Painters Guild is a game in development about managing an art academy in the Renaissance. You sell paintings, buy stuff for your guild and hire artists, male and female. And that is historically accurate.
Screenshot of Painters Guild showing a female and a male artist inside the guild.
Women in the Renaissance
I'm a History teacher. When I was teaching the Renaissance, talking about the frescoes of Michelangelo, the paintings of Raphael and the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, one bold female student, 14 or 15, asked me: where are the women?
Yes, where are they? They never told me in college. I told her they must've been there and that I'd look into it. Next class I brought her several images of paintings made by women in the Renaissance: Sofonisba Anguissola, Caterina van Hemessen, Judith Leyster, Artemisia Gentileschi and many others. Their works are as good as the men's, but they're by far less known. I also used the opportunity to talk about sexism in the Renaissance (it was not easy for these women to be accepted as artists) and now (how come we don't hear more about them, only about the men?).
Judith Slaying Holofernes (1614–20) by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656).
Women in Painters Guild
Painters Guild is a historical game. It would be completely innacurate if there were no female artists, as they did exist, did gain prominence and did endure many hardships. At the same time, it would be innacurate if they were portrayed as having equal rights and opportunities to men in that era. One responsability of making games today is portraying women in games as agents rather than objects, while the responsability of making historical games with pretension of accuracy (or of realistic representation, at least) is not to be a revisionist. Women are going to be in Painters Guild, but their historical situation will be manifested in the mechanics through a smaller "spawn rate" for them. In short, there will be more men than women to hire for your guild.
Self-portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola, 1556.
A comparison: Sid Meier's Colonization
It may seem sexist to include this inequality, but please hear me out. I refuse to make the same mistake that Sid Meier's Colonization (1994) made. That was a historical game about the colonization of the Americas from 1492 up to 1850. It got many things right: one of the most interesting mechanics is that wiping out indian settlements, while very profitable, will reduce your score in the end of the game. Perhaps that represents the loss for your society in the long run, and it certainly says something interesting about the late 20th century view of history. What Colonization did wrong was to completely ignore the role of africans and their descendants in the historical process it aims to portray. It seems they deemed the subject of slavery too sensitive and decided to erase it from history altogether, leaving us with an outright incorrect representation of the process. Including africans, but not slaves, would have been equally atrocious. Similarly, I must include women in Painters Guild while also evidencing the obstacles in their path at the time, even if this means a simple mechanic of a higher ratio of men available for hire.
Painters Guild goes way beyond having a woman, the famous and passive Mona Lisa, in its logo. Women will be - as they were in reality - not just models and patrons but also artists, the main agents of the game.
Thanks to the girl who questioned me in class.
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