Portal designer: 'We need to change the makeup of our industry'

Kim Swift says games are reflections of their creators and believes teaching children to follow their dreams is the key to greater diversity.

The best way to introduce greater diversity into the games industry is to teach children that anyone can make games, according to Portal designer Kim Swift. In a blog post published yesterday, Swift said a child's hopes and dreams--including those about making video games for a living--should not be suppressed, but rather endorsed, accepted, and encouraged.

"Thankfully, I lucked out with some insanely supportive parents, but without that I doubt that I would be making games right now," Swift said. "And so when I blather endlessly about a game I’m working on until my eyes bleed, in the back of my head, I hope that there’s a little girl out there that realizes her dreams are achievable."

Swift's comments come after the much-publicized #1ReasonWhy debate on Twitter, which drew significant discussion about sexism in the game industry last month.

Later in her blog post, Swift said if gamers want greater diversity in gaming subjects, a more "fair" and "unbiased" workplace, and 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."

Swift doesn't believe these problems will be eradicated in the short term, however; the solution lies at least two decades away, "when this current generation of kids sees the good example that we should be setting now."

"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," Swift said.

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102 comments
SoreThumbsBill
SoreThumbsBill

I am in no way an expert like Kim Swift but in my humble opinion her makeup is just fine. Women who over do it tend to look like the Joker, only crazier.

Sniper
Sniper

What a myopic view of parenting. Instead of pushing my daughter to fix the sexist and juvenile game industry, which looks like counseling for life-long unhappiness, I would rather encourage her to exercise, use good judgement, and avoid listening to flabby, game-obsessed preachers. The meaning of life is not video games. If my child was male, should I dedicate his life to fixing the daycare industry? "Son, women rule child care centers, which is sexist, so I want to you to follow your dreams and take over the nearest nursery." Here is healthy advice, which works for both boys and girls: Making video games is dead-end drudgery. Examine the economy to discover better jobs in high demand. Learn the necessary skills to earn big money. Work smart, stay fit, and play games only to relax.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

I agree that people should give a shot at following their dreams. But it is unlikely that an industry can change. The videogame industry will be lucky to survive. When the worldwide economy is bad. The first thing to go is spending on Videogame consoles and games.

 

Follow your dreams but have a back up plan. 99% of all dreams do not come true. Videogame school is expensive, There may not be an Industry much longer. So have a Plan B. While you follow your dream of creating videogames.

mathi4s
mathi4s

I want to be a footaball playing astronaut king in space!!

pound-u
pound-u

Here's an idea, Ms. Swift: if you want more equality, then practice what you preach. Instead of just focusing on if you are inspiring girls, try inspring boys as well and motivating them to follow their dreams as well. You'd be surprised how many boys out theire don't get that encouragement.

l777l
l777l

Yes, parents should tell their children that they can "accomplish" anything, and that everything will be rainbows and unicorns and that whatever hardship they face is due to their diversity and a matter of wrongful discrimination. Very inspiring. 

("Accomplish" probably signifies asking for candy or whatever by complaining in some Twitter campaign [#1MoreCandy; #2EveryoneIsSoMean; #3ThisParkingCarHitMe; #4I'llHoldMyBreath/RunAway]. True job skills and personal virtues.)

 

This doesn't necessarily fully go against Ms. Swift; for that it would've been requisite to read her blog entry.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Everybody's missing the point here.  Yes, there should be more diversity, and yes, most women in college seem to eschew the math classes that advanced programming relies on.  SO, make a development language that takes the math out of it and does things in an intuitive manner.  A Visual DirectX, for instance.  Forget about window instantiation and matrix math - make them done behind the scenes, while you click on objects and set incremental movement rates.  No matrix transforms involved, just tell the object to rotate in these directions at this framerate.  Get the advanced math and the obscene programming language constructs out of the way, and everybody (including myself) will start programming games.  It will be a game renaissance, at last.  I tried to learn DirectX several times, but I couldn't even get a window to pop up, even with the textbooks available at the time.  You have to instantiate object after object after object just to get a window created...that's not necessary for creativity, so push that into automation and create human language equivalents.  Click on "Create Window", then set that window's properties, rather than type all that crap in (and worry about typoes, backwards lines of code causing crashes, linking libraries, etc).  Make it easy, and people will use it.  Kickstarter the damn thing, please.  /soapbox

xcollector
xcollector

The truth is not every one can make games because the suits control the industries. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all have a closed platform.

 

MS will let you on the Xbox if you pay up. But they're even trying to close up Windows.

 

Apple has a closed iOS platform but they'll let you on if you pay up. Though you'll more likely get sued by them for some basic feature they claimed to be the inventor of.

 

Forget about Activision or EA sponsoring your poor ass. If it isn't COD or some other water down sequel they don't want to publish it. 

 

Long story short, there is a lot of freakin red tape everywhere. And that is after you get over the hurtle of learning how to program. 

jonsono2
jonsono2

Step 1) Use strong bait words such as 'sexism' to get people passionate about a so called issue.

 

Step 2: Get more females into the industry to help make games more appealing to females.

 

Step 3: Get a crapload of new female customers.

 

Step 4: $$$

xolivierx
xolivierx

I just wanted to say that Kim Swift is extremly cute

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

As for the article, don't think anything she said is wrong, or even that controversial. 

What she said was neigh the most sensible suggestion i've read in a while whenever this topic comes up. 

 

 

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Very confused right now...... Didn't GS and other websites hype up Swift's involvement with "Quantum Conundrum" almost all damned summer? Why is she still being referred to as the "Portal Designer"?

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

It would be awesome if a developer made a game that let young people develop their own game. Starting with a choice of several game types. With the concept of involving both girls and boys.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

Theoretically, if school funding and education were properly managed, elementary school students everywhere could be learning basic programming. This would create levels of progress we haven't seen before, because in today's society kids either don't learn to program at all or start in high-school, which is kind of late.

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

For game publishers and developers, I don't see how they can do anything about this. Making innovative, polished games under budget and on time is hard enough but you can't be hiring people based on gender before considering what counts: Skill and vision. More women are going to college than men. By 2020 its going to a 60% to 40% advantage in that regard. The important caveat is that almost none of them are going into fields that are important to the software and hardware industries. Newly registered Math, Physics, and Computer Science majors are more than 90% male. You know what majors women dominate? Psychology and Education. We are going to have an army of therapists roaming around. The only thing that might be good for in gaming is working HR talking some developers off the ledge during crunch. I agree that a diverse staff can positively effect a project, but forcing the issue isn't going to be good for anyone. As for sexism, there is 1 easy answer: No tolerance policies enforced without regard for who is at fault. That will stop it faster than desperately plugging in female employees into positions they aren't qualified to fill.

SolidTy
SolidTy

I own two of Kim's games, I hope she continues.

mrcharrio
mrcharrio

If only the world worked in a happy everyone is special and important way. Unfortunately the world is harsh, and unforgiving. People get placed in situations that crush a dream everyday. From the mom who can't feed their kids and strips to take care of her babies, to the man who threw his dreams away to support his family.

 

People in a good place in life are the only ones who can afford to think this way.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

I love Kim Swift is my platonic love :$ xD

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

When people expect the world to change so that everyone agrees with their way of thinking, those people get let down 100%. Just be yourself and look for your place in society, the world is not going to change for you or me.

tgwolf
tgwolf

LOL, well I don't know what diversity has to do with gaming but for certain I hope it is a reference to diversity in the way of games, and not some political/social agenda having it's rusty harp strings plucked...

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

I don't think there's as much sexism in the world as some people say there is. The reason there are more men in one kinda job and women in other kinda jobs is based more on gender strengths and weaknesses. A clear example of this is women nurses and male construction workers. Of course there are exceptions but they are a small percent of those industries. Now more then ever before in history is there equality in the workplace. Sadly this is not true in certain countries like India where rape seems to be looked at as a boys will be boys activity, it's good to see that there is now some strong protest against that kind of thinking in light of the horrible rape and murder of the young woman on the bus in India. Some people just like to whine about imagined let downs and I know from personal experience that kind of thinking can get out of control very easily. Things are not always as bad as they seem but when a person feels mad or scared reason go's bye bye.

Joe295159
Joe295159

I'm so tired of people saying that ''you can do anything you want if you want it''. It's a false statement. Most of those crazy things we would like to do(doing games, doing music, acting, etc) for a living are extremely high risk. Yes, everything is in fact possible but that definitely doesn't mean that everything will happen. Therefore, if you want to make games, consider getting a solid low risk job first and then you can attempt to build your dream part time. This greatly lower your chance of wasting your life. 

Diablo-B
Diablo-B

I have never heard of anyone discouraging their kid, male or female, in studying software development. Now I have heard of parents scoffing at the idea of someone going into gaming as a career but that is usually an attempt by parents to discourage their kids from playing games all day and this isn't only done to girls. 

 

The reason why their aren't a lot of women in game development is the same reason there arent a lot of women in software development in general. Women need to go more into math and science.  But gone are the days when ANYONE is told not to go into math/science.  Nowadays people avoid math/science because there are easier options to pursue.  Its a very hard major.  

 

People keep trying to make it seem as if this is exclusive to game development and that there is a movement out there to keep women from going into gaming and pursuing their dreams. Its really a women avoid math/science/engineering issue. Now men avoid it to. But there is a gap between the women and men who pursue it. Now that gap is shrinking but it takes time for the gap to close. It doesnt happen overnight.

ck10304
ck10304

 @Sniper She only says support your daughter if she wants to make video games, not force her for the only reason that it is dominated by males. Using your example, if your son really truly wanted to open up a daycare, who are you to say no? And while I agree that this generation will have less career opportunities than the one before, if everybody went for the same high demand "safe" jobs, we would have NO video games nor art or entertainment of any kind whatsoever as these are inherently tough markets to break through and make a decent living. Not everyone's career choice centers around making "big money".

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

 @Sniper I agree with you regarding parenting to a point. 

But i believe the original topic was related to gaming, video game industry and a woman's place in it. I do not think he wants people to push women into an industry they do not want to be in. 

BUT If my daughter decides she wants to work in the gaming industry I would encourage her to break some balls.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

 @pound-u This argument here, you see, is called a "straw-man". You essentially invented your own opposition. At no point did this article (or anything Swift ever said) indicate that She intends only to endeavor to inspire girls. Girls were mentioned, but to take that as a dereliction of all males is just absurd.

msfan1289
msfan1289

 @FallenOneX maybe because a lot of people know what Portal is, and not Quantum Conundrum, i sure as hell didnt.

TohouAsura
TohouAsura

 @AuronAXE I hear ya. Learning it in highschool was really an annoying experience if you did not have any previous experience with it.

 

Alot of places in the world also make no effort to introduce serious graphic digital art as an optional course.

TrueGB
TrueGB

 @brokenapples No. A female dominated government would still have lots of problems, they would just be a little different. And there would still be wars. Have you ever seen women fight over closet space and borrowing clothes? It can get nasty.

Tobinius6
Tobinius6

 @digitaltiger Yeah, the world is exactly the way it has always been, and will never ever change, because individuals have never changed the society they live in. <----- sarcasm.

NotMagoo
NotMagoo

 @digitaltiger So are you saying we should not strive, as a culture, for greater creativity and diversity, simply because the world won't change to fit each person perfectly?

Renoo27
Renoo27

 @Joe295159 Agreed. Anyone who's passionate about doing any form of art for a living has to live rough for a while. It's an inevitable fact, and one that's overlooked too often. I agree with Kim Swift that children should never be discouraged from their dreams, but it's one thing to tell a child their dreams are achievable, it's another to tell them what's actually required to achieve them. 

Atomic_Gumshoe
Atomic_Gumshoe

 @Joe295159 I think that's a given, which is why most artists, actors, and musicians do have other jobs for quite a long time before they hit it big. There are some exceptions of course, but I doubt that anyone who graduates high school and says I'm going to L.A. to act/be a musician/ make games is actually successful.

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @Joe295159 Don't forget, common sense and reason are separate considerations in this regard as in all cases. It's no different from the chick that can't control her hormones or a guy who murders grade schoolers room by room if that guy happens to also play 'violent games'...There's hobbies and interests, and there's completely insane. Of course you can't expect to have that distinction in public behavior when so many apples are going bad 'cause private lives are out of control and some are so frighteningly divisive that they can exploit those that are idiots...Those are two separate areas of concern, the ones you mention.

starchsr
starchsr

 @Diablo-B Right now there is a huge push in the University of California system to funnel students into STEM programs, beginning at the city college and high school levels. Almost everyone I met (men and women) at the city college I just transferred from was trying to go into engineering, nursing, or pharmacology; all of which involve different amounts of advanced math and science, maybe not as much for nursing. In the 200-level literature survey classes I took there was maybe 5 out of 30 students who were fellow English majors; the rest were filling transfer reqs to get into math and science University programs. This is all anecdotal of course but I think the swing right now is toward those challenging high-demand fields, not away. The low quality of life that persistent economic depression has caused is slowly making people more utility-minded about their education, if they're able to pursue one. I don't think they've read Orxy and Crake.

Sniper
Sniper

 @ck10304 I know Swift did not say girls should be forced into the game industry. But that seems to be tone of this article. The first sentence implies I have a responsibility to teach my daughter that she can make video games. I call that sentiment myopic because there are so many more fundamental things to teach children besides the crusade for games industry equality. For example, girls, boys, people of every age and background, should learn to pick their battles. Maybe the games industry is so corrupt, it is not worth saving. It would be a shame for my daughter to waste her life polishing a turd. There is this generational phenomenon in the games industry in which experienced programmers typically leave for more stable, better-paying, less stressful jobs in business software development. They realize nothing is going to change, so they leave games because the struggle is never-ending (I left magazine publishing for the same reason). In other words, when somebody wants to manipulate you by saying, "Be a team player," you should ask, "What if the team sucks?"

pound-u
pound-u

 @parrot_of_adun

 It's the cold, hard truth. You want equality, then practice what you preach. Plain and simple. I said what I did because I know where this will inevitably go, whether it's from her, or others like you. It's not about "boys this" or "girls that". She doesn't intend to only inspire girls? Well, saying specifically she hopes girls get inspired by her doesn't really indicate that.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

 @parrot_of_adun  @pound-u Btw great feel good news story of hope an inspiration - which i am all for but why did they put a picture of my under age, illegal czech masseuse on the front page. I mean the happy endings are awesome but wont that get her and her pimp in trouble?

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

 @parrot_of_adun  @pound-u Well pound-u does have a point i mean in the video game industry, business industry, politics, law professions, sports, electronics, and just about every science field-- MEN have such a small presence, and historically shied away from technical fields to stay at home and raise kids. I mean they even give men 1/3 more money then women just to encourage men to enter into those fields. 

I have worked in a ER/Trauma center for almost 16yrs and when I told my female boss and female staff I should be making at least 1/3 more then them because I am a man or else I will not be 'inspired' enough to stay in the workforce. They were not at all happy. 

Just another sign of women wanting to keep the status quo.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @msfan1289 At the beginning of Summer, just about every gaming site did an article about women in the gaming industry, and her name popped up in all of them because of QC. Her name is now one of those I can't get out of my head even if I tried.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@brokenapples Erm... I suppose fights over closet space (in a male dominant culture, mind you) might seem like evidence to you, but matriarchal societies throughout history have generally been quite a bit less violent.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

 @Tobinius6 Some people have influenced other people and if enough people are influenced change does happen, but they should never expect everyone to just agree with them. That's disrespectful of other peoples ideas. I am not saying their ideas are any better or worse, but they wave a right to there idea just like you have a right to yours. Sarcasm just blinds people to the true intention of other peoples ideas and creates an unnecessary negative atmosphere.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

 @NotMagoo No, I am saying don't let yourself be let down because not everyone is going to agree with you. Strive on, just don't expect others to jump on your bandwagon. Be your self and find your own place in society, this will create diversity. The lady in the article wants more women in gaming but maybe most women don't want to be in gaming and that's why there are less women then men. Men have a greater interest in gaming and that's why there are more men then women. No one is holding them back from entering the industry their just not as interested.

Sniper
Sniper

@IrishCatGod @Sniper Do not make this personal by insulting my intelligence and my character. Your fact-free sarcasm is unhelpful.

IrishCatGod
IrishCatGod

@Sniper Read the article, not the summarization (pro tip - click the links). You'll realize that not everyone is out to tell you how to raise your kid (kinda myopic viewpoint, to be honest with you). Or you'll keep assuming things, either way, you don't understand what the article is about.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

 @pound-u  @parrot_of_adun dude you got to quit using that left handed keyboard you are making no sense and your just making your original post above look more silly and out of touch each time.