Girls play games now, you know?

Yesterday I had a friend stay over my house, after attending a party. During the course of the night, she said that she’s going to get a PS3, because the guys at her work said she should, because it has Blu-ray. Now, I know only one person who gets truly excited about Blu-Ray. He’s a film writer. Films are his life. He wants to see them in their amazing, crisp, hi-def goodness. So I told my friend, “I don’t think it’s worth getting it for the BR. It depends what games you want. XBox are going to do some pretty cool things in the near future, I think you should get that unless you have a solid reason to get the PS3.”

She then came back at me with, “But I was talking to the guys at work…”

I said, “Yeah, and I work and research in games, and date a programmer. I know several people who own every console known to man. How about I ask them? But we’ll get a comparison chart when we get home?” (I think we fought a little more because we were both drunk… but that was the conclusion)

She ended up deciding on the PS3 because she wants SingStar (although she wanted a “white” one, and I said that’d be the 360, but there was pink released at some point… how gross), but she told me how when she talked to the guys at her work about it (I’ll generally describe their occupation as “earth scientists”), and they had expressed some serious confusion over why she wanted a console. “But you’re a girl… Girls don’t play games! Are you serious? Like… real games?”

Sigh. Welcome to 12 years of cultural gender retardation. At least I have the, “You like to go around shooting people? That always struck me as a little homoerotic, personally,” line to throw at them, should they bring up the “girl games vs real games” divide.

Two things that bug me in this industry

I apologise in advance to anyone who I may offend in writing this.  It’s just my opinion, which I’m entitled to, but you’re also allowed to disagree 🙂

The first thing is this “Women in Games,” thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I want more women in the games industry.  Two of the most important books that I’m referring to for my Honours project are both written by women (I’ve also noticed that women who write on games are likely to have a background in theatre too, oddly enough!).  But the very idea that somehow girls need to have an equal representation in games sickens me.  That’s not gender equality.  That’s gender bias.  I do not want to see a wave of women and girls entering the industry and being given positions because they are female.  I also don’t want to see the same happen to men.   Are interviewers so incapable of guaging whether a person is capable, seperate to their gender?  I agree that people may have skills that happen to align with the assumed traits of their gender- I know I do.  So what’s the big deal?  I certainly shouldn’t therefore be “female” and only do “female” things.  But I shouldn’t not do “female” things, just because I am “female.”  I’m not against networking with other women or anything like that, but I just hate that we have to segregate in order to integrate.

The other thing that annoys me is this, “Serious Games Movement.”  Okay, I get it.  Developers have an ethical responsiblity for what they produce.  But that doesn’t mean we should neuter the fun, indulgent side of games.  There’s been a lot of discussion on this lately, a lot of which I agree with.  It’s not like I’m not doing anything that will challenge the gamer’s morality.  It might!  It might not!  Maybe it has another purpose…  But whatever the purpose of Tragedy, I will find it.  But back on Serious Games…  I just find the whole thing so navel-gazing.  They all tend to be activities, not games.  And the ones that are games seem to be kinda… ranty.  You know, like they’re making sure you’re aware you’re learning something.  Same thing with “Edutainment.”  Obviously you’re going to learn from the entertainment!  So why do we have to make it obvious, the focus, which only serves to turn us away from how much we’re enjoying things?

Brenda Laurel: Why didn’t girls play video games?

Found: A talk by Brenda Laurel from 1998, entitled Why didn’t girls play video games?

She discusses her research methods, outcome, and reception, including explaining the 4% who gave her negative feedback.

I’d just like to contrast this with Gonzalo Frasca’s comment on Super Princess Peach.

I personally think that Super Princess Peach sounds like a lot of fun.  She’s a princess, not a regular little girl.  Like in the Princess and the peach, where the poor Princess was identified because she couldn’t sleep while there was a single pea placed under all those mattresses.  What do Frasca and Bogost really expect Princess Peach to do?  Suddenly grow balls and turn into the female version of Mario?  Turn into animals like Mario does, only to have it suggested that she is dressing herself up in a sexual way by making herself “animalistic”?  I’m sure if there was a game called, “Super Princess Daisy,” you could do all those things.  She’s a saucy, tomboyish brunette.  Just listen to the differences in their voices in Mario Party DS.

I think what I’m trying to get at is that men who are interested in Serious Games shouldn’t try and judge what effect a game like this will have on a young girl.  We like to role play much more than boys (anyway, the boys would just come in pretending they had a gun to kill something with… but you don’t see anyone crying about that stereotype in FPS games targetted to adult men), and we certainly understand that Princess Peach is a certain idea of a character.  We’d rather be our own selves, our own unique Princess.