Over the weekend, Naughty Dog artist Alex Neonakis started getting nasty Twitter messages from GamerGaters and other internet cretins. Exasperated, she tweeted some screencaps, along with a message: “I just donated to @GirlsMakeGames in honor of these lovely boys. Thanks guys!” Other developers followed her lead.
By Tuesday, hundreds of game developers had donated thousands of dollars to Girls Make Games, an organization that provides workshops and summer camps to young women who are interested in developing video games. (Before you start asking “why isn’t there a ‘Boys Make Games’?”, consider that, by the ESA’s account, just 22% of game industry employees are women. That’s why.)
Neonakis, who has written for Kotaku about her work on The Last of Us, started seeing angry tweets on Saturday night after she wrote a rant about the vile treatment of an EA animator who worked on Mass Effect: Andromeda. “I’ve worked in this industry for 10 years. I have clawed to where I am today despite people telling me I couldn’t and shouldn’t,” she wrote on Twitter. “And at every damn step some asshole likes to pass it all off as ‘well you’re a girl so obviously that helped.’”
Shortly afterwards, Twitter cretins started sending Neonakis messages, which led her to donate $500 to Girls Make Games. (She donated another $500 today.)
“I felt so beyond angry on behalf of that former Bioware animator,” Neonakis told me. “It can feel a little helpless to see this stuff and not feel there’s anything positive you can do. I keep coming back to just trying to be supportive of the women that are currently in it and the women who want to be. I think something like Girls Make Games is so cool because it simply sparks an interest in creating games. Some of those girls will go into tech, some of them will pursue journalism, some of them will just love games and cosplay and be fans.”
Following Neonakis’s $500 donation, dozens of other developers tweeted their own contributions, from Uncharted 4 director Neil Druckmann (“I look forward to one of these girls replacing me”) to Firewatch director Jake Rodkin and many more, including staff at Ready At Dawn, Disney, High Moon, Blizzard, and lots of others.
“I had been putting aside some money to potentially start a scholarship fund of some sort,” Neonakis said. “I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about that. This felt like the right time to use it.”