After some pretty intense conversations recently about sexism and abuse in the video game industry, there’s been a heightened awareness of uncomfortable behavior by male colleagues towards women. Rosa Carbo-Mascarell, a game dev known for “Sort Your Life Out” and an accomplished wearer of many industry hats, vented some of her own experiences in her new free, tiny, in-browser Itch.io game, A woman goes to a private games industry party.
In this minimalist game, you play as a woman who’s going to a private games industry party. You’re able to “network” with anyone there, but, of course, it’s never that easy, because as she says on the Itch.io page, “Being a woman in this industry is hard.”
Carbo-Mascarell lines the experience with vignettes of both verbatim and paraphrased conversations she’s had at industry events. Some are centered on her looks, instead of her accomplishments; some assume she just hasn’t accomplished enough yet to know how game development really works; and most are just straight-up condescending.
There’s a scrap of effective irony (in the modern definition of the word) in the tale being presented in game format, especially as so much discussion takes place over articles, tweets and blogs. Of course, in being designed and published in such a short period of time, Carbo-Mascarell affirms her skill in the craft of game programming and design. Being talked down to as the game designer herself, in her own game is kind of a demeaning experience.
But it also means the player themself needs to confront these conversations on their own instead of just reading about them. You just have to hope you’ll find a less awkward topic of conversation in the crowd. (No spoilers on whether that happens.)
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Frankly, by the way, this article is going to take longer to read than the game will take to play. So I recommend just giving it a go.
Ever found yourself saying the sorts of things found in this game, and realizing how not-great it sounds? Or just want to improve yourself? Carbo-Mascarell believes you’re capable of doing better.
“I believe everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions,” she says on the Itch.io page. “I also believe anyone can and should strive to become a better person.”
She’s recommended a few resources to start learning how to do better. One is the YouTube channel/series Anarcho Agony Aunts, two anarcha-feminists that break down sex and dating issues. The other is the subreddit /r/MensLib, which describes itself as “a community to explore and address men’s issues in a positive and solutions-focused way.”