Women, on both sides of the screen
Note: Written in 2008, it’s fun to look back at my own naive expectations and all I didn’t know that I didn’t know back then.
Is there a correlation between more female developers leading to more female gamers?
It’s a bit the question of the chicken and the egg. Who was there first? We know for sure the first developers were men, so some women had to take interest in games anyway in the first place. Clearly, there were few, but we’ve reached a stage where there’s enough for some of them to take interest in development.
Those maybe have a better idea of what girls would like. But let’s have a look at what the situation is, that will tell us more.
What was playable back when men ruled the world of games (we’ll suppose it’s not the case anymore). Platform / arcade games, point and clicks, funny adventures at first. Then came action, strategy games, races, and shooters. all in all, all vareties of games that exist now have been explored; some persisted, others declined. Nowadays, there a typical “girls games”, in patticular for little girls. To put it simple, in a charicatural way, we’ll sum them up under the terms “fairies and caring”. By that, i mean adventures in which you experience a fairy tale, often licenced (like the anorexic doll, as a random example) and tamagoshi-like, in which you have to take care of animals. we’ll skip the cooking games.
Are those games made by women? or are they made by men who want to build up a larger clientele? As it seems, games that girls like are 2D platform/arcade games and adventure games (because they’re not at ease in 3 dimentionnal environments, makes you wonder how they handle real life). But those genres exist for long. The reason why girls didn’t play so far, has to be seeked elsewhere. the answer lies in teh technology that game require: computer science and coding are more male leisures. that was until the revolution of msn and online shopping.
Since computers became a mean of communication rather than isolation (which is, in fact, wrong, if you take a closer look at the topic), girls got their hands on computers, more and more. This results naturally in more female gamers, from the girls pro teams to point and click fans and nintencatz kiddie addicts.
Back to the question: will more female developpers lead to more female gamers? my answer is: it’s a stupid question. More girls are taking interest in games, and like boys, they will at some point think : “this is awesome” or “this idea is stupid, even i could do better”, and will eventually want to make a “game like GTA but better” – or in our case, a “game like alexandra lederman but better” :p. Some of them will maybe go further in their idea and will make amateur games, or eventually study computer arts and will end up in the industry.
But what will change is not the games, it’s the game making. Development studios will be more appealing as workplaces for girls, if they know they won’t be the only woman surrounded by a bunch of frustrated IT guys – which they’re mostly not, but it’s easy to imagine them like that. And if a women reaches a high enough job to actually have an influence on the industry, it won’t be because she’s a girl, but because she is talented. The same way, it will not necessarily be by some innovation that will invite girls to play more games, just have a look at Brenda Brathwaite who wants more sex in games (hah ill have a lot of readers on this one, i talked about sex ^^) In the end, the rucus about women making games is more something to turn on male players: Remember Jade Raymond, producer of assassin’s creed? A beautifull woman gamer, smart and making games. Definitely not something that girls care much about, or will make Assassin’s Creed more of a girlz game.