ASCII by Jason Scott

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Chicks —

This entry filed on August 29th.

A while ago, I got an e-mail from somebody. It was pretty short. It went like this:

To: Jason
From: Guy
You should have more women in GET LAMP

I love these sorts of criticisms because the complaint is right there, the sum total of the communication. No hemming or roundabout language; just the clear directive that documentary needs women.

I get some snide commentary over time, along the lines of how many guys are in the BBS Documentary and how many guys are in the GET LAMP interview photo list so far. This is said derisively, as if I’m either avoiding women, or this is all a commentary on women, or that the documentary wouldn’t be worth seeing if it didn’t have more women.

I would hope this would be self-evident, but I really don’t choose or not choose people based on what their genetic makeup is, any more than their income level or favorite OS or whether they ever rode a roller coaster. There’s just no point to that approach. In fact, I take it further and wherever I can, I interview people who others tell me I shouldn’t. Either their personality is known to be abrasive, or they’re considered to not be in sync with the outlook on subject matter, or whatever. I still interview them, if I can. I’ve had “critical” interviews turn out to be zeros and last-minute sessions turn out to be the source of amazing material.

So when I don’t have a lot of women in the documentaries, it’s just a case of there not being a lot of women that my normal research and communication has brought up. I’m not avoiding women, but I’m not ignoring all potential interviews to only interview women, either.

My completely-made-up estimate is that a lot of the videogame industry now is a 70-30 split of male-female, with the ratio getting more male-oriented as you go towards “prestige” jobs, like Lead Designer and Person Who Gets On the Cover. In contrast, my made-up estimate was that it was 90-10 in the early 1980s. You have prominent game designers like Roberta Williams, Dona Bailey, Carol Shaw and Anne Westfall, and then six billion guys. It’s just how the thing rolls.

I think making up ratios and quotas that have to be held to in a documentary would be even worse than a failure to include specific voices from a group. (But still better than intentionally avoiding groups simply to make something more marketable or because of some internal bias against that group.) It’s a sticky situation, but I can promise that whatever the ratio for my next couple of films, it will not be because of some internal goal-set of getting more of any group in there to be “fair”.

I hate talking about stuff this way, but there you go, nobody’s plotting over here to kick the ladies out of the clubhouse. And nobody’s kicking guys out of the clubhouse to make way for any potential ladies, either.

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One Comment

  1. joat says:

    Oh, come on! You’re response is just not PC enough. (heh)

    Sounds like someone didn’t remember their childhood (or wasn’t there). The early BBSs were (in majority) run by geeks.

    I do remember two in Hawaii that were family or female efforts. Both were social efforts that got some of us more-shy types out into the sunlight.

    The Swamp was run from a couple’s home in Waipahu. They would throw BBQs periodically just so we could meet each other face-to-face. Their fetes were of the type where it was safe to bring your kids (there was even an Easter egg hunt).

    The Oral Majority (in response to Moral Majority politics) was aimed at a bit younger crowd but was still organized to get people outside (though mostly at night). They organized pool parties, bowling contests, and at least one penthouse party in Honolulu.

    Admittedly, these two were the minority. The remainder of the BBSs on the island were either run by businesses (Amiga shops led the effort) or by us geeks with extra cash (phone lines were expensive) and no life (with a BBS tying up the phone line, no one could call you).

    In any case, maybe you could pretend there were more women involved? Are you sure that Ms. Denning or Ms. Hopper didn’t run a BBS?