Simulating Sexism: Games that Go There

Rampant misogyny. Blatant sexism. Vague — or not so vague — threats. Regular, annoying messages that almost always start off with “Hello, pretty” or “Hey there, beautiful”.

Just like catcalls, every woman knows where these messages are headed, and it’s usually dangerous territory. We experience it online, at work, at school, and in our home lives. We internalize it, but we often don’t acknowledge it out loud.

But it should be acknowledged. Loudly. Publicly. Unabashedly. Which is why I’ve decided to be more public about the harassment I’ve endured, especially in the workplace.

To kick off this new, more open phase of life, I’ve spent the last 14 days tweeting out my personal experiences with sexism and harassment in the workplace, and I plan to continue the daily tweets for the rest of the month.

But I didn’t feel that was enough. So recently I teamed up with Brain Jar Games to make a game — free to download— called Standard Gaming Company, which puts you in the shoes of a young, female worker named Gabby as she experiences workplace harassment.

The first-person game is admittedly short, but it is free to download, includes embedded mini-games, and gives you dialogue options as you play.

With Standard Gaming Company, our goal was to make a quick, fun game themed around workplace harassment. In writing the script, I included some quotes directly from my own work experience, though I don’t work in the gaming industry as Gabby — the main character — does.

I have had a variety of jobs. Some of the included experiences are from professional offices, the service industry, customer service… you name it, the sexism is there. However, it is worse in some fields than others, which is why we decided to shape our game around the gaming industry in particular.

Over the course of making the game, I researched similar games, also focusing on women’s issues. While doing so, I found a few “games that go there” that had strong messages and really resonated with the me.

Of course, I wanted to share.

This short game can be played right in your browser and gives you the opportunity to walk in this developer’s shoes at a private game industry party. While you play, you’ll hear verbatim or paraphrased quotes from game industry professionals.

I actually found this game while Brain Jar and I were working on Standard Gaming Company, and it was interesting seeing how similar this developer’s experiences were to my own, despite the fact that I don’t work in the gaming industry.

This game is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. Try it out.

This interactive graphic novel is beautifully done and can also be played directly in your browser. The short adventure, which I played in about ten minutes, allows you to walk in the shoes of a college student and make decisions that affect not only the character, but her friends as well.

This game has good dialogue, is designed attractively, and plays well. It hits an emotional high at the end that really sells its message, and it will leave you thinking about how important your day-to-day decisions are in other people’s lives.

In Freshman Year, you also play a college student. This time, you go out for a night on the town. But instead of having a fun night with friends, you end up in a terrible situation.

Freshman Year has a darker feel than the other two games and its theme and visuals are more intense. However, the animation is fantastic and the story is raw and powerful.

I came away from this short game feeling a bit down, as I do after reading a good (but harrowing) book.

All the above games are free to play, and they’re short enough that you can complete them in a few minutes. So maybe… Just maybe, you could take a few minutes out of your day today to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Take ten minutes and experience what it’s like to be a woman experiencing harassment in the workplace, or at school, or out with friends. Hear the words we hear. Make the decisions we’re forced to make.

How will you react?

The answer might surprise you.

K.B. Bailey is a freelance writer, author, and professional blog writer who lives in Colorado. Visit www.kbbailey.com or follow @kbwriter24 on social media.