Tag Archives: Jane Jensen

That one place

There is a place where everyone is the same, where it does not matter what your convictions are, what your gender is or how you swing your love life. That is the one thing I always believed, I remain faithful to the notion that games and gaming is the one place where it does not matter what you are, who you are and how you are, as long as you are fine that is. I grew up with games, I reviewed and tested games for well over a decade and played them for additional decades beyond that. I was already a gamer when the term did not even exist.

I always believed that games had, in those days two distinct powers. One was to entertain the person playing; the other was to lower the threshold of using computers, I ended up being correct on both counts. I started my gaming life in 1982, almost 36 years ago. I started with a Commodore VIC-20, after that a Commodore 64 and after that I was off to the races. So, the VIC-20, CBM-64, Atari 2600, CD-32, Atari ST, Amiga 500, PC, MAC, Nintendo-64, Sega Megadrive, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Xbox, Xbox360 and Xbox One. I had them all and played them all. I saw games evolve from blocks; I played Pong and many arcade games. I always hoped that the women would not keep on considering it ‘an act too nerdy’ and behold, in the beginning of the second millennia I saw more and more women taking up gaming to some extent. I always thought that gaming was a true equaliser and to some extent it became one, so I was a little upset to see ‘eSports analyst receives death threats after thanking men on women’s day‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/09/soembie-soe-gschwind-penski-overwatch-league), there she is on the article smiling and announcing the Blizzard event, looking like an overwatch player. Soe Gschwind-Penski was not the pesky Peski adversarial player that was up against people, she was hosting the event as the excellent eSports commentator she is regarded to be. So, the lady born in the land of Cheese and Chocolate gave the tweet: “It’s #InternationalWomensDay I’d like to give a special shoutout to all the men in our lives who have supported us, gave us a voice when we had none, fought for our cause and treated us the way we all ought to treat each other…like a fellow human being – no race, no gender.” as @Soembie she gave us all a nice tweet, all positive in every direction giving a voice to an international day. So for the utter life of me, I cannot comprehend the fact that people hand out responses that lead to: ““Ive gotten death threats and hundreds of hate messages the past 20 minutes because I thanked men for treating me as their equal, on a day which is all about womens struggle for equality,” Gschwind-Penski posted. “Hate, because I am grateful for the men in our lives who fight alongside us for our rights.”“, from my point of view that could not have been done by anyone who is an actual real gamer. I see it as actions from people pretending to be ‘gamers’; pretending to know anything at all. Like those people claiming that they finished ‘Dead Space in Impossible mode in two hours‘, or something as ridiculous like that. They tend to use cheats and god mode codes or alterations so that they can run through a game not getting hurt by anything, they are not and never will be players. I never had any regard or respect for them. So am I a great gamer? Nope! I am a good gamer and I like to enjoy games, so I will never run through an RPG. What is the purpose of running through Skyrim, or Fallout 4 and missing on the magnificent views the game offers? I even admire the fact that Fallout 4 can be played as a pacifist. I never did that, but the fact that it is there is just awesome, it makes for a gamer to be an actual gamer (cause for a golden Achievement; Hint, hint). I am not one for multiple shooting games. I used to like it, but Unreal Tournament spoiled that for me. All people hopping like kangaroos through the game, it was just too weird for me. Still, there is plenty of awesomeness in going down the throat of Diablo 3 with three other players. A game I loved since the very first Diablo and my team of 7 hardcore mode level 70 characters are decent evidence of that.

So in that setting the entire abuse of Soe Gschwind-Penski makes no sense at all. Even when we see: “The two-year-old OWL did make headlines last month when South Korean teenager Kim Se-yeon signed with the Shanghai Dragons to become the league’s first female player. But high-profile eSports competitions remain a male-dominated space: Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team.

You see, for the most finding female gamers, serious gamers are still a rare thing. So even as there might be a case in regards to the fact that ‘Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team‘, we must equally realise that for the longest time, even today that a high estimate from my speculative view is that the women in gaming are set to a mere 10% at best (I apologise if I am wrong). So we are happy that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski, Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) from Eurogamer, Stephanie Claire Bendixsen (aka Hex), and Anita Sarkeesian. The list is way too short and we can point fingers at the reasons, but in the end I am not certain if there is an actual real culprit. If there is one than I might blame the makers of these review sites and channels as the culprit for not hiring more women, or is that actually the non-capability of finding more women?

You see, I started gaming in the age when nearly all women remained in enthusiastic denial of games for well over a decade. I know that because in those days woman in gaming was extremely rare. Roberta Williams was one of the very few. Jane Jensen would not appear until a decade later and the writing she did on EcoQuest and Police Quest 3 put her on the map (both excellent games). Yet the last two were two of a very small group of game designers, not game critics or reviewers (or hosts). Yet, I still believe that women are as welcome in the gaming industry and the gaming world as much as anyone else. Anyone who does not agree with that view is of course allowed to disagree, but he is not an actual gamer plain and simple!

You see, it truly does not matter what you are or who you are in gaming. It is merely the setting that you can hold your own in that virtual team, once you do you are in it for life! There are several women that I have met who can hold their own in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer on platinum level. That is all it requires and even as the settings change per game, they are all about being able to hold your own and strengthen the multiplayer (MP) team. So in all this I have absolutely no clue why anyone would give death threats to any female gamer and I feel certain that this was not dome by any real gamer, at best a wannabe, and optionally merely a game hater and we have no real use for each of these two groups.

It is my view that it needs to be dealt with. It is in that regard that I remember an article (and found it) which was from 2014. The Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/nov/28/alanah-pearce-tells-on-her-internet-trolls-to-their-mothers) , so when we read the tweet “Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I’ve started telling their mothers“, most actual gamers would be laughing out loud and when we read the results “more than 11,000 users had retweeted her comment, and more than 20,000 had favourited it, eight hours after Pearce made her original post” game reviewer Alanah Pearce struck gold! Actually, in my view it does not really matter how young or old the person is, when it comes to the threats that Soe Gschwind-Penski was exposed to, it should be standard practise to tell on them to their mommy’s. For them to be exposed as the utter disappointment they show themselves to be to others might not be a bad thing. The wannabe’s will stop pretending to be gamers and hide in a corner, the rest will get a quick moral adjustment they desperately needed.

In my view gaming is for all and everyone. It does not matter what your gender, religion orientation or conviction is. The world of gaming is about the gaming world you enter, whether that is in the depths of a cathedral in Diablo, the house in Overwatch, the landing site on Mass Effect 3, or the power chamber in Unreal Tournament. You only have to hold your own. If you cannot do that, choose a lower level and get there, or get better. It is the one part that every player can do and that is why gaming will remain a world of inclusion, it is the only place where your inclusion only relies on you doing your part which is awesome in nearly everyone’s view. And the nicest part is that if you are not ready today, you can practice, get better and return, gender was never an issue.

Yet, there is still a long way to go, not because of gamers or gender, the fact that the President of the United States is still a few cans short of a six pack and that evidence is shown in light of “Donald Trump will host executives from the video game industry at the White House on Thursday, resurrecting a debate over the link between violent video games and gun-related deaths in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shooting“, so how long until women (and some men) will turn away from Overwatch out of fear for being seen as an aspiring psychopath?

Do you think I am kidding?

The foundation of all this is values and inherent choices. The choice an abuser makes is seen in two settings. Psychology Today gives us the 5 types of abuse:

– Emotional (killing pet, playing mind games)
– Verbal (calling names)
– Technological (GPS system /Face book sabotage)
– Sexual (forcing sex while sleep or based on the bible)
– Physical (killing, punching, choking)

The issue is seen in the first two, emotional, and then verbal after that we get the physical one. Yet in gaming this is all in a virtual setting and the gamer knows this. So they know that the person they fight with is a virtual person, and in games like Half-Life counter-strike we know that the opposing person is a virtual one too. The issue is that every psychopath might be a gamer to some extent, but that person will not be able to tell the virtual world and the real world apart. They merely want to hurt people, to actually abuse them, a gamer never does. It was that same article that gave me something that I did not know. Did you know that an actual abuser ‘Holds very rigid gender roles‘? So basically these threatening people might be actual abusers and reporting them becomes a duty for every gamer, not merely every women threatened. This person, usually a male regards himself as ‘King of the Castle’, it is her duty to cater (and service) him. As I am not like that, I had no idea, but that becomes a worry and Trump is not making it easier. If anything he is currently catering to abusers and psychopaths. This could be a comforting notion if the entire issue was not that worrying, but it actually is.

Then we get the worrying part, worrying because it is a dangerous step. As we see ‘Treatment for this population‘, we get to see “Group Therapy is important because it allows the batterer to be confronted by his peers on his behavior. I’ve facilitated groups with 16 men in the room at times it would become very confrontational but it was important for the men to be held accountable for their behavior by other men and group facilitators so this might translate into “making them a group of inclusion, allow and accept them in our midst and calling them openly out on every transgression they make“. I for one am happy to shun abusers and never letting them in our midst, but I recognise that I would make matters worse, in my defence, I feel more compelled to protect my fellow gamer, whether he is a man or a woman, because quality gamers are rare and I feel that their protection is more important than curing a non-gamer in the gaming world. This is merely my personal view.

In the end I would call to my fellow gamers to call out those who attack gamers like Soe Gschwind-Penski because our population of true gamers is not that large when we compare 2-3 million on a total of 8 billion. I would love for that number to double the next few years, so as we grow we will hopefully see more women join our ranks.

In opposition

There is however a part I need to mention. I never agreed with it, but it is a view we must not ignore. In 2013 (at https://www.newstatesman.com/if-you-love-games-you-are-not-a-gamer), in the New Statesman there was a piece. In its origin the New Statesman is a British political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, so a magazine from before WW1, gave us “The idea of the ‘gaming community’ needs to die“, it is one view. You see, as gamers we segregate ourselves, I am happy to do just that because I am proud to be a gamer, I always have been. One quote applies to the origin of the gamers (in the 80’s). With: “gamers are depicted as the contemporary nerd group, a mildly downtrodden crowd, shunned by the jocks and achievers. Gamers are the losers who spend their days in darkened bedrooms furiously tapping on controllers or keyboards in a solitary pursuit that sits close to masturbation in the mind“, in the old days that was certainly true as the image presented of gamers as others saw them. Yet is that true now? Now the gaming industry is a $100+ billion a year. Now we see that people group and identify with the worlds of Skyrim, post-apocalyptic USA and as other groups are formed around successful games like GTA5, Far Cry, League of Legends and Overwatch that image is not only no longer true, it is in opposition of all those developers called by the need of $$$ (and their developing powers). So when we see “Within the next century ‘gamers’ will be a term that encompasses every gay and transgender person, every girl and woman, every politician in the cabinet, everyone with a title in the House of Lords, every teacher, nurse, banker, social worker, dustman and paedophile“, which is an unsettling truth. It is unsettling because even as we all want our fellow gamers to be merely gamers regardless of gender, we cannot (and perhaps should not) see what they are in real life. So it is not impossible that the serial killer hides in GTA5 multiplayer, killing whatever he/she can until the call for real blood is needed. So my view is in opposition of President Trump, he is stating that every rectangle is a square, whilst I identify that every square is a rectangle, as well as proving him wrong at the same time. It is not the same but there is a foundation and a foundation where a person can hide in anonymity. I belief it is a good thing, but it could be abused by those who have in ‘the core of the matter’ no business being there. In that part the Statesman does not make the case but the call for the cancellation of any community is not overtly evil. It is a non-invalid view, especially when we see “the urge to form groups with like-minded people is a universal one. But when that collective power is turned against those on the margins of the group“, so even as we are gamers, and we unite and think alike, but when that makes us a target, is the call valid to endanger some of us? I believe that when we unite we are more than ready for those attacking us, even if we merely start protecting our fellow gamers by calling the mommy and daddy of their attackers, no matter what age they have.

In the end I hope that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski realise that every real gamer is happy that she is around and that we have no qualms about her presence, even if she, in addition, defeats us in the most humiliating way. It merely ups the ante for us to get better, and that is in the core of multiplayer gaming, a drive to improve, a fellow gamer that makes any of us a better gamer, how great is such a life?

Live it to find out!

 

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Is gender equality too futuristic?

This is not an article for many. Some will be livid, some will be outraged and many will be angry. Yet, will my view be wrong? This is at the centre of what some call the future of women in high positions.

If I compare it to Law School, then we have our share of women, most of them highly intelligent, many of them no less to Law savants. The last one might be regarded as a cheated achievement, as they usually come from parents with law education or even law practices. They do have a benefit, but to make it in Law, you cannot get by on daddy’s (or mommy’s) tailcoats. You are either truly good, or you won’t pass past your first case. For me in most cases, it almost feels like cheating, as I would be a 1st generation law graduate. I had to do it alone, no daddy to help me (thank god that the alcoholic is dead). So, there is no anger or envy towards these male of female co-students. As we see how these women are now growing the ranks of the senior, partner positions and the silks of the bench, we see how women are not just up and coming, they are growing the waves of the future benches of the courts. This is not a negative issue for me. As the women had grown in the legal profession from the 80’s onwards, they are now becoming the future of the high courts. In that regard I recall my first year mentor. She was not just bright, she was part of a team that wiped the floor (OK, the proper term is victorious) against the Oxford Law team. even though India won, the fact that both groups outdid Oxford should give you a clear view on how good you need to be. If we see the perception of many students, the regarded rankings like Oxford, Harvard and Yale (as we see Ivy League schools), then the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) did a mighty fine job.

How is all this connected?

I am getting to this. It is first important you see the views I have and the way I got to my view.

So what started all this? Well, yesterday the following tweet passed my screen:
UK Prime Minister @Number10gov Mar 8
Tomorrow is International #WomensDay – see how UK govt is supporting & celebrating this year’s #InspiringChange theme http://ow.ly/ulkZ4

It came right after a tweet By Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU)

Her headline on Twitter is “I am Vice President of the @EU_Commission leading @DigitalAgendaEU and #ConnectedContinent plans. I am fighting like hell for a EU you can believe in. Global (based in Brussels) – bit.ly/KroesNeelie

I remember her as a politician (when I was living in the Netherlands). I never saw eye to eye with her views, but I do no hold that against her. What is important is that she is extremely intelligent. I reckon that if Albert Einstein would have been around when she turned 21, his words would have been “Whoa girl, you’ve got skills!” Let’s, be certain about the fact that he would refer to her political skills, not her skills in physics. Basically, she is one clever lady is the view of many.

My issue is all about the International Woman’s day as some ‘portray’ their support of it! I am not against it in any way, but let us take a look at the other side of this.

This we see at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/adfa-skype-scandal-cadets-sentenced-avoid-jail-20131023-2w0hz.html, where we see the quote “The woman told the court last week that she had been bullied and ostracised across the ADF after details of the Skype affair became public. She said she was offered little support, and was referred to as “that Skype slut” by her peers. The victim said the incident destroyed her life and forced her to leave her dream job in the military.

The two men got a 12 month good behaviour order. The interesting part is that the media seemingly buried it after August 19th 2013. Interesting how little exposure these issues get. I found two more items as they were places after the August date, yet this one (at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-11-09/adfa-cadet-daniel-mcdonald-sacked-over-skype-sex-scandal/1217280) seems to add one more item. The quote “Today, Defence released a statement saying McDonald had been told it intended to sack him in mid-September and after giving him an opportunity to respond, his services were terminated as of last night

So how should that be read? He was offered to walk or get booted?

This is not an isolated case for the military on a global scale. The header ‘Conflicting accounts open U.S. Army general’s sex crimes trial‘ (at http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/uk-usa-courtmartial-sinclair-idUKBREA260OK20140307) gives a clear view that we are not anywhere near ready for an International Woman’s day. As we see these transgressions go on and on. In addition, as we see the media staying as blasé and diminishing the exposure of such events, then you tell me how fair it all is. When we see a celebrity drink too much, EVERYONE shows it off to the maximum of the gettable coinage possible, which includes the Washington Post, the Guardian, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Reuters and such large ones. When we see the General being accused of these acts, the amount of newspapers that make it to Google page 1-3 is pretty laughable (even though the big ones mentioned earlier are also there). Why the military? Well, it is pretty much the last bastion of testosterone. When women get an accepted place without the psychic and physical assault dangers, then we are truly entering a new area. If you want to disagree with my view here, which would be fine, then compare the hits you get when you compare the allegations between Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair (US Army) and PR guru Max Clifford (UK publicist), so even though the UK is only 20% of the US, Mr Clifford gets 500% more hits on Google. As this goes into the millions I decided not to look at all of them, but is there any value to the conclusion that a PR guy is bigger coverage, or that the media does not ‘regard’ the alleged transgressions as such important news. The General did plead guilty to having an extramarital affair with the captain.

So why do I have this issue? As mentioned before I illustrated the evolution of Law staffing. A Dutch research showed only a few days ago, that the incomes are changing. Within the younger population, income between the younger populations of gender has changed. The women are now ending up with a better pay package. This is in my view clear evidence that not only is there more equality; the game is changing in a better respect for all. If both sides of the gender path will get the same chance to get the high coin, then we are entering a competitive field where the victor takes the spoils, no matter what gender the victor is, it ups the game and all will become better competitors because of it.

Yet, if we see the article CNN placed last year (at http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/15/opinion/chemaly-tech-leaves-out-women/) we see a clearer view on why I think that there should be an International Woman’s day, but at present there is no reason to party on that event. I must state that I do not completely agree with Soraya Chemaly on her article ‘In tech world, women ignored‘. The reason for this is because as I got my training and degree in IT, the amount of women I saw was a massive minority. When I got into the data game in the 90’s, the women represented a presence of a mere 5% would have been overstating their presence. If getting to the top takes 12-15 years, then it will be at least another decade until we see a visible level of female presence in the tech world. There is however another side to this. When we consider tech PR companies like ‘Panache PR‘, we would see that the founder Cathy Campos is regarded as a global authority in the gaming industry. I met her in the days of Robert Maxwell, as she was the visible side of the marketing of Mirrorsoft (1989) and her drive to market the visibility of games by the visionary Peter Molyneux were ground breaking. She is not just accepted by all, I reckon the newbies in this field will consider an internship with someone like Cathy as the start of a possible golden future.

One of the statements I do not agree with is “The tech industry has a well-documented pipeline problem, one largely the result of gender stereotypes that reach into the educational system” Really? When I was into gaming, meeting any woman who was into games was regarded as a joke, both genders thought of games and gaming as uncool, nerdy and not worth the effort. That view only seriously started to change around the time the Xbox 360 was announced to become the hot potato of the future. So, basically, in that tech field women are less than one console generation old. When we look back to the early years we see the names like Roberta Williams (Kings Quest and a few others), Jane Jensen who worked with Roberta Williams on KQ6. Dona Bailey, who is an Atari Legend as she was one of the founders of Centipede, which is still regarded as one of the better arcade games of all times. Lastly there is Graner Ray who worked on Ultima VII (my favourite RPG series). She entered this field late in the Ultima series, but giving it artistically a unique view. So, when we consider these 4 women to be at the foundations of gaming, is it a wonder that the female population in this tech field is still small? Nowadays, we see a much stronger female representation in the gaming field, and many of them are outstanding in their own rights.

This is why I do not completely agree (not opposing either) the view we see at http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/7/5408194/how-smarter-schools-can-help-break-the-game-development-boys-club. I personally have never cared about who wrote the game, only that it was a good game. Consider that Kings Quest was one of the first PC games I loved. It was made by a woman and that never mattered.

So is it about the game or the developer? This is why I opposed the quote from Soraya Chemaly “Controlling women’s access makes men keepers of speech, keeps sexist status quo“. No! The gamer wants a good game, value for money, so anyone can get into this field with a good product. I reckon that especially in places like India, women could grow into this field as they offer originality in gaming through iTunes (iPad) or Google play (android). I reckon that 6 successful new female developers are all it takes to prove my hypotheses in this case. As additional female developers enter the field from MIT game lab and UTS (and other universities of course) we will see a clear shift. I do have a few questions to my own train of thought, which was caused by the quote I read (at http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/7/5408194/how-smarter-schools-can-help-break-the-game-development-boys-club) “Indie developer Mike Bithell tells us the lack of women in development ‘monumentally embarrassing’ for the games industry“. It raises my concerns on how wrong I might be, but is that because of the games developed, or by the games that get funding? You see, I focused on the gaming side, because that side I know from various sides. As I see women in Law proceed to the high places, I feel that my views remain correct. The ones who now will get the high posts are the ones I study with at University and they are truly good at what they do. That view is to some extend reaffirmed by the NY times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/opinion/great-expectations-for-female-lawyers.html). The quote “Of course, the attrition rate is high for men, too — but not nearly as high; in American law firms, the overwhelming majority of partners are men” shows that even though the men are in a massive majority, these are the partners that came from law school 12 years earlier. It took a while for new generations to get into these seats and as such the women we study with are likely to be the majority of high law ranks as they continue their law careers over the next 10-15 years.

When we get back to gaming we could see a correlation with the evolution of high placed women in gaming. If we accept the quote in the previous link affirms my position “Women make up only 11 percent of the total of those pursuing a career in the games industry as of 2005“. So, women do not select this track, which means that it will take some take until the top of gaming has an equal female representation. Yet, is there unfairness in this? When we see a current coverage of only 11%? So as time progresses we see 1 in 20 making it to the top, not because there is inequality, but because only 5%, which is half of the coverage proves to be that good and the math is on my side as I see it. That same math which predicts that over the next 10 years the women in high law positions will likely double, that same curve will apply to the gaming industry as women pursue in several fields they will take the lead as times passes. The issue that many ignore is that this evolution has been just a little over 2 generations and as we see the gender changes in fields, the growth of women in the area of visionary and evolutionary powers, moved to equality to encompass middle managers, which now leads to upper management, this is not a bad record.

As for International Woman’s Day, I am not against it, or against the visibility. The issue is that the field remains unequal, especially when the media is handing us a ‘stacked’ deck. How eager they are to steer away from certain trials, whilst in most of these cases they just spout the same ‘average leveled‘ information. The stacked deck is not in the direction that the BBC shows (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-18187449). As I stated my view, that over time the percentages have shifted and they are shifting even more, but consider the issues as we saw it in regards to Jimmy Saville, not just what he did, but as alleged how those around him are stated to have reacted and how the matter was dealt with for several decades, that part seems to be ignored to a larger extent. Even now as we see the events unfold, we see the Saville jokes, we see the investigation, but the ‘support system‘ around Saville, as he got away with the amount of events does not get the media scrutiny it is supposed to be getting. So, this is not just about the women in general, but the ‘old boy’ groups as they remained around for too long a time. This is the case that many articles made, but I personally see this as the ‘wrong side’. I would much rather see how we see that now in Law, and how women in new fields, like Technology, Gaming and other new areas can more easily inhabit these areas and they could be ruled by the best in the field, no matter what gender. That is the side that does not get enough visibility. It should and the media should use moments like International Woman’s Day to show what is possible, because if it is about inspiration, it should be about where opportunity lies, not just where some ‘stated’ view on the places where the uphill battle remains. This does not mean that I am now opposing my own words, but that it takes time to get women in these top positions, which they achieved within 2 generations (banking examples: CEO Westpac and Christine Lagarde, IMF). When we look at a new field like gaming, which is only now entering its second generation, women are on an equal field, as there is little to no historical entry to content with.

In the end a true visionary will always be successful and get funding, simply because being the first implies that this person is the best and new fields are always ruled by the visionary (closely followed by the evolutionary visionary). Consider this last point; would it have made any difference to the success of Facebook whether it was Mark or Marcia Zuckerberg who invented it?
I feel certain that this would not have made any difference to the global change it brought.

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