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This indie game offers a counterpoint to the Google manifesto

Image Credit: Elizabeth Sampat

Elizabeth Sampat is an award-winning game designer who’s worked on blockbuster titles like Plants Vs Zombies 2 and Subway Surfers. She also makes small, intensely personal games about her own experiences. Her most recent one, 8 Vignettes from the Tech Industry, tackles the Google manifesto, an anti-diversity memo that went viral over the last few days. It’s a free-to-play browser game on indie platform

“My first idea was to do a noninteractive essay, but even though I write a lot of essays, games are my first and favorite medium,” said Sampat in an email. “I wanted to guide the player through my gut reactions as I read the manifesto, and demonstrating that I wasn’t too evolutionarily preoccupied with being neurotic or having babies to do a little JavaScript was a nice bonus.”

Dubbed an “interactive essay,” 8 Vignettes is a text-only game that showcases quotes from the memo alongside anecdotes of Sampat’s own experiences. They counter the assertions made in the manifesto, such as the claim that women don’t want to work “long, stressful hours” with a story about how she pulled a 12-hour day then went home and worked all night — all while suffering from an intense stomach flu.

Sampat says that she hoped the game would show people why women in the industry are taking the manifesto so personally.

“It was all about modeling my personal experience for me. I wanted people to understand why hearing that women won’t work long hours got under my skin, or exactly how calm and cool under pressure women have to be,” said Sampat. “Often, the worst things women put up with are in 1-on-1 meetings: as a result, men never see the double-standard and assume women are overreacting…

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