I was raised to play games. I was no good at being on teams and I wasn’t about to submit myself to voluntary cardiovascular activity, so it became clear early in my childhood that I wasn’t going to gain any skill for rule-following, cooperation, collaboration, brainstorming, problem-solving, or focus (much less any pleasure) from sports. So instead, I played games on the family computer, by myself or with my sister Sara or with my friends, and my dad and Sara and I played video games together at night and on the weekends.
My parents supplied us with a steady stream of educational computer games — Midnight Rescue! and Mega Math Blasters, the Carmen Sandiego games, games to help our typing skills and spelling; whatever subject they felt we needed help with at school, they got us a game. And I loved logic quests: Zoombinis was my favorite computer game, and when I played on our Nintendo systems with my sister and my dad, they fought the bosses while I figured out the side quests and puzzles. We got Myst when it came out when I was six and it was way over my head, but I watched while Sara played, read the official companion book, and drew landscapes based on its worlds. Keep reading »
My first real game, the one I remember best, was Zork — good, old-fashioned white text on a black background. I was obsessed with it, the challenges intrinsic in playing it, and the mythology attached. I read the books that came with the series obsessively, and even did a school report (sadly not preserved for posterity) on the Underground Empire for a class in school. Infocom ruled my childhood, inspired my imagination, and got me interested in storytelling. Part of what I loved so much about Zork was the lack of a player description. You were an adventurer, and that was that: no gender, no race, none of that mattered. All that mattered was exploration, creativity, and a willingness to accept that sometimes, if you planned poorly, you’d be eaten by a grue. I didn’t even really think about my character, because it was just me, wandering through the map. There was no default. Keep reading »
Who knew a surefire way to incite rage in your nerd boyfriend was to pick the “wrong” character when playing the video game League of Legends? According to The Daily Dot, when LoL gamer XJ9 — described as a “a very skilled League of Legends player who could be pro if not for his emotional problems” — found out his girlfriend Sarah was playing LoL as the character Lee Sin, he lost his shit. See, in XJ9′s view, playing the game as Lee Sin gives players an unfair advantage in combat, or some bullshit, so finding out his girlfriend was daring to play that way was clearly a dealbreaker. Instead of breaking up with her like a normal irrational, sad video game obsessed basement dweller, XJ9 posted nude photos of Sarah on his public Facebook page, where they stayed for three days before a fellow LoL player named Destiny threatened to post XJ9′s personal information unless he took them down. And Destiny got the whole confrontation on tape, as the two chatted on Skype while gaming. In the video above, around the 5:30 mark, you can hear XJ9 attempt to justify posting the “revenge porn,” explaining to Destiny why Sarah playing LoL as Lee Sin was a personal affront to him.
“We literally said to each other, ‘If I really hated you, the worst thing you could do is play Lee Sin.’ And that’s what she did!” he explains. Oh okay then. Keep reading »
A report shows that women gamers spend as much time and money on consoles as male gamers do, and that gamers are not, in fact, all teenage boys who lock themselves in their rooms to play Xbox Live for hours on end. Wait, gamers can be women? And adults? Gasp!
The social media network Pixwoo.com commissioned the search, and had this to say about their results: “The image most people have of a gamer is usually a young boy, holed up for hours in end in their bedroom, only stopping the game for food, drink and toilet breaks. But these results show that the stereotype couldn’t be more wrong. Not only are women just as likely to be gamers as men, but we are talking about fully grown adults who work, have a family and are in a relationship.”
Exasperated sigh. Read more on The Mary Sue…
The Entertainment Software Association recently released their latest batch of statistics on video game sales and player demographics. There’s lots of interesting stuff in there, but the numbers on player gender sparked some chatter last week. According to the ESA, 45% of all gamers are women. That percentage stays pretty much the same for the “most frequent video game purchasers,” of which women represent 46%.
Nothing too surprising, but there were two threads of discussion prompted by it. Some people were dismissive, claiming that most women gamers are “only” playing casual games (though the ESA stats make no mention of genre preferences by gender), and therefore aren’t a concern for most developers. There were also those who pointed out that ignoring 46% of steady purchasers is bad business, and mused over how best to cater to the female market.
Let me begin with a story. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of making a new friend. Games eventually entered into our conversation. She mentioned she was eager to try some, but had no idea where to start. We found a coffee shop, and as our drinks cooled, I began to suss out what she might like to play. Read more on The Mary Sue…
Last week, the Penny Arcade Report interviewed Jean-Max Morris, creative director of the upcoming female-led game Remember Me. After going into the game’s cyberpunk roots, Morris discussed the publishers who wanted nothing to do with a female protagonist. “We don’t want to publish it because that’s not going to succeed,” he paraphrased. “You can’t have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that.”
As the article made the rounds, I couldn’t help but notice what gamers were getting excited about elsewhere. Tomb Raider had just slipped to number two in the UK sales charts, after two weeks at number one. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm had already sold 1.1 million copies in its first two days. Indie developer Supergiant Games, the folks behind Bastion, announced their new action RPG, Transistor, which features a leading lady. Their booth enjoyed two hour lines at PAX all weekend. I’m told that the lines for Remember Me were comparable.
I don’t think it’s gamers who have a problem with female protagonists. Read more…