Male gamers probably don’t need to think twice before turning on their microphone and chatting with strangers to strategize for CoD. For us women, there’s hesitation because of Nice Guys and outright online harassment. Last year, we listed out the things women gamers are tired of hearing, our favorite heroines from Final Fantasy, and female tropes that should be retired. This year, we want to take it a step further and help provide action steps so that well-intentioned gamers can help us feel safe and just enjoy the game like we’re supposed to.
We can’t deny that both games and the gaming community have improved, but there are still sexist undertones and issues to confront. To kickstart this #WomensMonth, meet Lyka Ilustre aka Lyksaber, a Twitch streamer and Communications Officer at Ubisoft. She’s here to dish out advice for males to step up and rise to the challenge of becoming our allies. Additionally, learn how she views the current gaming environment for women in the industry.
I’ve always been into gaming, ever since I was a kid. It’s always been something I enjoyed. In college, I highly considered a degree in video games but to be honest, it intimidated me (it also seemed quite new at the time), so I went for another passion of mine which was photography and filmmaking. I ended up getting a double major for Communications and Advertising.
I always told my college friends that if there was a chance that I could incorporate gaming into my career (maybe a games writer or something similar), I’d do it. I didn’t think I’d ever really achieve this, but as luck would have it, upon graduating, Ubisoft Philippines opened a Communications internship position.
I took the leap, I got absorbed, and I’ve been in game dev ever since. I’ve been at Ubisoft Philippines for 4 years now and I’ve not looked back since. The journey has been a wonderful experience.
First off, I’m glad to see progress in the video games industry in general, being a part of it myself – we’re beginning to empower women more, acknowledge their capabilities and contributions in tech, and encourage young women to pursue careers like these. That’s not to say there is not a lot of work left to do.
One of the biggest challenges I encountered personally was the imposter syndrome: feeling like I was not good enough to be called a “Game Developer.” A lot of women can probably attest to this feeling, especially in male-dominated industries. There’s a lot of self-doubt in the beginning. There’s not a lot of us in the industry, and there’s a tendency to undermine our achievements because society fed us women the idea that we couldn’t be in tech.
It’s important to remember that we are put in our roles for a reason – because we are capable. I was able to go to Paris for training with Ubisoft, grow my own team, and enter a leadership position. I’m grateful to have been surrounded by very supportive developers and mentors who have helped me grow my expertise and build confidence over time.
As I mentioned, even if we say “Not all Men,” women need to be guarded because we do not know which men to be wary of. Women get it – it’s never ALL men. But it’s enough to keep a lot of us fearful everyday – outside, or nowadays, even virtually. Feminism and equality was never (and still isn’t) men VS women. In fact, women can have internalized misogyny too. However, if you derail the conversation and make it about men once again, then it detracts us from the real issue – women’s oppression.
Male allies can help and respond by calling out men when they see unacceptable actions. Engage in healthy conversation and speak up. Do not tolerate microaggressions.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask women and be open to what they have to say. I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ve had many male friends come up to me to ask me what feminism was – I can say that all the men I’ve conversed with that had an open mind ended up openly advocating for women’s rights.
I believe the first step is accepting that women are oppressed (of course there are more minorities who also have many challenges, but I digress).
By letting go of the “not all men,” perspective and acknowledging that women are in a place of disadvantage, you’re one step closer to helping solve the problem. I feel this is one of the biggest hurdles people have – we refuse to believe the problem exists because of “edges” women have, such as chivalry, among others. If we dissect chivalry, it’s guised as an advantage for women, but is actually a symptom of the problem – feminism believes there shouldn’t be a closed box of gender roles, including men being expected to be “chivalrous.” Respect and courteousness should go both ways.
This applies to video games. Many people refuse to believe women have it tough in video games because they see that a handful of women are popular and sometimes “put on a pedestal.” We shouldn’t forget that a few successful females do not mean violence and harassment don’t exist for the majority.
Acknowledging this is a big step to take, and I encourage that to be the first thing that male gamers do to help as allies.
Yes. There has recently been a bigger representation of minorities in video games. I’m glad to see progress, not only for women but also for other minorities.
I’d like to point out that again, we still have work to do, but we’re in the right direction. There are many ways to be represented – we’re moving away from merely adding a female main character and calling it representation (of course this still matters), to now going into what I believe are deeper forms of representation, such as more women as part of the game development process, women in leadership roles, and overall opening different perspectives and skill sets in the development of video games. I’m quite proud to say that in Ubisoft Philippines, more than half of our team members in leadership roles are women, and I’m happy to share that I’m a part of that!
I’m not sure where this is exactly from, but I saw it before, and since then, I’ve said this to everyone who may have some self-confidence issues — don’t hide your sparkle. 😊 Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to speak your mind, and to stand out. You don’t need to be less “girly”, more “manly”, or anything else.
It may seem scary at first, but you’ll find a lot of people who will support you in your journey, and fellow women who will be very willing to help you break barriers. Take the leap and go for it!
We hope you enjoyed this interview—we will be featuring more women in gaming long after Women’s Month is over. For more articles like this, check out our interview with #GGG producer, Joni Yap, 5 Awesome Games Made by Women, and an interview with another Lyka-ble (forgive the pun) resident gamer, Lyka Mea. Stay tuned for more kickass lady content here on GG Network!
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