Friday, September 30, 2005

We MUST Force Women to Develop and Play Games

When writing the article about “SitC Online”, I was reminded of all the talk about how we need women game developers to make games appealing to women. There was an article about this in Game Developer back in February. Let’s look at that idea, shall we? Probably the most successful game with women (not counting web-based flash games like “Bejeweled”) of all time is “The Sims”. That was designed by... ummm... Will Wright. Crap. Bad example. Well what about games designed by women? Let’s look at the work of Stevie “Killcreek” Case. There’s a good point! She designed “SiN” and “John Romero’s Daikatana” all veritable hits with the female audience.

The real problem is current game developers (including male game developers) try to make fun games. Apparently, women aren’t interested in fun games since they don’t buy the current games even when they are really fun (including many titles which aren’t the least bit degrading to women). Only women can unlock the secret of what women desire in a game. Since apparently it’s not fun (current game developer’s goals), it has to be some mysterious thing that you need two X chromosomes to discover... It must be something along the lines of “Barbie’s Dress-up” or “Spend the Night”, both female targeted games. Plus, men need women to tell them that their ridiculously proportioned female models are ridiculously proportioned and are a turn off to potential women gamers. Men can’t tell and definitely need women game developers to inform them... But really, male game developers are targeting the wrong demographic. Rather than selling sex, which sells quite nicely as the creators of “Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball” can attest to, they need to take a risk and explore the uncharted waters to get the female audience. Really, few games (even ones with women developers) have reached out to the female demographic, so from a financial success it may seem very risky, but it clearly isn’t if you have enough women developers on the team.

Maybe, when it comes down to it, most women just have better things to do. Maybe game playing doesn’t appeal to them. Maybe that’s part of the demographic. Different demographics have different tastes, and maybe video games just aren’t the average woman’s cup of tea. But really - every article that talks about attracting women into games just sees them as a demographic to expand into. Really, that’s what we should be talking about. How can we take money from women - not how can we provide them with quality entertainment. But, the Rubik’s cube on how to get women interested in gaming just hasn’t been solved yet. The secret will be miraculously cracked when we get enough women in the industry.

Most of the female game developers I know like the same type of games as male gamers. They are attracted into the industry because they like the games the industry produces now. So, what we must do is find women who aren’t interested in the regular games and make them design games. They are the untapped demographic, so we should have them designing what appeals to them. Stay at home mom that enjoys a good game of minesweeper now and then? We can draft her to make the next women’s hit game!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BIG G: It's funny you mentioned the article about women in February 2005's Game Developer magazine. The article mentioned is called "Increasing the Bottom Line: Women's Market Share". I think you missed the real irony of the article. It was written by Clarinda Merripen, the director of operations at Cyberlore Studios. You may not have heard of Cyberlore Studios, but their most recent title is "Playboy: The Mansion, a title completely degrading and offensive to women. My favorite quote from that article is: "During the making of Playboy: The Mansion, Cyberlore's lead designer, Brenda Brathwaite, brought up the question of whether it was more or less appropriate for a man to lead a woman to a couch than vice versa. Having a female point of view widened the conversation in a direction it wouldn't have otherwise gone." They are lucky they had women on the team! Otherwise, "Playboy: The Mansion" would have degraded into a game selling sex and objectifying women, instead of a game that promotes women's rights! (Italics added to indicate sarcasm) Even the box cover makes it clear that it's about selling sex. Ms. Merripen says the following about marketing: "At its worst, the game marketing industry monolithically insults women". The official site for "Playboy: The Mansion" is a monolithic insult to women, to use her words. Honestly, if she' trying to get MORE women interested in a game, making one of the most degrading games for women in recent years is NOT a good way to attract them.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Jubal_Harshaw said...

It sounds like this 'Clarinda Merripen' has an enormous pair of balls.

12:52 PM  

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