FiG Toronto Mixer

By | Published on November 27, 2012
We are pleased to announce a FiG Toronto Mixer that will take place on Decem­ber 6th. The event will be held at OCADU in down­town Toronto. For more details please email Rachel at
We will be pro­vid­ing snacks and bev­er­ages, and we are also pleased to announce that Cecily Carver, Jen­nie Faber and Han­nah Epstein will pre­sent­ing some of their work that the FiG ini­tia­tive has funded. Please stop by to hear about this great work and to chat with new and old mem­bers of FiG!

Halo 4 and The Permaban

By | Published on November 12, 2012

Bon­nie Ross, head of 343 Indus­tries, and Kiki Wolfkill, exec­u­tive pro­ducer of Halo 4, recently announced that Xbox Live play­ers who make sex­ist or dis­crim­i­na­tory com­ments can be penal­ized with a life­time ban from Halo 4. Read more about it here at GamesSpot. This deci­sion has pro­voked a mul­ti­tude of responses a few of which I have read quite enthu­si­as­ti­cally. I would like to focus on a few here, because there have been quite a range of thought­ful (and some not so thought­ful) responses to this policy.

First, this Red­dit post, writ­ten by lurker_lenore was writ­ten by a rather dis­grun­tled gamer who argues with the neces­sity for a pol­icy like this. The essay is unsub­stan­ti­ated, or as the author wrote:

Dis­claimer: I don’t have sources for a lot of this. It’s infer­ence based on per­sonal expe­ri­ence, so I wel­come any­one who does have a source or cor­rect information.

At least it’s hon­est, and the author did ask for evi­dence from read­ers to strengthen the argu­ment. Unfor­tu­nately it doesn’t seem that any­one was able to ful­fill the request. lurker_lenore’s main argu­ment was that sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion in the Xbox Live com­mu­nity is not an issue. In fact, the type of harass­ment in said com­mu­nity goes well beyond sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion and is an impor­tant part of the expe­ri­ence. By ban­ning sex­ual harass­ment, the com­mu­nity is doing a dis­ser­vice to women who need to develop a thicker skin. The author goes on to argue that sex­ual harass­ment in gam­ing was in fact fab­ri­cated by the group Fat, Ugly or Slutty, who fail to rec­og­nize that all Xbox Live mem­bers expe­ri­ence vile treat­ment, but women sim­ply “han­dle it differently.”

In any social envi­ron­ment, indi­vid­u­als will attempt to gain social lever­age with their peers, usu­ally in the form of accep­tance and approval. In gen­eral, women tend to gain this lever­age against men by assert­ing their sex­u­al­ity; while men gain it between one another via their accom­plish­ments; finally, men seek it from women through emo­tional empathy.

lurker_lenore’s final argu­ments against this type of life­time ban state that it will cre­ate a divi­sive com­mu­nity, includ­ing an atmos­phere where it is far more accept­able to harass men, where women are mar­gin­al­ized by gamers for being women (because clearly they are not already) AND for think­ing that they are bet­ter then men and deserve bet­ter treat­ment, and finally, where all the men-hating women will begin to hate Microsoft for:

implic­itly stat­ing that women are not as resilient as men, or capa­ble of deal­ing with insults and trash-talk with­out kindergarten-esque rules of engagement.

Iron-clad. Sur­pris­ingly, not all the com­ments agree with the author; a few even invite him to play with or as a female avatar so that he might wit­ness the real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion first hand. How­ever, the major­ity of the com­ments came from peo­ple who agreed. These posts argued that because it is okay to sling homo­pho­bic insults at men, sex­u­al­ized com­ments directed toward women are fair game, or that the whole rea­son for the new pol­icy is because the head of 343 is a Fem­i­nist, or that women are being infan­tilized by this pol­icy, or, my per­sonal favorite  that game com­pa­nies should con­tinue to appeal to their main demo­graphic of white males so that they can sell games.

A few com­ments brought up ques­tions of enforc­ing this ban, which is actu­ally a good point. This prob­lem was brought up in a few blogs as well, includ­ing one by Mary Sue con­tributer Becky Cham­bers. In her piece she applauds the pol­icy, point­ing out that Halo 4 and Microsoft are giants in their field, and this could set a prece­dent for harass­ment poli­cies all over the indus­try. Cham­bers also ques­tions the imple­men­ta­tion of the pol­icy, stat­ing that play­ers might ben­e­fit from warn­ings or reports so that they might learn which behav­ior is accept­able. This leads me to another blog post I found on Gama­su­tra by Jon W. who chal­lenges the pol­icy because, as he puts it, the game has trained boys to be sex­ist by sup­ply­ing them with a game fran­chise full of “guns and titties.”

In light of these two posts, it will be inter­est­ing to see how this per­ma­ban will be enforced and whether there is a feed­back sys­tem that re-educates play­ers in a code of con­duct. Finally, how­ever, it should be restated (as it has by many blog­gers and jour­nal­ists includ­ing Cham­bers’ Mary Sue piece) that although Wolfkill and Ross chose to high­light harass­ment against women in their inter­view, the Halo 4 pol­icy includes a ban for the myr­iad of dis­crim­i­na­tory com­ments. It seems that because the two chose to dis­cuss gen­der in their inter­view (pos­si­bly because they are women), all the male gamers (and I say this because I have not yet read a post by a per­son who iden­ti­fies as a women and dis­agrees with the sen­ti­ment of the pol­icy) claim­ing that women need to ‘ball up or get out’ should be gen­tly reminded that this is a pol­icy meant to make the gam­ing com­mu­nity a safer place for everyone.


FiG Funded Projects

By | Published on June 4, 2012

Those who attended the FiG Work­shop may know that we invited par­tic­i­pants to sub­mit pro­pos­als for projects that would receive incu­ba­tor fund­ing. After a few rounds of sub­mis­sions and revi­sions, the FiG Folk have cho­sen 5 projects that will receive fund­ing this year. Below is a descrip­tion of these projects. We can’t wait to see how they progress!


By Mitu Khan­daker and Emily Flynn-Jones

Dear Ada is a web­site mak­ing a space for fem­i­nine (though not nec­es­sar­ily female) voices to talk about & explore their thoughts, feel­ings and expe­ri­ences with gen­der issues and the epis­temic com­mu­nity of games. This site will give women from all areas of expe­ri­ence and all angles of exper­tise in games and fem­i­nist dis­course the oppor­tu­nity speak. We want to hear from play­ers, hard­core fans, fem­i­nists with valu­able per­spec­tives for appli­ca­tion to the cul­ture of games, men with fem­i­nist mes­sages, indie start-ups, indus­try pro­fes­sion­als and all the in-betweens.  All these voices together can give a greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the diver­sity of females and per­spec­tives in games and gam­ing cul­ture today. The diver­sity can hope­fully reach a greater audi­ence, make space for all kinds of per­spec­tives and opin­ions so as not to alien­ate any­one who already feels mar­gin­al­ized and pro­vide vari­ety enough of con­tent for indi­vid­u­als to relate. This space can also pro­vide the anonymity for those who feel they need to speak out but might be com­pro­mise by doing so.  From the con­tri­bu­tions to the site we also hope to be able to study the demo­graph­ics of con­trib­u­tors (even those that are anony­mously pub­lished) and track themes that might be use­ful in push­ing for­ward fem­i­nist agen­das in the games com­mu­nity and act­ing for equity.



By Heidi McDonald

Drag­on­speech is a game that was invented by a work­shop group dur­ing the inau­gural Fem­i­nists in Games work­shop, in an effort to:

1) demon­strate the effi­cacy of the FiG organization;

2) address the impor­tant issue of harass­ment in the gam­ing community;

3) address harass­ment in soci­ety at large.

The game will raise aware­ness about the effects of all types of harass­ment in games (as a metaphor for harass­ment in real life), and will pre­scribe an effec­tive rem­edy for harass­ment in both vir­tual and real spaces. Drag­on­speech will call out game harass­ment and demon­strate its effects in a visual, tan­gi­ble way. It also pro­vides a prac­ti­cal solu­tion for harass­ment in the form of coali­tion build­ing and peer sup­port. As a sec­ondary agenda, the game will bring aware­ness to the Fem­i­nists in Games group and be a tan­gi­ble exam­ple of the kinds of work done by us, at our conference.



By Cecily Carver, Jen­nie Faber, Ali­son Har­vey & Helen Kennedy

Build­ing on past suc­cess: The New Game Makers/DMG Incu­ba­tor 2

The New Game Mak­ers is a series jointly pre­sented by Bento Miso and Dames Mak­ing Games. The series will bring women work­ing in diverse roles within the games indus­try to Miso for a 1-hour lec­ture fol­lowed by a 2–3 hour hands-on work­shop where par­tic­i­pants will work on a small project with the assis­tance of the guest speaker and other par­tic­i­pants. The series will run in con­junc­tion with a six-week Dames Mak­ing Games (DMG) incu­ba­tor based on the model of the Dif­fer­ence Engine Ini­tia­tive (DEI) and the first DMG incu­ba­tor, which will guide and sup­port a small group of women through the process of cre­at­ing a small, com­plete game.

DMG Toronto’s sec­ond incu­ba­tor will run from July through mid-August (six weeks), in con­junc­tion with a speaker series (The New Game Mak­ers) fea­tur­ing women game pro­fes­sion­als. The guest speak­ers come from a wide range of roles, from pro­ducer and man­age­ment posi­tions to design, music, art, and devel­op­ment; and from orga­ni­za­tion sized from small indie com­pa­nies to triple-A stu­dios. Incu­ba­tor par­tic­i­pants will be selected from an appli­ca­tion pool, with the goal of cre­at­ing an enthu­si­as­tic and com­mit­ted group with a diverse mix of skills and inter­ests who might not oth­er­wise have the oppor­tu­nity to develop their inter­est in games in this way. While the incu­ba­tor will be lim­ited to six par­tic­i­pants, the speaker series will accom­mo­date a larger group (up to 30) for each presentation.

Extend­ing the net­work: DMG Mon­treal & DMG Bristol

Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with DMG, Ali­son and Helen will orga­nize incu­ba­tors in two novel con­texts: Mon­treal, Que­bec and Bris­tol, UK. Both of these set­tings fea­ture grow­ing inde­pen­dent game com­mu­ni­ties that would greatly ben­e­fit from context-specific fem­i­nist inter­ven­tions aimed at encour­ag­ing more female-identified peo­ple to feel con­fi­dent in the process of games design. Like DMG and DEI, the pur­poses of these context-aware inter­ven­tions will be to facil­i­tate com­mu­nity build­ing, net­work­ing, skills devel­op­ment, men­tor­ing, and per­sonal growth among par­tic­i­pants, as well as the cre­ation of games by novice developers.

We will make inter­ven­tions in our respec­tive com­mu­ni­ties with the com­pre­hen­sive doc­u­men­ta­tion and feed­back gen­er­ated in DEI and the activ­i­ties of DMG, by past facil­i­ta­tors, embed­ded aca­d­e­mics, and cur­rent orga­niz­ers. Using these best prac­tices as guide­lines, we will then con­sult with con­stituents in the local com­mu­ni­ties (via indie game col­lec­tives, local aca­d­e­mics, devel­oper hubs) about ideal loca­tions, pro­mo­tions venues, show­case loca­tions, etc. Struc­turally, incu­ba­tors will be run in the for­mat of DEI, with six 3–4 hour ses­sions run over 6 weeks and capped off with a show­case to demon­strate the com­pleted games.


 PsXXY¥borg (pro­nounced “cyborg”)

By Han­nah Epstein

The pur­pose of this game is to eman­ci­pate a domes­tic game designer, so that she can cre­ate a game that is beau­ti­ful, immer­sive and tran­scen­dent of gen­der nor­ma­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Through using Unity and the Kinect, PsXXY¥borg will come to life as multi-player game, suited for pub­lic instal­la­tion, as the more peo­ple play­ing, the more com­plex the game play will become, all in the name of redefin­ing the social and polit­i­cal impor­tance of games. The game, PsXXY¥borg, will be inspired directly by the writ­ing of Donna Har­away and her pro­posed post-gender cyborg. It will be designed to con­tain these ele­ments of the­ory, putting into prac­tice and artis­tic expres­sion the very ideal beliefs housed within the post-gender cyborg framework.



By Sonja Gan­guin and Anna Hoblitz

Gen­der dif­fer­ences are typ­i­cally dis­cussed when it comes to the use of com­puter– and video games. How­ever, today, the typ­i­cal gamer is not male. In Ger­many, for exam­ple, 10.8 mil­lion women play reg­u­larly – these are 44 % of the gamers (BIU 2012). Yet this pos­i­tive devel­op­ment can­not be seen in the videogame indus­try, which is still a male-dominated field. Why only few women work in this cre­ative and chal­leng­ing area is not quite obvi­ous. At the same time there are suc­cess­ful women in the game indus­tries as pro­duc­ers, devel­op­ers, pub­lish­ers, etc. How­ever there is lit­tle known about their biogra­phies, careers, points of views and atti­tudes. What was their spe­cific way into the indus­try? How would they describe their own role in the busi­ness? Are they con­fronted with gen­der dif­fer­ences in their daily work and what are their strate­gies to deal with it? To answer these ques­tions we plan to develop a basic study that focuses on the per­spec­tive of women work­ing in the game indus­try by inter­view­ing them as experts. With guided expert inter­views, the women’s bio­graph­i­cal sta­tus as well as key fac­tors for suc­cess could be deter­mined. The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and analy­sis of suc­cess fac­tors and strate­gies, for exam­ple in the arrays of edu­ca­tion, social net­work­ing and projects, will indi­cate pos­si­ble start­ing points for sup­port­ing female stu­dents get­ting started their career.

On the one hand, the aim of the study is to describe a sta­tus quo of the actual sit­u­a­tion of women work­ing in the game busi­ness. On the other hand, it is nec­es­sary to deduce rec­om­men­da­tions for effec­tive and appro­pri­ate pro­mo­tional mea­sures to strengthen women’s posi­tion and espe­cially to reduce the bar­ri­ers that pre­vent them from join­ing the game indus­try. This coop­er­a­tion and the sub­se­quent study intend to take con­crete mea­sures, for exam­ple a men­tor­ing pro­gram for women could be devel­oped which is based on the results of the sur­vey. Female stu­dents could get into con­tact with a female men­tor work­ing in the games busi­ness and their com­mu­ni­ca­tion could give some insights into the indus­try and facil­i­tate young women’s entry into this profession.


Some Steps Forward

By | Published on May 31, 2012

So, while most women in the dig­i­tal games indus­try (and more widely in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy fields) agree that women and girls need to be exposed to STEM early, encour­aged as much as boys, and taught to show con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ties, there need to be some con­crete pro­grams that put all of this talk into action. In the last few weeks we’ve been hear­ing about some new ini­tia­tives that are designed to do just that. Here are a few:

The first comes to my atten­tion through an inter­view posted on ZDNet with Susan Buck, Lec­turer at U Penn in web­site design and devel­op­ment and devel­oper at In the inter­view Buck dis­cusses how she fought her way into the field through self-instruction and the real­iza­tion that she was not being given the same tools as the young men around her. Most recently, Buck co-founded the orga­ni­za­tion Web Start Women, an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to bring­ing women into web design, and

cul­ti­vat­ing open, sup­port­ive, intimidation-free envi­ron­ments where women and girls of all ages can learn, build and code together.

Another project is called Ada­Camp. This is another pro­gram cre­ated to bring women together to increase their par­tic­i­pa­tion in open tech­nol­ogy and cul­ture fields. Ada­Camp 2012 is being held in DC and is a part of a larger project called Ada Ini­tia­tive, and is

is a 150–200 per­son uncon­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. on July 10–11, 2012. It is co-located with Wiki­ma­nia 2012, the global con­fer­ence for Wikipedia and related Wiki projects. Wiki­ma­nia brings influ­en­tial and tal­ented peo­ple from around the world who are inter­ested in improv­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in Wikipedia and other open data projects, as shown by Wikimania’s selec­tion of Ada Ini­tia­tive co-founder Mary Gar­diner as a keynote speaker.

Finally, NSERC (National Sci­ences and Engi­neer­ing Research Coun­cil of Canada) has cre­ated a web­page ded­i­cated to Women in Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing in order to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about poli­cies aimed at increas­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in these fields.

FiG Talks Continued…

By | Published on May 17, 2012

Here are the ple­narys. ENJOY!


Fat, Ugly or Slutty

Fat, Ugly or Slutty: Expos­ing Harass­ment in Online Gaming:


Ali­son Griffith’s talk

Fram­ing Fem­i­nism 101: Women’s Every­day, Everynight Lives


Erica Mein­ers’ talk

Do, Make, Try: Trans­for­ma­tive Fem­i­nist Work

More Talks from the FiG Workshop

By | Published on May 11, 2012

Here is Helen Kennedy’s talk: “Bit­ter Fruit: Why They Love to Hate Women in Games

Emma West­e­cott: “Game Devel­op­ment as Domes­tic Practice”

Celia Pearce: “Where the Girls Are: Redraw­ing the ‘Magic Circle’”

The Inaugural Feminists in Games Workshop

By | Published on May 10, 2012

Well, for those of you that made it last week­end, we had a great, pro­duc­tive, thought pro­vok­ing time. Some fun was had too, but really we got down to the nitty gritty of how we are going to make change, and we even came up with a few ideas of where and how to start. Over the course of the next few days I am going to post videos of the talks given at the work­shop, and I am also going to invite attendees/participants/observers to send me your impres­sions of the week­end to post.

In the mean­time, here is a video of the talk by Profs. Suzanne de Castell and Jen­nifer Jen­son. This was the FiG wel­come talk, and a primer about how we might bring a fem­i­nist per­spec­tive to our work in the games indus­try (and to our work in a broader sense). Enjoy! Take notes! (also, wear head­phones for the Q&A because it’s a lit­tle hard to hear).


Extra Credits’ Initiative on Hate Speech in the Gaming Community

By | Published on April 28, 2012

One of the most (unfor­tu­nately) ever-present issues in the gam­ing com­mu­nity, and all sorts of other com­mu­ni­ties for that mat­ter, is hate speech and misog­yny.  This week Extra Cred­its posted a call to arms. I can’t say it bet­ter than they can, so here it is.

Some Good Press

By | Published on April 12, 2012

An arti­cle from The Guardian tells us that the num­ber of grass­roots fem­i­nist groups in the UK have dou­bled in the last two years. Yay! These groups are bat­tling the objec­ti­fi­ca­tion of and dis­crim­i­na­tion against women, and appar­ently fill­ing their ranks with young men as well. Well done ladies and gentlemen.

The arti­cle in high­lights a few orga­ni­za­tions that led a protest against sell­ing pornog­ra­phy at eye-level, some of which ended in shop own­ers agree­ing to cover up the images on the mag­a­zines on display.

As 17-year-old Nina Mega from Edin­burgh put it: “Some­times you get the idea that the world is a pretty misog­y­nis­tic place and fem­i­nists are few and far between, but when you see all those like-minded peo­ple together – men and women – you just think: ‘Wow.’”

Nudey mag­a­zines aren’t the only things spurring a call for change in the UK. Also par­tic­u­larly upset­ting to young fem­i­nists is the debate over poten­tial com­pul­sory lessons on absti­nence (only for teenage girls of course) as well as the grow­ing anti-abortion move­ment and the num­ber of women los­ing their jobs (there are twice as many women expected to lose their jobs as men).

A note to Nina: The world is full of misog­yny, but it’s impor­tant that we keep orga­niz­ing and fight­ing, espe­cially as the going gets tough. Right on.

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Paper—All Fun and Games: Gender, Jokes and Play in Cyberspace

By | Published on March 27, 2012

All Fun and Games: Gen­der, Jokes and Play in Cyberspace

by Suzanne de Castell

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