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Portal's Kim Swift gives rallying call against sexism in gaming industry

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Posted by: Matt Liebl

Airtight Games creative director Kim Swift has led a rallying call against sexism in the work place in her latest blog post. The lengthy post calls on females in the game industry to rise up and speak out about what she calls a common occurrence in the industry.

"There are worse things to be mistaken for besides the receptionist!" Swift began. "Which is completely and utterly true, but this is a common occurrence for many women in the games industry."

Despite her work on popular games Portal and Quantum Conundrum, the female developer admitted that even she is exposed to sexism in the gaming industry, but is "ashamed to admit that I am scared of sharing everything; I'm scared of sharing the worst of it."

"I am fearful of delving below the surface. Talking about this subject in public is terrifying because frankly you never know when retribution is going to rear its ugly head and what sort of consequences will come about because of your words. To tell all, in many ways, either means having nothing to lose, anonymity or extreme bravery, none of which I possess," she said.

"And I most definitely have a lot to lose because there are people depending on me. And frankly, I love this industry and I want to stay here for a while." 

It's sad to see that a woman as creative and talented as Swift is afraid to speak her mind due to fear of backlash. I've personally met with Swift in the past and let me tell you, she is just as talented, smart, and hard-working as any other man, woman, or person in the industry. So the fact that even someone like Kim is exposed to sexism is disgusting and disheartening.

As a male in the gaming industry, I'm actually embarrassed by some of what I saw in response to the "1ReasonToBe" hashtag which Swift referred to as just the "barest tip of the iceberg."

"That’s the thing; I really do love this industry. #1ReasonToBe was brilliant, because as crap as things can be sometimes, there’s way more about this community that is positive, uplifting and fantastic. There is nothing out there that I would want to do more than make games. I love going to work and being with my teammates: joking around, expressing ideas, bonding over hard work, and well, playing games together," she continued. "All of that makes the other stuff I’d rather not talk about – the stuff that makes me shift around nervously and teary eyed – completely and utterly bearable. The bad is dwarfed in comparison to the love of making games."

Swift went on to detail her wish to become inspiration for little girls who may be interested in games. Her goal is to inspire and show kids that girls can make games too. And if you've played any of Kim Swift's games, then you already know they are some damn good games. Swift also admitted that the problem isn't going to change overnight and that a grown adult isn't going to change their mind as easy as an impressionable kid "full of those innocent hopes and dreams that may one day turn into reality."

"So here comes my point," she concluded. "This is a numbers game, people. If you want diversity in gaming subjects: If you want a more fair, unbiased workplace: If you want the industry to just plain grow up: Then we need to change the makeup of our industry, because games are a reflection of their creators."

"So I see the solution to this problem coming not a year from now, not five years from now, but twenty. When this current generation of kids sees the good example that we should be setting now. And though we may not be able to tell it completely like it is just yet, there’s still plenty we can do to help future generations of game developers. So ladies, my call to arms is this:"

"Be visible. Be outspoken. Be strong. Be smart. Be kind. Be everything that the younger versions of us could’ve pointed to and proudly said:"

“Girls make games too.”

Tags: Kim Swift, Portal, Quantum Conundrum

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