Thursday, September 26, 2013

Activism at work

We have an interesting mix of characters at the office, not just those we develop in-game, and it's always a surprise to see how things will be taken by coworkers and higher ups and to hear the off-hand comments and off-color jokes in the hall.
Hi [Head of math curriculum development],
I was looking over the common character phrases and am concerned about [a character]’s use of “beautiful, man.” Though it’s a culturally popular construction, there’s obviously no equivalent of praising women and girls, so it feeds into cultural tropes and stereotypes about “masculinity” being more valuable and praiseworthy than traditional “femininity” and “feminine” traits as well as the concern of it being socially acceptable to refer women and girls in mixed-gender groups as “men” and “guys,” when the reverse is not socially accepted. By comparison, obviously, we wouldn’t ever have a character saying, “You go, girl!” to the user. 
This is an issue I feel strongly about on a personal level, and I believe as educators that we have a responsibility to strive for gender equality and diversity in the content we produce; however, this is not my call to make, and if you think the phrasing is benign, I will defer to your judgment. 
Edited to add:
Hi Moniqa,
I totally follow you and actually we've tried to keep them gender neutral as much as possible. . . . Some of the phrases were early brainstorms. Perhaps soon we should review and remove statements that we think should be removed.

Isn't it nice when your personal concerns turn out to be a benefit on the job?

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