'This industry's in need of a shake-up'

Tomb Raider writer and #1ReasonToBe originator Rhianna Pratchett talks improving quality of life for developers and actions speaking louder than words.
"This industry’s in need of a shake-up, but one that should be designed to benefit all developers, males and females alike."
- Rhianna Pratchett, lead writer on Tomb Raider and originator of #1ReasonToBe. This year's GDC brought a number of standout sessions, including the well-attended #1ReasonToBe panel, now available in the GDC Vault. But one influential voice not present at the panel was the hashtag's originator, Tomb Raider and Mirror's Edge writer Rhianna Pratchett. Now in a new interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Pratchett - who was unavailable to attend the panel at GDC because of a schedule conflict - shares her own coda to the talk, which discussed not only industry sexism but the empowerment working in games can offer.

The problems highlighted by #1reasonwhy were shocking, saddening and predictable in equal measure. It doesn’t matter how ‘special’ your industry is, there’s no excuse for some of the sheer asshattery which that hashtag revealed. However, maintaining a sense of perspective is vital. Yes, it’s important to talk about the fight, but it’s just as important to remember what we’re fighting for. The main reason why I started #1reasontobe is because I believe that raising awareness of what a great industry this can be, and what opportunities there are for men and women alike, is fundamental in tackling these problems.
Pratchett doesn't deny that sexism is an issue within games development. "Sexism exists in the industry, because sexism exists in the world," she says. "When you have any industry that’s skewed in one gender direction or another, then sexism is an unfortunate by-product. Men don’t always get an easy ride in the field of nursing, for example." Overall, however, Pratchett doesn't look upon workplace sexism as some final battlefield but one of many the industry needs to address collectively.

My gut feeling is that, by and large, it isn’t necessarily male attitudes which [are] keeping women out of games development or cause them to burnout. Instead, it’s a combination of a poor work-life balancing conditions, a lack of awareness of the opportunities out there and dwindling creative diversity. And these are problems that have a huge impact on the industry as a whole. [...] We need to place stronger emphasis on improving working conditions, burnout rate and industry awareness. Ultimately, that’s what will improve the quality of the games and the lives of those who create them.
The interview also delves into Pratchett's goals with Lara Croft's reboot in the new Tomb Raider and the shift in critical perception of the title after she was announced as story lead. You can read the entire interview here.

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