It’s About Time Travel In Game Journalism

Via the awesome Brianna Wu, see if you can spot the issue with this ZDNet article on women in the video game industry and getting VC funding.

Another entrepreneur, Janese Swanson, left Broderbund Software Inc. — the giant maker of educational and gaming software maker — and now heads Girl Tech, which focuses on technology products for girls. The fact that she didn’t see a lot of women in senior positions at technology firms was part of the motivation for her move from Broderbund six years ago.

“There wasn’t much room at the top,” Swanson said. “I didn’t see a whole lot of women being promoted.”

Being at a startup also has allowed her to create the products that are close to her heart: software for girls that’s not pink or poofy. Swanson said big firms focusing solely on the bottom line didn’t see a market for such products. “The view was that if you make software for boys, girls will buy it, but if you make software for girls, boys won’t buy it. So you make software for boys.”

Still, getting funding for startup ventures isn’t easy. Women who jump from larger firms can seek support from their former employer — as Polese did. But venture funding for women-owned firms is scarce. Studies show that only about 2 percent of all venture funding for technology firms goes to companies run by women.

NWBC’s Millman said that’s the next big hurdle for women executives in technology. “In the past they were discouraged,” Millman said. “Now the main barrier is finding the money to make it work.”

Seems to be a pretty standard article on making and marketing games to appeal to everyone (and women and girls in particular), and the difficulty involved for women in getting the money to do that.  If you’re still stumped, answer’s after the jump.

The answer:

Yep. This ZDNet article was written in September 1998.

Nothing’s changed that much since then in the gaming industry, as Brianna notes.

Happy thought, huh?

44 replies
  1. 1
    Belafon says:

    That could be next week’s Time’s cover.

  2. 2
    bjacques says:

    The article mentions Kim Polese as if the reader would know who she is, and that’s a name I haven’t heard since the dotcom days, so I kinda guessed. Still, pretty depressing.

  3. 3
    Fair Economist says:

    My impression is that VC funding is very sexist along with gaming. So, VC funding of gaming: uber-sexist. No statistics, admittedly, just an impression.

  4. 4
    raven says:

    It’s good that there is nothing else going on today.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Fair Economist: My impression as well. VC funding seems to be a boys’ club. No girls allowed.

  6. 6
    Bobby B. says:

    My “Pong” movie script written in 1979 continues to be ignored even though I’ve added a nude scene.

  7. 7

    @Villago Delenda Est: Most VCs are rich men, is it any wonder that they fund other men?

  8. 8
    dmsilev says:

    Reading the above-the-fold chunk, my first reaction was “wait, Broderbund is still around? I thought they died years and years ago”. So yeah, definitely a blast from the past, and not really in a good way either.

  9. 9
    boatboy_srq says:

    @bjacques: For me it was Brøderbund that was the tell: Brøderbund was purchased by The Learning Company in 1998. Yet it too is treated as a household word.

    @dmsilev: Ayuh.

  10. 10
    Mike J says:

    @dmsilev: I feel like I should fire up Choplifter.

  11. 11

    If you want to know about the state of VC, just read about the Ellen Pao case. It still blows my mind that she lost her suit against Kleiner Perkins.

  12. 12
    Nutella says:


    It’s good that there is nothing else going on today.

    After all, who could possibly have the slightest interest in continuing discrimination against women? Not me!

  13. 13
    scav says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: But but but, maximizing theories of behavior assures me they will follow highest return! Free Market! Free Market Jebus reassure me!

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    But… but… Carly Fiorina!


    Never mind.

  15. 15
    NotMax says:

    @Bobby B.

    My “Pong” movie script written in 1979 continues to be ignored even though I’ve added a nude scene.

    Change the title to “Dong” and all of a sudden Hollywood’s ears will prick up.

  16. 16
    Fourten says:

    Not to further detract from the topic, but Broderbund! Man o man, that takes me back (all the way back, like to the C64). Did you know you could draw a line straight from the wonderfully titled “Raid on Bungeling Bay” to the existence of the Sim franchise?

    It’s true, I actually talked to Will Wright about it once (that in itself was pretty cool, I’ve even met Sid Meier and Chris Roberts!) he got so into using the tools they built to design the world of RBB that he made a game out of them: SimCity.

  17. 17
    chopper says:

    my first thought was ‘Broderbund? what, are they bringing JumpMan back?

  18. 18
    Mike J says:

    @NotMax: I think they shoot most of those on the other side of the hill.

  19. 19
    chopper says:

    ETA: nope, that was Epyx. nm.

  20. 20
    Knowbody says:

    Baltimore, Nepal, Bernie Sanders, yesterday’s major Supreme Court decision on judges and campaign solicitations, the Stanley Cup, Ohio Republicans trying to institute photo ID laws for voting, Jerry Brown’s executive orders, Hillary Clinton, the latest first quarter GDP estimates, the NBA playoffs, bird flu in Minnesota, dog pictures, cat pictures, food pictures, literally ANYTHING ELSE would have been more worthwhile.

    Jesus you are awful.

  21. 21
    Chyron HR says:

    Would you believe that this story of misogyny took place ALMOST TWENTY YEARS AGO?

    And this still happens today because LOOK AT THE ARTICLE FROM 1998, SHITLORD! CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE!

  22. 22

    But venture funding for women-owned firms is scarce. Studies show that only about 2 percent of all venture funding for technology firms goes to companies run by women.

    Buries the question nicely in just two sentences. Why is VC scarce for women?

  23. 23
    Fair Economist says:

    @Knowbody: I think it’s good to bring up chronic, deep issues once in a while. Life isn’t just about the current MSM headlines.

  24. 24
    dmsilev says:

    @Mike J:

    A whole lot of classics on that list. Carmen Sandiego, Karateka, Prince of Persia. Not to mention non-games like The Print Shop; banner printing on a dot matrix printer…

  25. 25
    Knowbody says:

    @Fair Economist:

    I think it’s good to bring up chronic, deep issues once in a while.

    Like nearly any of the things I mentioned above?

  26. 26
    Fourten says:

    Why do people waste time commenting on things they think is a waste of time to comment on?

    Newsflash: not everyone’s concerns line up perfectly. Do you see me complaning on the dog photo posts? I dislike dogs, ergo, I do not read or comment on dog-related posts.

    (and whatever she did to you or think she did to you, I am sorry. I do sincerely recognize the pain you feel is real, but it’s not the only pain in the world.)

  27. 27
    Scott S. says:

    @Knowbody: Getcher own blog and write about what you want.

  28. 28
    Zandar says:

    @Knowbody: I suspected it was you again. Lo and behold.


  29. 29
    lol says:


    Ah yes, “gender equality is worthless” so speaks the True Progressive.

  30. 30

    @Scott S.:

    What he said, or how about not being a prick…

    Edited for clarity

  31. 31
    ruemara says:

    It’s kinda funny how much you can devalue a woman’s contribution in the workplace. I got a supposed compliment at wrap, that one of the old hands in the business said I had the makings of a great AD, but he then said I was “prickly”. My job is to wrangle people, resolve problems and let my first AD and my director get shit done. I do it politely but once start rolling, I have to keep things quiet. Meanwhile, I got people yelling, fighting and generally being obnoxious, but those guys aren’t prickly. You can’t win as a woman , you have to be capable yet somehow conform to some guy’s feminine ideals.

  32. 32
    Fair Economist says:

    @Knowbody: Some of those topics do bring up deep issues, but they’re being discussed now because they’re in the news.

    The fact that the fastest-growing major entertainment *and* the main way to start a significant new business in the US are both quite sexist or even downright misogynistic is an important issue, and merits discussion.

  33. 33
    Xantar says:


    You forgot to use the word “pupdate.”

  34. 34
    Arclite says:


    The article mentions Kim Polese as if the reader would know who she is, and that’s a name I haven’t heard since the dotcom days, so I kinda guessed. Still, pretty depressing.

    What tipped me off somewhat was Broderbund. They made the games I played in the 80s like Lode Runner and Prince of Persia. I thought “Didn’t they disappear decades ago?”

  35. 35
    Bubblegum Tate says:


    Man, I played the crap out of some Broderbund games on the ol’ Apple IIe back in the day. Airheart, Wings of Fury, Ancient Art of War, Captain Goodnight…so much goodness!

  36. 36
    Visceral says:

    I’m just old enough to remember Kidpix by Broderbund on my 386. It came as BOTH three 3 1/2″ and and five 5 1/4″ floppies in the same box, and yes my computer had both drives. The only program I had with 5 1/4″ floppies.

    Yet they were able to fit Commander Keen on one 3 1/2″.

  37. 37
    FlyingToaster says:

    There’s a reason why a lot of us left the industry (game development, that is); no money, no respect, and it’s chock full of creeps.

    The one and only time I went to a Boston Post Mortem, with my then fiance, now husband, a guy got between me and the speaker (who had built a toolkit I was interested in) and kept trying to pick me up. When I said I was with my husband, he told me, “I don’t see no ring.” (Don’t wear them, can’t type when I do.) I finally told him to get the fuck away from me or I’d have the bar’s bouncer bounce him into the harbor.

    I don’t get shit like this at educational conferences.

  38. 38
    Kryptik says:

    The depressing thing is, and as much as I hate to say it, but it feels like Gamergate is winning. Sure, the label itself is toxic, but much the same way as the Tea Party, it’s succeeding in turning opinion hard in their favor despite a toxic label. God help me, seems like everywhere online, conservative and liberal alike, 90% of anything involving a woman turns into a misogynistic froth about how feminism is the worst fascism in the history of ever and to stop trying to oppress and enslave men and fuck all. For fuck’s sake, people are proclaiming a certain racist website with a weather event in its name to be less fascist and evil than dreaded ‘SJWs’ and Anita Sarkeesian, and this isn’t just a few random people I’m talking about either.

    I’ve seen ostensibly liberal people I’ve known for years go full winger at the very mention of Brianna Wu, Batgirl, or anything else that has become a hot button issue regarding women, women’s rights, or the dreaded feminism. People who showed no sign of being this rabid about these issues until the whole ‘gate bullshit.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @scav: Yeah, that’s the problem with free market theory. Fuckin’ humans get in the way and discredit it through their totally non-rational actions, like ordering pizza instead of burgers.

  40. 40
    fuckwit says:

    @NotMax: I saw what you did there.

  41. 41
    fuckwit says:

    Sand Hill Road is a total bro-fest. The low-level guys are the kind of high-fiving privileged tools who were the heads of the most annoying party frats. The high-level guys are the same mixed bag of sociopaths and lottery winners who made their fortune on some kind of scam over the last 20-30 years and now have money to gamble and their own private hedge funds. They are gangsters in slightly better suits.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female VC. Their receptionists usually are models though.

  42. 42
    F says:

    I knew Broderbund looked weird somehow…

  43. 43
    libarbarian says:

    Anytime I find myself getting annoyed with feminists, I just go expose myself to anti-feminists.

    “Oh yeah, THIS is real stupidity”.

  44. 44
    Maxwell Silver says:

    Well, “Broderbund” is German (sort of) for “brother league”.

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