I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I would have told you so precociously, even in grade one or two. I am acutely interested in human interaction, power in discourse, identity politics, have socialist leanings, live in Canada am right in the middle of my 30’s. I have a joint degree in English Theatre and Cultural Studies, and would have had a specialization in Women’s Studies had my university allowed such things.
I started gaming at the ripe old age of seven. Wild with imagination, I used to startle the older kids (all boys) in my gaming group by getting up and acting out my fights. They thought I was a funny little thief, but when I died horribly at the terrible claws of the Giant Crab in White Plume Mountain, they resurrected me with great honour, and bestowed me with a title of nobility.
In my later years I did game on stage for a live audience. I came back into game through theatre, and then through LARP as a secret, society-infiltrating theatre experiment. Eventually LARPs moved indoors and got political lost intimacy and I lost interest, but I took to the table really well.
My games have always been full of both women and men in equal numbers. We, with a vast and varied menagerie of characters tell amazing stories across a spectrum of genres and human emotions, and there is no discernable gender bias in my gaming groups (except for the depressing lack of female GM’s). For a long time, regardless of how much of a feminist I am, I didn’t see any issues in gender and gaming because I wasn’t experiencing any within my enlightened play groups. I wasn’t exploring the gaming “industry” or the greater gaming community. I was a gamer, not a game consumer.
Then, in the early part of the millenium, I started writing for a number of books in a game line and then was exposed to the indie gaming community. I was very interested in exploring the social psychology around the gaming table, and in designing systems that would help promote cohesiveness and shared understanding, explicit social contracts, community mindedness and social support for differing play styles. I started to realize that I was really lucky to be playing in the kind of groups I was playing in. I started to notice that the industry was sometimes subtley and sometimes not so subtley alienating women’s voices and women’s participation. I started despairing that even in circles that were reflective and progressive an inherent bias existed that was counterproductive to furthering women’s ability to equally contribute to the conversation. It was this, along with a handful of other reasons, that I started my theory blog, Sin Aesthetics.
A year and a half later, I feel like I’ve made a small difference in the community around me, at least enough to find folks like the Jesses and Emily and Matt who share a desire to expand the capacity of women’s ability to contribute. I’m especially interested in making space for women designers to enter and bring new ideas and new life to the indie design table. I’m interested in seeing how what we will contribute will change the frontier.
With Lila, I’m interested in providing a safe space to discuss issues in the industry, in the community and provide opportunities for innovation. I’m also interested in fostering a resource for designers out there who are trying really hard to produce material without a gender bias, but who might need some help and different perspectives to get their product there.