In honor of International Women’s Week, the Ci3/Section blog is spotlighting the stories of our staff and constituents. Today, game designer Amanda Dittami recollects her strange and first professional experience in the game industry.
Ages ago I worked at game development studio for a short period of time. Thinking back, I realize this instant lasted for about 3 weeks. During this eternity it felt more like 1,814,400 grueling seconds. The following is an arrangement of nonsense, quadruple entendres (divided by four) and recollection of what eventually led to the demise of me working there. Out of respect I will not include proper nouns. In and of itself I will use most other word forms.
After I got the call I felt a surge of excitement that gravitationally pulled me to the floor. This uncoordinated motion was followed by Kool & the Gang, courtesy of two friends. I had just got my first job in the game industry.
Although measly, I was glad to have any position and felt an energy that I can only (scientifically) describe as “adrenaliney”. It was not until after my first day that I realized the error of my excitement and poor choice in a supposedly scientific term.
The horror of working there did not stem from tedious tasks, long commute or even small pay. Most of the job was quite pleasant. My co-workers were friendly, the atmosphere was welcoming, and there was a kitchen with free food and a bowl of delicious candy at the front desk, its contents for the taking (in which I did partake. feverishly). Rather, the dreadful dismay derived from a deep daunting dilemma from within. But I do not digress.
The game I was paid to play for 8 hours a day 3-4 days a week went against most fibers of my being. Since these filaments had already been contaminated by similar products, I could not turn the other being. I was helping produce the very propaganda that has affected me and many other girls and women (in one way or another). This (per)version was to be packaged for preteen girls (ages 9-15). Most of its features included shallow ideals, dancing promiscuously, lack of diversity and a cast of ditzy girls who think skool is st00pid (lololol). After a week or so I voiced some thoughts about the game with two of my supervisors. I let them know that I felt it seemed irresponsible to target such a young and specific age group with potentially harmful paradigms. I also asked them what they thought of the game. One said he thought it was better than selling violent games (to which I pointed out at least have rating (as ineffective as they may (parenthetically) be)). The other felt similarly but remarked that the “intellectual” property could not be changed.
My inner conflict remained unresolved and quickly began to seep into life outside of the studio, staining my thoughts and ruining my ability to sleep soundly. I would often lie in bed thinking about it. I could see the credits rolling on the back of my eyelids: there was my name, listed. Imagined proof that I helped unleash a destructively dancing monster laden in pink, singing about getting revenge on the girl her boyfriend cheated on her with. I would often lie to myself and say it didn’t really matter. My pathetic attempt at excusing my prolonged participation consisted of something I had to do in order to get the chance to work on better games in the future. Thankfully, it was a failed attempt.
Suddenly, I put in my two weeks notice.
Don’t tell anyone but I did not disclose the primary reason for jumping ship.
Amanda Dittami is a game designer artist and project lead at Game Changer Chicago Design Lab.
Art by Amanda Dittami.