The 3 Stereotypes Pippa Tshabalala Is Tired Of As A Woman In Gaming
"Don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't do"
Pippa Tshabalala, founder of gaming blog, Unexpected Pippa.
Image Credit: Tim Hulme
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The South African gaming industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. The industry, according to a Times Live report, has increased in revenue from R29.7 million in 2014 to R100 million in 2016.
However, the industry in South Africa still has a long way to go in bridging the gender gap.
Statistics from the 2014 survey by gaming industry organisation, Make Games South Africa (MGSA), reveal that the industry is still dominated by white males who make up eighty-six percent of all gaming developers. Women only make up 7%.
These statistics come as no surprise to Pippa Tshabalala who has spent the last eight years advocating for greater inclusion of women in the gaming industry. What she is best known for is using her voice and platform to advance women in the industry.
Tshabalala is one of the country's foremost gaming thought leaders - she is a gaming writer, blogger, speaker and reviewer with a MA in 3D animation.
Her work can be found on her gaming blog Unexpected Pippa, where she covers everything from gaming and gadget news and reviews, as well as gaming events (she attended the world’s most prominent gaming expo E3 in Los Angeles this year). She is also currently a brand ambassador for smartphone brand, Sony Xperia.
Tshabalala worked as a presenter for the first locally-produced video game TV series, The Verge, and continues to work in television production for media company, Viacom.
Part of her mission is to also get more women into the industry. In June this year she was part of the #AcerForGaming event, an all-girl gaming event aimed at exposing young women to gaming and e-sports, and identifying new talent.
Despite her many years of experience, Tshabalala is not immune to the challenges and stereotypes that women operating in many male-dominated industries continue to face, and which contribute to keeping women out of those sectors.
Tshabalala shares 3 misconceptions that she herself continues to face and is fighting to overcome.
1. 'I GOT MY JOB BECAUSE OF MY LOOKS'
When I started presenting I received a lot of hate online because I was just "a pretty faced [woman] who read off an autocue". While I certainly shouldn't have to prove myself, I nevertheless did so a number of times over when people realised I did actually know what I was talking about.
Plus I didn't just take it and stay silent - I spoke up and challenged them, and of course people like that always back off when they realise people aren't going to stand for their nonsense.
Most people don't know what my qualifications are, or that I work at a broadcaster and as a producer. Most people don't even know that I used to be in academia. It also means that it puts them on the back foot (well that and my name!) because I'm not what they expected.
I overcome stuff by kind of just getting on with it - people work with me because they know I'm professional, I know what I'm doing and I'm not going to mess them around. It's about work ethic.
2. 'WOMEN KNOW NOTHING ABOUT VIDEO GAMES'
[We know] a hell of a lot more than most of the guys saying that actually... I have an MA in 3D animation and have spoken at international conferences.
Many of the guys saying stuff like that don't even realise that they're being misogynistic, they just say what they've been taught to believe by societal conditioning. It's no excuse but if you can change the way someone thinks by just being yourself then that's a win. If they say something stupid, call them out on it. Don't stroke someone's ego and let them get away with that bull.
3. 'YOU CAN'T CRACK IT IN THE INDUSTRY'
Don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't do. If you want to do something, go ahead and do it without fear that you will be judged for doing something traditionally male. Stereotypes are made to be broken.
For me it was never about proving people wrong. I got on with what I wanted to do, and because I had the support of my family and friends I never really worried about "haters" per se.
I've always said that I got to where I am based on the fact that I'm open to opportunity. I may not know how to do something, but I'll give it a shot and that's normally how the best things come to fruition.