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Utopia Talk / Politics / So must must consider Pong a sexist game
| Fri Feb 02 17:42:33|
Atari founder Nolan Bushnell loses award after sexism outcry
Major video game industry event reverses its decision to honour Bushnell following claims of improper conduct
Thu 1 Feb 2018
A major video game industry event has cancelled its decision to honour Atari founder Nolan Bushnell after attention was drawn to well-documented examples of a sexist culture at the company he oversaw in the 1970s.
Bushnell was due to receive the Pioneer award at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March, recognising his 40 years of involvement in the industry. Together with Ted Dabney, he set up Atari in 1972, developing the seminal arcade machine Pong, before manufacturing the Atari 2600, one of the first home video game consoles.
However, after the decision to award Bushnell was announced on Tuesday, the news provoked an outcry on social media, as games industry members pointed to examples of Atari’s sexist culture.
In the book The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steve Kent, Atari employee Al Acorn remembered Bushnell holding company meetings in a hot tub and attempting to coax a female employee to join him. Acorn recalled: “Nolan needed some papers and documents so he called his office and said, ‘Have Miss So and So bring them up.’ We were in this tub [when she arrived] so he proceeded to try to get her in the tub during the board meeting.”
In a 2012 Playboy profile of Atari, Bushnell stated that prototype machines were named after attractive female employees, with the home version of Pong codenamed Darlene after an employee who “was stacked and had the tiniest waist”.
When author Tristan Donovan spoke to ex-Atari executive Ray Kassar for his video game history book, Replay, Kassar is quoted as stating, “When I arrived [at Atari] on the first day, I was dressed in a business suit and a tie and I met Nolan Bushnell. He had a T-shirt on. The T-shirt said: ‘I love to fuck.’ That was my introduction to Atari.”
After the awards announcement on Tuesday, games industry employees began to vent their anger at the decision in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns.
Game designer Elizabeth Sampat wrote: “This is not the year to fete a man who pressured female employees into topless hot tub parties and code-named Pong after the hottest woman in the office.”
Others followed, using the hashtag #notnolan, with Gillian Smith, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute tweeting: “While other industries are distancing themselves from the abusive and sexist behaviors of powerful men, GDC is giving a pioneer award to one of them.”
According to technology news site Verge, GDC organisers initially claimed not to have known about the reports of Atari’s sexist culture, promising to “look at them more closely”. Within hours, the event, which attracts more than 25,000 games industry employees every year and hosts an internationally regarded awards ceremony, had rescinded the Bushnell honour and posted a statement on Twitter.
Following the decision by the GDC, Bushnell took to Twitter with a statement, praising the decision and stating: “If my personal actions or the actions of anyone who ever worked with me offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservation.”
The controversy follows a string of allegations and protests in the movie and music industries over institutional sexism, misogyny and harassment. Over recent years, the video games sector has been criticised for its poor record on diversity and representation. Annual surveys by the International Game Developers Association have found that 75% of game development staff are male, and only 3% of top earners identify as women. Many of those using the #notnolan hashtag have argued that giving the award to Bushnell would send a message to young women and gender minorities that they’re not welcome in the industry.
There have also been tweets and articles in defence of Bushnell. Some claimed the veteran figure, often regarded as the father of video games, should not be punished for a workplace culture that existed 40 years ago. Others have suggested the GDC decision could be regarded not as a punishment for Bushnell, but as a recognition that the industry needs to modernise.
But game designer Nick Bermes countered on Twitter: “This is not the time to turn a blind eye and say, ‘Oh, things were different then, it was a different time. If it’s in fact a different time now, then why are we rewarding someone who’s behavior is now deemed inappropriate and unacceptable?”
In this context, the decision reflects the evolving nature of the #metoo campaign, away from calling out abusers and toward establishing new norms of behaviour. In a recent Guardian piece, feminist writer Jessica Valenti wrote: “Right now, women are asking for more than the bare minimum they’ve been taught to expect. They’re asking for a standard of behavior that sees them as full human beings rather than sexual objects.”
In recognition of the MeToo era, several developers suggested female industry veterans who would be eligible for a Pioneer award, including Roberta Williams, co-founder of adventure game studio Sierra On-Line, and Carol Shaw, who designed Atari’s Super Breakout game and the later Activision classic, River Raid.
| Fri Feb 02 17:43:40|
Pong is nothing compared to Custer's Revenge!
| Fri Feb 02 20:11:03|
That shit was ok 40 years ago and all he did was to ask a chick to get in a hot tub?
I think its time to only hire straight white males, as affirmative action to counter this ceaseless leftist discrimination.
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