Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman has released a statement asking if the games industry is “going backwards” following reports that “multiple folks” were assaulted or spiked at this year’s GDC event.
In a public statement, Isaaman reflected on employment stats and revealed that whilst “both male and female gamers experienced similarly high levels of toxicity, showing that toxicity is an issue across the entire gaming community”, “the experience that girls and women encounter are often much darker and threatening”.
“Sexist stereotypes and being aggressively quizzed about their gaming skills often lead to more violent verbal abuse and threats of rape,” Isaaman says. “Even more disturbingly, the abuse doesn’t always stop once players leave the game – some instances manifest into serious consequences outside of gaming, including stalking on other platforms and threats of this transferring into real life.
“We are going backwards as an industry! None of this is okay, none of this should be happening!”
Isaaman lists a handful of examples to evidence her claims, including reports that drinks have been spiked, and women have been “belittled and undermined”, “hit on relentlessly”, and “harassed on the show floor”. She also cited a recent story that emerged from GDC 2023 stating that “two women were lured to a hotel room for a pitch and then assaulted”.
Isaaman adds that whilst some people suggest that the Women In Games organisation is no longer “relevant today”, the company’s work will only “be done once “a woman at a global games conference doesn’t have to wonder whether she will be safe when she has a business meeting, alone, with a man” (thanks, TheGamer).
In response to the recent claims, a representative for GDC told the press at the time that it was “very upset to hear that some people, especially women, reported concerning experiences during the GDC week at off-site events, including assault and drink spiking. This is outrageous and unacceptable; everyone has a right to feel safe”.
“We severely condemn any such behaviour and support the victims; we encourage reporting to the police and hope the perpetrators will be found,” the statement added.