Thoughts on Ready Player One and the Video Game Industry – RE: Females

I adore this book, in fact I’d even go as far as to say it is one of my favourites. However, that does not abolish the fact that this book is dominated by white men.

Much like universities way back in the day, and much like big names in the computer science industry, past and present, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline worships the names of artists, game developers, computer scientists and musicians that are all Caucasian men.

Now, I wish we lived in a world where this meant nothing. I personally believe that people are people, and that we are all equals. We are blank slates born to form by our experiences, regardless of our gender.

Unfortunately, many of us are formed by sexism, racism, and slander. Take Aech for example. She is a gay African American woman posing as a straight white male within the OASIS.

I live as a female in a male-dominated society as well, especially in terms of game development, my future field. Every indie developer that comes to the front of my mind are males: Dan Salvato of Doki Doki Literature Club, Toby Fox of Undertale, and Thomas Brush of Pinstripe (all fantastic games that I recommend, by the way). Then I look at those such as Hideo Kojima, Shigeru Miyamoto…there’s a lack of a feminine touch when it comes to big icons in the game development world.

This is a problem that I one day hope to fix.

THAT BEING SAID!

I don’t for a minute believe that women are lacking in the field. In Ready Player One, Art3mis points out the majority of the female icons of the 80s, being the badass girl that she is. I find a lot of value in taking time to credit and value the possibly overshadowed women of the world that is still quite unbalanced.

People like Emily Greer, who cofounded and is CEO of Kongregate.

Jennifer Hale, an iconic voice actress in games such as Metal Gear Solid and BioShock Infinite.

Yoko Kanno, a Japanese composer and musician.

Amy Hennig, one of the geniuses behind Uncharted.

Kim Swift, who worked on Portal and Left 4 Dead.

Corrinne Yu, who started her career with the loveable King’s Quest series.

And a big round of applause to Carol Shaw, the first female to be a full-time video game designer!

The list goes on and on and on and will continue to grow.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that there are more and more women joining industries such as the video game development one. However, I am a female computer science student. I sit in a lecture hall with a gender ratio that is nowhere near 50/50. I am often one of few female – quote unquote – “nerd” friends. I’m repeatedly told how difficult it may be for me to be hired because I am a girl. I admire so many people I admire and grow nervous to find how much masculinity is behind each of them. And then I read Ready Player One once again and find a total of 5 female characters named within the OASIS: Art3mis, a romanticized and sexualized character. Aech, who hides as a male for the majority of the book. Wade’s mother. Halliday’s love interest. Og’s wife. Note how those last three, despite standing out as females, only remain in my head because of the men they are associated to, and not for feats of their own? Why is it that, despite how much Wade pushes the concept that equality is abound in the OASIS, even past the 2040s, a sexist devise is still so prominent?

I wish I had a conclusion. Some reason for writing this post other than my pure need to vent. I do have some parting remarks, though.

  1. If you’re ever feeling as beaten down as I was about a lack of women in whatever field, do some research. Find the names and stare at the identities of your fellow females that have proven that whatever you are doing is more than achievable.
  2. Give those same females some recognition. Male names are pushed often, yes, but if anyone has earned praise, give it to them. Even if it’s just in a small post like this one.
  3. Read Ready Player One. Seriously. It’s so good. If you’re a sucker for 80s references or video games, or both, you’ll be as obsessed with it as I am.
  4. Get yourself ready, because someday my name is going to be as noteworthy as some of the men listed in this post.

 

 

 

Got any thoughts in response to this? Feel free to let me know, I’m always down to discuss anything civilly.

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