Author Topic: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?  (Read 1044 times)

begood

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My only child (age 16) is an interesting creature. Artistic, creative, loves painting and drawing comic books. She's all colored hair and emo band shirts. She's also in advanced math and a member of the school's FIRST Robotics team. She's intrigued by the intersection of art and science, and especially art and technology. She hopes to go the preprofessional route in college with the idea of eventually working on the game art side of video game design.

I've read quite a few articles about the toxic culture of the tech industry as it relates to women in the field - fewer promotions, scarce leadership roles, more harassment, bro culture... and it seems like that culture even exists in college. This comment from a student at Rochester Institute of Technology is the kind of thing I'm talking about:
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A saying you'll hear if you decide to come here is "RIT girls are like parking spaces, they are either handicapped (deaf school), taken, or just pulled out of." It is kind of a bummer when you do a see a good looking girl just to find out she is deaf, believe me."

But rather than sit here and worry, it occurred to me we might have among us some people who work in the industry who could give me a glimpse into the actual environment. I'd love to hear opinions on what it might be like to be an artistic female in a male-dominated tech world.


RWD

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 03:30:57 PM »
I don't have any direct experience in the video game industry, but the working conditions tend to be difficult regardless of gender. There's a pretty famous post by "ea_spouse" that talks about the experience with their spouse working for EA that you might have seen already:
https://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

I'd recommend checking out the YouTube channel Extra Credits as they talk a lot of working in the video game industry. Some examples:
Working Conditions
So You Want To Be an Animator

gooki

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 03:27:53 AM »
There’s good and bad company cultures in all industries. I wouldnt read too much into a few articles.
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sokoloff

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 04:00:27 AM »
I worked in the game industry for a while and would, in general, not recommend it for computer programmers. Now, for computer artists, there aren’t quite as many options as programmers, in which case, my advice is to go in eyes open.

Much of the base skills would be transferable to online marketing, which is likely to have a different type of pressure, possibly less overall.

Risky to say as a man, but I wouldn’t stress that much over the gender issues. There are toxic workplaces for sure, but the solution is to avoid or leave them. There are many, many more not toxic environments and the odds are exceedingly good that DD can find one.

begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 07:00:11 AM »
I don't have any direct experience in the video game industry, but the working conditions tend to be difficult regardless of gender. There's a pretty famous post by "ea_spouse" that talks about the experience with their spouse working for EA that you might have seen already:
https://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

I'd recommend checking out the YouTube channel Extra Credits as they talk a lot of working in the video game industry. Some examples:
Working Conditions
So You Want To Be an Animator

Thank you, @RWD! I will take a look!

gooki and sokoloff, you are so right that any work environment can be toxic, and avoiding or leaving one is good advice. The marketing element of design is less interesting to her at this point, because, duh, of course it is. Let's see... shall I design a soup can or the tropical island of Kaptina?

Life is long, and she will undoubtedly have many different jobs. We don't care if she goes to college knowing what she wants to do with even the first part of her adult life, but today people seem to expect her to have an answer for the question, "What do you want to do?" And many, many colleges now expect teenagers to apply to their schools in a particular major. That's a whole 'nother conversation to have: the one about how adolescence has stretched into the midtwenties at the same time we are asking 17-year-olds to commit to a life path, and the inherent cognitive dissonance there...

DragonSlayer

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 08:05:36 AM »
What about digital animation/CGI? That world (Hollywood) is having its reckoning right now. By the time she gets out of school, perhaps it will have greatly cleaned up its act. She could work for a studio like Pixar, doing more traditional animation, or work somewhere on CGI effects. I have a female friend who works for Sony doing CGI effects and animation. She worked on the SpiderMan movies, as well as a bunch of others and loves every minute.

Now, I don't know for sure if she'd tell me that the culture was terrible, but she speaks fondly of her coworkers and her overall job. (She also has an incredibly tough skin, so things that bother others tend to roll right off of her, so perhaps she's not the best example. I don't know.)

GuitarStv

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 08:21:00 AM »
I've worked as a software engineer for more than a decade now (aerospace / transportation / broadcast), and would say that in general the industry is getting better.  As a woman you'll still probably be paid less for doing the same work as a guy, that's just the way software is at every company I've seen/worked in.  The culture of the specific place you're working at will determine the quantity of overt sexist comments you'll be exposed to, and this can vary quite a bit.  My impression is that while certainly not perfect, things have been changing for the better in this whole field over the past twenty or so years.
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begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 12:56:53 PM »
What about digital animation/CGI? That world (Hollywood) is having its reckoning right now. By the time she gets out of school, perhaps it will have greatly cleaned up its act. She could work for a studio like Pixar, doing more traditional animation, or work somewhere on CGI effects. I have a female friend who works for Sony doing CGI effects and animation. She worked on the SpiderMan movies, as well as a bunch of others and loves every minute.

Now, I don't know for sure if she'd tell me that the culture was terrible, but she speaks fondly of her coworkers and her overall job. (She also has an incredibly tough skin, so things that bother others tend to roll right off of her, so perhaps she's not the best example. I don't know.)

Thanks for the input, @DragonSlayer! I could see that track really appealing to my daughter.

begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 12:59:26 PM »
I've worked as a software engineer for more than a decade now (aerospace / transportation / broadcast), and would say that in general the industry is getting better.  As a woman you'll still probably be paid less for doing the same work as a guy, that's just the way software is at every company I've seen/worked in.  The culture of the specific place you're working at will determine the quantity of overt sexist comments you'll be exposed to, and this can vary quite a bit.  My impression is that while certainly not perfect, things have been changing for the better in this whole field over the past twenty or so years.

And though college is only two years away, she's six (at a minimum) from entering the workforce full-time... yet more time for the culture to evolve. The Robotics team attracts a similar ilk to game programmers, and she considers them one of her "tribes" now. What they tend to lack in social grace they make up for in adamant individuality.

2Cent

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 05:44:02 AM »
From what I see in software girls have a harder time proving their technical skills. But there are also areas where they have it easier. They tend to be remembered more as they stand out a bit. They get lots of people volunteering to help them. They have a good path to management positions. The only thing is that they have to be a bit extroverted and tough. Actually one of the reasons there are hardly any female senior engineers at my company is that the capable ones mostly move to management positions.

Oh, just for fun:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dek5HtNdIHY

begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 07:00:34 AM »
From what I see in software girls have a harder time proving their technical skills. But there are also areas where they have it easier. They tend to be remembered more as they stand out a bit. They get lots of people volunteering to help them. They have a good path to management positions. The only thing is that they have to be a bit extroverted and tough. Actually one of the reasons there are hardly any female senior engineers at my company is that the capable ones mostly move to management positions.

Oh, just for fun:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dek5HtNdIHY

Ha! Thanks for the link, @2Cent. At least they were trying! My daughter is more introverted than extroverted, though in a group of people she's comfortable with, she's much more chatty and confident. But she is tough. Her response to struggle is to work harder, and she doesn't do drama. She just quietly gets shit done.

2Cent

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 07:31:48 AM »
Hmm. Quietly getting the work done is not the best strategy. She will be very dependent on a boss who recognizes her contribution. Also in the art world there is no black and white good work/bad work. It's for a large part how you sell it. As an introvert myself I have to say it took some time, but there is no reason an introvert can not be assertive, stand out and sell ideas. Maybe a large part could be due to shyness which is quite possible, and very worthwhile to overcome.

begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2018, 08:22:43 AM »
Hmm. Quietly getting the work done is not the best strategy. She will be very dependent on a boss who recognizes her contribution. Also in the art world there is no black and white good work/bad work. It's for a large part how you sell it. As an introvert myself I have to say it took some time, but there is no reason an introvert can not be assertive, stand out and sell ideas. Maybe a large part could be due to shyness which is quite possible, and very worthwhile to overcome.

Someone had to explain to us that she was an introvert; we still call it her "diagnosis". ;) I had to do a lot of reading to fully understand that she observes, interprets, and experiences the world in markedly different ways than either of her parents. As extroverts, her dad and I both see the way modern society rewards the traits extroverts demonstrate. Heck, we have both benefited from it ourselves. She is who she is, and I know she will grow, evolve, and gain strengths as she matures. But I would never trade her observational acuity for social slickness, and it's my hope that the same way her teachers have come to appreciate her top-notch brain, an employer will too.

StarBright

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 09:46:57 AM »
I am very tangentially in that industry (we do 3D capture for movie VFX, VR, and AR). I was the only woman in my company for several years and there is definitely a bro culture (my first year on the job I actually attended a company dinner with clients that ended at a strip club - totally gross - but I didn't let it phase me, rolled my eyes a bit and proved my stones). That was a decade ago.  BUT -  it is getting better. We've hired several young women and POC in the last couple of years and just having diversity in our workplace has changed it.

I also agree with women getting shifted to management.

It is a neat field and with augmented reality coming along there is going to be a lot of cool stuff happening in the 10-15 years.

We've had several employees who have left us to go directly into the gaming world (mostly Occulus and character modeling) and they seem to enjoy it but that industry seems to be much more free lance based.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2018, 10:27:45 AM »
Someone had to explain to us that she was an introvert; we still call it her "diagnosis". ;)

Please don't call introversion a diagnosis, at least not to her.  That makes it sound like there's something wrong with it, like being 'diagnosed' with brain cancer, and something to get rid of, or at best 'learn to deal with'.

As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...

begood

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2018, 12:56:04 PM »
Someone had to explain to us that she was an introvert; we still call it her "diagnosis". ;)

Please don't call introversion a diagnosis, at least not to her.  That makes it sound like there's something wrong with it, like being 'diagnosed' with brain cancer, and something to get rid of, or at best 'learn to deal with'.

As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...

The bolded part above was to show that it was said in jest - I know tone doesn't always convey over the internet. And of course we don't say it in front of her. It's our extrovert shorthand with each other, and it's as much a jab at ourselves as her parents for being so ignobly oblivious to how very different her experience of the world was than ours. We feel it's our responsibility (and privilege) as parents to meet her where she is, love her as she is, and support her to the very best of our ability. Which at this point includes asking strangers on the internet to illuminate the path she may set before herself. Why? Because she's 16 and an introvert- it's hard for her. I'm 53 and an extrovert; it's easy for me.

2Cent

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2018, 12:52:30 AM »
As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...
I don't know if it is because their technical ability doesn't get taken seriously. I think it's more that the position is much more attractive. Especially since you can get into middle management in your early 30s but becoming and architect or senior technical specialist unless you had a lot of focus, usually comes only in 40s. And the pay is better as well.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2018, 10:44:18 AM »
As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...
I don't know if it is because their technical ability doesn't get taken seriously. I think it's more that the position is much more attractive. Especially since you can get into middle management in your early 30s but becoming and architect or senior technical specialist unless you had a lot of focus, usually comes only in 40s. And the pay is better as well.

But then why such a dichotomy between men and women

zoltani

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2018, 01:00:58 PM »
I have some friends in video game design, both men and women. From what they tell me it sucks for both, really high expectations, long hours, super stressful to meet deadlines, but I guess the pay is good. It really took the toll on a male friend of mine. Burn out rate is high, that's why it is generally a younger crowd in that world.

2Cent

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2018, 02:22:41 AM »
As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...
I don't know if it is because their technical ability doesn't get taken seriously. I think it's more that the position is much more attractive. Especially since you can get into middle management in your early 30s but becoming and architect or senior technical specialist unless you had a lot of focus, usually comes only in 40s. And the pay is better as well.

But then why such a dichotomy between men and women
Because as there are so few woman, they stand out and get noticed more. And getting noticed is half the trouble. Also men generally like to help woman in trouble and are less inclined to ask for help. Asking people to do something build your network and also gives you some practice of managing as that is an important part of the job.

Technical specialists or architects on the other hand are the ones that people have to ask for help. Most men will feel ashamed to ask a woman for help. That's not sexism. Just cultural conditioning.

StarBright

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Re: Video game design: How's the real world experience for women?
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2018, 05:59:28 AM »
As far as females in tech, I agree it varies greatly on the company, so she may just have to try a few until she finds a good fit.  I do find the comment interesting about females usually ending up in management because their technical abilities don't get taken seriously.  At my company, the CEO, the VP of IT/Development, and the PM are all female, but all the tech people under them are male.  Interesting...
I don't know if it is because their technical ability doesn't get taken seriously. I think it's more that the position is much more attractive. Especially since you can get into middle management in your early 30s but becoming and architect or senior technical specialist unless you had a lot of focus, usually comes only in 40s. And the pay is better as well.

But then why such a dichotomy between men and women

In my company and the gaming ones I work with directly I suspect it also has something to do with the go getter-ness of women trying to break into the field. When you are a women trying to succeed in a male dominated space I think some women go over and above to prove themselves and then end up managing.

*edited to add - Dudes are expected to just come and code/model/sculpt and there isn't a negative perception if they don't do anything else. But in my experience anything that isn't direct SOW (communication, in particular) often falls to women on staff and this actually puts them in a better position to manage down the road.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 06:05:03 AM by StarBright »