SNK artist discusses discrimination in the Japanese games industry

Japanese game developer Hiroko Yokoyama discusses how the climate of the games industry in the '90s pushed women away from being able to learn new technology to advance their careers.

Gender discrimination in the workplace has been notorious throughout the history of game development-- and it was no different back in 90s Japan, especially for early SNK artist Hiroko Yokoyama. 

Thanks to translations provided by Necrosoft Games' Brandon Sheffield, Yokoyama shares some of her experiences through Twitter when 3D design was being introduced to games, and how women were essentially barred from learning the technology. 

Yokoyama describes how the unnamed company she worked for in the '90s wanted to train two artists in the rising tech of 3D polygons, but any women applicants were instantly dismissed.

She volunteered to learn the tech herself after the two trained workers had left the company, but being married, her boss declined on the basis that “married women don’t work properly after giving birth.” He also apparently dismissed her work on the grounds that she was a “fat, ugly, otaku” and wrote off his comments with an "it's just a joke" excuse. 

While Yokoyama eventually went on to to illustrate for the Sonic Wings games (and is currently collaborating on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection), she's no longer working in the industry but is aware that gender discrimination remains active and expresses hope that the situation improves for the future.

Be sure to read the entire Twitter thread here, which goes into some more detail about how Japanese women in the 90s were pushed out of tech. It's well worth the read. 

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