Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants


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There’s a Game Dev Barbie and It’s Not as Terrible as You Would Think

I’m not a huge fan of Barbie for reasons that should be reasonably clear. That said, a few days ago the Mattel website listed something kind of interesting and possibly awesome:

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Game Developer Barbie. Continue reading

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GeekGirlCon Panel Recap: In Conversation: Anita and Zoe

One of the biggest turnouts at GeekGirlCon ’15 was for a panel that was announced at the last minute. “In Conversation, Anita and Zoe” featured special guests Anita Sarkeesian (creator of Feminist Frequency) and Zoe Quinn (game designer and co-founder of Crash Override Network) as they discussed what it was like to be high-profile women in tech, online harassment, and what action we can all take to prevent online abuse.

Elizabeth Sampat, who moderated the panel, started by posing some questions to Sarkeesian and Quinn. “You are both successful women in the public eye,” she said. “What kinds of things do you have to do or put up with that men in similar positions don’t have to do?”

Quinn answered first: “I’m worried that people will see me in public and I look like crap.” With the amount of focus that goes into evaluating women’s appearances, she voices her concerns about how if she doesn’t look “acceptable,” she will find threads on Reddit the next day criticizing how she looks. “There are all the things that go into appearance. I got into game dev and writing so I didn’t have to see people but now with this public thing I have to use makeup. It’s easier now when I think of it as painting a Warhammer mini.” Continue reading


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Women in games in the media–it’s still sexist. Ugh.

So, as we all know, Halo 5: Guardians is coming out early next week, and there’s been plenty of press about that. The head of the studio, Bonnie Ross, is a woman. She’s a woman in a very unique position in the game industry–statistically, when women work in games, they’re usually more junior than their male counterparts. And, she’s also Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios, so that’s a LOT of high-leveled work going on there.

So when Bloomberg published this piece about Ross, I was super excited to read it. It’s not like you get a lot of news about women in the game industry. All in all, it’s not a bad piece. It talks about the Halo franchise, and about what her job is like. It talks about the scope of her work, when she’s in meetings and playtesting and meeting people at conventions, and how she has turned the studio around to make Halo continue to be a smash hit after so many years. These are massive achievements, and not anything to dismiss lightly. Continue reading


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Cassius is More than Just “Ass-Kicking Roman Lesbians”

Cassius1I’ve read a lot of comics in my time, but I’ve never really found many that address my non-comic political interests. A possible exception has been Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten series, which discusses things such as metastories and political philosophy, but that’s just one instance. Exceptions are rare.

This is why I was super excited to have the opportunity to review Cassius, which on the face of it, was going to address some of my other interests: I love history, I love Shakespeare, and I love dynamic female characters. Cassius has all of these things in scads, which pleases me immensely. Continue reading


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Women in Gaming: an evening with Halo: Nightfall

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Last Thursday, at the Big Picture in downtown Seattle, I found out about the male-dominated history of the community for women in the videogame industry.

L-R: Jessica Shea, Marta Beck, Holly Barbacovi and Kiki Wolfkill, all of 343 industries. Image courtesy of Jason Pankow.

Bonnie Ross, CVP of 343 Industries, recounted how she and several other women organized a cocktail event at the annual Game Developers Conference as a networking opportunity for women in 2001. Considering that women only make up around 5-20% of their fields, and that on average they earned 86 cents on every dollar that men made in the US game industry, it was crucial for women to have an opportunity to meet others within their profession.

However, more men than women turned up to the event. Continue reading