It is the most potent and vile mix I can think of. An untenable mixture of blatant commercialism, poor production with apparently oversight that was lost or unable to keep hands on their own production, and, at the heart of it all: a handful of game developers and youtubers subjected to a disgusting display of that commercialism. That alone would have made the GAME_JAM set out by Maker Studios doomed to failure at the start. But it didn't stop there: a drama-centric reality bent that went so comically far as to try to make dated digs at the proficiency of the two female developers.
It is revolting. Disgusting. The very fact that in this day and age, this kind of thing happened, and it happened to try to feed some manufactured controversy to get views. It's the entertainment industry at it's worst, and Maker Studios should be utterly ashamed of itself. It won't be though, and that's the classical problem in entertainment. But more on that a moment. Let's step back a bit, to understand the crux of the matter to me.
A single fate-filled line. The straw that broke the camel's back:
“Do you think the teams with women on them are at a disadvantage?”
(Verbatim from the dev who it was spoken toward's blog. Formatting and all)
It's just revolting.
I recall back in the days when I was published, those venerable days of yore, dealing with that kind of thing on a daily basis. I was (and am) a woman in a primarily male-dominated space. I came across plenty of men who thought it was pretty cool to see a woman breaking into that space. Yet I also encountered many, many more who didn't. Some of them no doubt felt threatened by the fact that I was a woman, in that there's a notion that I might just use my ugly mug and tits to get ahead. I can't say that thinking is unfounded: there are plenty of women who muddy the waters basically doing just this. But for each one of either of those two, there were five or six that were simply, to one degree or another, sexist, and didn't think I should be there. When the publication I worked for closed up in the early 2000s, there was quite the buzz that it must have been the fact the reviews editor had tits, and clearly wasn't a gamer who understood games.
This was in the early 2000s, and its saddening but moreover extremely frustrating to me that a decade later we don't seem much further ahead.
So let's just dispel this notion. Whether a person has baps or a nob, whether they're brown, white, purple, green, whether they are from a certain country or they have a third nipple, these don't speak to their actual proficiency. Their proficiency alone speak to that, and when demonstrated, it's clear to see whether that person is someone who you should believe or not. Moreover, in gaming we are not an objective science. This is not mathematics where we can 100% objectively and factually prove things wrong. Opinions about games, what form they should take, how we should make them, and what they should contain, are subjective matters of taste.
There are some things that can objectively make one a better or worse reviewer or developer, however. To use myself as my own bad example, I have over the past five years developed quite severe arthritis, so while I used to review console games, and indeed may revisit the occasional old ones, there is a physical handicap there which means that I can't really objectively comment on the controls. The controllers themselves of modern systems like the PS4 and X-Box One are clearly not designed with the arthritic in mind. Using either for any appreciable length of time leaves my hands feeling like I mashed them with a steak tenderiser for days on end afterwards. As such, this why I resist the many requests to review new console games or to use 360 controllers with certain PC games.
Part of knowing yourself as a person and excelling as that person is knowing your limitations. It's part of maturing as an individual to come to an understanding of them.
The idea that this individual at the GAME_JAM event would try to stir up such matters for entertainment purposes to me is just indicative of what the media in general thinks of gaming. What is to the gaming community and ongoing issue of debate and argument over many years which has helped the industry grow and mature, to the larger entertainment industry is just a "cute" struggle to exploit for drama.
To the entertainment industry us gamers and developers and in general members of the gaming community are monkies on a chain, forced to caper to the amusement of the entertainment industry so that they can generate ad revenue to the elitist masses who see gaming as a childish thing and want validation in that belief.
But they didn't caper.
And this is where that whole train wreck, as irresponsible, unforgivable, and revolting as it is, actually becomes to me, as a woman gamer, and as a gaming journalist, something kind of inspiration. Actual, scratch even "kind of". It is just that. Inspirational.
Those developers affected? Yeah, those one? Well, they didn't caper around for amusement at all. They stood their ground, with integrity, and they made a stand. They left.
Just the idea that amidst such a soul-crushingly depressing industry as the games industry has become of late, whereby studios can make massively successful games and still go bust, where commercialisation is so abundant and pervasive, and the almighty dollar is king, a handful of indie developers said that they weren't going to accept that.
And that, both as a woman and as just a gamer irrespective of that, is inspiring.
To those two women - I commend you. You didn't have to do that. You could have just protested, and continued. You could have come back after that guy was fired, but you didn't. You made a stand, clear as day, that it wasn't acceptable for that to happen. And that moment, was more important I think to the gaming community than any game jam could have been.
Some takes from the developers and press involved in the event: