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Women Disappeared in Game Industry, Designer Says

Women Disappeared in Game Industry, Designer Says

Literary luminary and game-design maven Monica Valentinelli says that women are all too often vanished from nerd culture, even in the 21st century.

Monica, whose extensive game design and writing credits include sparkling gems such as the award-winning Firefly Role-Playing Game and Ghouls and Revenants for the iconic Vampire: The Masquerade, has been writing, playing, reading, and designing games since the Carter administration. Yet all too often, she feels that her gender is an asterisk added to her accomplishments, and it is an asterisk added in judgment. She wrote an article about her experiences for Uncanny in November of 2016.

For example, Monica was a Gen Con Industry Insider in 2016. The Industry Insiders are shining stars of the geek and gaming community who are invited to the greatest and best convention in the world to “shar[e] their expertise, experience, and adventures with you as they host seminars and participate in panels about all things gaming related.”

Yet Monica’s selection as an Industry Insider carried with it an asterisk…

I am a Gen Con Industry Insider. Only, my credits are scrutinized. I’m lumped in as a data point, and am told women do not matter and we’re ruining gaming.


Monica Valentinelli

While in the past, the Gen Con Industry Insiders were overwhelmingly male, (93% of the insiders were men five years ago) gender parity was achieved in 2016. This led to charges that the women selected were, essentially, affirmative action hires, and “just data points,” as Monica wrote. One blogger dismissed Monica as “a busy small timer” despite having been lead developer and writer for a game based on a major Hollywood property.

Geek & Sundry is in line for some shame here. In an article on her Shadowrun release, Court of Shadows, Monica points out the following:

My new Shadowrun book is covered by Geek and Sundry. Terry Pratchett’s poem erases my 40,000+ word contribution. I am invisible once again. Terry Pratchett was never mentioned in that supplement. I am grateful for the coverage.

And she’s right. In an article about a book on which she was the lead writer, we never once mentioned her name, and devoted precious column inches to a Terry Pratchett poem which has no link to the book, other than both are about elves. It’s not our finest moment.

Monica closes her article with an impassioned cry, reminding the community at large that women and people of color are not new to the geek community. She writes:

Open your eyes. What do the authors and game designers you love look like? Are they all white and men? Picture a white woman who’s up for an award. Or a black man who just got a major book deal. Or a Chinese woman or a queer Latino or the hundreds of thousands of other writers who are not straight, white men. They have always been here, too[.]

Monica said her article’s “broader point is that misogyny isn’t limited to gaming, but it exists in science fiction and fantasy–and geekdom at large. I felt the only way to make my point was to be personal about it, to reiterate that this timeline is one of [thousands.]”

Want to read more Monica? She edited the upcoming anthology Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling. Check it out here!

How has your history made you the gamer you are today? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature image from Weird Tales and is in the public domain. 

Other image courtesy Monica Valentinelli.

Ben Riggs speaks five languages, and has lived in four countries on three continents, but still manages to lose his keys in the bathroom. A friend to man, animal, and werewolf alike, you can discover more of Ben’s thoughts on game, the universe, and everything on Twitter, or on the Plot Points Podcast, available on iTunes or Libsyn

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