A new hashtag, #1reasonwhy, popped up on my Twitter feed over the past few days. The trend was in response to the Games Project Specialist at Kickstarter asking why there are so few lady game creators. Many men and women responded, bringing up the various difficulties women face in a male-dominated industry like games. One reply ended with the hashtag “#1reasonwhy” (as in, one reason why there are so few lady game creators). The tag blew up as tons of women game designers shared their experiences with sexism in the games industry.
It would have been amazing enough already if the trend had simply served to spread awareness of the sexist culture that keeps more women from making games, but it did much more than that. It connected people interested in games with women designers and developers who are fighting through that culture and making games, and it also connected those developers with each other. Developers, male and female, started using the #1reasonmentor tag to offer mentorship to new female designers. LinkedIn ran a survey about women and mentorship in 2011 and found that one in five of the women surveyed have never even had a mentor, and that half of women have never had a female mentor (I would guess that both of those numbers are even higher for women in the games industry). 67% of women who had never been a mentor said it was because no one ever asked. On the flipside, about half of women who had never had a mentor said it’s because they never encountered someone appropriate. The #1reasonmentor knocks out both of those issues, letting those interested in being mentors make it known to the Twitterverse and open the doors to a positive, constructive relationship.
Now the #1reasontobe hashtag is picking up steam, where women are expressing what they love about being game developers, which in my opinion just rounds out this perfect spontaneous combustion of support and encouragement for new developers These women are amazing. Collectively, they defined and spread awareness of a problem. Then they stepped up in the best way possible to help actively fix that problem. Now they’re making sure everyone still believes the problem is worth tackling.
I talk about game design quite a bit on this blog, and it’s a topic that really interests me, but I’m not sure what role I want to take. Do I want to make games? I’m not sure. I guess technically I am a game designer of sorts, but I don’t really feel like one and I certainly haven’t owned it. Game design and development is something I can imagine myself doing in the future, and part of me wants to jump on just to be a part of this new wave of women developers and connect with these supportive women. For now, I’m at least going to keep a list of possible #1reasonmentors for potential future use!