Friday, January 22, 2010

Scary Angry Gamer Girls

Along the same vein as my previous post, one thing I really don't understand is ultra-feminist gamer girls. The ones who deliberately interpret everything that male gamers and game designers do to be directly aimed at causing offense to the female population. Now I will admit outright that I am not a feminist in the traditional sense, someone who focuses on more rights and legal protection for women. In fact, with that definition K probably embodies more feminist ideals because it always enrages him if he hears about a woman being abused by some guy. As an female engineer, I've always straddled the line of understanding both genders. I like computers and cats, and yet am uncomfortable talking about football and fashion. Weird mix.

Bottom line: I tend to accept things for the way they are. Especially if it's concerning something as "silly" as video games. A female columnist for Kotaku called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a "typical male fantasy" and felt guilty for enjoying such a sexist piece of software. Okay, think about what you're saying:
  1. Is it wrong to produce products geared toward a specific gender? (e.g. skirts)
  2. Does having negligable numbers of female characters prevent anyone from using the product? (e.g. the film Saving Private Ryan)
With uniforms so thick, I think only the 5 o'clock shadow gives it away.

Also, her top suggestions include adding more women in different clothing and body types, having a lead female character she can identify with, and hearing radio commands in a woman's voice. Hmm, somehow I just can't imagine that increasing the "female presence" will grow the number of girls who play Modern Warefare 2. I'll admit that I tend to choose a female avatar if there's one available, but avatars are not the reason why I choose to play a game. It's about the game play, the art, the story, the soundtrack. If you're a gamer girl who plays first person shooters, you're going to try out the #1 selling game of its genre, regardless of the number of women you can find in the background scenes. And don't let any feminist tell you otherwise.

That might be a girl, but I prefer to repect his/her privacy...


Jelibe said...

As a girl who plays games I have to agree with you. I've never even thought about it before! I love my games and I love to crochet! I'm no girly, girl either!
I'd just like to say, I enjoyed reading this topic :D great stuff.

A Gamer's Wife said...

Aw, glad you like the blog! It's awesome to hear about other crocheting/knitting girls who also double as gamers. They make the coolest geek crafts. ^_~

P Marsh said...

I can't really say that I agree with the stance that MW2 is fine. The game has no female contingent outside of the one disembodied voice and No Russian where there is even only one model to represent women.

This isn't really a women's rights issue in my mind but rather an issue of breaking old habits and stereotypes within the gaming community itself. Having a female option shouldn't really trump single player experience (i get along fine as Bayonetta or Rachelle in L4D2) but in generic multiplayer games like MW2, Battlefield and the like I think we owe it to ourselves to at least give the option to the minorities in the gaming community. Gamers are no long exclusively white males between the ages of 13-25.

A Gamer's Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Gamer's Wife said...

Thanks for your comment! I haven't seen the No Russian section personally, but K's belief is that in order to make the awesome games that we see nowadays, with so many moving parts and details, things like background audiences are first on the chopping block.

As for the issue of catering to the majority audience, while the percentage of girl gamers continues to increase every year, it financially makes sense that many video game studioes still produce products aimed at their high volume customers. A comparison would be the fashion industry. Fashion is by and large dominated by female consumers, but no one will accuse a designer of sexism for only creating clothing aimed at women. Most designers will only begin making male clothing when it makes financial sense, when more men actually pay attention to fashion. For example, early reports have shown that 80% of female console gamers perfer the Wii. I wonder if that's why there's been a recent rise in the number of Wii fitness games...

P Marsh said...

Well I think the rise in fitness games may not be entirely gender market capitalization (I could be wrong of course) but I see it as shovel ware copying Nintendo in hopes of riding the coat tails of WiiFit's success. Lets face it, once you get a major break out hit your bound to have pretenders to the throne like how Halo launched the current FPS dominance or how God of War and Devil May Cry revived the beat-em-up.

Demographic focus is very important when designing a product for mass consumption and profit generation but when you have a war spanning the globe in MW2 and there is a very distinct lack of women it sets of some Freudian suspicions about the design team thinks their audience is interested in or simply does not know about.