This is definitely a thing I’m pretty proud of putting together.

I finally bothered figuring out how to make gifs from films. You’ve been warned, act accordingly.

In videogames, does sexism begin at the top?

While continuing to think about the root causes of sexism, misogyny and the systematic and deliberate exclusion of women in the games industry, I decided to try a little experiment. I took all the games featured in the latest Feminist Frequency ‘Tropes Vs Women in Videogames’ video – games that have been identified and selected as containing poor representations of women. Then I looked up their publisher’s management, board, or founders – whoever seems to be at the top of the chain. 

This is an experiment, it’s not scientific and it’s possible I might have made some errors – but what we have here certainly paints a picture. You’ll see I’ve noted in italics after each group the ratio of women at the top of these companies.

Here’s what I found:


Alain Corre, Executive Director, EMEA

Christine Burgess-Quémard, Executive Director, Worldwide Studios

Yves Guillemot, Co-founder and CEO

Laurent Detoc, Executive Director, North America

Serge Hascoët, Chief Creative Officer

Verdict: One woman from five.

Deep Silver – Koch Media

Dr. Klemens Kundraitz, CEO

Dr. Reinhard Gratl, CFO

Stefan Kapelari, COO

Verdict: No women from three.

Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios – ZeniMax Media

Robert A. Altman,
Chairman & CEO

Ernest Del,

James L. Leder,

Cindy L. Tallent,

J. Griffin Lesher,
EVP Legal & Secretary

Denise Kidd,
SVP Finance & Controller

Verdict: Two women from six

BioWare – Electronic Arts

Leonard S. Coleman - Director

Jay C. Hoag - Director

Jeffrey T. Huber - Director

Vivek Paul - Director

Lawrence F. Probst III - Chairman Of The Board

Richard A. Simonson - Lead Director

Luis A. Ubiñas - Director

Denise F. Warren - Director

Andrew Wilson - Director, CEO

Verdict: One woman from nine

Lionhead – Microsoft Studios

I can’t find an extensive official listing for Microsoft Studios anywhere, though Phil Spencer is the Head of Microsoft Studios, Phil Harrison is Worldwide Corporate Vice President, and Yusef Mehdi is Head of Business Strategy and Marketing at Xbox. Microsoft has a stated policy and strategy to increase diversity. The Microsoft board of directors includes two women (Dina Dublon and Maria M. Klawe) out of ten.

Sony Santa Monica – Sony

Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO Sony Corporation

Kunimasa Suzuki, President and CEO, Sony Mobile Communications

Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment, Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

Doug Morris, CEO, Sony Music Entertainment

Martin Bandier, Chairman and CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Andrew House, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

John Kodera, President, Sony Network Entertainment International

Dieter Daum, CEO, Sony DADC Global

Verdict: One woman from nine.


IO Interactive, Eidos Interactive – Square Enix

Yosuke Matsuda, President and Representative Director           

Philip Rogers, Director

Keiji Honda, Director

Yukinobu Chida, Director

Yukihiro Yamamura, Director

Yuji Nishiura, Director

Verdict: No women from six.


Robert J. Corti – Director

Brian G. Kelly – Chairman of the Board

Robert A. Kotick ­– Director. President and Chief Executive Officer

Barry Meyer – Director

Robert J. Morgado – Director

Peter Nolan – Director

Richard Sarnoff – Director

Elaine Wynn – Director

Verdict: One woman from eight.

CD Projekt

Adam Kiciński – President, Joint CEO

Marcin Iwiński – Co-founder, Joint CEO

Piotr Nielubowicz – Member of the Board, CFO

Adam Badowski – Member of the Board, Studio Head

Michał Nowakowski – Member of the Board, SVP Business Development

Katarzyna Szwarc - Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board

Piotr Pągowski - Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board

Cezary Iwański - Supervisory Board Member

Grzegorz Kujawski - Supervisory Board Member

Maciej Majewski - Secretary of the Supervisory Board

Verdict: One woman from ten.


Satoru Iwata, President

Genyo Takeda, Senior Managing Director

Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director

Tatsumi Kimishima, Managing Director

Shigeyuki Takahashi, Director

Satoshi Yamato, Director

Susumu Tanaka, Director

Shinya Takahashi, Director

Hirokazu Shinshi, Director

Naoki Mizutani, Outside Director

Verdict: No women from ten.

2k Games, Rockstar – Take-Two Interactive Software

Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO

Karl Slatoff, President

Lainie Goldstein, CFO

Michael Dornemann, Lead Independent Director

Robert Bowman, Director

J Moses, Director

Michael Sheresky, Director

Susan Tolson, Director

Verdict: One woman from eight.

The End of Gamers

The last few weeks in videogame culture have seen a level of combativeness more marked and bitter than any beforehand. 

First, a developer—a woman who makes games who has had so much piled on to her that I don’t want to perpetuate things by naming her—was the target of a harassment campaign that attacked her personal life and friendships. Campaigns of personal harassment aimed at game developers are nothing new. They are dismayingly common among those who happen to be women, or not white straight men, and doubly so if they also happen to make the sort of game that in any way challenge the status quo, even if that challenge is only made through their very existence. The viciousness and ferocity with which this campaign occurred, however, was shocking, and certainly out of the ordinary. This was something more than routine misogyny (and in games, it often is routine, shockingly). It was an ugly spectacle that should haunt and shame those involved for the rest of their lives.

It’s important to note that this hate campaign took the guise of a crusade against ‘corruption’ and ‘bias’ in the games industry, with particular emphasis on the relationships between independent game developers and the press.

These fires, already burning hot, were further fuelled yesterday by the release of the latest installment in Anita Sarkeesian’s ‘Tropes vs. Women in Video Games’ video series. In this particular video, Sarkeesian outlines “largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players.” Today, Sarkeesian has been forced to leave her home due to some serious threats made against her and her family in response to the video. It is terrifying stuff.

Taken in their simplest, most basic form, a videogame is a creative application of computer technology. For a while, perhaps, when such technology was found mostly in masculine cultures, videogames accordingly developed a limited, inwards-looking perception of the world that marked them as different from everyone else. This is the gamer, an identity based on difference and separateness. When playing games was an unusual activity, this identity was constructed in order to define and unite the group (and to help demarcate it as a targetable demographic for business). It became deeply bound up in assumptions and performances of gender and sexuality. To be a gamer was to signal a great many things, not all of which are about the actual playing of videogames. Research like this, by Adrienne Shaw, proves this point clearly.

When, over the last decade, the playing of videogames moved beyond the niche, the gamer identity remained fairly uniformly stagnant and immobile. Gamer identity was simply not fluid enough to apply to a broad spectrum of people. It could not meaningfully contain, for example, Candy Crush players, Proteus players, and Call of Duty players simultaneously. When videogames changed, the gamer identity did not stretch, and so it has been broken.

And lest you think that I’m exaggerating about the irrelevance of the traditionally male dominated gamer identity, recent news confirms this, with adult women outnumbering teenage boys in game-playing demographics in the USA. Similar numbers also often come out of Australian surveys. The predictable ‘what kind of games do they really play, though—are they really gamers?’ response says all you need to know about this ongoing demographic shift. This insinuated criteria for ‘real’ videogames is wholly contingent on identity (i.e. a real gamer shouldn’t play Candy Crush, for instance).

On the evidence of the last few weeks, what we are seeing is the end of gamers, and the viciousness that accompanies the death of an identity. Due to fundamental shifts in the videogame audience, and a move towards progressive attitudes within more traditional areas of videogame culture, the gamer identity has been broken. It has nowhere to call home, and so it reaches out inarticulately at invented problems, such as bias and corruption, which are partly just ways of expressing confusion as to why things the traditional gamer does not understand are successful (that such confusion results in abject heartlessness is an indictment on the character of the male-focussed gamer culture to begin with).

The gamer as an identity feels like it is under assault, and so it should. Though the ‘consumer king’ gamer will continue to be targeted and exploited while their profitability as a demographic outweighs their toxicity, the traditional gamer identity is now culturally irrelevant.

The battles (and I don’t use that word lightly; in some ways perhaps ‘war’ is more appropriate) to make safe spaces for videogame cultures are long and they are resisted tempestuously, but through the pain and suffering of people who have their friendships, their personal lives, and their professions on the line, things continue to improve. The result has been a palpable progressive shift.

This shift is precisely the root of such increasingly violent hostility. The hysterical fits of those inculcated at the heart of gamer culture might on the surface be claimed as crusades for journalistic integrity, or a defense against falsehoods, but—along with a mix of the hatred of women and an expansive bigotry thrown in for good measure—what is actually going on is an attempt to retain hegemony. Make no mistake: this is the exertion of power in the name of (male) gamer orthodoxy—an orthodoxy that has already begun to disappear.

The last few weeks therefore represent the moment that gamers realised their own irrelevance. This is a cold wind that has been a long time coming, and which has framed these increasingly malicious incidents along the way. Videogames have now achieved a purchase on popular culture that is only possible without gamers.

Today, videogames are for everyone. I mean this in an almost destructive way. Videogames, to read the other side of the same statement, are not for you. You do not get to own videogames. No one gets to own videogames when they are for everyone. They add up to more than any one group.

On some level, the grim individuals who are self-centred and myopic enough to be upset at the prospect of having their medium taken away from them are absolutely right. They have astutely, and correctly identified what is going on here. Their toys are being taken away, and their treehouses are being boarded up. Videogames now live in the world and there is no going back.

I am convinced that this marks the end. We are finished here. From now on, there are no more gamers—only players.

EDIT: This post does not do nearly enough to acknowledge that women have been playing, making, and thinking about games throughout game history. The stats that I quote above about adult women outnumbering teenage men could fairly be read as an erasure of this fact and for this I apologise unequivocally. Women are here now and they have always been here, but they are often deliberately made invisible for cultural, financial, and bigoted reasons. It is everyone’s job—perhaps mine especially given this post—to reverse this in history, and the present. Perhaps the most important lesson to be taken from all of this is that women’s voices are more important than ever: something that this post does disappointingly little to address.

Those weird Mario Kart 8 characters are really avant-garde composers

Here’s a great article from the A.V. Club reviewing all 30 characters in the latest Mario Kart.

Unfortunately, however, it writes off ‘The Koopalings’ as merely making up the numbers, and goes on to hypothesise about Morton’s status as a reference to the talk show host, Morton Downey Jr.

They’re wrong. The Koopalings are actually a set of avant-garde classical and film composers. Let me show you.

Morton Kooper Jr is actually Morton Feldman



Here’s Morton with his namesake, the brilliant 20th century composer and friend and contemporary of John Cage, Morton Feldman. Feldman was a man of striking appearance, as you can see, which has perhaps rather cruelly been translated into his Koopa version above. In contrast to his sheer size (Feldman was six feet tall and 300 pounds), he wrote music of extraordinary quietude and stillness. My favourite work of his is Rothko Chapel, written to mourn his friend and artist Mark Rothko.

Wendy is actually Wendy Carlos



Here’s Wendy Carlos, above, in her amazing studio in, I think, probably the 1980s. Carlos was (and is!) a pioneer of synthesised music, writing Switched-On Bach in 1968, a groundbreaking use of the Moog synth, and winning three Grammies for her trouble. She also wrote the amazing scores for A Clockwork OrangeThe Shining, and TRON. Here’s my favourite piece of hers, the reworking of Mussorgsky’s ‘Dies Irae’ for the opening credits of The Shining

Roy is Roy Webb



Roy Webb wrote the music for hundreds of Hollywood films between the 1930s and 1950s, specialising in a kind of dark and suspenseful film noir and horror mode. His most famous scores are Hitchcock’s Notorious, the beloved Marty, and the somewhat lacklustre biography Houdini.

Ludwig is, well, yeah



[After a few queries from people, I should probably just note that I know that most of these are patently false (Roy is probably named after Roy Orbison, for example) but I prefer to believe this version because isn’t it more fun to believe Nintendo named these fairly useless characters after amazing composers?]

Notes on Ubisoft’s Charlotte Corday

It’s been a weird few days. A tweet of mine, what I thought was a completely mild, innocuous tweet, took off and has so far been retweeted something like 1800 times. A screenshot of that tweet was featured in a tumblr post that so far has about 140k notes.

In the tweet I’m talking about Charlotte Corday, of course. She’s the assassin that killed Marat and whose murderous act inspired the most famous piece of art to come out of the revolutionary period, David’s The Death of Marat (1793).

I’ve never been associated with anything like these numbers before, and, as you can imagine, I’ve been receiving lots of eloquent and polite correspondence on twitter as a result. Nothing as bad as if I happened to be a woman saying the same thing, of course. I’ve mostly ignored it, but I wanted to do something to catalogue some thoughts in response.

So here is an encyclopaedia of ignorance that I’ve seen so far, and some unorganised thoughts in reply.

  1. You don’t know anything about Assassin’s Creed. In previous games you don’t play as a real person. I know. No-one’s suggesting you play as Charlotte Corday (though that would be cool, wouldn’t it?). The point is that Ubisoft have assumed that a male assassin is the default, whereas the actual history of the period suggests the complete opposite. Maybe Ubisoft should be forced to justify why they’ve chosen a male assassin over the more logical and historically relevant decision to play as a woman. Why have they reorganised history?
  2. Ubisoft can’t be sexist. In Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, you played as not just a woman, but a non-white woman too. I do know this. I briefly got to know the writer of Liberation, Jill Murray, at an event we both spoke at earlier in the year, and I can’t imagine a smarter choice of writer to be involved in the series.I hope she is doing some great work on this very point behind the scenes right now. But you know the fact the AC games have had a woman protagonist before actually makes this decision—and its accompanying excuse—worse, don’t you? It’s not a precedent which excuses all subsequent offences. It’s a building block from which to move forward—and a pillar that proves that excuses of cost or workload when it comes to playable women are laughable.
  3. Charlotte Corday will probably turn up as a character in the game. Yep, it seems likely. That doesn’t change anything, really. I just hope that we don’t assassinate Marat with her looking on, as we rode Paul Revere’s horse for him in Assassin’s Creed III. That would, for obvious reasons, be bad.
  4. Because Charlotte Corday is famous/was caught, she wasn’t a good assassin. Or, as one person tweeted at me this morning, she apparently wasn’t an assassin at all (for reasons best kept to himself and his six followers). This actually really concerns me, because it suggests that there are people out there that truly believe that there have been real Assassin’s Creed-style assassins throughout history, the kind that successfully knock off dozens, if not hundreds of important targets and slip away into the crowd, or parkour off into the distance, to be unrecognised both by their contemporaries and by history. Seriously, if you believe this—especially about such a well-documented and widely-studied era as the French Revolution—then I implore you to pick up a book and read, and expand your understanding of history beyond the Assassin’s Creed games. I love the AC games. I have at least 20,000 words on them through my PhD thesis. They are fantasies of history. Real assassination is utterly unromantic and flawed. Charlotte Corday is the image of a real assassin—a newcomer to violence, working for all intents and purposes by herself, who either intended to be caught or understood it as an inevitability, and who planned accordingly so as to make a statement. Ezio is not reality.

Most importantly of all: by creating an all-male-protagonist French Revolution videogame, Ubisoft have entered a long-held tradition of downplaying or marginalising the role of women in the Revolution. This happened both at the time and through the writing of history subsequently. After her execution, Charlotte Corday was examined to find out if she was a virgin—if she had been ‘sharing her bed’ then surely we would find a man’s hand behind the assassination (this was not the case). Could a woman really have come up with this plan herself?

Women were repeatedly denied rights, both before the revolution, during it, and after it. The famous Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen remains silent on women, despite a preceding petition calling for equal rights for women. This situation lead to Olympe de Gouges’ complex and witty Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, which is ironically dedicated to Marie Antoinette, and declares (remember, this is 1791) that “This revolution will only take effect when all women become fully aware of their deplorable condition, and of the rights they have lost in society.”

Groups like the Society of Revolutionary Women were formed, and in 1793, outlawed and abolished by the Jacobin government. Then, the Napoleonic Code of 1804 reinforced French women’s status as second-class citizens.

And of course, then came the many conservative historians who had either an interest in downplaying the role of women, or whose privilege meant it was a question easily ignored. As Shirley Elson Roessler writes in her excellent Out of the Shadows: Women and Politics in the French Revolution, 1789-1795,

The topic of women’s participation in the French Revolution has generally received little attention from historians, who have displayed a tendency to minimize the role of women in the major events of those years, or else to ignore it altogether. In the nineteenth century those who did attempt to deal with the topic chose to approach it with an emphasis on individual women who had for some reason attained a degree of notoriety.

So you see that even a focus on someone like Charlotte Corday or Olympe de Gouges is a strategy that has been used to downplay the role of women in the broad fabric of the revolution. I’m pleased to see the historically-accurate presence of women in the Assassin’s Creed: Unity crowds, in the storming-of-the-palace scenario we were shown at E3—but the fact that women remain unplayable, as a hands-off role, as actors-but-not-protagonists, indicates that Ubisoft is taking a regressive step with Unity, not just for the Assassin’s Creed series, not just for the representation of women in videogames, but in representation of the women of the French Revolution.

I guess I’m doing this now, too.

I grew up listening to pretty much only jazz until I was about 14-15. I’m still finishing writing up my thesis and need study music, and I haven’t been regularly listening to jazz for a while, so I made a general, introduction-style jazz playlist to remind myself of what I loved.

Hey, I forgot I was also going to use this tumblr to link to things I’ve written that are published elsewhere. So here’s an article I wrote about Halfbrick’s new game, Bears vs. Art.