If you looked carefully last night, I'm pretty sure you could have see a hidden banner behind the stage that read: G.R.O.S.S.*
It's definitely not the first entry I had planned for this new blog, but it's something that caught in my head last night, and I haven't been able to shake it. Yes, it has much to do with that interesting Sony PS4 media event where they gave us a very carefully executed peek behind the curtain without showing too much (or anything at all when it came to the actual device itself). But that's a discussion for another time.
After I mentally dealt with the fact that I may or may not have been duped into watching a two-hour Playstation commercial - complete with techno rock, 10-edits-per-second videos and slow motion explosions (all of which started to give me flashbacks to last year's uncomfortable E3 show) I experienced a sad realization.
Apparently, Sony couldn't find one woman to be a part of this spectacle.
Here's the thing.
Our beloved industry has a severe image problem when it comes to incorporating women in the various fields that produce our little drug. What Sony had on their hands with this sort of media-intensive event, was an immense opportunity - as did ever participating developer for that matter - to show that they were not only sensitive and receptive to this issue, but were actively doing something about it. And honestly, when you've created a mega-hyped event to announce the new iteration of your flagship entertainment hardware - complete with a redefined brand image, platform and ecosystem - why would you inadvertently or otherwise make it seem like what you were announcing was a boys-only experience.
Sadly, the stream of mostly white male developers and industry executives showed exactly that. Here was the new Playstation ecosystem fully connecting gamers to Play in more ways than ever before and yet it disturbingly showed a clear bias towards the male preference.
Just think about what sort of message could have been sent out to Playstation nation (and gamer nation) if just one female developer got on stage to introduce a game or was featured in the highlight reel of soundbites on the massive video screen.
Think of what sort of message Sony could have sent to every girl out there who wants to feel more comfortable about being a gamer in this male dominated hobby and more importantly, the message sent to girls who want to grow up and actually make games. It's an opportunity squandered. Maybe Sony will attempt to be more modern at E3. (And maybe we'll actually see the PS4 as well!)
As sad as this was when I realized the missing female factor, it was compounded by disgust as I foolishly found myself on Kotaku commenting about this very topic. I knew what I was doing, and expected nasty responses, but it was worse. Happily I saw a new article pop up minutes after laying out my comments that dealt with this very subject; bravely written and posted by Patricia Hernandez. Unhappily, I saw it immediately set upon by Kotaku's rabid male audience and watched her and other female and male feminist allies get eaten alive - not that I expected anything less, sadly.
In the end, it's something to think about. It's probably not a good enough reason to boycott Sony or its Playstation brand, but it is something we can bring up in our consumer interactions. With the ease of connecting to these companies via Twitter, Facebook and forums, it's not hard to make ourselves heard and keep these organizations from hitting these iceburgs of outdated perspectives.
Whether or not all of the men featured during this press conference – both on stage or on screen – were really there because they were simply the heads of their respective studios or divisions, is ultimately no excuse for missing this chance to set both an example and a precedent by bringing real working women developers and execs into the public eye for all of us to see and hear. To have watched a woman developer enthusiastically introduce a game and watch her eyes fill with pride as the trailer rolls would be an inspiration for us all – not just to girls and boys everywhere, but to us, the gamers.