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“It’s a Chicken Because It’s Always Been a Chicken”

*posted by Perrin Braun

Chris Kirk (who is maybe a guy?) has written a solid gender critique of the video games industry following on the rape joke by a Microsoft employee in front of a large crowd at the E3 2013 convention.  Microsoft has apologized for this incident, but Kirk points out that the problem goes deeper.

The first example offered is the incredibly rude tweets that responded to a female video critic’s objective observation that there were no female protagonists in any of the games introduced at the convention this year. Kirk says the conventional excuse for the uniformly male heroes in these games is that females don’t buy the games.  But, of course, girls are less likely to buy games that are clearly aimed at males.  There’s a “chicken-and-egg” problem with this argument, but Kirk goes farther, saying there’s never been an egg:   “it’s a chicken because it’s always been a chicken.”

Meaning:  video games have always been dominated by men, so they are made for men and marketed to men.  When females try to play the games online, they are frequently harassed–this online abuse has become enough of a problem that Microsoft says they will cancel the accounts of harassers.  So, the verbal violence keeps females out, out, out.  (You can get some sense of what this abuse is like by reading the tweets mentioned above.)

This pattern subsequently means that few females look to video games as a career: “The industry doesn’t attract female developers because they don’t play video games because video games aren’t made for them because the industry has always been run by men.”

And you can imagine how hostile those workplaces are.  We can funnel girls into math and computer science til the cows come home, but if these work settings continue to tolerate abusive attitudes and language, they will be unsafe for our daughters.

And, of course, the industry pays women less.  So there is no future for females.

And so it goes.

But you could say the same about finance or shipping or any other industry that is still overwhelmingly male, from product to president.  Always a chicken.  Still a chicken.

Read Kirk’s review.  It’s good. And try thinking of any other hugely skewed industry while reading it and see how the critique still works.


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