Finding Balance

Equality is something long talked about in the game industry. It’s a battle that cannot be easily won, with splits in computer science education starting around the age of fourteen, implanted through various cultural biases, a truly balanced work force in the tech industry (not just gaming) is a long way off. Journalism however is different. It can be entered later in life, meaning peer pressure that may affect choices earlier in life can be side-stepped. Similarly specific training is not required, with a more diverse background often proving an advantage.

So why is game journalism not close to a 50:50 split? Numbers show as many women are enjoying games as men, and every woman I have met in the industry is as good, if not better, than their male colleagues. What is telling is that there seems to be a far closer parity with video journalists than writers (to be clear I do not mean presenters, I mean video journalists). It could easily be argued that this is due to more women coming to the industry recently and thus being instep with the trajectory of game journalisum, leaving the men entrenched in words.

The fantastic Hollie Bennett, previously of Destructoid; talented, knowledgeable and attractive.

The more cynical may draw a different conclusion, that more women are hired for visible roles because they are more pleasing on the eye to the traditionally male videogame news audience. This could easily be supported by the fact that those talented lady journalists I was talking about earlier are also, almost uniformly, more attractive than their male counterparts.

So after, lets say thirty years, of videogame journalism we are starting to try to balance things out, but with an old guard of men at the top its could be a long fight to find balance. This is not through any malaise or sexism, but by nature. People are drawn to that which they find familiar or attractive… hence older white men like more white men and women (it’s linked to both familiarity and genetic survival). Sociological studies have shown, in a similar way to height, people conflate these qualities with skill and raise the value of perceived abilities accordingly.

Me, who can at most claim two of Hollie’s list of qualities (here is a hint, attractive is not one of them).

But I think I have an answer (or at least a partial one) and while I know I may end up doing myself out of a job with it, I will swallow that pill in the name of equality. It’s a pretty simple idea – fire all the ugly people and rebuild. Now bear in mind that this is a step back from the idea of ‘fire everyone and rebuild’ (which was my first plan), there is a need for experience at the top and in a couple of years more women will be coming up to take their place alongside the men.

Having trimmed off all those aesthetically challenged it would be time to start hiring all the pretty talented people those at the top can find… Holding both genders to the same talented and attractive benchmark should soon see an equilibrium reached. Now you may argue that this is way unfair, because it is, but if we can’t stop those at the top being drawn to pretty women, the least we can do is hold men to the same standard.

Easy, see? If you can’t force equality through reasonable channels, force them through any gaps you can find. Hold everyone to the same criteria and things will balance out quickly. Don’t worry about me, I’ll find a job teaching English in Japan or something….

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