Well the Internet is ready to tar and feather the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) today after a scathing article in Forbes called the IGDA out for having female dancers at their co-sponsored event with YetiZen and Canopy on Tuesday, March 26. I attended this party and there were models dressed as “yetis”: skimpy white outfits with fur trim.
The important thing to note here is that the party took place the night before the amazing #1ReasontoBe panel – not after. That very panel is part of the new Advocacy track at GDC which the IGDA tirelessly worked to make happen.
I’m not being a “game industry sexism apologist” here but lets put some things into perspective. The IGDA does a lot of great things for developers. If you are part of a studio that is awesome and not sexist, why not sponsor the next GDC party so this doesn’t happen again?
The IGDA also needs stewards; more informal leaders who actually lead.
I have tons of respect for Brenda Romero, but her twitter resignation left me feeling hollow. She’s been the co-chair of the women in game SIG before I ever became a member of it in 2010. In that time all the SIG seems to be is an active email discussion list. There has been no leadership from her there. What does that title even mean?
The same goes for Darius Kazemi, an elected member of the IGDA board of directors, who conveniently resigns 3 days prior to his term end. Darius is out nothing either way and it doesn’t absolve him of not saying anything when it actually mattered. (From the board meeting notes, he wasn’t even in attendance at the February board meeting.)
Now the press is picking up this drama and the IGDA looks like a bros club. From where I stand, Darius and Brenda, you aren’t absolved of culpability by your “protest” resignation. Furthermore, neither of you resigned last year after the “circus theme*”. You made a commitment to the organization and being as out spoken as you both are against injustice in the gaming industry, should have pushed for the change you wanted to see. When things got hot, you got out and leave great women like Kate Edwards and Sheri Rubin to clean up this mess. This disappoints far, far more than 5 women in skimpy yeti costumes at a party.
correction: stripper poles & topless models were part of the YetiZen party, the IGDA party had scantily-clad acrobats.