Friday, July 01, 2011

Women in Gaming: Myth vs Reality

I recently read an article, a long article, about Women in Gaming.  It covered all the major areas, from female gamers to female characters in games.  Most of what I read was just more of the usual stuff that you read, we need more female characters that are XYZ, and if only there were more of this or that then more women would play games.  It was pretty much just another case of the writer not seeing the forest for the trees, so common in topics like this one.  One of the major knowledge advantages that Conservatives have always had over liberals, is that we realize that there is a difference between men and women.  While liberals bend over backwards to deny reality, to pretend that men and women are exactly alike, we simply acknowledge and embrace reality.  As such, we realize that most of these comments, so typical in the lamestream media, are just so much hogwash.  The idea that if only female gaming characters dressed a certain way, that would make more women play games, it's so incredibly absurd.  Women like different kinds of games than men, that's just the way it is.  You can dress the female characters in the game up any way you like.  Dress them conservatively, dress them seductively, dress them any way you can think of, and if women don't like the game, they aren't going to play it.

What is the most popular game of all time among women?  The Sims.  It's a fun little game, of course lots of men like it too, but it especially appeals to women.  It allows for superior creativity, it allows for plenty of thinking time, it allows you as much or as little freedom as you want, its heavy on the family-oriented themes, its got a lot to like for anybody, especially for women who especially like such things in a game.  The game doesnt have a 'male lead' or a 'female lead', it has whatever you want it to have.  That's something that naturally appeals to everybody, a fact that shouldn't be lost on people, and yet all too often it clearly is.

Let's look at a type of game enjoyed more by men than women, and that would be your typical Bioware RPG.  I love RPGs, and Bioware tends to make a lot of fun ones.  They've done a lot to attract female gamers, from giving you the option to have a female (or male of course) main character,  to giving you the ability to dress your character up any way you like, to even having the option of having your female main character have one (or more) of your female team-mates as a possible love interest.  These are all things that bring women into the game in droves, Bioware's games tend to have many more female players than the average RPG, but ultimately it is an RPG and for that reason there will always be more male players of any Bioware RPG, because men simply like RPGs more than women. 

One way that Bioware is often criticized, is for their advertising campaigns, which almost always feature the male versions of the main characters, and never the female versions (since you can generally play as either a male or female in a Bioware game, you would naturally assume they would advertise both).  It is stated that this is done because most Bioware players are male, a fact that is of course true.  But their logic is completely backwards.  While yes, advertising the female version of the main character of a given Bioware game would likely lead to more women buying the game, it would also lead more MEN to buy the game also!  It would likely increase the overall number of women playing the game, but probably not the overall percentage of women playing, as what's more pleasant for a man (or woman for that matter) to look at for 40-60 hours, a dude, or an attractive woman?  It's no contest.  So Bioware's 'logic' in only promoting their male main characters is completely backwards, not because they 'should be marketing more to women' but because female leads DO market to men, as well as women.  But they haven't figured that part out yet, once they do they will be a lot more successful than they already are.

So the bottom line for me, is yes we should bring more women into gaming, as many as possible, because gaming is fun, cool, and better with more women :) .  But to do that we need to make more games that women like, and to make the games that they aren't predisposed to like more female-friendly, never by doing something men don't like, instead by doing things that BOTH men and women like.  Men and women like having the ability to create their main character (or characters, in the case of the Sims) from scratch, we like having the ability to dress them up any way we like, we like having attractive female characters as the main Love Interest for our character, and of course we all like defeating the forces of evil, saving the day, and having a happy ending.  Obviously some of those things are liked more by women than men, and some are liked more by men than women, but all of those things are enjoyed by large numbers of both men and women.  Those are the attributes that all games should have, if at all possible.  That is how you bring women, AND men, into gaming in greater numbers.  Give us ALL what we want, don't give us something that just women like, or that just men like.  When you give us what we all want, we all win.

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