To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Girls Playing Boys' Games
Date: Dec 2003

If games don't come to the girls -- girls will come to the games that are made for boys. There is an increasing spate of movies and game releases where women kick butt as well as, or even better and bloodier then the guys do. And they do this almost always in black, often in high heels and in garments which clearly are not made for active combat.

Games marked "T" for Teen are almost always designed and targeted for male sensibilities and "M" for Mature really means Men. So what is going on with girls/women who play these games? First off, they play the "boy type" games differently. GTA is played, not to complete missions but to drive around like crazy. Side scrollers and platform games are played to see the next level, not simply to amass points. There is more impatience and often games are not finished. The repetitive swing and slash games, even with upgraded weapons quickly becomes boring. Games that are too hard are resented and abandoned as not being "worth the time".

What does work in these types of games is when they become a two person social activity. Couples can play against one another or join in cooperative fights against the computer villain. In spite of its clever graphics,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Konami, is a boring repetitive game in single player mode, but with two players interacting as the characters, it becomes a more interesting playable game. The same is true with Batman, Rise of Sin Tzu by Ubi Soft. Players can pick different allies, with differing traits and skills to join Batman in his battles against evil. This way, both surprise and amusement are added to the game. The action then becomes centered in the couple playing, whether it is playful competitiveness or two against the Boss. The social nature is clearly apparent if one listens to the dialog between the players and this social animation carries through to the game.

Statistics show that game purchases are often made by women. Whether one chooses to believe that it is for themselves or for their male partner, some foresight both in design and marketing could amplify the "social" quality of games. For women, that interaction is both important and will also make the game "worth the time".