Even before the kickstarter, “Tropes VS Videogames,” was created, sexism in the game industry was hot topic in both the characters created and within companies. The Tomonobu Itagaki scandal years ago comes to mind as the biggest example: the creator of the Dead or Alive series, and the Ninja Gaiden reboot, was fired due to a sexual harassment lawsuit; it cost the game designer his job at Tecmo. Thankfully, that’s not indicative of the entire industry or culture (trolls on twitter or message boards don’t count).
Christine Phelan, in an interview being published later in the week, has stated that she’s experienced no such sexism at Valve. The statement itself isn’t that revolutionary, but it contradicts the theory that sexism is widespread. From the fmv.magazine interview:
“There are a ton of dudes in the games industry, yes – it’s a bit of a pickle jar,” she said, in an interview with FMV yesterday. “I have never, however, been treated as anything but a team member and an equal by my coworkers, and it’s a major disservice to them that folks automatically assume they will treat me differently because I am a woman. ”
“At the end of the day I am the work I produce, not a pair of boobs,” she said. “It’s individuals who may or may not be sexist, and those are folks who reside in the broader ‘asshole’ category that applies to all things, not just games.
“I think the only challenge, if it can be called one, is that people assume I am challenged because I am a woman in this industry. I am a game developer first, and my gender has nothing to do with it.”
It’s worth noting that Ms. Phelan has worked at more than Valve. Her blog, which doubles as a resume, lists her tenure at LucasArts, DoubleFine, and even work on a Leapfrog Sesame Street game.
This comment doesn’t make the attacks that Jade Raymond any less real; one of the leads on the Assassin Creed’s series received a number of comments, and comics, targeting her gender and not her work. The comments were made anonymously online for the most part, and personally I find it a necessary evil in order to keep the internet free. For instance: Gabe Newell, the managing director of Valve, has long been a punching bag for his weight. Is it right? No, but that does not mean we should, “feed the trolls,” or draw attention to it.
The full interview with Christine Phelan will be posted on fmv.magazine later in the week. Her work as a character designer for three companies should make it particularly illuminating.