IGDA Draws Fire Over Dancing Girls at GDC 2013 Party

IGDA Party, Photo by Alicia AvrilKeeping with today’s theme of “why does the game industry suck so much for women?” comes word of an International Game Developer’s Association party at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference featuring girls dancing  for the “amusement” of party goers.

The story broke after the included picture, taken by student developer Alicia Avril, showed up in a Forbes article relating the tale.

Apparently, there were scantily clad, dancing women on a stage at the party, with some performing on stilts in the middle of the crowd. What this has to do with celebrating diversity and community within the game development industry, I have no idea.

As a result of the backlash, Brenda Romero, game designer and IGDA co-chair for the Women in Games Special Interest Group, has resigned from her position, as reported by Polygon.

According to the Polygon article, which sources multiple tweets from IGDA board members, there was hesitance to not use YetiZen as a sponsor after a similar party occurred last year. It appears that this was a valid concern, as YetiZen brought the dancers in for this year’s party.

While you could crucify the entire IGDA over what happened here, and you wouldn’t be entirely off-base in doing so, it’s important to remember that the entire organization doesn’t stand for this sort of objectification of women. While a group is only as strong as its weakest member, and this weakness will definitely tarnish the IGDA’s reputation, the resignations in light of the debacle are a clear indicator that the entirety of its membership isn’t oblivious as to why something like this just isn’t acceptable.

There’s still hope for us all, so long as we keep talking about these things in a constructive way as they occur.

Press Member Banned From PAX East 2013 Over Sexist Remarks

If you’ve been around the game industry for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably seen how misogynistic it can be. Crystal Dynamics’ Meagan Marie, formerly of Game Informer, made a step forward this last weekend when she refused to suffer awkward sexual comments towards her Tomb Raider cosplayers.

The details of the encounter come via Game Informer in a post that links directly to the incident as described on Marie’s tumblr:

I moved in closer and inquired “Excuse me, what did you ask?” with a forced smile on my face, so to give him the benefit of the doubt. He laughed and didn’t respond, moving a few steps away as I repeated the question to the group of women. Turns out he’d probed what it felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.” Yes, I’m aware it’s a poor adaptation of a gag told by a certain puppet dog with an affinity for insults. Lack of originally doesn’t excuse this behavior, however.

My anger flared upon hearing this, and for a moment I almost let it get the best of me. I attempted to calm myself down before walking towards him and the cameraman, and expressing that it was rude and unprofessional to assume that these young women were comfortable discussing sexual matters on camera. I intended to leave the conversation at that, but his subsequent response escalated matters quickly and clearly illustrated that this ran much deeper than a poor attempt at humor. He proceeded to tell me that “I was one of those oversensitive feminists” and that “the girls were dressing sexy, so they were asking for it.” Yes, he pulled the “cosplay is consent” card.

Marie followed up on the incident with PAX officials, who assured her that the press member would not be bothering anyone at PAX again.

In response, a friend of the accused has posted on Facebook, claiming that the banning was “unjust”. Be warned that the comments on all linked pieces may be considered triggers for those who have suffered abuse of this kind in the past, as things spiral out of control fairly quickly.

What’s most appalling is that this isn’t anything new. Sexualization and a lack of respect for women in the game industry, while less acceptable now than it was 20 years ago, is still an issue. Even with my limited show-floor experience, I’ve been witness to some utterly reprehensible treatment of women, including propositions for sexual favors and some outright fondling. It’s unacceptable, and it needs to stop.

Before you pick up the pitchforks and jump into the comment wars, however, heed the advice of Susan Arendt, Editor-in-Chief over at The Escapist, who drops a final bit of wisdom via twitter:


Hideo Kojima Confirms Metal Gear Solid V at GDC 2013

Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima is, if nothing else, eccentric to a fault. Ever since he trolled fans by making Raiden the true protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in lieu of series mainstay Solid Snake, Kojima has relied on mysterious, cryptic misdirection to keep fans in the dark about his games.

So when he announced both Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and the mysterious Phantom Pain in 2012, fans began to speculate that Phantom Pain was actually a fifth Metal Gear Solid game. Turns out, they were partially right, as Kojima revealed during his Game Developer Conference 2013 panel today that Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain are both the same game: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, as reported by GamesBeat and CVG.com.

The game takes place right after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, with an attack on Naked Snake’s PMC headquarters leaving him short one arm and stuck in a coma for 9 years. MGSV will run on Kojima’s FOX Engine, which is purportedly capable of photo-realistic visuals. A trailer is now available on YouTube.

Skullgirls Reaches Second-to-Last Stretch Goal In Indiegogo Campaign

Squigly Cost Breakdown

Just in the nick of time, indie fighting game darling Skullgirls has reached its second-to-last stretch goal, ensuring that the final “mystery character” will receive his/her own stage and story mode. As reported via Shoryuken, the fighting game community will have a chance to vote on which of the 32 proposed designs will join the recently-funded Big Band and Squigly.

All stretch goal rewards, including the funded characters, announcer voice packs, and selectable stage, will be available free to all users for a period of three months after release.

This is a huge win for video game crowd funding, not only because it proves that quality games can receive post-launch support in an era of rash studio shutdowns, but because it also illustrates the rough costs of indie game development. The breakdown on the Keep Skullgirls Growing IndieGoGo page, pictured above, sheds some light on where all of the money goes when creating new characters.

While many indie game makers get by on bootstrap methods, doing all of the work themselves and living in squalor, it’s important that gamers understand that “indie” isn’t synonymous with “cheap.” Braid cost $200k to make by 2009, and Double Fine’s adventure game Kickstarter requested $400k last year to get the job done. Games aren’t cheap to make, no matter how you get the job done.

As of this writing, with 14 hours to go, the tally is at $710,512, just $15k short of the $725,000 final stretch goal that would allow indie studio Mane6 to get their hands on the LabZero engine to help finish their My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic-inspired fighting game. While the prospect of playing that game terrifies me a little, it’s nice to see that the Skullgirls team is willing to pay it forward.