Archive for November 22nd, 2011

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Girls On Games (With Thanks To MP.net)

November 22, 2011

Time to take a break from the slew of SWTOR posts I’ve been tossing up on here lately. Today, I’d like to bring your attention to a great post by Steve “Slurms” Lichtsinn, blogger and podcast host for Multiplaying.net.

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Slurms asking if I would like to answer a few questions for an article that he’d been planning on for quite some time. It was to be a feature about women and gaming, and he wanted to know if he could get some of my opinions on the topic.

I was happy to participate for a few reasons. First of all, I found many of his questions to be interesting and insightful. Second, I think it’s great that people are actually contemplating these matters and are willing to reach out to female gamers to find out more. It definitely takes a discerning mind a certain amount of guts to approach others with a delicate topic such as this, God know we ladies can be a little scary sometimes. And third, I ended up having a lot of fun answering his questions.

I’ve received the go-ahead to repost my own responses here, but I do encourage you to check out the original article on Multiplaying. Over there, Slurms has included the answers from four other lovely gaming ladies from the blogosphere/twitterverse: Stargrace, Arislyn, Maeve, and Doc Swarley. I have to say it was fascinating to be able to read their thoughts regarding women and their place in gaming, and realize many of us appear to be on the same page.

* * *

Are you concerned with the current state in gaming in regards to how women are viewed? Is it too male dominated from an in game, lead character role, a developer role, or both?

Could there be more done in terms of how women are viewed in gaming? Always. But am I concerned? Currently, my honest answer has to be no. But then I’ve always been told I’m a glass-half-full kinda girl and you’d have to go out of your way to offend me, so take my answer with a grain of salt. I actually think women have come a long way in the industry, both in our games and in the gamer demographic. I wish I could give more insight into this question, but I’ve just never really sat down and contemplated this or encountered any reasons to despair for the future of women in gaming.

I do think gaming could benefit from being more a more welcoming and attractive hobby to female gamers, though. And yet, no matter what the industry does, I think our society still has a lot more to do with this. Gaming still isn’t considered as mainstream as I’d like, let alone be seen as a “girl” thing, and I still get weird looks sometimes when I tell people I game or that I write a game blog.

This is probably a stupid question, but would you like to see more female protagonists? Or at the very least, the option for one i.e. Mass Effect?

I don’t think it’s a stupid question. When there’s an option to play a female protagonist in a game, I ALWAYS choose it. It’s a personal choice, as it makes it easier for me to relate to the character, especially if it’s an RPG. I always appreciate developers for giving gamers more options.

And I love it when I see strong female protagonists, I wouldn’t mind seeing more. Be that as it may, it wouldn’t do to just insert them into a game for the sake of HAVING strong female characters either, or making that decision at the cost of game quality like story, etc. I notice a lot of voices currently appealing to developers for a stronger female presence in games, and while I agree and also admire their efforts, I personally prefer not to push the issue TOO much. I’d rather see a sincere effort than mere tokenism that would be a disservice.

I don’t mean to ask this in a negative way, but, do you feel that women are harder to please, thus making games for women a more difficult task?

Oh man, I am totally the wrong person to ask. Are women harder to please? Some are. Sometimes. Heck, I can be pretty high maintenance too about certain things (just ask my husband), but when it comes to my geeky interests and hobbies like games, movies, comics, etc. I gotta say I’m as easy going as they come. Forget the little details, just entertain me and give me fun, dammit! That’s all I ask, and if you deliver, then no complaints from me.

Ultimately, do you think that the core problem has more to do with the audience, or the creators? (i.e. do you believe that a game with a strong female lead isn’t being done much because of the people who buy the games, or is it a gold mine waiting to be cracked open by a studio who’s not scared to go for it?)

I don’t think it’s the former, because I believe historically games with strong female leads have generally been received quite well. With regards to your question about the audience or the creators, I may have already touched upon this in an earlier answer, but I think it’s a two-way street. Before creators can make any headway on the issue, there may be a few socio-cultural obstacles to overcome first, like the gamer image, and such.

If someone does create a “Triple A” title with a female lead, what would you suggest they do to keep the character likable by a majority of female gamers?

Keep her “real”. She can be drop-dead gorgeous, a super-heroine or whatever, just as long as there’s something about her that we can care about — whether it’s her hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, etc. She’s got to be relatable to be likeable. Come to think of it, if you ask me, a lot of male leads in games these days can stand to be fleshed out like that too. Whether it’s games or books etc., I always love myself a good story, and they are always better when I can connect with the characters.

Do you hate the fact that people even talk about this? Part of why I’ve never written a post like this before is because I always figured women who are actually gamers (not the “GRL GAMER, look at my bewbs, oh btw I like Mario” type) are in some way disgusted when this stuff comes up and that I would come off like a jerk by even trying to include them in the conversation.

No, I don’t hate the fact people talk about this, even though I realize I rarely broach the topic myself. My blog name may be MMO Gamer Chick, but I’m aware I don’t often talk about female gamer issues. It’s not because I’m disgusted by or don’t like to talk about this stuff, but rather because my gaming life is more about the games, and I identify on the blog as a gamer first and foremost, the female thing being secondary.

Whether I agree with them or not, I’m always open to reading others’ thoughts and opinions on any topic, and maybe to offer my own. Actually, I think it’s quite awesome that people are aware of issues in gaming and are taking time to contemplate them and opening up to discourse. And I have to say it’s also kinda brave of you, as you’re touching upon a subject on which A LOT of people have A LOT of differing opinions, and I’ve seen sometimes that these discussions can get out of hand. The fact that you are even worrying and have to ask this question shows that it is controversial.

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