GDC 2014: Veteran designer recounts her own experience of sexual harassment

Brenda Romero on game industry sexism: Stop blaming the victim

Brenda Romero has hit out at a victim blaming culture when it comes to sexual harassment in the game industry.

The veteran game designer was speaking during a GDC rant session, as reported by Polygon, in which she recounted one moment where she had been the subject of sexual harassment during GDC.

Romero highlighted one occasion from 2005 when she was speaking to a developer at a bar at the event, who then attempted to come on to her by showing the outline of an erection under his trousers.

"I awkwardly ignored it and I tried to back away," she said.

"I knew I wasn’t going to get attacked so I walked back into the conference with this piece of shit and I felt shame and I felt like a piece of garbage because I didn’t say anything. I felt like a deer in the headlights. The was a profound power differential, and it was not OK."

Romero said victims of sexual harassment are often the focus of contention, rather than the offender, and felt it was difficult for many women to know how to react to such situations like the one she experienced herself in 2005.

"You don’t have the foggiest idea what you would have said [in that situation],” she said.

“Stop blaming the victim.”

During a #1ReasonToBe panel at last year’s GDC Romero received a standing ovation and caused a number of attendees to break into tears as she spoke of her experience of game industry sexism.

She told attendees of her daughter’s ambition to make a game with her, yet Romero felt unable to take her young daughter to exhibitions such as E3 because the booth babes made her and other women feel uncomfortable and “gazed upon”.

“I want her to feel safe there and not gazed upon,” she said.

“That is all I am asking.”

GDC 2014 – Live! Breaking news and up-to-the-minute developments: HERE

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