Multiplayer: One disadvantage [of being a female in the gaming industry] I can think of is that people can doubt your abilities. When I was interviewing Morgan Webb, she said that guys still come up to her and ask, “Do you really play games?” And in Jade Raymond’s case, people were doubting her work experience…
Tory: There’s a real difference, I find, between what you experience internally, in the company, and what you feel from the outside on the forums, which are ridiculous. The stuff on forums is ridiculous. It’s so misogynistic, and it’s awful. And so I really try to separate myself from that. I find at least internally, the industry itself, when we talk about the actual companies and our working environment, I feel it’s a lot better, and I feel there’s a decent amount of respect going on there. But when you want to step outside, it’s exactly what you’re saying. Experienced producers like Jade, who was a programmer, is a huge gamer, really somebody who knows what she’s talking about. And people say, “Are you just a marketing tool?” And it’s just like, “What are you talking about?” So I think on that level, I don’t know if that’s calling it the industry, or just the demographic who are playing are just not getting it.
Multiplayer: So it seems that you’re saying with gamers — or outside the industry — there’s the negativity, but within the industry, it’s not like that at all?
Tory: Totally. Things have not gotten better outside the industry. For me, the important thing is in my working environment everybody gets taken seriously, and I am not in any way impeded in my progression. So that’s really important to me. On “Assassin’s” I started getting more exposure. You do an interview on GameTrailers, and you start getting comments. I was told to never go look at the comments, because they’re appalling!
But [being in the spotlight] has been an eye-opening experience for me. The forums in general, and basically all the websites that include all of these people who are really condescending and, I don’t know… It leaves a sour taste in your mouth. You just kind of feel like we’re making progress, we’re getting more women out there, the faces of the games are changing, and I think that’s so good. And then any time you put a woman in the position where she’s talking about things, there has to be at least a good chunk of talk about, for Jade, talking about how beautiful she is. Completely irrelevant to what’s going on and her job.
Multiplayer: Why do you think people reacted to Jade that way on the Internet?
Tory: It was really frustrating… The whole fan club thing, I think that’s fun and whatever. To me it’s just when they start criticizing her intelligence or her ability… It’s very frustrating to see that when you’ve worked with somebody for two years, and you know they’re good at what they do and they’re competent. I’ve found that she’s been an amazing role model for me, and to have people sit there and just, without any prior knowledge essentially, and truly because she’s a woman and she’s pretty, to rip into her. And to sort of imply that she couldn’t possibly have any idea what she’s doing. I think that’s a bit immature. It’s the kind of thing you expect from a 12 year-old. And maybe it is 12 year-olds making the posts. It could very well be. And if that’s possible, it’s not something I should worry about, because it’s just a 12 year-old making the posts. But it’s just the kind of thing that is not encouraging and doesn’t necessarily encourage other women to go in when they see that kind of flack.
Multiplayer: When disparaging stuff comes out on the Internet, what advice do you have for women dealing with that type of scrutiny?
Tory: Don’t read the forums! [Laughs] Don’t read the forums. That’s what I was told by some people and I stopped doing that, so that’s good. That’s helping. And try and focus on the positive aspect of what you do and the end result. I think it’s tough to know what to do.
I feel it's sad that Tory has to avoid online gaming communities altogether in order to not be brought down and upset by all the crap on them. If that doesn't show that there's a real problem here, I don't know what does. The whole 'Just be quiet and let the trolls have their way' is clearly a failed strategy. What's that's doing is driving women away from many gaming spaces entirely. And it shouldn't be this way.
If someone starts developing an interest in something, and then gets horrified/harassed/repelled by the people they find as the majority in the mainstream communties for those who share that interest, you don't think that would affect whether or not they'd want to participate professionally in that field, and/or make it a bigger part of their life? Can someone really claim that the tone of a community doesn't contribute in any way to people's feelings and enjoyment of a particular activity? I don't see how anyone can honestly deny that the bigoted/juvenile/boy's club tone of the mainstream gaming community is directly related to the fact that there are fewer women involved in it at higher levels.
And yet, there are still folks who claim that the low number of women who enter the gaming industry and/or who are high profile in it has nothing to do with sexism. Right.