GDC party fiasco an opportunity to reiterate organization's policies

‘Diversity is a strength’ says IGDA’s Edwards

The recent kerfuffle over the use of female dancers at the IGDA’s GDC party provided a chance for the organization to get back to its real priorities, says Kate Edwards.

Edwards is a 20 year industry vet who took the post in December of last year. A few months later, she faced a major controversy over the appropriateness of using models on stilts and dressed as “sexy yetis" at the IDGA/Yetizen party.

A number of big names resigned from the organization in protests, and Edwards issued an official apology.

It was definitely a shock for many in the industry to see one of its ranking women caught on the receiving end of allegations of sexism, but for others that was part of the problem – they had expected different from a female industry vet.

Edwards concedes that the industry has a long way to go, but points to improvements made in her lifetime towards removing the ‘offensive’ and ‘lazy’ stereotypes that hold the industry back.

"Prior to taking the IGDA function, and I definitely saw improvements over time,” she said in an interview with Gamasutra.

“It was slow, but it was there. Game developers and artists understood that the use of stereotypes is not only offensive, it’s also lazy creativity."

Despite the obvious problems it brought up, Edwards says that the fiasco was an opportunity.

"It was chance to reiterate what the IGDA is really about, what we want to provide to our membership," she said.

"It’s always been our intention to hold more of a networking sort of event… not ‘parties.’"

The IGDA has always publicly taken the image of a group fighting for diversity and inclusivity, and despite the damage done to its reputation, Edwards says its still important for the trade body to stress the importance of a diverse workplace.

"Diversity is a strength. The greater the diversity of experience you can draw upon to create games that are not ‘typical.’ You might even open up new genres that people didn’t even think about before," she argued.

"Getting to that point is going to be a challenge. It will be partly a generational change, but it’s also going to take a lot of advocacy.

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