This question originally appeared on Quora:What is it like to be a woman working in the video game industry?
Answer by Feifei Wang, Video Game Designer
Thank you for A2A. I have thought about if I should answer this question anonymously, since not so long ago, someone had cherry picked my criticism against game industry in general and applied it to the company I work for, as a way to threaten me or bully me. Such incidents could have serious consequences that jeopardize my career. And that's why I have consequentially removed all public information so people can't identify the company I work for easily.
With all that being said, I felt compelled to answer this question with my real name. Because this is important to me, and I want to make it count. Attaching my name to it will add credibility. I think this is also important to a lot of people. Maybe somewhere a girl wants to work for the gaming industry and doesn't know what she's up against... this might shed some light.
I want to start this (most definitely) long answer with a story, a story I have shared many times. Early during my career in the gaming industry, I was with a group of designers having dinner together, and I was the only woman at the table. While we're waiting for our food to arrive, people started talking about their favorite game for the past year. They went around the table, each speaking about a game and the reason he liked it. I thought about my answer and when it's my turn, the guy sitting next to me started talking. They skipped me as if I weren't there, and no one seemed to notice a living, breathing, game-playing person was sitting there. After everyone was done, I spoke up about the game I like. And everyone looked at me as if they just realized I was there.
It's been quite a few years since that incident but I remembered it as if it's yesterday. I guess other than the common harassment, the subtle sexism, the jokes, the dismissive attitude (which I'm sure many others would mention), my strongest feeling as a woman in the gaming industry is being ignored. People don't expect you to know anything or have an opinion about game. They don't give you the "courtesy pause" they normally give to the guys. I feel that I always need to wave my hand and yell, "I'm here! I exist!"
So I yelled. I speak up whenever I can. I guess part of the reason I was often perceived as argumentative and opinionated is because I feel that I need to say something, I need to remind people that I'm here. Like me or hate me, you can't ignore me. It might sound a bit pathetic, but I even filled my closet with bright color clothing. For one, I like bright, warm, vibrant colors, and also, I want to stand out, I want to be that one lady wearing hot pink in an ocean of blue, black or gray T-shirts and Jeans.
It can be frustrating. But for what I do everyday, for the game I was part of, and am currently working on, it's totally 100 percent worth it. I wouldn't give up for the world. Making a game is so exhilarating and so fulfilling. And I'm a very lucky woman to be working for the my current company, to contribute to the project.
It is hard work. I face different challenges on a daily basis. I'm not working as an artist, but the job is all about creative problem solving. And I'm working with some of the most capable, most intelligent, most talented, and often most quirky people I've ever met.
Although there're horrible moments, I'm quite lucky that these moments are rare and far between. In most cases, people are "gender blind." We don't see gender, skin color or sexual orientation, we see producers, programmers, designers, artists... It's what you do that matters, not who you are.
I think things are getting better. More and more game companies had make a point to hire more women and other minority group, to make sure the working environment is more friendly and inclusive. So for you girls out there, come work for the gaming industry. The bottom line is, sexism is everywhere, if you're gonna get it no matter what, might as well choose a career that give you most for your trouble.