More specifically

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.

2 Responses to “More specifically”

  1. The Lobster says:

    Howdy, Ken,

    First off sorry this is my first post. I sure it would be nice to have comments on posts with less conflict then this.

    Now I read CC’s comment and I think you might have not gotten the overall point. He does not dismiss Emily’s anger, or say that she does not have a reason to be upset. I think what he was trying to get across is that Internet trolls want her to be anger so she might do something she might not normally do. It’s easier to make a irrational decision and do something you regret when you are angry. So Emily should be angry about the comments made about her, but she should not even acknowledge the people who made them. You can try to engage in rational discourse with internet trolls, but the ability to have anonymity on the web means they don’t have to answer for anything they say.

    Adam said “I do know that anonymity isn’t to blame, as cc suggests. Many of these people comment with their real names, via Facebook and Twitter”, well there might be a few of those, but Adam should definitely provide evidence to that if he wants to say such things. But in your case, you did link to to an example of “some of the sickening on-line conversation that followed” and it was on 4chan, 4CHAN. 4chan is a terrible cess-pool of internet trolls that are allowed to do what they want because the entire point of 4chan is you are allowed absolute anonymity unless you specify otherwise. These are the people who are currently trying to spread rumors in Nigeria that doctors trying to stop the Ebola epidemic are really worshipping it and trying to infect everyone. All they want from Emily is her acknowledgement of them. They want her mad and yelling, because it’s funny for them.

    So now that I addressed what I really think CC trying to get across, I would like to address what Emily herself said. I am not trying to be mean at all, but her question seemed inflammatory. The developers of the Oculus are not purposefully avoiding women, they just want to get their product to those who want it. It just happens that statistically women don’t really seem interested in a VR headset. I don’t think they should care either, the people who have supported this product from the beginning are doing it because they are passionate about what is being made, why else would they donate to a kickstarter? I suppose now that Facebook owns them they can hire a marketing team to help sell to women, but that sure as heck ain’t their problem. Now that being said, I might have misunderstood what she was asking, is she asking “Why don’t you have more women developing for the Oculus”? If that is the case then it’s pretty obvious that women are a small percent of the people that make our field, and that’s just statistics (http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/01/27/women-remain-outsiders-video-game-industry/275JKqy3rFylT7TxgPmO3K/story.html). But either way, she said what she said, and someone out there was watching and said to himself “I heard her mention something that sounds remotely feminist. I know those feminists are complete radicals (http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/25/Radical-Feminists-Strip-in-Protest-Against-Radical-Islam) and act outrageously (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWgslugtDow).” Then he went to try to use this video as evidence to support his worldview by linking it to the internet with that silly title “SJW vs John Carmack”. After that 4chan users picked it up and we are in the state we are in now. I have watched the video, and to be honest I don’t think John Carmack was trying to be rude to her. Her question is a good one, but not for them, they are simply trying to get their information about their product to the people who care about it, and get feedback that is relevant to the current stage in their company. I think her question would have been better for a marketing team, because all those guys care about is selling the product to as many people as they can.

    I am excited to see the work Emily is doing for 360 VR, but this entire situation seems blown out of proportion. Internet trolls should be ignored, don’t get offended by what they are doing. While almost everyone on 4chan is a troll, they are also really young and immature (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xki6gW7r73o). They are likely just trying to be funny in their own inappropriate way, they are not “getting in bed with Adolf Hitler”. I think overall, you are reading too much into internet trolls, or you are overreacting at the community “slamming” Emily by telling her that their are not many women in the video game industry.

    That’s all I really got to say on the matter. I am pretty sure that CC was trying to give you insight into a community. And the Oculus devs don’t really need to be thinking about the lack of females right now (both working in the industry and buying the VR headset), and just want to get the product to the people who want it. I am also wrong a lot amigo, so please tell me if you think something else is going on here.

    Adios,
    The Lobster

  2. CC says:

    Here’s a link to the text of a post I tried to make earlier today. Perhaps it exceeded some character limit, or there was some content in it that resulted in it getting filtered. Whatever the case may be, I was unable to post this text directly. If, somehow, my original post attempt goes through, it’ll simply be a duplicate of the text in this link: http://pastebin.com/mxarcnxi

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