Friday, May 29, 2015

Leigh Alexander: "All The Women In Games I Know Are Tired"

Photo courtesy of Shuterstock
Leigh Alexander is the former news editor of Gamasutra, as well as an author, creator of Lo-Fi Let's Play, and her writing on video games has appeared everywhere from Kotaku and Polygon to Variety and Time magazine. She hosted the "1 Reason To Be" panel focusing on how to encourage diversity in the tech industry in general and video games in particular. She has years of experience in writing about the nature of video games as a medium and as a creative force, and has worked with many other women in video games, from writing projects to memoirs to illustrated histories and more.

She's also noticed something she's had in common with her colleagues: they're all worn out and worn down, as she talks about in her personal essay "All The Women I Know In Video Games Are Tired":
"Every woman I know in games right now is really tired. Careful: That is 'every woman I know,' not 'every woman.' You must be very careful. It's the kind of fatigue that isn't so easily explained by our fist-shaking male colleagues who earnestly empathize across their social media platforms with how 'we get harassed a lot'. Some of us get harassed a lot and some of us don't... For the most part, I still have the same job that I have always had (not that I'm not proud of the growth I've had within it over the years). For my friends, the Twine revolutionaries and the vocal Tweeters and the other writers, a great act of deception has occurred: We've been in the New York Times and been invited to conferences and told that we are Important Voices, doing Important Work, we've been on the news at night and in magazines. We are awash in social capital. But none of it translates to real capital."
She talks also about her frustration with the impermanent nature of gaming's history, how so little is curated and so much writing about it disappears, and how so many interviews and panels want to focus on the issues she faces as being a Woman In Gaming to the detriment of her work in gaming:
[Another problem is] our ongoing memory crisis -- this field maintains little permanent record of either projects or conversations, reinvents the wheel every five years -- means we are all afraid to stop lest we be swept away and forgotten. If I were ever to stop, then five years from now, someone quite like me will not have known of me. Women, especially marginalized women, who had so much more to lose than I ever had and who risked it all to make their contributions, to do their important work, fear this too, probably far more. So we endure the interviews about The Harassment. But The Harassment is not our biggest problem at all...I have been here long enough to know that this article about Being A Woman will be more widely read than nearly any heartfelt work of pure games criticism I could do. That knowing is a low and constant ache.
The entire essay is a bracing and personal read. Please, read the whole thing.

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