Well, we’ve been up on Kickstarter and Greenlight for two weeks now. Halfway there, for Kickstarter anyway. We’re just a smidgen over 60 percent funded and just about 50 percent of the way to the top hundred on Greenlight!We’re one hundred percent of the way to building a community. Which, whatever happens, is a wonderful and unexpected bonus to this crazy ride. I was overwhelmed by the love from our friends, family and the local games industry last week, but this week I’m blown away by the awesome folk from all over the world who’re supporting us and spreading the word!
Considering all the love and support that’s been flowing in, I’m kind of embarrassed about how nervous I was about putting Ninja Pizza Girl up on Greenlight. There was an article on Polygon this week about the harassment of women in the games industry. I love Polygon, and I love that they’re willing to talk about this stuff, because it happens and it shouldn’t. But it worries me. I’m scared that girls will read it and be scared away from the industry. I know this happens, because I was really nervous about putting the game on steam as a direct result of reading so many negative articles about women putting games on steam and being harassed. Instead I’ve found the Steam Community to be welcoming and friendly :) Particularly other indies, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive. (By the way, I wholeheartedly recommend #indiedevhour to other indies. Its at 4 on Thursday mornings in Australia, which is a bit unfortunate, but well worth the lost sleep.)
I’m sure a lot of female developers have a positive experience with Greenlight, but we’re not hearing their stories. It can’t be right to focus solely on the negatives, can it? I’ve worked in the games industry for a long time now. I’ve got my fair share of horror stories, and I’m guilty as anyone of sharing them for shock value, or just because they make amusing anecdotes. (Did I tell you about the porn drive at my old workplace?) But they account for maybe 3 percent of my total experience in the games industry. Mostly it’s been about making games well, hanging out with people I really like and being able to wear comfortable shoes to work.
I’m often asked how I feel about our daughters potentially working in the games industry. Am I scared for them? Would I prefer they choose an easier life?
Let me tell you about Violet, our youngest. Violet never walks on footpaths. If there is a nice wide smooth path from A to B, surrounded by rocks and mud, or urban obstacles, Violet will be scrambling over the rocks, or leaping from ledge to ledge beside it. She’s not a gifted parkour-er either, she falls hard and often. She’s broken her arm twice already, once from tripping over an obstacle that was only 10 cm high.
When I first held my firstborn in my arms, I hoped with all my being that I could protect her from the all life’s hurts. I was crushed the first time she got sick, the first time she got a fright, the first time a playmate was mean to her. But my girls are strong willed, independent and ambitious young women. The easy paths don’t interest them. It’s not my job to chase them away from the rocks that make their hearts sing, to herd them into the well-trodden middle way. It’s my job to pick them up when they go splat, to be ready with Band-Aids and ice cream when things go wrong. And yes, to rush them to the hospital when bones break.
My eldest daughter works as a counsellor for a charity that helps people who have been sexually abused as children. Sometimes the job is too much for her, and she needs to take some time out, have a nice cup of tea and recover her strength. But she keeps on, just like she did when she was little, and had been sick, or scared, or sad.
Perhaps it would help the games industry move forward if we didn’t dwell on all the rocks in the way, but instead celebrated the strong, talented, tenacious people who are clambering over them.