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Bridging the gender gap in computer gaming.
April 29, 2005 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Bridging the gender gap in computer gaming. Computer games often portray women as victims or prizes . But things seem to be changing. Some see hope in the growing number of games where women play the leading character, especially when the game (NSFW) completely focuses on the character herself. Change, however, may be more apparent than real. If this is real change, it may reduce gender drift (.pdf) in gaming. Women are getting out of the closet (discussed here). Their motto: They grow stronger !
posted by joaovc (44 comments total)

 
Well I was always impressed that Samus Aran was a woman in the Metroid series....

but I gotta say.... the females in Metal Gear Solid 3 were awesome. tough, eloquent, smart and scarily sexy. Perfect.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:04 AM on April 29, 2005


Hmm. From the first link:
For example, in a best seller with worldwide sales of more than 8.5 million ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,’ players are rewarded for having sex with, and kicking a prostitute to death. In the game, made by Rockstar Games for Sony’s Playstation 2 and X- Box, male characters can beat women with their fists, feet and in one instance a golf club. (Marriott, 2003: 2) This is disturbing considering it has sold more than 8.5 million copies mainly to young men.

That's funny. I've played that game all the way through from beginning to end twice, and haven't seen anything about "having sex with, and kicking a prostitute to death." In fact, nearly all of the violence in the game is directed at rival gang members. Killing a passing pedestrian, prostitute or otherwise, won't benefit you -- it will just get the police after you.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 7:19 AM on April 29, 2005


CrunchyFrog: "That's funny. I've played that game all the way through from beginningto end twice, and haven't seen anything about "having sex with, andkicking a prostitute to death.""

It doesn't say that's part of the game, but because it's such an open-ended game, it is technically true that it rewards you for such behavior. If you drive very slowly or stop alongside a prostitute, she'll approach the car and get in. You then have to drive to a secluded location and stop the car. Wait a few moments, and the car will start rocking. After a few moments (insert premature ejaculation joke here), she'll take a bit of money (a few thousand, IIRC), your health will fill up to 100%, and she'll get out of the car and walk off. Get out of the car, beat her up or shoot her. Take the money, and you've essentially filled up your health for free.

But that doesn't mean their point is especially strong. The whole prostitute-sex-killing thing is far from a focus of the game.
posted by Plutor at 7:28 AM on April 29, 2005


The prostitute-sex-killing thing may be far from a focus of the game, but that didn't stop Sen. Lieberman from making it the focus of his recent book Well That About Wraps It Up For Our Kids.

Gratuitous Hitchhiker's reference, I know. But this was THE example trotted out by people when the most recent god-look-what-they're-playing wave of hysteria was sweeping through the media, it was essentially this generation's version of Mortal Kombat's fatalities! I'm not a big fan of Republicans right now, but Lieberman doesn't exactly give me any warm feelings, ether.
posted by JHarris at 7:38 AM on April 29, 2005


This is always a good thing, as it will lead to much more interesting and fantastic video game experiences. This book has some rather interesting thoughts on the forces behind the relative disassociation of females with technology (throughout their upbringing) as well as the current meme of playable characters and situations. Great post.
posted by prostyle at 7:42 AM on April 29, 2005


*WARNING! Half-Life 2 Spoiler*

I thought the character of Alex was one of the better developed characters, period, in recent games. And I got rather attached. So much so that I was rather miffed by her apparent dastardly fate at the end.

*OK, done with spoiler*
posted by Cyrano at 7:53 AM on April 29, 2005


Getting the fairer sex interested in video games is easy! All it takes is the right controller (NSFW).
posted by qDot at 8:32 AM on April 29, 2005


From the "getting out of the closet" link:

Gamer Shame is a powerful social convention and the gaming industry really isn’t doing a very good job of combating it.

Yeah, probably because the gaming industry is far too busy counting its money to worry about rehabilitating social conventions. They're not in the anthropology field, they're in the entertainment business. It's true that certain gaming genres are hopelessly sexist, but that goes for music genres and other types of entertainment as well (though not to the same extent).

And "gamer shame"? WTF? From there she wanders off into the well-known (and often harped-upon) excesses of sexism in the gaming industry, cites this as a cultural force that discourages women from gaming and cuts them off from the gaming community... and then goes back to talking about people "sharing the Gamer Shame closet with me" without nary a mention of what they're all ashamed of.

What's so shameful about enjoying a harmless pasttime -- unless you're ashamed of being a hardcore Daikatana fanboy/fangirl?

The "what kind of games do your kids enjoy" question happens to lots of male gamers as well -- I hear that complaint from older gamers all the time. Hell, my Quake clan years ago had a grandfather-and-grandson duo with us, and the grandfather had us all in stitches from his stories about people's reactions to finding out that he's a hardcore gamer (he was on our default tourney roster). It's not just a gender thing; there's a lot of ageism involved, too (i.e. anything past college or "young adult" age). And it's far "cooler" in both gamer and non-gamer circles to be a woman gamer than to be an older gamer.

I don't know about this "shame" business, but if I were a woman, I'd be far more mortified of being caught reading something as stereotype-reinforcing and self-image-assaulting as Cosmo than an overglossed video game mag. In the situation she described at the beginning of the article (she uses the word "professional" 4 times in 2 paragraphs), men also might be hesitant to reach for a Maxim as well -- does that mean we have Penis Shame?
posted by DaShiv at 8:34 AM on April 29, 2005


I play Puzzle Pirates a lot, and one of the things that constantly surprises me is how much of the community is made up of women. Apparently chicks dig pop cap style games, which is what Puzzle Pirates runs on, but it's also a much deeper MMORPG kind of experience. I know I never would have considered paying for an online game before this.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:39 AM on April 29, 2005


I can't help but think that part of the reason most video games feature male characters is because, for years, women who like to play games have accepted that without question. We've always been willing to play a game where our character is male, but most guys don't seem to be as comfortable playing a game as a female character (unless, like Lara Croft, the Dead or Alive women, etc, the character is also a sex object with inhuman proportions and camera angles designed to highlight every bounce and jiggle). But, that might not even be guys, it may just because the opportunity so rarely presents itself.

I think part of the reason there are groups of female games, and conferences for female gamers, is because the industry excludes us from everything else. How else can one see it when you have games as open-ended as GTA that don't even think to offer the option of playing as a female character (unless you count the play as the porn star cheat code). The message seems to be "if you want to play, fine, but don't expect us to go out of our way to make you feel welcome."
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2005


Looks like good stuff, though I can't read it all now - but Virtual Jenna as a model of better roles for women in games? A porn star toy to be played with? I see your point, and may have been too dismissive of it out of closet prudishness, but ... I guess I don't know enough about the game to say. Interesting.
posted by freebird at 8:48 AM on April 29, 2005


What DaShiv said. Everybody has to be the same, right? The world won't be equal until everybody does everything in perfectly equal ratios! Meh.
posted by dfowler at 8:52 AM on April 29, 2005


Frasermoo, are you serious? One of the first movies in MGS3 involves a woman talking to "Solid Snake" who opens the zippered front of her jacket, exposing her bra and (admittedly nice) cleavage to the player for the remaining five minutes of talking. Snake watchs the boobies, and enjoys them, and pressing the R1 trigger actually zooms in on them. And of course the dialog gives no reason for any of this.

Pardon me for thinking that's a step backwards for women in videogames, not forwards. (I hope you can correct me and tell me that she explains it later in the game...)
posted by LukeyBoy at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2005


The GTA series is a gangster sim, though : I can't think of other media which portray gangsters as being female with any frequency - there's no GodMother or GoodLasses films.

But you're right, the games industry is often an exclusionary one. I'm a professional games developer, and at least 95% of my compatriots are white males, aged 22 to 35 - not coincidentally one of gaming's key demographics in the post Playstation era.

Unfortunately, it's the exclusionary games which seem to sell the most. Here's a few games which I would heavily recommend, which I don't consider to be exclusionary in the slightest - your opinions may differ, of course.

* Katamari Damacy - Hard to describe - but you have to roll up everyday objects of varying sizes to create a large ball of matter. The little guy who does this is ostensibly male, but I can't see any but the most politically correct gamers being offended by this.

* ICO - Again, you do play a young boy in this - who is also
in a "protector" role - but Yorda (the girl) and Ico (the boy)
do have a symbiotic relationship - each needs the unique
skills of the other, and the game as a whole is completely non-violent

* Knights Of The Old Republic - You can play as a man or woman of varying ethnicities - the storyline is completely unaffected either way except the pronouns.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2005


The Longest Journey taught me that a cute girl can be just as boring as the most hideous man. Does that count?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2005


*WARNING! Half-Life 2 semi-spoiler reply*

Cyrano: Hm, it seemed to me that Alyx's fate was left deliberately ambiguous at the end of the first game. In fact, it's already been revealed that she will feature prominently in the upcoming expansion.

*OK, done with spoiler*
posted by ludwig_van at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2005


I've seen plenty of self-linking in comments already, and since I've already covered this information . . . . I am a Girl Gamer (Link goes to online pop culture mag, ATL based).
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2005


Bridging the gender gap in knitting.
posted by dfowler at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2005


Who's
posted by dfowler at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2005


We've always been willing to play a game where our character is male, but most guys don't seem to be as comfortable playing a game as a female character

I think it's the opposite, as game designer Sheri Ray observed..."Men play female characters. I don't have the exact numbers, but a huge percentage of males play female characters. The number of females playing male characters is so small as to be not worth counting. And they'll tell you, "I don't play a male character because it's not comfortable." "

My favourite female character from a video game is Heather Mason from Silent Hill 3 (screenshots) who has quite a remarkable character design. Messy blonde hair, freckles, a bit of a squint, she's attractive but has modest clothing, like someone you could easily picture running into on the street. And the other characters are interesting as well, actual middle aged characters in a video game.
posted by bobo123 at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2005


I never thought Vice City was all that bad, although I found GTA: San Andreas horribly anti-women in its dialogue and characterisation (at least in the early sections - the hideous framerate and repetitive, dated structure put me off long before I left the first area, although I did have fun dressing mister gangsta-man up), although I suppose that's as much the early-90s hip-hop culture the game's steeped in as anything. The problem is, the player has to be a party to it - As free-form as the game claims to be, and as much as I wanted to beat some of the characters to death with a baseball bat for being so shitty to the local ladies, you're forced to protect them and follow their orders to the letter. Blech.

LukeyBoy: Oh come on, the boobie-staring in MGS3 is so a joke. Snake might be deep in enemy territory on a life-or-death mission, but every single time he's talking to a woman you can see his eyes wander downwards and his concentration start to slip. Made me laugh, anyway. Having a mysogynist as a main character doesn't make the game as a whole mysogynistic, and even if it did MGS3 wouldn't be - the bit where The (female, relatively non-sexualised) Boss keeps taking his guns apart completely emasculates Snake within the first couple of hours.

Gamer Shame: Bah, pathetic. If you're so embarassed by something you enjoy, maybe you should stop doing it and make more room for those of us with backbones. And fuck, if you resent being associated with the teenage-male-oriented face of gaming, play something different! Videogames do not begin and end with mainstream GTA-style tripe.

Anyway, a couple of non-exclusionary recommendations:

Beyond Good & Evil - To my mind the second-best female lead character in a game. Emotional depth, epic story and a surprising lack of boobies.

Silent Hill - The whole series is deep, involving and scary, but 2 is a masterpiece, and deals wonderfully with loss, sexual frustration, the objectification of women, guilt and love.

Space Channel 5 Part 2 - My favourite female lead in a game ever. Empowerment through the most wonderfully camp dance adventure ever. In space! It's better than it sounds. You should play it.

Oh, and mad props to Nintendo for creating the first transgendered videogame character (Birdo. No, seriously).
posted by terpsichoria at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2005


So, is the ability to play either gender (with no real effect on gameplay or plot) a step in the right direction or irrelevant or even a step in the wrong direction? Someone mentions KOTOR working this way above, as do lots of other games - I'm thinking of World or Warcraft, where at least half the people you interact with are female in-game.

I think one could see this as being purely superficial, essentially eye-candy. Is making gender entirely meaningless and irrelevant to the story *really* progress? I suppose it's better than having only male roles...but can games safely celebrate le difference? I remember in Tenchu, you could be a boy or girl ninja, and they had quite different abilities and IIRC subplots. The danger here of course, is that these type of differences can so easily reflect/reinforce stereotype: the boy is strong and slow, the girl is quick and smart...the boy quests are about killing things, the girl quests are about talking to people.

OP, I guess this is (some of) what DaShiv and dfowler are getting at - is effective gender neutrality the goal, a step toward a goal, or a step in the wrong direction?
posted by freebird at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2005


The FPP had me totally interested for a minute what was meant by "gender drift" - only to find out it was a typo for a "gender rift" which made more sense, but doesn't sound nearly as interesting.

There is still very much the stereotype applied to video games that they're "for guys" - games like The Sims, Animal Crossing, and Katamari Damancy, which appeal to both genders, are still a the exception. But I don't think that changing the games themselves alone is going to attract more women to gaming. Making it more "socially acceptable" is just going to happen from more girls playing, letting their friends know they're playing (or just being more visible in general), and getting each other into it.

Oh, and getting past the whole concept that violent and agressive games are only for guys - and it might be healthier for girls to take out some of their agression through games, instead of bottling it up and using it to backstab each other and taking it out in that manner (which is a much unhealthier way of handling conflict than the way guys do it).

Oh, and I just have to mention the PMS clan, cause some of us gals can rawk just as much as the guys.
posted by evilangela at 10:04 AM on April 29, 2005


terpsichoria, it wasn't so much Snakes' staring as it was the woman undoing the entire front of her shirt to show the player her breasts for no reason. Sure the hero is supposed to be a mysogynist - but I still didn't "get" the joke about the "empowered woman" talking for five minutes with her shirt open.
posted by LukeyBoy at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2005


Angela says:
...it might be healthier for girls to take out some of their agression through games, instead of bottling it up and using it to backstab each other...

Wow.

I've been tough on the premise of this thread-- perhaps too snarky.

I realize the objectification of women in video games might be offensive to some. But, are we ready to expurgate objectification of men from movies, tv shows or magazines made for women? Why the need to protect everybody from possibly getting offended? Why the desire to even participation on some or all entertainment sources?

I assume the poster and those who are offended by 'sexism' in video games are equally offended by objectification of both sexes if/when they watch Sex in the City, one of the most popular women's tv shows.

posted by dfowler at 10:34 AM on April 29, 2005


I have so many non-exclusionary game recommendations, I'm not sure where to start. jacquilynne mentioned Pop Cap style games. Millions of those. Tons of great open-source games in the works too.

FragGirls aside, or whatever they're called, the gender gap in mainstream commercial gaming is closing, but it will take a while. Gaming culture goes hand in hand with sporting culture, and males have dominated sports for thousands of years. Why? Because sports likely derived from hunting competitions, which favored male strengths. Now that technology has virtually erased any of the inherent competitive advantages for men, women should catch up eventually, dontcha think?

As an aside, I think that strong female characters are much more visible in videogames than they are in Hollywood movies.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:55 AM on April 29, 2005


ludwig_van: thanks for the good news :)
posted by Cyrano at 12:08 PM on April 29, 2005


...Snakes' staring as it was the woman undoing the entire front of her shirt to show the player her breasts for no reason. Sure the hero is supposed to be a mysogynist...

It's a sad day when booby-adoration makes one a misogynist.

I remember in Tenchu, you could be a boy or girl ninja, and they had quite different abilities and IIRC subplots

I think in Tenchu, like in the first Resident Evil, the female character was intended to be the more difficult one to play. (In Tenchu Ayame's attacks are weaker with shorter range; in R.E. Jill can carry less equipment.) Picking the girl character was akin to selecting a higher difficulty rating. I'm not up to parsing that for the offensiveness quotient.

I actually find that women like MORE violence/action in games; they want the fun stuff but they don't want to devote scads of time to it to get there. The "you have 30 seconds of my time; entertain me or go away" attitude that most women have towards videogames (and indeed that we all have to various things that offer to distract us) makes them, in a way, a more refined audience. They want the game to cut to the fun part, the game; especially when there's no social aspect to it.

Games with complex controls and complex in-game rules tend to be rejected quickly by a disinterested person. Games that require long spells of attention and precision are also not likely to bring in new people. This isn't because these games are bad or because women automatically reject their demands for getting to the fun part; it's because these games are no good for the new and undevoted.

There are things beyond the games that bring people into gaming, like theme, or social aspects (either from inside the game, or from talking to other people who play the game; lots of people read books just to discuss them with other people). With online games, it is often the social aspect; some people join just for that.

Women gamers who push their girlhood as part of this social side aspect (a la Stevie Case) are probably not very interesting as gamers alone.
posted by fleacircus at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2005


The "you have 30 seconds of my time; entertain me or go away" attitude that most women have towards videogames (and indeed that we all have to various things that offer to distract us) makes them, in a way, a more refined audience.

Sounds like the guiding principle to a porn movie. You have 30 seconds to put something on screen that will captivate me since I don't have the patience for plot or character development. Actually, it also sounds like the guiding principle for action movies as well. You have 30 seconds to blow something up. With those comparisons made I wonder if this attitude makes them truly a "refined audience".

You can have simple controls and simple rules that build complex games but those tend to be puzzle games. Developers would love to decrease the learning curve on the control complexity but there is no silver bullet as of yet.
posted by cm at 1:14 PM on April 29, 2005


Well, you're describing the influence of uninterested stupid people who demand that kind of entertainment every single time, not people currently outside the demographic.

Maybe 'refined' was a bad word choice; what I meant was that pleasing an audience of people who aren't automatically into the game from the easy tropes means that the game designers have to remember to make it actually fun; 'refined' in the sense of boiling away impurities.
posted by fleacircus at 1:28 PM on April 29, 2005


The (counterintuitive) theory that many girls just want to get to the action/fun in videogames has some merit.

Take Jade Empire, all the talking drove my sister nuts. "The fighting is fun, but I don't feel like reading a book in a video game."

Long involved stories are not good for casual gamers who just want to have fun.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2005


I think that the gender gap is certainly closing, but I also think that all this bitching and whining about sexism in games is old and whiney. And I'm a girl. I play MMORPGs. I'm good at them. I'm not offended by the body types assigned to sexy dark elves in World of Warcraft, but I find the game utterly boring. The group that I play City of Heroes with is about an even split, and the universal opinion (FWIW) is that it's whether or not the game is good and not purposely exclusionary. Tomb Raider, for example, is action T&A (IMHO, naturally) but it's not as if my hero in CoH is any less busty. She just gets to do more, have friends, wear cool outfits, and participate in long storylines with good payoffs at the end. And there's teamwork and strategy and just good fun to be had with my online crew.

Of course, one of the virtues of CoH is that it is very good for the casual gamer -- if I have 30 mins to kill I can go play and actually get some playing in, rather than hoofing it across a map to hang out for five minutes with my guildmate. You've also got almost immediate action and a pretty simple interface to deal with, all of which makes it attractive. In the end, for me and for the women with whom I play, it's about whether or not we're playing with cool, fun people, and whether or not the game is or is not stupid (and of course what each of us thinks is stupid is different).

With regards to the "reading a book in a video game" comment, I think it depends on what you're doing. I think the movie-esque portions of Halo II were really cool, but I hate FPS's. They just bore me. I paid attention to the story bits and totally ignored the combat (I was obviously watching someone play, right? Right.) The Thief games or Neverwinter Nights, however, aren't terribly interesting without the story. Task Forces, which are long, involved multi-part story arcs that must be completed with the same group of players, are one of the coolest things about CoH.

All of this to say, stop putting women gamers in boxes. We're no more homogenous in our tastes than men are, but we are newer to the industry as a group of consumers. You don't have to give us Pretty, Pretty Princess II. Just good, smart games. Make those, and the women will come.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:12 PM on April 29, 2005


Female avatars in video games just prove that women are more powerful than their male counterparts. That’s why men always have to wear a lot of armor, and women can get away with a skimpy outfit. Women just don’t need all that silly protection that the weakling men require.
posted by Nematoda at 8:24 PM on April 29, 2005


Anyone remember killcreek? You know, Stevie Case? (Not the old boss of AOL, the gamer chick.)

Back when quake was hot shit, and John Romero hadn't yet ruined his reputation, he used to brag about how he was the greatest deathmatch player of all time (having helped invent it), and that part of the reason for that was that he was male. He would say that no woman could ever beat him because it wasn't in the female mind to have that level of competitiveness and bloodthirst. or whatever.

The reason he would say this, for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, is that he is an idiot.

Either way, Stevie Case, who called herself killcreek in game, eventually beat him soundly in quake at a public tournament. She and he got married, but to my knowledge, she was kind of the first "Celebrity Gamer" who was a girl.

Later she left him. The reason for this, for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, is that he is an idiot.
posted by shmegegge at 9:18 PM on April 29, 2005


I don't understand how people can cry about the unrealistic proportions on female video game characters yet turn a blind eye to the perfect chisled chin, overwhelming muscles and six pack on most male characters.
posted by bandersnatch at 10:25 PM on April 29, 2005


I should be ashamed because I've played Diablo (1&2), Quake (1,2&3), There, Star Wars: Galaxies, The Sims (1&2) (and lots of others that I played once or twice and dropped)? Right now I'm playing EverQuest for 10 to 30 hours per week.

And as for big boobs and chiselled abs - everything is exaggerated in games. Um, hello? They're games. And besides that, you never know if the beautiful, curvy, blonde warrior is being played by a guy or that tall, scarred, muscle-bound shaman is played by a girl.

Where is the "shame" factor? I don't get that at all.
posted by deborah at 10:52 PM on April 29, 2005


We're no more homogenous in our tastes than men are, but we are newer to the industry as a group of consumers. You don't have to give us Pretty, Pretty Princess II. Just good, smart games. Make those, and the women will come.
Well said! You and me are perfect examples, as I love FPS:es and WoW, and found CoH to be kinda boring. It seems simple, but the industry just hasn't caught on. I'm a gamer, the fact that I'm a girl is tangential...

Where is the "shame" factor? I don't get that at all.
Yeah, me neither. If you are ashamed of your hobby, maybe it's time to either get a grip, or go do something else. Crocheting sounds girly, don't you think? lol
posted by gemmy at 8:58 AM on April 30, 2005


About the 'shame' factor...I wonder how much of it is due to age? I'm in my mid-30s, and I've only been playing console games a little over a year. I was hesitant at first to admit that I enjoyed the games, not because games were a 'guy' thing, but because gaming is seen as something that "young people" do. The thought behind that is "can't you figure out something more productive to do with your time"?

Also, when you say "games", most non-gamers think of console games or PC games like Quake/Doom, etc. They didn't seem to realize that a person who plays Minesweeper on a regular basis is also a gamer. It was pretty funny when some of my work colleagues realized that they were hardcore gamers because they'd play Bejeweled or Solitaire for hours on end!

I agree with bandersnatch...the male characters are often just as idealized as the female ones. They may be idealized in different ways (stronger, more athletic). I don't know any guy who can move like the Prince of Persia!

That said, I don't like "excessive boobage". I barely made it past the tutorial in Bloodrayne because of the mentor's excessive jiggling. It was ludicrous. I couldn't take the game seriously because of it. I also have a hard time with the hyper-athletic, large breasted characters...game designers, a DD cup is probably not going to be an expert weapons wielder. They get in the way. There's a reason that the Amazons sliced off one of their breasts.

Yes, all games requires a suspension of disbelief, but some beliefs are easier to suspend than others.

And bobo123, was Sheri Ray talking about games in which the player can choose the gender of the character? Like I said, I just play console games, and in almost all the games I have, I don't have any choice except to play as the male character.
posted by luneray at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2005


There are evolutionary reasons why guys are easier to hook in video games. Males descended from successful hunters/warriors whose brains were exceptionally well wired for handling the reflexive, fight-or-flight scenarios. Our successful female ancestors were good at family bonding and gathering. These evolved differences are still present, despite having little use nowadays.

It is easy for game developers to stimulate the fight-or-flight pathways in the male brain, and that stimulus is more immediate and intense and thus more addictive.

It is more complex and slower to stimulate family bonding and gathering pathways in the female brain, and the reward spike is more gradual and less intense, therefore less addicitive.

For these evolved reasons it is probably less likely that women will ever be as interested in games as men. Obviously, "male-ness" and "female-ness" of brains exists across a continuum, and bloodthirsty female players exist alongside males who'd much prefer to go shopping rather than play a computer game. But on average, women just aren't evolved to like video games.
posted by gregor-e at 8:55 PM on April 30, 2005


The leader of my World of Warcraft guild and most of our group activities is a friend's wife; she's an undisputed bad-ass bloodthirsty fighter. Having never beforw played massive multiplayer games (apart from Subspace and GNE) I have quickly learned to hide my musclebound warrior behind her in the game. When she's not around, we lose a lot of fights.

I don't know a lot of chicks who dig on FPS and 3PS games, so intuitively I know there's still something of a gap there, but I know lots and lots of women who play just about every other variety of game with widely varied levels of enthusiasm. Hell, my own SO -- who in no way whatsoever qualifies to be labeled as a "hardcore gamer" -- leaves me a battered, quivering, bloodied pulp when we break out the Sega Saturn to play Baku Baku Animal.
posted by majick at 7:50 AM on May 1, 2005


Plutor: Ah, I get it now. GTA:Vice City encourages you to have sex with then murder prostitutes in the same sense that baseball encourages you to get hit by a thrown pitch, and golf encourages you to bank your ball off of a tree and onto the green. All of them have outcomes that benefit you, however, the process of doing so is more risky and convoluted than the natural play of the game.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:00 AM on May 1, 2005


gemmy, definitely find another past-time if you're (general "you", not specific "you") ashamed of what you're doing (although, unless you're abusing something or someone, what's there to be ashamed about?). And yeah, crocheting (or knitting) sounds "girly" but there isn't anything wrong with that. I like to do needlepoint and gardening as well as blow shit up and decapitate beasties. Call me eclectic. :-)

luneray, I was wondering about the age factor as well, but I think there a lot worse things I could be doing at 38 years old (see above).

majick, in Quake2, I outfragged ..er.. outplayed a lot of the guys I played with, including my husband. I wonder if it had anything to do with the rather risque skin I used *innocent grin*. Speaking of "skins" (or characters or avatars), the more outrageous the better in my book. They're so far from the "real me" that I find them hilariously ironic.
posted by deborah at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2005


[Half-Life 2 Spoiler follows:]

I thought the character of Alex was one of the better developed characters, period, in recent games. And I got rather attached. So much so that I was rather miffed by her apparent dastardly fate at the end.

Cyrano, you may be in for a big surprise.
posted by rafter at 7:04 PM on May 1, 2005


I am threatened by inappropriately large-muscled male characters in videogames. Not to mention the stereotyping of males as violent. The associations with crime. With violence. With lust. Help me.

Fucking hell. Thank goodness there are games that are actually aimed at one sex or the other with nary an attractive quality to the opposite sex. Otherwise we'd get videogames like modern movies: watered down with "a bit of action, a bit of romance, some of everything for everyone". Blech. They're right that female gamers are a still-largely-untapped market. So make games for females. DON'T ruin games for males by trying to make them unisex, unless they happen to be in the first place -- Katamari Damacy excellent case in point.
posted by dreamsign at 8:22 PM on May 3, 2005


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