Videogames, the Me Too movement, Alec Holowka, Jeremy Soule

One of the main reasons for my reflection was my admiration of you through yours posts, for what it’s worth. Thanks for the thanks.

Longstanding boards like this make posts like @Guap 's treasures. Since you challenged me to a thought exercise. I would like to return the favor.

If you heard a woman person working with you was sleeping with the director, and had been since she started at the company and had some plum assignments what would you think? ( if … I’d said “yes” after some reflection at that desk in the hallway) And you asked around and heard there were rumors about them not being up to doing the work at their last job (I’d not won the fight when the boss took all my projects away). And further, someone said those rumors went all the way back to her undergrad and her sleeping her way into the program (I’d said “yes” out of fear at 17). I change nothing, except I eventually caved under the pressure each time. Would you have, at least a lingering, concern over my competence?

And if I was the only woman in the field at the time? Maybe … women?

When you are one of the only women in your area, the pressure was also insane. I also had to keep up a quality of work that was beyond question since not only was my work getting abuse level scrutiny, but all women were going to be judged by my competence. I took a hot shower after my first post here, relieved the stress headache from remembering, even after this time. In an ironic parallel, I stuck to my guns each time in part because of my father. He was a marine, and he died before I was born. But I was raised hearing about him, and felt giving up or in would just not have been ok with him. Dead notwithstanding. ;)

And if you fight (say “no”) and lose: you lose it all, as @strategy 's story shows. I also dated someone in my post-grad group of friends. I insisted on keeping the relationship secret until after I had a job outside the program. We were both graduate assistants, and well … I was no longer naive. And yes, we’re still married! With a grandchild and another on the way now.

But back to my stress headache, @peacedog 's story is the one that gets me. At the root of it, all of these stories are about abuses of power and treatment of workers. Women just have more reasons to fear that. Fixing it also helps men. And in my era, every time I survived it was often because of men, since … well … that’s all there were. But to think men don’t also pay a price is untrue, just less often and for different reasons. A male friend just did go through HR btw, and got a long term medical leave to care for a dying relative. I was skeptical initially, but sometimes it works.

And I only posted in here since I saw @Nesrie valiantly holding down the fort. Not that she wasn’t capable of that on her own!

Honestly, yes, of course there would be questions of competence. Just like say, questions of competence when nepotism occurs and someone gets hired because of a relative (see Richard’s reaction to Tommy Boy getting an office … “Oh, that makes sense, you’ve been here 5 minutes”. It’s at the same level, only more gross.

So yeah, you lose either way. Just being put in the position is the terrible thing, because once it’s demanded you lose either way. Now, the reverse is also true. If I heard that the Director made a pass at you and then was punishing you for refusing, then I’d be extremely wary of that Director in the future and try and circumvent or avoid them whenever I could. Because he has revealed his pettiness and incompetence himself.

The dev manager defintely never liked me, I don’t know why. The first team on I was on had a terrible team leader who didn’t help, who in fact undercut me. The first writeup included a bulletpoint that “coworkers had to finish work for Peacedog” or somesuch. What happened? I was having trouble with something in a very ugly legacy part of the code base. I first asked the other dev (couldn’t help, nice guy), then the team leader. He blew me off. I asked again later that day. Blown off. At my leaving time I asked if he could help first thing, laid out (again) why I was stuck and where I was confused. Came in next day (he missed standup, as he was won’t to do, and never got in trouble for), he said “oh I just did it”. I said “I didn’t ask you to do that”. He just shrugged. In hindsight, I should have at least set myself to “looking around” in online job search profiles. But when that appeared in the initial writeup, I should have started a full blown job search. Silly me.


I’m not dumb or without guile. I don’t like the usual office politics, but I don’t blow them off like I’m a proud middle school anarchist either. But there are times when I won’t put my head down, if I feel it’s necessary. A key is to try and find jobs where putting one’s head down is not a major requirement. Two jobs ago (the one after Worst Hell Job of my career), it started promising. My team had a terrific (widely praised across the large company) FY 2017. We were intact for 2018 but everything went to shit for a variety of reasons beyond our control.

In August of 2018, the lone permanent employee involved with our team (the company did the vast majority of it’s IT staffing via long term contracts) set a meeting todo a code review/provide “feedback”. The standup he announced this, I decidedly did not put my head down. And with good reason. With afirm release date at the end of the FY (9/30), we were past code freeze, were still having new work added, and had been saying for two months we were going to miss 9/30 at this rate. And this wasn’t the worst part.

Two months from go live and there was no QA environment to deploy code too. Naturally, this was “Dave’s” job (the permanent employee) for a variety of reasons. I had been, once per sprint (2 weeks) minimum, been bringing this up since asking for it back in early March 2018. This situation, from a software development standpoint, is completely bonkers insane. And this was all on top of the work to be done kept increasing up in spite of all of our warnings.

I pointed all of this out. I said “I always welcome code review type feedback but we’re in danger of not shipping on time and I don’t think this sort of meeting is at all appropriate or useful at this time. We need to be focused on getting an actual test environment and starting to test all the code we’ve written, properly. And we need to have a conversation about what happens if we’re not going to ship on time, because everyone keeps dodging the answer despite the fact that we keep asking and giving honest feedback about the state of the project”.

A week later, when it was time for the meeting, I expressed surprise in standup we were still doing it (it was scheduled for right after). I said “Dave, you hsve to float between 3 teams and I know you’re doing a lot of work but we didn’t get any of those points reasonably addressed or answered and nothing has changed in the last week. This meeting is a bad idea.”

And then we got to the actual meeting and ole Davey sat own and proceeded to launch into a highly obnoxious and condescending discussion about code standards that a first year employee wouldn’t find that useful, largely focusing on code our team wasn’t responsible for (legacy inherited code we were not allowed to rewrite). I did not keep my ehad down there either and was fairly vocal about the ridiculousness of the situation. I pointed out that it’snot easy having to be in his position for 3 teams (midn you, he wasn’t a PO or PM; just a floating “senior dev” type). But he lacked the context for doign this sort of review anyway and oh by the by we still don’t have a QA environemnt, yadda yadda yadda.

The meeting ended early and there was a lot of tension. Our team leader was so upset he was gone two weeks later, having almost immediately found a new position. And when he was gone we were 6 weeks from golive, a man down, work still being added (postr code freeze), and we still didn’t have an environment to deploy code too.

That’s when ole davey asked me if he thought we could move the entirety of our APIS and ETLs to Microsoft Azure. Man, I had no idea. We did it. But we went live end of October. It was all buggier than it should have been, given that we got our actual QA environment middle September. And with the team leader gone, and me being a contractor and the most senior at that, and be having been outspoken during August, I knew my head was on the block there. But I also knew which way the wind had been blowing, and the expected Contractor purges had basically been quietly going on for a year+ at thatpoint. I was the logical next up, the last sacrifice before the company stopped being quiet about it (and for that matter, they started offering voluntary termination packages to permament employees and shed a bunch of perm staff, with intent of hiring some back to fill now open contractor spots. We knew it was coming). the axe fell late February. “Peacedog’s work slipped”. Fuck you.

I regret nothing.

I’ve got amuch better job now (at least so far), I recruited the other two teammebers to come work with me (they were all to happy to both leave old job and work with me again). We couldn’t get the team leader on board due to a quirk in timing but we’ll try to go get him again when his current contract runs out.

It’s not a job where keeping my head down is an issue, so far. People listen to feedback. Were practicing a much better agile here. Team is super supportive. The manager is terrific. there are many reasons all that can change and you’ve always got to be on the lookout. But it’s a good situation and I have no worries.

So it goes.

The fact that this vague situation has you talking about going to HR and not say your boss suggests there’s some unpleasantness to me, but I could be misreading. You understand your company’s culture at least somewhat (both the stated “this is the kind of company we are” bullshit and the actual culture). So you’ve got to make an unfortunate judgement call.

No doubt. I once had a good job (the afformentioned tiny company) with a pretty good boss. but he wasn’t great. And then he went through a nasty divorce. I can’t speak to all fo the particulars but I am pretty confident it was partly his fault. And he changed from it.

One of the other devs in the office was the closest thing Iv’e ever had to a mentor. She’s still a friend and we speak occasionally ( no longer in the same state, alas, so our once more frequent dinners/lunchers are no longer possible). As things do, that job got more stressful and in some ways worse. She, and the excellent project manager we had (also female, yes relevant) were taking problems tothis manger. And his behavior to them was unprofessional and unacceptable. Like telling them to their faces “you are overreacting [they weren’t] to some problem, but it’s understandable because women are more emotional [pseudo science]”. I mean what the fuck. His first job is to be an empathetic and sympathetic ear, and he couldn’t even do that any more (and yes, I do believe his ugly divorce was partly the cause, projecting his attitudes towards his soon to be ex onto every woman he dealth with). It drove both of these people crazy, the dev used to confide in me about it. Abhorrent behavior, and there was worse than this (nothing in terms of sexual assault or anything like that).

He moved out of that position, to everyone’s relief frankly. But then the compaby was purchased (it had been, for awhile) and the integration proper with the parent company began, and it wasn’t a good or fun job anymore. So I moved on (that same developer recruited me to her next company, in fact).

I still talk to that guy on occasion. He’s not a bad guy. But I doubt I would ever work with him ever again. I know the dev doesn’t have any lingering bitterness towards him or anything like that, but I doubt she would ever work with him either. I myself have dealt with a lot of bullshit. I am fortunately that I don’t have to deal with that sort of bullshit, which women do.

There’s no reason Hr can’t be a force for good. It’s unfortunate that so many companies don’t understand though. And growing past a certain point makes everything a lot harder, for a lot of reasons.

I’ve really enjoyed your stories here, btw.

Just want to point out that this isn’t actually what happened at all.

I’m not familiar with the Chloe Dykstra / Chris Hardwick situation, but I know you’re trying to learn here and empathize with perspectives you’re not familiar with, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here.

There aren’t any stories in this “gaming MeToo” round which involve what you’re saying.

The primary accusations of the last few weeks have been the other way around - that people got into relationships because they happened to like each other (at the time), but then the dudes (almost always dudes) got toxic, controlling, and abusive in other ways, and attempted to ruin the professional lives of others when the women tried to get out of the turned-toxic relationships.

I’d like to think that more kindness and respect would help, but I’m not sure it’s the most important thing to teach kids. Assertiveness and the willingness to say NO seems like it’s actually more important when it comes to resisting inappropriate demands. I’d argue that kindness and respect are, at best, unrelated to assertiveness and at worse teaching kids to go along to get along.

I’ve finally managed to escape from an emotionally abusive relationship, which took me years longer than it should have. Maybe it’s my scars talking, but it’s left me with the conviction that kindness and respect are important most of the time, but only if the other person is willing to reciprocate. If they’re not, kindness and respect become just another lever for them to use against you.

Sure. The idea is that more empathy from potential abusers helps us to prevent abuse in the first place, as well as helping us to believe and support the victims when it happens.

Sure. I’ve come to think some people are just broken, though. Could they have been helped when young and turned out differently? Maybe. But as adults, unless they decide they need to change and work really hard, they’re always going to be abusive. Better that other people get the tools to avoid becoming victims than wish abusers didn’t exist.

I do agree about kindness and respect to believe and support victims, though.

Heh. Lets’ just say that in the past 18 months (the amount of time this new company came in to our location and took over the contract - I’ve been at this location 19 years now, and have worked for 4 different contractors here - public transportation), we’ve lost (by my count) approximately five times the employees more than ever before, due to terminations. Not quitting, but terminations. And by coincidence (?), over half of that number had just gone to HR to complain about something within about a month previous to their terminations. Seriously. We constantly have two to three new people in our two-week training program. Constantly. Some drop out days after they’re put out on their own.

Me? Hell yeah. After 19 years in that business, I have rarely kept my head down, but during the past 18 months, my new turtle-like behavior has thus far served me well.

After a week off I come on to see this thread. Sigh, what a mess… I probably shouldn’t comment or make a comment. I tried to find my earlier (what I thought was a very clear post) but it’s up there too long to look.

Represented a kid who heard a rape through a bathroom door at his high school party … family wanted a lawyer to go to the detective and protect him when he gave his statement. Just amazing what I heard. It is so prevalent the abuse woman get on a literally nonstop basis I wonder what you all are even talking about.

But carry on. Buncha chatty nerds on a thread that really have no idea.

As an aside I suggest we move this thread to “some other political talking thread” powers that be. It has very little to do with games.

For what it’s worth, I thought most of the folks here, with three exceptions, we’re pretty solidly behind women and MeTo, actually. And one of those three appears to be rethinking his perspective and assumptions after some discussion.

And here’s what Tom said about the reason why it hasn’t moved to P&R:

For what its worth I am not sure I am a MeTo advocate or whatever. Sounds like some kinda label that i make every effort to avoid. I am in the trenches day in and day out.

But I cannot fault Tom’s logic, I guess. Though I don’t think we are all friends.

Hah, yeah, would that the world could be that nice. Alas, these discussions often reveal the worst in people, and there are certain lows a person can each that I just can’t see beyond.

Fwiw, I think one can acknowledge the necessity and good outcomes of the movement without needing to take on any labels. It’s a step forward. There’s a lot more to take. Equity is a very, very long way away.

But just a bit closer now.

There’s also stuff like this:

Which harks back to the comments earlier about how the games industry can be a really bad place to work, even without sexual harassment. #MeToo and similar movements give people the hope and courage that maybe, just maybe, if they speak up, things may improve. This particular story probably wouldn’t have broken at this time without the recent MeToo in games moment.

I remember this type of rampant sexual exploitation from the 70s, 80s and the it starting to change in the 90s. Then, in the global financial megacorp world at least, it became taboo, and whilst not removed, unacceptable, with a decent infrastructure for complaints. What surprises me most is that I thought it was something for the boomers or some some of my generation.

So yet another CEO who’s a textbook psychopath. Are we even surprised anymore?

Definitely think it’s less prevalent in large organizations than it was in that earlier time period (hard to imagine how it could be worse), but with the rise of smaller businesses/tech companies, many of which don’t have as professional/dedicated HR and tend to be created by people with a huge footprint on the organization (or just force of personality), and that’s where most of the ugliness is these days.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.She’s just in her first year of college, so her major could certainly change, but it helps to have your perspectives. I will certainly steer her away from games!

This also belongs here, I think.

A comment from Adam Myers (CEO, Failbetter), wrt the Alexis Kennedy allegations (and the latter’s public response, linked in the piece):