then we didn’t have 80,000 gaming sites/blogs/forums picking up on the misogynists and morons and elevating the typical rank stupidity of so many into the spotlight.

    I sure miss that time, even as I post on another of an oodle of niche blogs I visit thereby supporting the crap I’m complaining about.

    Color me Jade.

  16. Melissa said,

    November 27, 2007 at 2:06 am

    I always seem to start these responses with the disclaimer that I’m not a feminist. I fear that feminism was an overreaction to a problem. I agree that this overreaction was necessary to create a long term correction. I appreciate that the quality of women’s professional and personal lives are dramatically improved. In fact, ten years ago, I would have said that women in the game industry are treated equally — but my opinion has changed.

    We all know that women in the game industry continue to earn thousands of dollars less than our male counterparts. What was the last count? $7,000 less on average, I think?

    Personally, I seem to have built up a small collection of minor incidents that have (over ten years) grown into a pattern that clearly indicates that my gender has limited (on some small scale) my growth in my profession. (I am a producer in the game industry. I started in community management.) I try not to overreact to these events, but I can’t ignore that they happened.

    A list of highlights from the collection:

    * a subtle implication (unfounded) from a co-worker (female, no-less) that my successes must be the result of “special relationships” with my male bosses

    * a brutal and equally as unfounded accusation from a customer suggesting that my successes were the result of providing sexual favors and romantic relationships with my male bosses.

    * being made aware of the knowledge that a peer was paid a great deal more than I because “he has a wife and children to support.”

    * failing to get a job that I was told I was very qualified for because one of the leads “doesn’t get along with strong women.”

    Sanya, I think you have been lucky, very lucky, not to have experienced a similar pattern of incidents in your own life. I honestly don’t think that women are in crisis. Our lives are so, so much better, thanks to many brave women who came before us. But we should all keep our eyes open, because some of our success *IS* limited by our gender. That doesn’t mean we can’t achieve as much as our male counterparts — but we probably do work just a little bit harder for it.

  17. sanyaweathers said,

    November 27, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    My greatest fear is that you’re right in some ways, Melissa. Certainly in terms of the money, females lag well behind the males, and while usually the reason isn’t so blatantly stupid as “but he’s got a FAMILY,” it’s usually third generation stupid – like she started at a lower salary because the lead who hired her didn’t think she had leadership potential until she moved to a different division and took it over.

    However, items one and two on your highlight reel… well, I’ve seen plenty of men accused of special oral skills. Equality in this area is being achieved by the somewhat crude means of assuming that EVERYONE can give a blow job. Not only do we all have eye sockets, we all have mouths, as it turns out. And item two, again, I think goes with the territory because it’s the most obvious thing people can see. Also, being upset at how totally unattainable a female is (and jealous that other males have a chance just for being better looking or more fun) happens to be something that all of the higher primates rage about.

    I wish I knew what to do about three and four. Well, I know what I’d do (publicly known pay scales and firing the sexist loser in question) but I don’t know a single executive that would do either.

  18. Phaltran said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    People, and our society in general are getting more stupid by the day. I’m a techie so I have to thank technology for my income, but every day I’m stunned at how stupidly someone uses it and to what depths a person can drop their morality.

    It’s a vicious cycle we’re in. Young, white males are the largest percentage of the population with disposable income, free time and access to technology and the internet. Therefore they have they largest, loudest voice in most things related to the internet and computers. Most of the women I know still think of computers as toys or tools at best. More mature people have too much offline responsibility to spend much time, if any, on the internet: work, family, hobbies, exercise. Therefore, the realm is left to those that are here constantly and making the most noise – sadly, that results in the immature males (regardless of age).

    I was personally affronted by the membership of a guild I joined (I followed some friends). In general the guild consisted of young (<24) males. There was a general lack of respect for anyone, an unwillingness to help in any fashion, a constant barrage of cursing and the usual sarcastic and sexually suggestive responses to any comment made in guild chat or over VoIP. I couldn’t stand it and left. When the GM asked me why, I told him the above reasons. He locked on the cursing and stated “it’s done by 90% of the people everywhere.” While I disputed his exaggeration and lack of exposure to professionals, children or mature people, it still made me think. People, in general, are ignoring many things like this and it encourages the offenders to continue doing what they are doing.

    While I think the C&D response and other attention to the comic artist will only build his infamy, still ignoring it will only encourage others to perform a similar act in the future. Those that know the difference between right and wrong must stand up and profess that wrong is still unacceptable. However futile the fight, we still have to keep fighting.

    Regardless of what the fucktards say, when it’s over the people that count know the truth. Jade Raymond knows that she has made a major achievement by her own skill and accomplishment, her team knows it and those close to her know it. What a few hundred juvenile jerks say or do shouldn’t detract from that. She’s the one that can laugh about it all the way to the bank. Man’s world or woman’s world, in our society money = respect (as long as you don’t perform stupid celebrity acts) and she is raking in the money from Assassin’s Creed.

  19. Artheos said,

    November 29, 2007 at 9:42 am

    “Pick the most obvious thing about that person! Bonus points if it’s something they can’t help! Fat, stuttering, the presence of a vagina.”

    I was under the impression that people could control their weight through their choices of diet and exercise, and that it is healthy to do so.

    Mostly what I would be concerned about is how Jade Raymond feels about all this. The rest of the discussion is pointless, imho.

  20. J. said,

    November 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Most of what I’ve said has been on private or at least semi-private Internet channels.

    I tried to tell everyone to shut up about it. BUT YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME.

  21. Bob the Barman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    “I was under the impression that people could control their weight through their choices of diet and exercise, and that it is healthy to do so.”

    People and their weight is nobody’ business but their own. People deluding themselves otherwise and shoving their noses in where they have no right to be, is how people end up with things like dieting illnesses.

    That’s not an impression.

  22. mythago said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Well, Artheos, I really hope you never develop an illness that requires you to be on steroids, and learn exactly how kind people are to to the fat, whether or not you overeat.

    Can’t think of something insulting to say? Pick the most obvious thing about that person!

    No, that’s not all it is. The fact that they make sexual comments every time about women is not an accident–and the sexual comments about men, you’ll note, are degrading because they’re about using a man like a woman. (The standard line about making somebody ‘my bitch’ does not refer to the female canine.)

    Melissa, so you’re not a feminist why? I don’t get it.


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