Game designer resigns, puts sexism in gaming into focus

Faith Merino · March 29, 2013 · Short URL:

Brenda Romero resigns from IGDA after party featuring provocative female dancers

The Game Developers Conference is coming to an end today, but not before the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) successfully offended a bunch of people, causing its co-chair, Brenda Romero, to resign post-haste.

Romero announced via Twitter that she is resigning as co-chair of the IDGA’s Women in Games group, effective immediately. Why? Because she didn’t want to appear complicit in the IDGA’s horrible party planning.

Earlier this week, it seems that IGDA teamed up with gaming incubator YetiZen to throw a little shindig that featured half-dressed female dancers as entertainment. (Which means at some point, a couple of guys were talking and one said, “How are we going to entertain all of the industry professionals at our party?” To which the other guy responded, “Pfft, chicks, bro.”)

Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row in which IGDA and YetiZen have employed less than wholesome entertainment. Last year, it was topless body-painted women. 

"I went home last night to work on my Friday GDC talk feeling super uplifted by the turnout and support for the #1ReasonToBe panel," Romero told Polygon in a statement. "I woke up to DMs, texts and links to news of the IGDA party. It really saddens me. I have been a long-time supporter of the IGDA. However, my silence would have been complicity. I had no choice. And just hours after our panel, too."

IGDA is pinning the blame squarely on YetiZen’s shoulders. Independent programmer and developer Darius Kazemi also resigned from IGDA with only three days left in his term. Kazemi noted that the decision to hire female dancers was purely YetiZen’s, but considering they did the same thing last year, he apologized for not speaking up about the matter.

Ultimately, the problem is that IGDA purports to be a group dedicated to community, professional development, and advocacy. Hiring a troupe of scantily clad female dancers doesn’t exactly foster unity. It sends the not-so-subtle message that the party is a boys-only hangout, and to the ladies: tits or gtfo.

Romero isn’t the only one complaining about sexism in the gaming industry. Earlier this week, Meagan Marie, community manager at gaming company Crystal Dynamics, blogged about her refusal to put up with sexual harassment in the industry from now on, following an incident at the gaming conference PAX last weekend. A journalist pushed his way into a Tomb Raider cosplay gathering (cosplay being the act of dressing up as gaming characters) and reportedly asked a group of women felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.”

When Meagan Marie confronted the journalist on being “rude and unprofessional,” the man accused her of being “one of those oversensitive feminists” and that “the girls were dressing sexy so they were asking for it.”

“Yes, he pulled the ‘cosplay is consent’ card,” wrote Meagan Marie, who got the journalist removed from the conference, and went on to blog about some of the other ordeals she’s had to slog though, including—but not limited to:

-A drunken CEO pointing at her midsection and saying “I want to have my babies in there.”

-A journalist telling her that his readers “really just want to see her naked.”

-A PR lead from a major publisher telling her “how much he liked her tits”—repeatedly—at a party.

And the list goes on.

So, naturally, she’s being called a cunt and a stupid bitch and “all that is wrong with womankind.”

And all this after California’s second lady, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, called on gaming entrepreneurs to start creating strong female characters, rather than portraying women as highly sexualized characters.

“We have an opportunity in gaming to teach young boys to value women — to not perpetuate these extremes of masculinity,” she said in a panel at GDC earlier this week. 


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