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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Games Industry Sex-Change?

BBC is reporting that the games industry will be invaded by women. Which sounds, you know, awesome. Invasions of women are a frequent dream of mine. But I still wonder when I read things like this:

"Women don't have free time even to set up a game. They require a game that is quick to get into and doesn't require a great time commitment," said Mr Adams, founder of the International Game Developers' Association. to the nature of the whole debate. I mean, women don't have free time to set up a game? What does that mean? Why would women have less time than myself (which, for the record ... is temporally impossible right now)? Because they have breasts? Or they are too busy doing chores? What's the assumption here about women that I'm missing? The Girl and I get about equal parts free console times these days. Most of the time we're playing together. Sure, I could see where maybe mothers don't have the free time to learn the intrinsics of a flight simulator, but I just don't get how free time is gender specific. Maybe they've got some statistics to show something somewhere, but I really think that if the industry goes with "girl games must be simple", they'll be disappointed.

This guy kinda scares me when he adds on:
"We are soon going to be seeing massively-multi-player online games that are dominated by female players," he said.

"Existing online role-playing games are succeeding with women in spite of their subject matter, not because of it. When we get more games whose gameplay genuinely appeals to female players, we can expect to see huge growth there," he said.

So, he feels women don't like the sci-fi, fantasy or military themes of existing MMO's and that they need something that's simple to setup and quick to play. Not sure where he's going with that. I do think we need more games like Puzzle Pirates, which they talk about briefly in the article. Puzzle games aren't just "female friendly", they're user friendly. Once you get the puzzle itself, you get the game. I wish the industry would think more about the genres they are trying to produce and less about the demographics they want to attract. Did Will Wright think about the Sims as "wow, I bet chicks will really dig this"? I doubt it.


Josh said...

In other news, I imagine "sea change" will be the funniest typo I read today.

Brinstar said...

You have no idea how much breasts slow down game installs -- drag, wind resistance -- complicated stuff, you know. This is why the invasion isn't going as quickly as originally envisioned.

Seriously, though, I can buy the "women have less time" argument for stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. I can also buy that argument for women who have hobbies that do not include games as first priority. Casual/non-gaming women already have loads of things to occupy themselves with (I think. Don't they?) without tacking on another hobby as well.

This quote: When we get more games whose gameplay genuinely appeals to female players, we can expect to see huge growth there," he said. -- is way off. It's doing a disservice to the women who play the games and "genuinely" enjoy the gameplay.

Josh said...

Agreed, Brin. I don't like the assumption that certain groups are keyed to certain kinds of gameplay. It annoys me when someone thinks statistics are mindreaders for a group and I think it's a poor way to design a game.

I guess I always scratch my head when someone says "We have found {women/men/midgets} {have/lack} {blue things/funny pants/stuffed animals}, so we're developing a {funny stuffed animal game just for midgets in serious pants}".

I guess the short version is - I would find it an interesting challenge to make a game my Mom would play. But I wouldn't want to try and make a game for mothers of a specific age group. Sure, a Barbie game is a no-brainer demographic hit for really young girls. But my niece plays GoldenEye dammit. And making a Barbie game is hardly pushing the industry forward.

cgray4 said...

So I agree with almost everything you have written on this subject. The only thing is: "sea change" is not a typo. m-w definition.