Women in Gaming

The Women in Gaming panel was lead by Mur Lafferty, the webmaster of the Rainbow 6 web site, and Damon Floyd, from gamegirlz.com. There is a general misconception that all gamers are adolescent boys who are geeky and awkward. That view ignores a growing portion of the gaming market, women.

The panel was a round table discussion about women in gaming. Those that attended are tired of seeing barely clad females portrayed as little more than set dressing or plot devices. They see the women in chain mail bikinis or other absurd costumes as a demonstration that a woman’s role isn’t a serious part of an adventuring group.

The participants have appreciated the chance to play female characters in computer games but there have been few games where women have been portrayed wearing armor or other sensible adventuring garb. One media figure that was mentioned was the character Trinty in “Matrix”. She kicked ass, was fully clothed, and didn’t have to get naked throughout the whole movie.

Women are more likely to be interested in Live Action Role Playing because it is social, whereas RPG’s tend to follow a narrow path and be more combat oriented though White Wolf is friendlier to women in their games. Something like Sailor Moon does very well but only with twelve and thirteen year old girls.

Some things women would like to see in games include having the goal as something aside from killing, having an option of all female parties, classes, or groups, and having female characters in realistic clothing with realistic figures. Some suggestions were made about voice, picture, and personality types using Baldur’s Gate as an example. Suggestions to the industry would be to show women in the ads as more than sex objects and in particular to show women playing games. One repeated sentiment was that sex doesn’t sell, quality does. Women will put up with the scantily clad women in order to play a really good game. One concern that was voiced was that if ‘games for women’ will hurt the gaming industry. No one wanted to see pink and purple games with no violence.

Ms. Lafferty was trying to get ads put in women’s magazines or focus on women in the industry. There are more women than the writers and game producers might think. She’d prefer to see more of an emphasis on plots and stories especially when they’re able to use problem solving and work with mysteries. She’d like to be able to identify with the main characters and have them fully clothed.

Katherine Anderson, a webmaster, said she generally plays science fiction and ‘World of Darkness games.’ She said that she would like to see games that show the border between the real world and the fantastic worlds like X-Files or Twin Peaks. She also wants to see more options such as in voice and pictures. She said that the best game she’s seen is Baldur’s Gate.

Linda Poore, an executive, said that she plays D&D and Changelings. She wants games that are more plot driven rather than encounter driven. The best games that she’s seen are Sierra games and Fantasmorgia. She enjoyed Fantasmorgia’s plot, but was disappointed that the character has to kill her husband to have success in the game.

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