Monday, May 16, 2016

Game Design and Boobies.

Now THAT, my friends, is a title. But I digress.

This is me. Taken last fall, over on campus. I have too many things to carry with straps, as you can see. I am also heavier than I would like, but I've largely made peace with that. Also, I have this weird camera smile. I blame the overbite. But whatever. I am cis, female-identified, heterosexual. I have glasses and I dye my hair purple in places. I also, although this picture does not show it, have boobs.

My chest is not going to go down in history as one of the perfect chests of womankind. I am no Phryne. But breasts, I have them. And now that that's settled...

I am also a game designer. A game designer, and I have boobs! Imagine! How did this happen, may you ask. Were they added later? [No.] Do I have a secret lab of subordinate male game designers whose work I claim as my own, in exchange for baked goods (as that's one of the things that breasts enable, right)? [Er, No. How weird. What a terrible supervillain that would make.] Am I sure they're really games and not, say, knitting patterns? Or maybe recipes? [Yes, they are games. Don't try to cook them or wear them, at least not without SIGNIFICANT revision.]

Despite my ownership of a pair of breasts, I have worked in the industry since 2000, and been a gamer long before that. I write, edit, develop, and design. About the only thing I don't do is layout and art, and that's because I know both my limits and many people who are so much better at those things than I am. I even now co-own a game company with my game dev/designer husband, whom I married years after we met WORKING ON GAMES TOGETHER. Crazy, huh? In fact, I was an Industry Insider Guest of Honor (before the title got changed) at Gen Con 2012! I gave talks! There are pictures!

Wanna know something even crazier? I'm not the only one. In fact, thanks to grad school and the limits of my sanity, there are MANY people who can fill out a blouse doing much more incredibly awesome work in gaming than I am, currently. In fact, I am officially on hiatus from doing game stuff until my dissertation is done, which naturally means that I'm coming up with game designs like stupid crazy. Blargh. Stupid game-design boobs. But I digress.

Now, I don't want to imply that having boobs is necessary for being a game designer. There are many perfectly good designers out there with no obvious biologically female secondary sex characteristics. And I don't wish to denigrate pectorals generally speaking, because everyone has those, regardless of gender, and well they should. They're terribly useful. Logically, however, if I can do game design while owning boobs, and other people can do game design while not having girl-boobs, then... perhaps game design has NOTHING to do with secondary sex characteristics! Or even primary sex characteristics! Perhaps it's just a thing that people (and some animals) can do, as play is a fairly universal thing we all do. Perhaps we've just forgotten that this both is and is not such an elevated pursuit -- there are awesome and important issues wound up in this format that even the smallest child among us can master, much less, you know, men and women. Don't get so carried away with special status because you've played/worked on a game, you know? Or if you're going to, then really make it something worthwhile, because it is.

All of which boils down to mean that anyone who's taking issue with the 2016 Gen Con Industry Insider slate because there are a lot of women on it (for the first time!) is having a serious gap of understanding just what gaming is, what the industry is, and how much bigger it is than any one of us. There's been a lot of that going around in geeky culture of late. I get it. It's hard to feel smaller than you were used to. That said, it's past time we as a whole come to grips with it, and by "it" I don't mean boobs. I mean the fact that we have a LOT of long-past-due recognition of women in the industry to make up for, going back to the sidelining of women into "editor" credits back at TSR when they frankly did a lot more than that. Women have been significant contributors to the tabletop gaming industry from its inception, both as support and as content creators. It's long past time we give recognition where it's due, regardless of boobage. In short, support the awesome slate Gen Con has finally put together. Don't be a boob.