Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 22, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 22, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 
Beer and Diversity
by Jen Whitson on 05/29/13 08:15:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This has been cross-posted at www.ExecutionLabs.com.

We were playtesting at Execution Labs last week and had a bit of work finding enough female testers. In figuring out why, I came to a really weird conclusion: The game industry -from indie to AAA – is founded on beer. It is a central node that brings networks of developers together, that fuels our discussions, and cements our friendships. And this has profound effects on diversity. To figure out how this all relates, read on.

But first, a disclaimer. I love beer (particularly black IPAs) and have no intent of advocating a no-beer policy. But I do think an awareness of how the choice of drinking beer specifically and the venues and hours in which we partake of beer have a big impact on who we meet and collaborate with.

Beer_Cheers-Cliff-Norm

I first noticed the role of beer as a social glue when watching Capy’s Beers with Friends. They point out (and this is supported by anthropological and sociological literature on bonding over shared food and drink) that when we share beers, awesome things happen. Beer-fueled chats with friends and fellow devs can lead to tips on how to improve design, ideas for new games, and the start of future collaborations.

It’s over beers that we usually get to know each other in a more open, less formal session. As the Capy team also points out, treating investors, publishers, and middleware agents to beer is seen as an ideal way to schmooze, as once they’ve shared this bonding experience with you, they’re less likely to stiff you on a deal. (I’m not sure it this one plays out in reality. Unfortunately, there’s no academic literature to prove that drinking with that Apple guy will get your iOS game featured or closing the bar with the person from Valve will improve your Steam contract terms).

At studios here in Montreal, ‘free beer Fridays’ are a common perk to help employees unwind and socialize at the end of the work week. And, if you corner Jason Della Rocca, he’ll openly say that the pitch for Execution Labs literally started on a napkin over drinks, and this napkin is what the founders took to potential supporters. Beer and other libations played a mythic role in cementing relationships with key investors as well, notably when XL was raising the funds it needed to launch.

I’m beginning to wonder if beer is the adult equivalent of spitting in one’s hand and shaking to seal the deal. I came to this realization as XL labs teams were prepping to go to GDC and were solemnly counseled that sessions were good, but the real magic happens at the parties afterwards. Sure enough, when the teams returned and I grilled them on how it went, their most ‘successful’ moments were meeting the Unity guy, or the indie icon guy, or the publisher guy over beers. (On a side note, it was always ‘guys’, never ladies. This is perhaps because approaching lady-strangers and offering them a drink is seen as an potentially inappropriate advance rather than a calculated networking move). This was corroborated again and again by other devs I spoke to. In fact, I officially award bonus points to the indie devs hitchhiking from Canada to GDC and crashing parties, sleeping on the random floors, and making new BFFs, all whilst partaking of beers.

While I think beer’s powers as a social and corporate lubricant are pretty neat, I’m also a bit bummed out. While I like sitting around and drinking beers with friends, I will never hitchhike and crash parties. I will never get tipsy with strangers and go on crazy antics and make lifelong friendships while doing so. I’m usually in bed before midnight. Thus, I feel like I’m missing out on all these experiences that are held up as ‘magic moments’ that are essential to the fabric of ‘real’ members of the game industry.

himym

So, here’s the deal. Not everyone drinks beer. Just like the spit-in-the-hand thing, a taste for beers is largely a guy thing (let alone a taste for hitchhiking and other assorted shenanigans that follow along). While some ladies, and family people, and older people, and non-drinking people may also like to hang out in spaces that provide beer and networking late into the night, there are surely less of them. And this is an issue. If you don’t drink, or don’t like beer, or have a family life that limits the amount of time that you can hang out after hours drinking, then you are unintentionally excluded from the informal decision-making network of the industry.

The desire to hang out late drinking beer works to inadvertently replicate an old boy’s club. The term “old-boys’ network” comes from the UK all-boys private school system. The friendships formed within those dorms and sports fields were carried forward to private gentlemen’s and country clubs. The social connections formed in adolescence became the foundation for business connections, thus creating and perpetuating a system where social elites made decisions behind the closed doors of old boys clubs, rather than in boardrooms or public forums. If you weren’t a white male from an upper-crust private school background, you were thus excluded from the venues where all the serious business transactions and conversations were happening.

I’m arguing that beer is creating a similar effect. But instead of building business networks that are rooted in privilege, it’s perpetuating specific industry demographics – i.e. if you’re not the type of person that attends events and mingles with drink-in-hand (and predominately it’s beer and not other drinks like wine served at these events) then you have a much harder time finding and forging the social relationships that help improve your craft and your career.

Bart Simon, the director of TAG, pointed out to me that, while my hypothesis that networks form around and because of beer, is cool, there’s a difference between where the magic actually happens (and whether there is actually magic) and stories about where the magic actually happens. As he puts “Whoever tells a tale about an epic early morning coffee meeting or design insight? You would seem like a dweeb. Alcohol stories are also more humble since there is a built in excuse for having dumb ideas”. He may have a point.

But, returning to my intro to this article, I have anecdotal counter-point. At XL we’re having trouble getting females to drop-by and playtest. We offer beer and pizza in exchange for an hour of trying out our games, and have no trouble finding male testers. This is not because Montreal lacks lady gamers. Trust me. But some of the other lady gamers I know suggested that it wasn’t the gaming that was the issue, it was just that hanging out on a Thursday night with pizza and beer just wasn’t their thing.

My friend Graeme suggested that we treat testing less as a basement party and more of a vernissage. After looking up what vernissage means, I think that he might be onto something. While at XL we may solve our playtesting issues by just broadening our food and drink choices, there isn’t a simple solution for the fact that we, as social beings, trust and are more apt to work with, collaborate with, and do business with people that we’ve shared food and drink with. And if you don’t hang out where this food and drinking happens, then you have a harder time networking, forging relationships, and making the ‘magic’ happen. And I’m not sure that telling people (men or women) to “get out there and force yourself to drink!” is the right solution. (You’re welcome, liver.)

Multiple factors contribute to the fact that the industry is dominated by young, single, males. Instead of blaming this solely on outright misogyny or xenophobia, we need to take more notice of the hidden structures that – unintentionally and without malice – work to reinforce a lack of diversity in the industry. What I want to know is whether there’s merit to the idea that our diversity/old boys club relates - in part - to the way we network and socialize.

In short, does our love of beer create a glass-ceiling effect in games? And if so, why do we see beer-fulled discussions as a source of creativity? Does our industry specifically self-select for extroverted alcoholics more so than other industries?


Related Jobs

Nexon America, Inc.
Nexon America, Inc. — El Segundo, California, United States
[10.22.14]

Localization Coordinator
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
[10.22.14]

Producer
DeNA Studios Canada
DeNA Studios Canada — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
[10.22.14]

Analytical Game Designer
Xsolla
Xsolla — Sherman Oaks, California, United States
[10.22.14]

Senior Business Development Manager






Comments


Jon Hayward
profile image
I found this article a compelling read, I have been involved in similar discussions on the role of alcohol in game development here in Australia and been responsible for placing some of it back into local industry (we're pretty dry locally).

And to be frank, I agree, creating a different environment remove the glass ceiling is a good start and it will improve diversity. This approach complements how we approach game development. But how do we improve the interaction at different ages as well?

And more importantly, how can we help to balance the boys-club out for the next generation?

Scott Sheppard
profile image
Thank you for posting this! I am very much not a beer drinker... ever... and this has been a large silent struggle for me. I define the person that will still go to events with beer, but the number of times can be counted on two hands. I do a double and triple take before even considering going. The dynamic just isn't interesting to me.

Another interesting side effect I've seen is that beer alienates talented high-school kids from joining the discussions and group. I'm not talking about the annoying fanboys/girls either. I'm talking about the ones that participate in game jams and add meaningful value to the group. But as soon as there's a get-together at a bar... instant alienation.

"Alcohol stories are also more humble since there is a built in excuse for having dumb ideas”
-I feel like this is a real point. It's almost as if we can't let ourselves be ourselves (silly) in a social setting unless we can shift the social awkwardness on to the beer. Why is that so hard for us? I've seen many a time where someone drinking got silly and literally pretended to be tipsy to cover for the fact. In truth, they were hilarious and their comment would have been appreciated with or without the beer. A larger crutch than we imagine maybe?

So, I'm curious, what's a person like me to do? Just not network and lose my chances at making chums in the industry that calls to my soul? Make do with the fact that I'll just never fit in? Or should I further splinter the game dev community by hosting no-beer parties that the beer lovers wouldn't attend? Seriously, I'd love to know your thoughts.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jen Whitson
profile image
My friend Dan mentioned that he was really impressed with the Chillingo GDC party. It was in a restaurant with good hors-d'oeuvres and a nice quiet atmosphere. It made it easier to talk with and meet other people. So perhaps this is a start in terms of the industry creating atmospheres that cater to a range of different people (non-drinkers included, but also people who get lost in loud, crowded, party venues).

I'm sure other Gama readers will have better suggestions that I do. But you're totally right - we often use beer to make social settings less awkward. In this context, I find that no-beer parties work best if there's another thing to focus on - ie. board games. Then we already have a built-in conversation starter.

Christian Nutt
profile image
This is interesting.

A friend of mine who worked at a studio was (inadvertently but significantly) kept out of another important clique: the smokers. Because he didn't smoke, and his boss and coworkers did, he started to lose out in office politics. Eventually he took to going out and joining his boss on smoke breaks sometimes just to get some informal chat time, though he didn't actually take up smoking.

Informal rituals and cultural customs can exclude people, it's true.

Jakub Majewski
profile image
Definitely. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, but boy - have I done a lot of passive smoking. It's absolutely crucial, if you have a lot of smokers at work.

Axel Cholewa
profile image
There's even a friends episode about this, The One Where Rachel Smokes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBtvJWOqDM

Jonathan Ghazarian
profile image
This is a very interesting thing that I've thought about a lot in the past year. Someone wrote a blog post about this specifically relating to startups a while back and it got me thinking. I'm also a beer drinker and love to talk about many things over a drink. I actually have a number of friends as well that don't drink, but like hanging out at bars. The problem is, there are a lot of people that don't drink and don't like bars.

There are a lot of "drinkup" events that go on where I think there is an atmosphere of really cutting loose, and that distances a lot of people. I think the issue isn't so much that alcohol is around, but people sometimes feel an expectation of getting drunk or be judged for not drinking. I've definitely seen people badger others for not drinking(and others being fine with it) and it's a big loss when that causes someone to drop out of a gathering.

I think one of the biggest problems when it comes to drinking at a social gathering is that there aren't a lot of other options. Where can you go, in the evening after work, where there's a lot of space, and active conversations are encouraged? A bar. We don't have a good, common alternative for these.

I feel that this has to be tackled by event organizers. Instead of a bar, have it at the office. Make sure the language in the invite is not "have a drink or ten on us!" Alternative beverages should be included. Food should also be considered so it's not just pizza. If you want to make sure you get the attention of excluded crowds, maybe you should point out that there will be other options such as coffee, punch, vegetarian options, etc.

As far as I can tell, this is mostly an oversight for a lot of organizations because we just assume people either drink, or don't mind being around a lot of drinking. If we don't emphasize that, we can try to get people in on the conversation, even if one person has a drink in their hand and not the other.

Katy Smith
profile image
This has happened to me so many times :( I'm not a beer drinker and I'm a vegetarian. My old boss used to take the team out for "beer and wings" at a local sports bar for some project kickoffs and brainstorming meetings. Do I go and just sit there? Do I eat celery sticks? Is that weird? I'm glad to see it's not just me.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
profile image
I go to bars often. Almost all of them serve cocktails and wine (if you're anti-beer but not anti-alcohol) and non-alcoholic drinks. I see women there drinking those menu items all of the time. As for food, most of them sell something vegetarian as well like a salad.

Katy Smith
profile image
@ William, I'm not saying that people should be banned from going to a bar. I would just like to go somewhere else once in a while. And have you had bar salads? GROSS! There's a Chili's a block in the other direction from the bar. There, I could get actual food, and people could still drink if they wanted to. It's the not thinking about everyone part that bugs me, not my inability to find food.

Proxy V
profile image
@Katy

Have you openly expressed this? Or have you ever suggested, "Hey, why don't we try the chili's instead?"

I've worked mostly with men during my career, and they are not opposed to suggestions. Most of the time, they go to the same spot out of habit, and it's familiar.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Recently I attended an event at NYU's game design center where the first year game design grad students were showing off their work. Despite the overt pretentiousness of NYU (apologies to NYU alumni) the food consisted exclusively of pizza and beer. At a different NYU event showing "The Boy Game", a slightly gamified movie about bullying and school aged boys made by two women, they had a fruit/cheese plate and wine.

I absolutely agree. How the event is structured absolutely impacts who comes to your events. By corollary, if events are monolithic in nature, the population showing up to those events will be homogeneous. This is probably one of the better insights into "how to get women into XYZ" because it realizes that there is a problem, then realizes that it probably isn't intentional and finally suggests a solutions that isn't "how about if we make XYZ pink".

Daniel Accardi
profile image
Hey Jen,

Good article. There's definitely something to this whole thing. In a certain sense, I think there's a definite economic slant to it: pizza and beer is (supposed to be) a quick, cheap and dirty as you can get it, and for an individual or an institution, that does mean something. Yes, it can be exclusionary - but then again, in a weird way, so are cons in general. I've corresponded with more than a few people who simply said, "I'd love to go GDC or PAX or whatever, but I don't have the money, or time to take off from my job." I feel like there's some kind of feedback system that ties together collegiate single white boys, cheapness, beer-and-pizza, the men that those boys become, etc.

Approaching it from a somewhat different perspective, I do wish there was more diversity in the type of food/venue/activity that devs shared, merely as a way to help us grow as people. If you're already a single white male, the least you could do is absorb a bit of culture and try something new! Just cementing yourself into your existing social niche doesn't do much for anybody.

...I'm not 100%sure I actually contributed anything with either of these comments, but hey, good article!
Cheers,
--Dan

Jen Whitson
profile image
Thanks Dan!
I agree that pizza & beer is often a budget thing - sushi playtest sessions may become costly. ;)

Ivan Mulkeen
profile image
Not drinking beer is far less anathema in the gaming industry than being vegetarian, in my experience... except at BioWare Edmonton. I was quite surprised that Alberta of all places was the most accommodating when it came to "other than given" dietary choices. Probably helps that Ray & Greg are/were both Vegetarians.

Mike Williams
profile image
I've been in the industry for 10+ years, taking prescribed medication for 12+ years. When I do have an occasional beer, it just makes me sleepy (probably from the meds). I've missed out many opportunities to get closer to people because of this fact. Regardless, I'm not stupid enough to jeopardize my personal health in order to work the system.

Fortunately, I had a good set of industry friends that are fine with me not drinking, or are not drinkers themselves. For purely selfish reasons, I wish we had more Game Dev Board Game Ups than Game Dev Drink Ups.

Tony Dormanesh
profile image
When you offer "Free beer and pizza" as payment for testing a game on a Thursday night you might eliminate a lot of women, but you also eliminate many types of guys.. You know, the types with jobs and people who can buy their own food.

Alcohol of all types has been a social lubricant since the day it was invented. We're just a microcosm of the planet, and yea, we also began as a "boys club" and are slowly, very slowly becoming a club for everyone. If we ever made it to a 50/50 split, many deals will still be made over a drink.

Jason Carter
profile image
Uh, come to Colorado, PLENTY of women like beer. Probably because we have the best beer! I could say to nearly any one of my female friends, "Hey wanna go grab a beer with some friends?" And they'd be down. But then again Colorado is HUGE on beer, it's fairly popular here and common to drink beer with girls and guys.

Also, chuck in a few Woodchucks and Mikes Hard and BAM, multi-gender party set up right there for the people who can't quite get into beer. And maybe some soda for the non-drinkers.

Hah, I definitely understand though, it's more a guy thing to go "grab a few beers."

Jonathan Ghazarian
profile image
I think a bigger issue that's being explored is that when alcohol is a focus, it tends to feel exclusionary to non drinkers. Part of the answer is definitely to allow options, but there needs to be another step to make it overall more inviting to everyone. It's a subtle thing, but I think it's important that nobody feels looked down on because they don't have a beer in their hand.

Brian Kehrer
profile image
Interesting insight, particularly when considering user testing, and how it affects turnout demographics. Some nights, you may want the beer and pizza crowd, other nights, not as much.

I find the larger networking problem at GDC to be 100dB house music. I think an art gallery serving beer (e.g. the doublefine party) would still attract and retain a different, and possibly more diverse crowd. Your point about perception I think may be the stronger one.

David M
profile image
I'm not really getting the point of this article.

According to Harris Interactive, 74% of males and 49% of females aged 21-34 drink beer. And I don't recall a single event at GDC that only served beer. They almost always have wine and soda.

I'm a vegetarian and a teetotaller and have been going to parties at GDC for many years. Yes, they are often noisy and full of drunk people, but it's still useful networking and social time with industry peers. Nobody has ever asked about my drink or dietary preferences, but then I don't act like a special snowflake.

Would I prefer a nice quiet sit down vegetarian meal? Sure, but that rarely happens, is not a very effective use of time, and it's usually the random element that makes parties interesting.

If you aren't able to handle some noisy drunks so you can network with people, you may not be cut out to work in the entertainment industry.

Robert Green
profile image
But that's exactly the point isn't it? If some people repeatedly get to do the things they enjoy, while others have to 'handle it', then that's undesirable isn't it?
I wouldn't necessarily say that's a game-industry thing though. This is more just a symptom of a society that has come to equate 'socialising' with 'drinking' and 'celebrating' with 'drinking more'. It's the default activity that everyone is assumed to like, and if you don't, you're expected to deal with it.

Having said that, I do remember one time a new, female employee was introduced to the team on a Friday evening (over free drinks of course) and invited to get to know everyone by going out drinking with them. What might have seemed like an invitation to socialise came across as "welcome aboard new girl, now if you want to fit in, go out and get drunk with a bunch of guys you just met."

Andy Lundell
profile image
David, You could network or test in an empty warehouse. The reason those things are parties is to lure people in. This article is a reminder that they lure different demographics at different rates.

It's not a whine that someone's freedoms being violated, it's about taking care to balance demographics.

Paul Laroquod
profile image
Great article. You know what else? People who like Star Trek tend to bond, and spend more time together, and since they also work together, creative decisions inevitably get thought up or touched on and it's not fair because non-Trekkies have probably gotten bored and left by that point in the conversation. Perhaps we should examine whether game designers are overindulging in love of Star Trek to an exclusionary degree? We need to have a discussion about how we have these kinds of discussions because I'm incapable of doing things like steering the original discussion in a more personally advantageous direction or ordering a Coke. Also, white males used to form boys' clubs and they were exclusive so we got rid of them; therefore obviously it must be wrong for anyone to ever feel excluded from any conversation in any way. Perhaps we should form a committee of correct thinking to make a list of appropriately inclusive drinks that must be the only ones on any shared menu, or appropriately broad and universal topics of conversation. P.S. White males!

Jed Hubic
profile image
I like beer on Fridays at work. I didn't realize how horrible my bosses were, or how bad the girls at work should feel for enjoying it too.

Beer AND wine, problem solved.

Cameron Lee
profile image
You’re talking about networking.

Networking is critical most industries, however either beer nor any other form of beverage is required to network internally or externally. Read some networking books, I doubt any of them dedicate time to beer drinking, perhaps social engagements as an oppertunity to execute netowkring, but beer is not required for that. In fact I’d recommend not drinking any alcohol if you want to network.

The reality of any professional industry is that networking is important, I won’t go into why that’s the case as I’m sure it’s obvious to everyone.

It has nothing to do with beer, interacting while making breakfast in the kitchen, going for lunch or attending social events and not drinking is just as good as sharing a beer, if not more so.

There are plenty of valid reasons why this is to date, a male dominated industry, I just don’t think choice of beverage is one of them.

I don’t drink beer.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
The idea is not that networking is unimportant, but rather that the author feels that game industry networking events tend to be beer related (even though they don't need to be) and thus appeal more to a specific demographic.

Cameron Lee
profile image
Sure I got that part of the article. My counter point though is that there are more effective forms of networking available that don't include beer. AKA lunch.

I've also worked in the industry a long time and I've never seen a single event which is beer only, even post work drinks. I think making the assumption that industry networking is limited to beer drinking old boys clubs is way off the mark.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Not "limited to beer" but rather "overly reliant on beer" and this over reliance on bars and the like creates/reinforces a certain demographic in games which would not be there to the same extent if game dev social events were more varied.

I do not have statistics to back up this claim (maybe the author does?), but I'd love to find a way to test it. For instance, by comparing a random sampling to game industry social events to social networking events in other vocations and seeing if there is any correlation between male/female diversity and frequency of beer related occasions.

Cameron Lee
profile image
If it were "over reliant on beer" then I would agree with you, but in my experience it's just not. I'm sure some studios only serve beer after work as the author clearly experienced, but for me, all my time of game dev across three cities and dozens upon dozens of industry events around the world I've never seen only beer served.

Here some of the social events I’ve been too in the game dev industry; movies, bowling, BBQ’s, dinners, bars, laser tag, soccer, paintball, pubs, go-karting, breakfasts, lunches, carnivals, hotel retreats, conferences, cooking classes and pinball arcades… I’m sure there’s more I can’t remember right now. If a studio is only doing beer after work, then I’m amazed all their employees don’t die of boredom regardless of gender.

I feel there's much larger issues and contributing factors to the valid glass ceiling and discrimination concerns of woman and LGBT in this industry. While I applaud the author for investigating one of many avenues, and all discussion of the topic is positive, I think beer plays a minor roll at best.

However if this is something people feel is a real root cause of the problem then perhaps they can ask the IGDA can do a survey of drink menus at their gatherings to provide some data. Gamasutra could also run a survey connected to their annual salary data mining.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Determining what types of events are being used for professional networking and the relative frequency of those events would probably hold a lot of value for the industry. I'd be interested to see that data.

Benjamin Walsh
profile image
This is anecdotal, but I feel worth mentioning. My wife is an elementary school teacher which has the complete opposite demographic of the game industry (significantly more female than male). At least once a month her and her co-workers go out after work to a local bar... not everyone drinks and nobody is judged. Of the ones who do drink, some drink beer some drink wine... and again nobody cares, it's about hanging out with friends.

Their school Christmas party was at a bowling alley this year and they had an open bar which many appreciated and took advantage of.

Women like to drink as much as men, but they have different social motivations and behaviors.

Maybe this is controversial, but perhaps the reason why less women show up is because less women want to playtest the game in question. You're going to get a lot less women showing up to playtest Halo vs. the Sims.

Scott Brodie
profile image
Thanks for writing this.

Russell Watson
profile image
Reading this article I am of the opinion that this may be a problem specific to where you are. Because I do not see the connection between going for beers after work proving to be an obstacle to having more women in games. Perhaps that is because I am from the UK and generally we go to pubs. Anyone can order whatever they like, women also generally drink beer or cider as much as men.

However, I am in total agreement with the importance of the networking aspect of after work beers. Having a family ( and also not being a big drinker ) I am generally not able to attend such events, I can see how such things shape the social landscape of a team or studio.

I also generally am not a fan of the idea that everyone should socialise with their work colleagues. I spend more time with the guys at work than I do with my family as it is. I would rather spend that time with my kid instead. And if you don't then you're not a team player. I think a lot of that stems from the fact that a lot of developers are young and/or single guys in the industry with a lot of disposable income who relocate for work. So work mates become surrogate families and replace their existing social networks.

Axel Cholewa
profile image
"... women also generally drink beer or cider as much as men."

I honestly doubt that, that's not even true in germany. Hell, not even in Munich!

Thing is: of course, women will drink beer when they go to a pub. But there probably are more men hanging out in pubs than women.

Russell Watson
profile image
The UK ( and Brits ) is a little bit different to Germany ( and Germans )

:)

Paul Laroquod
profile image
British pubs are chock full of British women. But hey I'm sure somebody's assumptions about what's inside them are totally correct, just like I'm sure one woman's assumptions about how many or why other women drink beer are totally correct.

Ursula Brand
profile image
Nope Axel, the British and Irish have another tradition in this as the Germans. I'm German and live in Ireland. The women here can drink most German men under the table. ^^

UK and Ireland have a completely different pub culture. Hanging out with your friends in a pub is something you just do, regardless of gender.

My first reaction (and I posted the article on my Facebook wall with this comment) was: Clearly the author does not live in Ireland ...

WILLIAM TAYLOR
profile image
I can't help but feel like if you're willing to lessen your career and refuse socialization because you don't like the drink/food selection at a bar where you don't even have to drink, that's more of a personal issue for the individual than something the industry should address.

Randen Dunlap
profile image
Thanks for the article. I think you have some good points on societal structures, and strengthening bonds over commonalities like food/drink etc. However, I think you're making some pretty big 1:1 comparisons here that are pretty lofty, all encompassing, and probably a little misguided to be honest.

Placing the blame solely on "beer" or "good ol' boys" is a bit near sighted I think. When groups of people have a common ground in anything, be it drink, political topic, favorite food, favorite book,(it can literally be anything) etc. It gives them grounds to form bonds and strengthen relationships. Anything that is a common element can help a group of people come together because it gives them solidarity or "collective effervescence" in fancy anthropologist terms.

So why is it beer? Well, as people have mentioned, the gaming industry DID start out in bars, and in garages, and mainly just men. Hell, just take a look at silicon valley and the "brainstorming" sessions the old guard at Atari were having. I think the industry has made a lot of progress towards diversity, and continues to do so, but trying to place the "blame" on a singular object like beer is very short-sighted. As a "nod" to the "good ol boys" club, I think what you're really referring to as cliques and groups. It's almost impossible for groups of humans NOT to do this, and I've personally seen plenty of "good ol' girls" clubs as well in the industry. We are physically hard-wired to form relationships, and jump into "groups" or "social structures" for various intrinsic reasons that most of us aren't aware of.

I'm getting a bit off topic here, but my point is by blaming beer it's like we are putting the gun on trial in a murder case instead of the person who used it. Like I said, the article has some great points that start to go in that direction, but then derails by what appears to be some skewed personal experiences which are then used to form an incomplete picture of the industry as a whole.

Lastly, I'd wager a lot of money that with a few tweaks to your presentation, you could mostly STILL serve beer and pizza at your play tests while bringing in female testers. All in your presentation, and the "stigma" of your environment provided. Just a thought.

Kenneth Wesley
profile image
I've worked for a number of studios and on the QA side, at least for me, the whole beer culture is a big problem because it just makes the testers just look like frat boys, party animals, or more importantly: not professional. That whole party vibe may just chase away a lot of people who'd like to see testing as the ground floor in moving their way up through a company.

Granted, the numbers of nights of OT was helped by the fact that I was buzzed and full of pizza, but I've always felt that giving off a 'fun loving vibe' could backfire in the eyes of executives who are trying to put out a product and draw in investors or more prospective employees.

Also, based on my experience, the party culture is something you'd want to experience in your off hours on days off, not something you'd want 24/7, so I could see why it could turn some women away.

Interesting article!

Nicholas McKay
profile image
This definitely isn't specific to the games industry -- the after-work drinking culture is shared across every industry I've worked in (or known others to work in). I'm not a big after-work drinker; at the end of the day I'm ready to go home, not go out. But you're definitely potentially at a disadvantage by not doing it from a networking standpoint.

That said, I like the angle taken by the article. Rather than lamenting the lack of diversity for the play-test group, trying to come up with solutions to change the game is a good way to approach it.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jacek Wesolowski
profile image
The core insight from this article is that cliques are formed around habits, even when their members don't realise it. You might be part of a clique without knowing it, and if you don't want it to be this way then you can start by breaking some of your habits.

Paul Laroquod
profile image
Yes the core insight of this article is maybe you should feel bad about enjoying the things that you enjoy, because somebody else who doesn't enjoy those things, might feel left out. And allowing anybody to feel left out of anything is tantamount to boys' clubs and misogyny.

Therefore, everyone should review everything they enjoy to see if they can cancel as much of it as possible due to other people disagreeing as to whether it should be enjoyed in a social setting.

No one has any responsibility to improve their own social circumstances by taking pro-active action either, because that would be blaming the victim, right!

Adam van Sertima
profile image
Social rituals often serve to define in–groups and out–groups. The "beer & pizza" party was and is fun for me. In the army, we called them "smokers" and the whole regiment would get rowdy. To some extent this builds team cohesion, especially when the members are perceived to be essentially the same(young men, Ladies Who Lunch, dawgs, Legitimate businessmen, whatever).

But these rituals can be exclusive, rather than building unit integrity. Later on, in Grad school, we had a colleague who never visited our favourite watering hole after class. It wasn't until much later that he pointed out that he couldn't fly his wheel chair up two flights of stairs.

Our– my– blindness stung us. It is hard to build strong teams to achieve great things without a policy of "no one left behind".

"Non nobis sed patria"

Christian Nutt
profile image
One of the few comments that actually got the damn point, I think.

Russell Watson
profile image
Yup, great comment!

Kujel s
profile image
As someone who deosn't care for alcohol (Herb is more my thing) I'd like it if there was a gathering place that's not too loud and everyone can either partake or not and just talk, interact (kinda like here but physically). Limiting the food and entertainement options limits who can/will partake in these social gatherings and we all lose out when less voices are heard.

Proxy V
profile image
As a female who has worked on all male teams for most of her career, I'm lucky that I do not have an aversion to beer. However, there have been men on my team who are non-alcohol/vegan. Honestly, from experience - people tend to name familiar places to them to go socialize after work, than think of somewhere new to go, simply because it's easier. I always take into consideration my co-workers dietary restrictions before suggesting to go somewhere, but even if we go to a carnivorous eatery that serves alcohol, our vegan / non- alcohol teammates always come! They haven't felt left out, and they don't miss out on any conversations or ideas we throw around after work.

It's not considered common (within the industry) for people to avoid alcohol or meat (which I understand is the point of this article), however most people I've worked with will make it known if there is a restriction and/or if they don't drink. Even though I like to partake in alcohol, I'm not always in the mood for it, and will forgo it sometimes. I have never felt out of place, or out of the loop.

I'm very much the introvert, and don't much care for social outings, but even without alcohol, I don't miss the chance to hang out with co-workers and colleagues.


none
 
Comment: