To: The Game Industry|
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Women in the Game Industry
Date: January 2002
The male dominated game industry feeds upon itself. As Ernest Adams has often said, (games) "are designed for the kinds of people who are interested in making games, that is, they're designed by developers, for developers". He suggests broadening their view, "We don't represent those players who don't want to make computer games. We can't assume that our interests are the same as theirs." This is where women can offer new insights and ways of looking at games.
There has been a continuing interest in girl/women games - articles, studies, statistics. Perhaps it is because we are 51% of the population; makeup 50.4% of online gaming (PCData); constitute 35% of the attendance to the annual GameDevelopers Conference (Alan Yu), and although men may make up 55% of the gamers (PCData), women buy half of all the software games and 48% of the consoles - not necessarily for themselves (IDSA). Or it something more? I think the industry is counting on women to show the way to new game genres that will open the market to not only female players but the 45% of males who do not play games.
Women in the industry effect it in many ways. The more control and power they have, the more they will influence the production and direction of games. Their influence is seen from acquisitions of licenses, focus on game form, advertising, packaging to changing the office environment.
The Executive Producer of WomenWise, Anne-Marie Huurre, says that the mission of the company is to encourage women to use and create new media with a female perspective. She produced the company's first computer game, Lotus Spring, by taking an elaborately rendered walkthrough of a 19th century Chinese palace and making additions that reflected women's concerns about playing games. Understanding that women have a low tolerance for frustration, the company gave away the "hint book" on women-wise.com. Knowing that women like a deep story they engaged a woman, new to both computers and computer games, to write an e-novella based on the game. And, as a final touch, tied their package up with a golden ribbon and a gift card.
The company's website combines computer technology with health and awareness. In her travels around the world Anne-Marie has found that "Women want a voice in the industry with more titles that are of interest to them, games or otherwise. And for those of us in the business, we have the responsibility to create awareness of the issues of respecting what both women and girls would like to see on store shelves. We are not a 'niche' market that can be ignored anymore."
Barbara Landbeck is CEO and co-founder of Tivola and directs Tivola's overall program. she is responsible for ideas, concepts and quality of the titles. As the "creative director" she reviews all texts and images and is responsible for the company's corporate identity. At night she works on Max - a series of stories of her own creation. As a single mother of a 2-1/2 year old girl she is very sensitive to the role women play in caring for children, and as a boss tries to support them whenever she can. At the same time she is aware of the pull between office and home. "It is so hard to have to and want to go home after 8 hours in the office. But that's the way it is. I am a single mom and at 6 p.m. the nanny goes home. But, hey, my daughter is the best thing I have and we are having loads of fun together. So, really I have two kids. Lotta and Tivola plus little Max from Aroundthecorner. I have created him, too - mostly at night, when both Lotta and Tivola, are asleep."
Tivola produces an extraordinary number of uniquely diverse games - strongly reflecting the convictions of its CEO. Besides the Max series, there is, Snow White and the Seven Hansels, Deadly Chocolate, The Little Prince and Kveta Pacovska's Alphabet to name a few. The age range is from 2 - 102, because although essentially for children, the games have an uncanny ability to capture adults in their web.
Atussia Kamalpour (SuperGirl) is Game & Sound Designer and Project Lead for Artemis Software. This is a group of mainly women working on designing a Quake mod, Mythica. The game pits the players against the Gods of Olympus and other players in a quest for a goddess' favor. Players can play the the traditional single-player levels or engage in an online deathmatch. Not all women avoid fighting and shedding blood. Addressing the topic of online gaming, Atussia says, "I actually believe that the reason online gaming is so appealing to women is the level of anonymity and social interaction. The other kinds of games women are playing are the more fantasy-based games that allow the player to simulate a second self - the princess or warrior that lives inside all of us"
Megan Gaiser is president of Her Interactive a company that has produced games for women and girls since 1995. Even in their early games the company ventured into interactive dialog with the McKenzie & Co. and Vampire Diaries games. Knowing that women make up the majority of mystery readers and that there now at least two generations of Nancy Drew readers, they are on a roll with the Nancy Drew mysteries.
While women in top management positions have the most influence - there are many instances of women in the field changing the game environment whether it is by their presence in the office, their special attention to character development and story depth or in universities studying the effects of games.
We need to think out of the box - some new cyber thingy that could reinvigorate the industry and make the world into gamers. Maybe we need to stop using the word game to apply to all these products. Consider, respite, pastime, cybertoy, activity, pursuit, pastimes, digital diversions. Instead of 'play games' we might 'go to' embarkations , journeys - names connotative of places to enter and explore, meditate, relieve stress. See - we're already are thinking out of the box.