Above: Mass Effect: Andromeda image courtesy of EA.
When Naughty Dog artist Alexandria Neonakis read about how women at BioWare were being harassed simply for doing their jobs, slammed with sexist insults about how they might have advanced in their careers, it set her off. Neonakis could relate; she'd heard those very same insults over the last 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.'"
Neonakis explained how such rhetoric, even when not expressed in such explicitly public and toxic terms, drags down people who just want to make cool games.
"To end my rant on a positive, we're in this industry whether you want us or not," she said. "However you choose to think we got here, we did. We're in your AAA, Indie, mobile, PC, console, board, card, hardcore, casuals... we're in all of them. Sorry bout it."
Because the Internet asshole cycle is as constant and predictable as it is distressing and gross, Neonakis became the subject of harassment, too, but she gave her attackers the proverbial middle finger by donating $500 to Girls Make Games, a group organizing summer camps and workshops for young women.
The donations proved contagious, as others saw what happened and made their own contributions to Girls Makes Games in solidarity. $50. $100. $400. $500. Though Girls Makes Games hasn't released an official number yet, it's clear Neonakis has motivated folks to donate thousands in protest of garbage.
It was enough that Neonakis herself ended up donating another $500.
As more came in, Girls Make Games shared some of the stories they've received, as parents seek financial aid, so their kids can try and pursue their dreams.
"Our daughter is extremely interested in being an artist and loves video games," wrote one applicant. "She said this camp looks like a lot of fun and very interesting. I am unemployed but want to encourage my daughter. Any form of financial assistance is greatly appreciated."
"Due to bullying my daughter is currently being homeschooled and will be 9 this year," wrote another. "Due to the bullying it caused my daughter to close up and stop speaking. Through art class and choir she is speaking more but if she doesn't feel comfortable in the situation she becomes quiet and selective with her words. She has a personal speech therapist that is helping. Both of my kids do coding online at www.code.org. They both love it but my other child is a boy. My daughter absolutely loves coding but I'm able to help her get through the courses because I don't understand it, and cannot afford sending her to a summer camp."
"This would have been my mom if this program existed when I was little," said Neonakis.
If you feel like donating, or at least spreading the word about Girls Make Games, you can find out more information on their official website.