My heart was low this morning. Friends and colleagues are still being targeted. The conversations around issues for women in game development are still polarizing and demoralizing. You can only deal with so much before you have to take a step back, before you fall silent out of self-preservation. I was at that point.
It's not just #gamergate--we've been having these conversations for years. The #gamergate controversy has just driven the issues into the spotlight. Before, we could imagine that our colleagues, so many of whom were silent, supported us. In the past three months, we've learned that many do support us... and yet remain largely silent. It's easy to feel alone in this climate, and I felt very alone this morning.
I found myself thinking: I wish I could roll back the clock six months, before all of this happened. The assumption was that if I could, I definitely would turn back time and that if I did, things would be better.
Then the question popped into my mind: if I could roll back the clock three years, to before I had cancer, would I do it?
For those who didn't know me at that time, it was rough. As I thought about it, I remembered what it was like going through it, for me and for my family. I remembered that long BART ride home between having my doctor tell me on the phone that I had cancer, and figuring out how I was going to tell my spouse who was waiting to pick me up at the station. I remembered the feel of the tumor growing out of the roof of my mouth, reminding me every minute of what was inside me. I remembered the months of treatments, hospitals, big machines and tiny needles.
Would I turn back time if it meant I would never have cancer, and never go through all of that? The answer was a clear, immediate "No." I wouldn't roll back the clock if it meant rolling back to the person I was then, and losing the person I am now.
I've heard our current situation called "an extinction burst" of old-school game development culture. I was a part of that culture. The person I was three years ago would have stayed silent right now. That person might even have had some extinction outbursts of her own.
We can all change. Sometimes it takes an event we'd never want and pain we wouldn't wish on anyone to drive that change. It did for me. I think it does for game development, too, and game culture as a whole.
Yes, where we are right now is awful. I want it to end, and I'll work to help make that happen. But I wanted to say to those standing alongside me, those who can speak out and those who wish they could but can't: it's not about who we are right now, but about who we're becoming. It's not about where we are right now. It's about where we'll be when it's done.