The road to Helheim is paved with good intentions.
Call me Sela. Call me Rusilla. Don't tell me I can't pick up a shield or a spear, don't tell me I prefer kitchen or hearth, don't tell me I want to play a "different" game, or that I'd be more willing to work in a company that caters to my inherent feminine need to have children.
I came to gaming because in role play, my character can pick up an axe and bash some heads in. Because she had martial prowess and was accomplished and fearless and desirable. She was someone I wanted to be, someday. Axe and all.
I came here because when I was a little girl I wanted a longbow and a horse and I wanted to smite some damned dragons, and the real world wasn't cooperative about providing that experience.
Allow me a sports analogy. Can I make one? Even though I'm a girl?
I play ice hockey with men. When I first started playing in this league, there weren't any other women. One guy asked me "wait, are women allowed to play here?" and they offered me my own locker room. Where I could change, all by myself, away from my team.
No, thank you.
On the ice, sometimes I deal with a weird chivalry, where guys will yield the puck or pull back on contact because I'm small, and a girl. They do that once. Then I take their puck away or hit them first and all bets are off and the field is leveled.
That is the experience I strive for.
I don't bring anything different to the ice by virtue of gender. I bring the same thing my teammates bring. Speed, aggression, desire to win. As a center I bring my exceptional faceoff winning, my playmaking and need to lay it all out there, every shift. This is about my temperament as a player, not who I am as a woman.
You need me in games the way you need all people in games. The way you need white guys and black guys and Asian guys and gay guys. Not because a black guy is somehow better and will lead you into a more civilized age. A black guy isn't the way to enlightenment. Neither is a woman. We're not special. We're not more advanced.
We're in the longboat with you, picking our enemies' corpses out of our teeth. We're on the ice, we're in the locker room, drinking beer with you.
The more we make of the differences, the more we fail to miss the point of integration. The more you emphasize my breasts on a video game poster, the more you reduce me to an icon and fail to render me a person.
I bring to a design team what I bring to my hockey team. My intelligence, my fire. My need to win, my ferocity. Yeah, sometimes I point out cleavage faux pas. But so do my male coworkers.
If you want me here, make my presence a foregone conclusion. Assume my belonging. Assume my access. Show me that this is an environment where I can be myself and contribute in all my best ways. Show me a driven, creative group of people that will value what I bring to the table, who will be receptive to my ideas.
Girls are allowed in hockey. They're allowed in video game design. Tell me, as many ways as you can that I am allowed and wanted. When I show up and I'm the only woman in the locker room, I don't want you to stop making rude jokes and making a sock puppet out of your jock.
All I want you to do is move your gear over, and make a space on the bench next to you
so I can sit down.