Your Princess is in Another Castle

Originally designed to display as an exhibit. Each image is a separate 11×17 piece, displayed at eye level in a row.

What do those words say? I’ll just go ahead and tell you. They spell out: “Your Princess is in Another Castle”.

This is a photo exhibit I designed back in April and May and it is now on display at Southern Polytechnic State University. Of course, now that it is on display, I felt the time was right to write about this special exhibit. In fact, the timing couldn’t be more perfect with my recent attendance of the XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design exhibit at the Museum of Design in Atlanta. The result is a perfect storm of ideas for a blog that simply needs to be written. There is no better place to start than with the inspiration behind “Your Princess Is In Another Castle”.

Back in February, I discovered a video  being shared among a circle of game developers I follow on Twitter.

Back in February, I discovered a video  being shared among a circle of game developers I follow on Twitter. The video was the first part to a new video series created by Anita Sarkeesian and called “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”.

Finding her video enlightening and informative, I’ve decided to see how professionals in the field felt about it. Upon posting the video in the International Game Developers Association LinkedIn Group for additional commentary and feedback, it was an immediately hot topic. It remained the most popular topic for about two months and did not start reducing in popularity until comments were closed. Ultimately, my post about Anita’s video resulted in 208 comments of hot debate about not only the role of women as characters in video games but also as game developers in a predominately male industry.

The conversation I witness unfold around Anita’s video would follow me to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Notably, there was the IGDA/YetiZen party incident which featured scantily clad female dancers much to the chagrin and disapproval of many game developers. Despite this, and thankfully, GDC was largely defined by a huge positive movement for change within the industry. Leading the way was the newly formed advocacy track. One of the sessions from this new track called #1ReasonToBe, was arguably the most talked about session of GDC.

The origin of this panel has its roots in Twitter hashtags #1ReasonWhy and #1ReasonToBe. #1ReasonWhy encouraged women game developers to speak out about their difficulties of being in the video game industry. The result was numerous tweets that were full of upsetting, troubling, and negative stories about being women who make games and gained a lot of publicity by the media.

A number of women game developers wanted to counteract this negative movement through the hashtag #1ReasonToBe, discussing instead why women are a part of the industry and should continue to be a part of it. This Twitter discussion culminated into the session at GDC, and resulted in a powerful message that inspires women to remain strong and pushes the industry forward in embracing gender equality.

Right now in Atlanta, at the Museum of Design, is a special video game exhibit called XYZ: Alternative Voices in Game Design. Its mission is to highlight the work of women as game designers and artists. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see such an exhibit, apparently the first of its kind, form in Atlanta. If anything, it is certainly a sign, maybe even an extension of what I’ve experienced with “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” and the events at GDC.

Its mission is to highlight the work of women as game designers and artists.

Women have been and will always be an integral part of the game development community. Their growing contribution to game development only makes me more excited for the future to come. As a male, I may never truly fully understand the issues and hurdles women face in achieving gender equality. However, I will certainly support the cause. That is why “Your Princess is in Another Castle” exists.

If this photo exhibit can get someone to ponder about the issues involving video games and gender equality, that would be good enough. Although, I really hope it will be a tool used to help spread the message of #1ReasonToBe.

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