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Indie Dev Jennifer Dawe is a vocal person in regards to GamerGate. After hearing her speak during an open debate, I wanted to get her opinion of the story and see what an indie developer and woman had to say about what has been hitting the games industry lately. The interview was conducted over email, and all answers are Jennifer’s own words.

Ben Kuyt: Hey Jennifer, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions and get your thoughts on the whole matter. If you could just give everyone an explanation of who you are and what you do, then take the time to answer the questions to the best of your ability, it’d be very much appreciated.

Jennifer Dawe: I’ve worked in the gaming industry for about 11 years, mostly via an Online RPG known as Illutia as well as outside contracts for other developers. I am currently working with Dapper Swine Studios on a TBA large project, as well as some puzzle games for mobile with a few others.

BK: How did you first get involved in GamerGate?

JD: I had spoken about a few of the issues involved with GamerGate for a few years now, they just weren’t really heeded. I tried to refrain from getting heavily involved until the focus shifted onto what it needed to be on. The moment that crossed the line for me was when the responsibility of professionals was shifted onto the consumer. The industry right now is behaving very badly, expecting your average consumer to be the “Bigger Man” in the situation, and that’s simply not how business works. When I see people insulting the core audience who should be listened to, you’ve crossed a line with me.

BK: What is your opinion of it, and what do you personally think it is about?

JD: It is about the industry losing touch with the people who make it possible. It’s forgetting that the perceptions we put out there to the consumer is our responsibility. When we make game development about everything but game development, we have only ourselves to look at, not the consumer. As of late, when the public gets the wrong idea about anything, we are blaming them. We are the ones expected to have good public relations as we are receiving the economic benefit in the situation, and we need to act like it.

BK: You recently debated against someone who was against the GamerGate movement. One of the main talking points between the two of you was about consumers and free market. What do you think a game journalist’s role is in the marketplace, if they have one?

JD: To observe and report factual information and to act as a relay between consumers and businesses. Op-eds are fine, as long as they are clear they are one. Consumers are biased in favor of getting a good product for their money, and businesses are biased in favor of getting good money for their product. There has to be someone in between, and that group has to be less biased than either of those people. Otherwise, what is the point?

I think the good question to ask is what are journalists biased in favor of, and why? What are their goals? Are they clear? These are their sites and they are permitted to do what they want up to a point, but we all have expectations on us to be seen as a “Good business” and they appear to want some of those rules removed in favor of a perceived “Greater good”.

BK: Do indie game developers suffer from GamerGate?

JD: I think indie game developers have been suffering a long time. I have done fairly well for myself but many new developers have been receiving pressure for years to join the righteous cause or be cast out from the social group that is currently at the top of most indie development scene.

We’re currently seeing an oligarchy of good intentions, that have disastrous results for people who didn’t necessarily have bad intentions but did not have good enough intentions to a select group. To rephrase it another way, it doesn’t matter if you agree with most of what is said, if you disagree with the wrong thing you are in the crosshairs.

The best thing for Indie developers to do right now is to realize that those people are not your customers, and trying to use them to better your customer base is a shortcut that has consequences. Unless you believe honestly that people are overwhelmingly bad people, which I do not, you’ll never go wrong siding with the people who will support you in the long run and not just to meet their own ideological ends. You will be cast aside when you are no longer useful, or you start to notice things aren’t quite right. You use people and they will use you.

BK: Have you experienced any sort of harassment that people against GamerGate say is occurring to female gamers and game developers?

JD: Most of the harassment I have received is over my pro-GG opinions, many of the people now on the anti-GG side harassed me long before this happened. The only thing that’s changed is higher profile people now think it is ok to make thinly veiled threats to my career, future reviews, etc.

Illutia_screen

Jennifer Dawe worked on Illutia, an Online RPG.

BK: Has there been any backlash towards your game because of your stance?

JD: Not that I’m aware of, but my game is a bit older and I’m currently working on projects that haven’t been released yet. I guess I will find out when those are released.

BK: How have your interactions been with other women, other developers, etc?

JD: Some women are angry as they feel like I am “Siding with harassment” but I think that’s built on pre-conceived notions about the movement. It also ignores that I receive some pretty nasty harassment from people claiming to be against harassment.

Overwhelmingly though I have made friends with and helped a lot more women in the past five weeks than in years as they were brave enough to come to me. They’re terrified, but they want to press on and they are going to be the ones that win in the end.

BK: Lastly, do you think women are interested in games but are pushed out of the field, or do you think people’s personal preferences have to do with why there aren’t as many women in game development as men?

JD: I think the fear mongering will push women out of the industry more than anything. Telling people that they aren’t doing well only because men don’t want them making games is terrible and completely untrue. Games have more women now because they are more flexible.

Large sample surveys of what women want in a job come out with 37% or more citing flexibility in the work place and location as the main concerns when choosing a potential employer. The number one concern for women in workplaces is not money but flexibility, and unfortunately AAA development can be very inflexible at times.

Indie and Mobile games however have opened the doors to women, and now we have a group of people deciding that change should happen faster, and it’s only not happening due to hatred of women. Ironically enough they are portraying women as the stereotypical shrinking violet.

We talk about how we need to “treat women like people” but nobody ever mentions treating them like full-grown adults with their own wants and needs and not simply slaves to peer pressure and “Social constructs”. There’s no law against women starting their own gaming companies, and it gets pretty insulting to imply nobody should ‘have to’.

You don’t simply get cut a slice of pie because you feel it’s not fair you don’t already have pie.

 

I’d like to thank Jennifer Dawe once again for giving her perspective on things. The opinion of a developer is just as important as that of a consumer, especially when they are consumers as well.


Ben Kuyt

Gamer, Computer geek, Musician, Writer. Favourite series are Star Fox, Halo, Battlefield, and Forza. My last name is pronounced kite. Or kout, for the European Football fans.



  • Ben Kuyt

    Hope you all enjoyed the article, I look forward to hearing any critique, discussion, etc. Thanks!

  • sengokuw

    That was a great interview.

    The fear-mongering is frustrating. By perpetuating myths like “female programmers only make a fraction of what males make,” you are only going to be scaring more women out of the industry. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/female-computer-scientists-make-same-salary-their-male-counterparts-180949965/?no-ist)

  • epy

    Thank you Jennifer Dawe and Ben Kuyt for this interview. I also feel this crusade againts gamers by some media outlets will have a deep impact on the perception of gaming to outsiders to the detriment of the industry as a whole.

  • Troushers

    Thanks, I enjoyed the interview a lot. One of the sad things about this whole situation is that it has taken an almighty argument to be able to hear alternate POVs like this, to hear devs being interviewed who challenge some aspects of what mainstream gaming sites insist is the status quo.

    Thanks to techraptor for starting this discussion, and Jennifer Dawe for the willingness to stick her neck out and say what she thinks.

  • Excellent interview. Thank you for conducting it Ben and thank you Jennifer Dawe for giving such insightful answers.

    Jennifer Dawe hit many nails on the head in this interview.

    “JD: Most of the harassment I have received is over my pro-GG opinions,
    many of the people now on the anti-GG side harassed me long before this
    happened. The only thing that’s changed is higher profile people now
    think it is ok to make thinly veiled threats to my career, future
    reviews, etc.”

    This is because silencing dissenting opinions is not only encouraged but expected amongst these people.

    “Ironically enough they are portraying women as the stereotypical shrinking violet.”

    The anti-GG people don’t actually want to give other people a voice. They want to have their voice, and their voice only, echoed through every mouth. They will “protect” women by telling them exactly what is acceptable to think and say because they believe that they aren’t strong enough to form their own opinions.

  • Roywocket .

    “JD: Most of the harassment I have received is over my pro-GG opinions, many of the people now on the anti-GG side harassed me long before this happened. The only thing that’s changed is higher profile people now think it is ok to make thinly veiled threats to my career, future reviews, etc.”

    This is the differentiating point.

    GG has its trolls and nasty elements, as you would expect from a lose affiliation of varied people. And generally the actions of said negative elements are publicly condemned by the movement. I mean I will do it right now. Anyone who harasses anyone in conflict is a peace of shit hurting their own cause. There is no justification. Passionate anger is an explanation, but not a justification. So do not do it.

    Meanwhile we have people who are supposed to be professionals spewing bile at people. We have Leigh Alexander race baiting in her editorials. We have Greg Costikyan challenging people to old fashion duels in and calling people scum. Why is GG marked as the bad guys again?

  • Also Known As

    Wait a minute–you mean that we live in a world where a bunch of women are CHOOSING to make a living in the games industry, and that there isn’t some magical force that is keeping them out?

    Man, it must suck to be so oppressed, what with the CHOICES women have as far as indie vs. mainstream, career vs. family (or both, some folks make it happen), or hey, deciding whatever f*cking profession they want to go into.

  • Red Lagoon

    Well thank you for speaking up ms. JD! Still I’m more interested in this game. The screenshots on the download section are not telling much. Could someone please link me to some video or gallery to see the gameplay? Thank you in advance!

  • E-Bon

    Thanks so much for this.

  • Problem Raptor

    I heard the debate with Kos, Jennifer took him apart. It was a thing of beauty.

  • dodoking

    thank god for gamer-gate I came across Jennifer I have become a fan of her art

  • Brad Sherard

    It is getting silly; each side claims victory when some anonymous person wielding the opponent’s banner makes some vile comment. The side with the most trolls loses in this battle of public opinion.

    It is a distraction to fight over what GG stands for. There are corrupt game journalists and the devs. Full stop. We must not let this be lost in the accusations and insults from the anonymous responses of people commenting on the problem.

    And if we must address this distraction, just remember this quote from my favorite philosopher:

    “A movement isn’t defined by its extremists; it is defined by how the core constituents respond to them”.

    Or in other words, ostracize the hate mongers trying to co-opt the issue. If you see a troll suggesting we kill all women in the name of gamergate, tell them they are not welcome.

  • Great article, I hope to come across one of her games down the road!

  • Vecha

    You are one of the few gaming sites that I have adblock off. Keep up the great work!

  • Madbrainbox

    I think there was an episode of Highlander where the watchers started executing the immortals.This whole conflict feels like that in a sense.
    I think Jenni is very brave for speaking out.Great interview.

  • Madbrainbox

    You woman hating cis-scum white privileged male.Don’t you see that you are oppressing women with this talk of choices.We all know that real women should wine constantly about how patriarchy is keeping them down.

  • Madbrainbox

    Me too.Keeping an eye for a bunch of indie devs because of #GG

  • Thunder Butt

    Yup I turned off adblock as well for techraptor. Continue the good work.

  • I have followed suit. This is an exceedingly rare thing for me to do. Keep it up techraptor.

  • Ben Kuyt

    We very much appreciate that. Right now, almost all of our affiliate and ad money goes back into the site, so we can make it better for every who comes here.

  • Ben Kuyt

    That was actually the reason I wanted to interview her. She knows how to articulate what she wants to get across.

  • Rory Mitchell

    “Unless you believe honestly that people are overwhelmingly bad people,
    which I do not, you’ll never go wrong siding with the people who will
    support you in the long run and not just to meet their own ideological
    ends.”

    Can’t repeat this enough. Please indulge me a moment in passing along my own version of this idea, which I term my one sentence rant against political correctness: “Until I am shown multiple examples otherwise, I will always assume that most people *mean well*”. Thank you for the awesome interview, Jennifer.

  • Kiltmanenator

    Thanks for the interview!

    ” I think the fear mongering will push women out of the industry more
    than anything. Telling people that they aren’t doing well only because
    men don’t want them making games is terrible and completely untrue.”

    “Perception is Reality”, as they say. I feel like pushing the narrative continuously without every focusing on the positive is counterproductive as the only names of women in gaming/journalism/critique are those who get shit on.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    You. Escapist. Niche Gamer. About the only sites I have adblock off on. I keep it on otherwise because of protecting my computer against malicious scripts, malware-injected ads, & similar things. I say this to help you understand the gravity of my actions through the lens that I view it. 🙂

  • Ben Kuyt

    GamesNosh is pretty good too, honestly. Give them a whirl.

  • Lieselotte

    You can find videos on youtube if you just search for Illutia. Here’s one video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njHk9q8wgmg

    There’s quite a lot going on on-screen since the entire group and monsters are casting spells. It’s not nearly that bad when you’re just starting out and playing with a slightly smaller group but you get used to it later on.

    Gameplay is very basic. Spacebar is melee attack, you need to be facing and right next to an enemy to hit it. This is a lot of what you’ll be doing at first as the melee classes. At level 50 everything changes, you will practically never melee and constantly use spells. Spells take up chunks of HP and MP so you can’t just spam them. Timing and having a tank to keep aggro on them is critical for the more difficult areas.

  • Kyle W

    Solid again, Techraptor, solid again. It’s more than just a ‘social group’ that Dawes talks about, it’s a full-blown Ideological Gulag. The Gaming Morality Force, as I like to call them, is shouted out by people like Alex Liefshitz-

    That is NOT an exception. That is normal for them. All those people clapping & cheering in the audience? Those are ‘game journalists’, who think you are ‘sacks of hot garbage.’ And as far as the kind of ‘integrity’ that Mr. Leifshitz talks about, he was caught complaining about having to troll for 30hrs one week on 4chan. Pretending to be someone else to mock & derail honest discussion. That is his conception of ‘Integrity’.

    But this is based on a Radical, Ugly, Distorted view of Feminism, originating in PostmodernismRelativism, where all the Moral Precepts we take for granted and things like Ethics, Integrity, Honesty, even *Rationality Itself*, are all ‘Tools of the Patriarchy’ and thus, not to be trusted. The Worldview excuses any kind of behavior in the fight against the ‘Hetronormative Hegemony’. So that is why you can get comments like this-

    “there is no such thing as misandry just like there is no such thing as ‘racism against white people'” -Leigh Alexander

    And the Gaming Morality Force Believes That. So, Lying, Bullying, Doxxing, Threatening, these are all permissible in their system of thought. I suspect that a large portion, if not most of the harassment has come from THEIR SIDE, to ‘undesireable’ Women & Minorities out. Even a black man, like Steve Tom Sawyer, will be thrown under the bus if he does not go along with their agenda-

    Thankfully, it looks like Steve is now getting back in the game. No thanks to the GMF.

    Sargon of Akkad released a new video that shows a direct link between the rabid-not-real-feminism of these people & academics working at DiGRA & how this agenda was the power behind all the ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles of August 28th-

    That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about ‘Misogyny’, it’s not about ‘Diversity’, its about corrupt journalism rife with cronyism, being powered by an Ideology that encourages the worst aspects of human nature.

  • This girl. This girl I like.

    She goes for the jugular ever so tactfully and without wasting words.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    Thus why I said “About”. 🙂

  • David

    Great article love Jennifer Dawe. She brings up some great points that I’ve wanted to see more people talk about in this scandal. It is probably more harmful to women wanting to get into the industry if they are reading articles constantly talking about how oppressed they are in the industry. Young women interested will just choose another career after seeing a few articles about it. It also doesn’t seem realistic to me that they are so discriminated against. These “journalists” are probably just trying to profit off of women by twisting it into a women’s issue when it doesn’t seem to be one.

  • Hey I know you! Former kotaku?

  • Vecha

    Yep! Used to moderate there from time to time. Commented there from around 2006-2007~ to about 2010/11 I believe.

    Then I went to Destructoid and followed some other “prominent”(I’m kidding I’m not really that Douche-y. Ok, I can be) to PressXorDie.

    Actually dealt with some industry “friendliness” between Gawker PR and EA while I was there. (EA did one of their chat with kotaku members…and I was tasked with deleting comments that asked anything about the controversy with their fake “radical christian” campaign during Dante’s Inferno. Lovely) People were piiiiissssseeed at me. But it was Gawker wanting to make EA feel comfortable. Fuck heads.

  • Vecha

    I just recognized you…right now. You were on that other site that some Kotaku preeminent(hehe) guys left to go to right? I was on there for a bit.

  • Ha yeah I’m still on there 😛

    Made the site look A LOT better since then.

    It’s mostly just hanging out.

    Are we friends on steam?

  • Vecha

    We might be…I have a horrible memory! Name is vecha on steam as well. Yours?

    I’ll check takuchat again today!

  • digitalwolf333 or digitalwolf

    I’m doing the basedwolf thing for a bit based on a joke on the site XD

    I’ll need to check for your name when i get home

  • verytirednerd

    Brilliant article.

  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    Cool stuff. Can’t wait to hear more from other female devs.

  • Megamatics

    Pretty good read… Sad to say that the crowd of overzealous fear mongers pretty much do more damage than they stop. They want to invite women in by playing up all the bad stuff in gaming to irrational levels. They like to call it “Raising Awareness” , when all the effects of putting negativity under a magnifying glass is scaring people away. If they really cared about women in gaming, they’d buy games with female protagonists and be the market for it, They’d also make their own games and companies. Complaining will only ever get them superficial changes that amount to nothing.

  • vikeyev

    Excellent interview, looking forward to seeing more work from both you.

  • Lars Anderson

    A well spoken woman.

  • Gregg Braddoch

    Before GamerGate, I never used adblock – I figured that I would support the internet as a medium of information exchange.

    Now ‘supporting the internet’ is superseded by supporting the intelligent internet. (Which means adblock off for techraptor)

  • Vecha

    Yeah, I was one of the many asshats who used it…heh

    But I think it can be a great tool to help support some while maybe, just maybe….making others stop with the resiculous content.

  • Roywocket .

    You are ofc correct

  • Invin

    “You don’t simply get cut a slice of pie because you feel it’s not fair you don’t already have pie.” *tear* Thank you, Jennifer.

  • George Williams

    yeah, turned off adblock for you guys as well, you deserve every cent you guys get!