I disagree with the premise of CC’s comment on yesterday’s post. If women are angry, it’s because there is a reason. To dismiss their concerns because one finds their anger distasteful is not excusable.
Yes, blacks have been angry at being lynched, and Jews have been angry at finding hotels mysteriously full when they try to register. Gays have been angry at getting beaten up by cops.
To say “your grievance is illegitimate because I find your anger unpleasant” is, essentially, to blame the victim, instead of focusing on the cause of that grievance.
In the case of Emily Eifler — the subject of yesterday’s post — she was not in fact speaking in an angry tone. Her question, asked in person and directly to the founders of Oculus Rift at a meeting of a very large number of developers at which only a tiny number of female developers were invited — and none at all invited to speak — was “What is Oculus’ approach to their clear gender gap and how are they not going to port that into VR?”
I find it significant that Emily did not hide behind any wall of social media at all. She didn’t post or tweet — she showed up in person, face to face with the people she was asking, and in a matter of fact tone raised a question of great economic consequence for their industry.
Palmer Luckey made a thoughtful attempt to address the question. He concluded that he doesn’t know the best way to solve it. I think he does not yet realize his own power, and I am hopeful that he will get to the point where he realizes that it is in his power to make a difference. I respect him trying to work it through.
John Carmack’s answer was more dismissive. I think he might not realize that ignoring a clear problem, rather than creatively thinking of ways to deal with it, is de facto limiting the growth potential of his company.
Also, as John knows — or should — Emily’s question was not asked in a vacuum. The industry is still working through the issues raised recently by the ugly sequence of events often referred to as Gamergate.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has said that VR is “bigger than 3-D graphics, maybe even bigger than computers.” Statements like that end up sounding just plain silly if an industry doesn’t make an attempt to reach half its potential customer and developer base.
It is legitimate to posit that the tone and marketing of Oculus has indeed initially drawn more male than female interest, but the great work that Emily and her collaborators have been doing on the Oculus platform is part of the solution to that problem — not an annoyance to be dismissed.
Here’s an example of some of the sickening on-line conversation that followed the Oculus Connect Q&A. Fair warning: some of it is very ugly.
By the way, I can attest, from first-hand experience, that the work Emily and her collaborators are creating is brilliant, and is helping to take 360 degree VR in exciting new directions.