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05 October 2006 @ 09:41 am
There's this article on BBC about women being insufficiently involved in the gaming industry. It's got a comments section which won't let me actually post a comment, so I'm posting here what I tried to write there, because apparently I'm sufficiently annoyed by the whole thing to do so.

I find it interesting that this article focuses entirely on console games. My own experiences as a gamer began with Dungeons & Dragons as the only girl in the group at age 8, and even then I experienced none of the highly-flaunted discrimination against girls in gaming. Now in my thirties I still play RPGs when I get the chance and participate in the MMORPG City of Heroes, where no one is in the least surprised that there's a woman at the keyboard. Perhaps if the media would stop insisting women are marginalized in gaming people would stop thinking it--I doubt the gaming industry is failing women any more than the personal care industry is failing men. The truth is, I think we're pretty much all getting out of it what we want to.

That's a bit sweeping and generalized, but then, so was their article. I suspect I've got quite a lot more to say on the topic, and maybe I'll revisit it sometime soon here.
Tags: ,
Current Mood: annoyedvaguely annoyed
Myles Corcoranmylescorcoran on October 5th, 2006 09:20 am (UTC)
Well said. Thankfully I'm past the high school days of all-boys gaming groups and have been grateful to have a good mixture of women and men in my groups since I started college.

In fact we've just lost a regular player from our group as she's moved to England. I don't know if we're looking to expand the group (there's just four of us now) but I'd certainly prefer to have a woman join us than make it 4 men, 1 woman (even if that woman is sammywol and therefore a match for any 4 men).

Would you be interested in meeting up (in Cork or Cobh) sometime, gaming optional? Sam and I would love to meet the person behind the LJ.
kitmizkit on October 5th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
My problem with high school gaming was that by that time I had Become A Girl (this happened around age 11) and therefore I wasn't allowed, by decree of parents, to go to the all-night gaming sessions/sleepovers that the boys held, so I basically didn't game from about 12 to 17, when I got to college. There were plenty of girl gamers in college, but not so much in high school. :)

I'd love to meet up. It's possible my husband would cry in his beer if I got to game and he didn't (his schedule is not really gaming-condusive, unfortunately), but gaming or no, I'd very much like to meet you both. :)
Myles Corcoranmylescorcoran on October 5th, 2006 10:14 am (UTC)
Yeah, there was one girl in 9th grade who was unconventional enough to brave the otherwise all-boy gaming group and join in. I don't remember that we were particularly unwelcoming, but we were teenaged boys, so we can't have been great company for anyone other than other teenaged boys.

We're a bit constrained for evenings due to our 3.5 year old and the difficulty of finding babysitters, but we do game once a week at our house after her bedtime, starting at 8.30 roughly. We also play boardgames whenever the opportunity arises, again most often in the evenings.

What sort of schedule does your husband have? We could always try meeting for coffee (and cake!) out in Cobh some weekend if that would suit both your schedules. I'm sure Rowan (our daughter) would like an outing, particularly if there were to be cake.

I can be reached at myles.corcoran (AT) gmail.com for future reference.
Mary Annepers1stence on October 5th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
I grew up "just down the road" from Mizkit, and it wasn't a matter of us being conventional or unconventional and *wanting* to go play with the boys....Or even her parents or my parents, for that matter, not allowing us to go play with the boys.

It was a matter of the parents of the boys who wouldn't let us (or at least let me), play with the boys anymore once I "Became a Girl." One boy's mom told my dad that after a certain age (4th grade, I think it was, in her mind), girls and boys just shouldn't play together. And this seemed normal to her, but appalled my father, but what could he do?
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on October 5th, 2006 09:31 am (UTC)
Goodness knows why it won't accept your comment, since the form is still open.

But I agree with what you say. Also, the whole "women won't buy unless it's pink" idea seems bogus to me. On the other hand, maybe that's just because a large proportion of the women I know play MMORPGs, and MMORPGs do seem to be more people oriented. Not male oriented, not female oriented, people oriented.

(No, I won't admit that my wife and I exchange sweet talk in World of Warcraft. That'd be so tacky.)

I played a MUD back in the mid-80s, some 20 years ago. There was one server, and you could get maybe 50 players on it at a time. (I'd have checked the details, but Wikipedia has never heard of Shades.) We had a meet once, and although there was probably a majority of males there, it was far from a totality.
kitmizkit on October 5th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
I got an error on the form when I tried to submit it. Thought maybe it was Firefox, tried it with IE, still happened, so I just came and posted on my LJ in a fit of pique. :)

The 'women won't buy it unless it's pink' drives me insane. I go slightly mad when I walk into toy sections in department stores and there's an All! Pink! Aisle! ... mostly full of toys I didn't want to play with as a kid. :)

Re: MUDding: yeah. I spent ... I was going to say 'a significant chunk', but really, *all* of the 90s on MU*s, and still hang out on them socially. I didn't think there was any point in trying to explain that particular gaming subset on a BBC comment, though. :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on October 5th, 2006 09:56 am (UTC)
That sort of depth really needs a followup article, not a comment, yes.
notosanotosa on October 5th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
I play DND and Im not the only girl.. and I even Dm'd lots of my fem friends play WOW, and I used to challange my bros to Mechwarrior.. We play! and I have a social life! I personally wish Lara crofts boobs would stop getting bigger though... maybe we could suggest that its actually the portral of women as sex objects in consol games thats the problem...
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on October 5th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
I suspect a lot of it is psychology. Console games don't /tend/ to have as many female players buying them. Certainly not as many as buy MMORPGs, or play muds, or do RL gaming. One of the theories is that it is exactly that lack of community aspect that makes it much harder to market console games to a female population, versus the games where personal interaction with other live humans is a part of the concept. :)
salymander on October 5th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
OMG isn't City of Heroes like, the hottest game ever!
Janne: cityofHeroesjanne on October 5th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
Well, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more games in the stores that treated women like human beings rather than pink princesses or prostitutes -- but I never let either stop me from playing a game that otherwise looked interesting, either.

I did have a minor fit when Cat got her (very pink) Princess Peach nintendo game, in which Peach is finally the hero rather than the victim to be rescued -- and it turns out her special powers are laughing and crying and otherwise using emotions to vanquish the bosses. *whimper*. Time to drag the gaming industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
HL Henriksonveilofgrace on October 5th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC)
Here, here!

I begged and pleaded to be allowed to join in my brother's D&D games, at least until we hit the age of hate/loathe, and then I knew there was no hope. He did try to get me involved later, when his pals brought their girlfriends to play, but by then I was irrevocably addicted to online gaming. I played a couple MUDs in high school. The big draw, though, was the player-created, all-text, chatroom-based RP on AOL, which was, and still is, 9 to 1 female.

And I despise pink. They've started making consoles pink, hoping to draw in more female players. I've played since I could first understand the use of the Atari's joystick, and there's no way in hell I would ever purchase a pink game-anything. Personally, I think if marketing and game designers stopped treating us like mindless shopping sex objects on the whole, we'd be much more likely to admit we play!
ghibbitudeghibbitude on October 5th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think that the Wii is going to be a fantastic non gender/non age related product. I hate most of the current consoles simply because they've over time beome so much less intuitive and so much bulkier, to the point that dainty handed women and small children can't both hold the controller and use it. I developed something more of an ape handed, sideways approach after some time, but it's really a bit ludicrous.
The Wii-mote (other than having the dumbest name ever)seems to be much more intuitive for play and made in a size that the manual dexterity is less of an issue.

When will people learn that it's not the color that sells to anyone beyond the ballerina stage in development (I spent the majority of my formative years avoiding pink like the plague, until of course, I dyed my hair magenta and pepto pink in order to frighten my mom. She took it to mean that at least I was getting more feminine.) but more of a sheer lack of anything both positive and female available. Hey. I find a lot of these games to be a little, or more than a little condescending of women. As stated above, either women are portrayed as sluts or princesses, and there is never an in between. Hey! Who wants to play when the only cool options are men, and the women's moves include crying or the infamous titty jiggle?

Err Sorry!
ever so plucky: stupid (rat creatures)aelfsciene on October 5th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'd have loved to show them our 7th Sea campaign, where we were four women with a male GM. And I know plenty of us who play console/video games, and even have multiple platforms! Silly article.

I have to say, my newfound love of (bright!) pink makes me feel like a traitor sometimes, which annoys the hell out of me. Just like the red and purple old-lady gang usurping one of my favorite color combos. Free the colors! And I'm making purple and blue hats for my niece-to-be, although may toss in a screaming pink one (to match my hair!) if I feel like it.
Cyrano: Jelly Baby?cyranocyrano on October 5th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
Four women and occasionally Clay!
(Doo doo do doo doo!)
Kate Kirbykirbyk on October 5th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC)
I think some of it is the way that gaming subtribes function.

One subtribe is populated by outcasts that are really less mature than typical for their age group. These tend to be overwhelmingly male, play a lot of first person shooters, make a lot of boobie jokes, and are very hostile to women. These kinds of geeks often get media attention. These are your columbine kids, your pornoholic otaku, your RIFTS gaming group.

Our subtribe is much more intellectual gamers. We like stories a lot, and we like the fantastical. We tend to play RPGs or strategy games on the video boxes, play a lot of tabletop RPGs, often play more artsy games (Amber, Nobilis, Ars Magica instead of D&D, Car Wars, and Shadowrun, though I admit I've had fun with all of those.) Our subculture is very appealing to women - I'd probably say 40% women. While few of us are suave, we tend not to have hygiene issues and don't tend to have social difficulties at work, and have no problems holding down jobs. We tend to snobbishly analyze ourselves and lesser, but similar, groups.

There are other subtribes than the immature fanboy and the intellectual gamer. Most geek groups are more male, though. (With the exception of the Fanfiction Community, which I haven't really figured out yet.) But the last time I was in an all-male game was in high school. (Shortly after that, we added aberdeen and jesshartley, woot.)
Cyrano: poohstickscyranocyrano on October 5th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
You gamed with Deen and Jess?
You're lucky!
Merlin Of Chaosmerlinofchaos on October 5th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)

To be fair, in one particular segment of the gaming industry -- the game programmers -- women are still marginalized.

There's a subtle perception floating around that:

1) Women aren't as interested
2) People who aren't as interested aren't as competent
3) Therefore only males are good game developers

Add to this the fact that software development in general is still something like 85% male -- and then look into game development where it's more like 95% (I'm pulling these numbers out of a hat, but they conform to what I remember when discussing this a couple of years ago. YMMV) and there is a kind of sad trend.

On the other hand, I think it's also primarily because game developers get treated like shit and don't get paid well; mostly they do it because they love gaming. Successful female software developers are far too smart to fall into that little slavery trap, and end up with higher paying jobs that are in a different industry.

In RPGs, which if you are very careful you will find isn't part of the 'gaming industry' whenever people are talking about computer games (and are sometimes part of the game industry when people talk about card or board games) are a completely different issue, though I agree very much with Kirby's classifications.
Trent the Uncatchable: Goreknappenp on October 5th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)
My wife plays D&D, Puzzle Pirates, and Lost Vikings by choice. She'll play the hack-and-slash PC games (like Diablo II) or console games (like Gauntlet) with me if I ask, but she's more interested in the puzzle aspect than the hacking and slashing. And she's frustrated by the Vikings, but it's because of the challenging puzzles. And she's got great D&D stories, about her female ogre named Daisy who throws ponies at rats to kill them.

And she doesn't want a pink anything, unless it's to freak people out.
Patchchamois_shimi on October 5th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
I've never felt marginalized or unwelcome because of my gender when it comes to gaming, not since my first time playing D & D when I was in 6th grade. I had to quit, but it had nothing to do with being a girl, but rather with being so far behind in math that my teacher made me give up recesses in order to catch up. I ended up at different schools from most of those kids after that, and the years after that until college the only "gaming" I got was playing board or card games with family, but again, nothing to do with being female and everything to do with being a nerd and unpopular and not really having many friends and not actually knowing a single person who admitted to being a "gamer". I wish I had, high school might have been more fun.

Years and years later I found out that a couple of my (female) friends in high school were actually gamers, liked fantasy and sci-fi, played RPGS, all that. At the rich kid's school though, that wasn't something you ever admitted to if you wanted to stay with the in crowd, I guess.


I have the misfortune to actually look *good* in pink, but hate to wear it. It's not so much that I hate the color pink but that I hate the stereotyping of pink. If I wear pink, I feel that people are making assumptions about me based solely on that fact.

Of course, if I wear black they probably make assumptions too, or paisley, or whatever, but I'm less comfortable with the pink assumptions. :P
(Anonymous) on October 5th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
Alright, here's my
spare change on the topic:

i'm not trying to be sexist here but, I've been a gamer since 1968 cutting my teeth on Avalon Hill board Wargames. Probably most of you have never even heard of Avalon Hill. I was a huge fan of SPI games in the 1970's as well. Great stuff.

By and large, you won’t find a lot of the ladies playing these kinds of games because women are not by and large (from my experience) into military history. It's a guy thing. My fav board game of all time is Advanced Squad Leader or ASL. It's a very enriched game system. Not for the weak.

I can see women into D&D because of the social interaction of the people involved. WW2 board games by and large for example are mostly face-to-face, one-on-one, reenacting a slice of military history. These games are not socially orientated like a D&D gathering, which is a good time by itself.

As for console gaming, most of it is crap. Except for the D&D stuff. You want the real gaming experience, two guys going at head to head with dice and units on a map and a situation over a few beer and pretzels. Actually back in the day of real gaming, the phrase "beer and pretzels" spawned it's own sub gene of games. A beer and Pretzel game is basically a game where you can sit down and play in an evening. On a scale from 1-10 complexity a B&P game is usually about a 5.

Console gaming? I'd rather read a good book or watch wrestling.


kitmizkit on October 5th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Alright, here's my
Honestly, it's not even a matter of sexism. I don't think women are being marginalized. I think the game companies think their bottom dollar is being marginalized. :)
(Anonymous) on October 5th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Alright, here's my
There's that too.

But look at the crap console "game designers" are cranking out these days lately. These "games" are loaded with juvenile violence suitable for dysfunctional ten year olds. They might tell us that its the future of the industry well, maybe. To quote Rik Emmit, "If there's a future, makes me long for the past." But "games" today (don't get me started.)and I'm refering to the populsr violent "games", yeesh, talk about Dumbing down our society, but that's another rant for some other day. I don’t know, maybe I’ve out grown console gaming. That could be a good thing. Not to worry, I won’t let the console game door hit my butt on the way out though.

BTW I was joking about the wrestling comment.