Indie game reality show falls apart due to sexism

By Steve Watts, Apr 01, 2014 9:00am PDT

A Web show following indie game developers has collapsed amid heavy criticism. The show Game Jam was to follow the indie scene in a reality TV style presentation, but developers involved in the project say the producers didn't understand the process, tried to turn developers against each other, and asked sexist questions during staff interviews.

The personal blogs of developers Adriel Wallick (Candescent) and Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), along with a piece on Gamasutra from SoundSelf's Robin Arnott (via Polygon), give firsthand accounts of how it fell apart. IndieStatik subsequently made a lengthy piece detailing how the show was only tenuously connected to game development, too focused on hocking Mountain Dew, and had only vague promises of official support from the ID@Xbox program.

According to Wallick, producer Matti Leshem asked her if it was an advantage to "have a pretty lady" among the team. Other developers said he asked all-male teams if they were better off without women on staff.

"We all understand it was first a show and second a game jam," Arnott told Polygon. "Our bullshit meters were hanging out at about 15 to 20 percent already going in, but that seemed worth it in order to demonstrate something magical to the public. We knew there would be challenges that would be basically bullshit, but as long as we were working with our friends and showcasing what is magical about our community we were fine."

Wallick said that instead, the show-runners tried to turn it into the usual reality TV affair, complete with interpersonal conflicts and back-biting. "As soon as they tried to pit us against each other they realized, no, this is not going to work," she said.

The various developers walked out of the show, and subsequent efforts to restart it didn't pan out. Quinn said she "couldn't support something that Leshem touched, or was allowed to touch."

[Image courtesy of IndieStatik.]

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