Video game industry still doesn't understand women

Alison Carroll, the official Lara Croft model ...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read this article over on G4tv.com by Kevin Kelly titled “Sex in the City 2: Gaming with the Girls“. I think the article was aiming to be a list of games you can get your girlfriend, who is a Sex in the City fanatic (hence the title). The games listed in the article aren’t half bad, except for the “soulless” Imagine: Fashion Designer, and Kelly wrote the article in an attempt to be humorous but happened to fail miserably. I know I shouldn’t get offended at Kelly’s attempt at humor, but Kelly wrote in exactly the way the gaming industry views women, a view that is insanely offensive considering  we now make up more than 40% of the gaming population.

Any female I know that happens to like Sex in the City already plays video games. What video games do they play? At least some sort of web- based puzzle game when they are at work,  and another normal game on their Wii, Xbox, DS or PC. The rest of the women I know that like Sex in the City are 40 and above, and are already playing some Bejeweled-type game online, which is, surprise, also A PUZZLE GAME.

I don’t know why the gaming industry doesn’t look at the data, see what is working with women, and just expand on that. I don’t know why the gaming industry continues to think all females are just shallow consumers and therefore only like video games that center on consuming. The Great Recession has not gone away, and by some standards ( especially if you talk to someone from the DIY movement) consumerism as we once knew it is dead.  Do video game execs even do market research? If so, who are the ladies they are choosing for their research? Malibu Barbies?

Besides puzzle games and the obvious simulators, women like characters, and they like role-playing. It is surprising to hear that many women play World of Warcraft?  Or City of Heroes? It shouldn’t be. Women like story lines just as much as any man. It might not be obvious for some, but any game that allows women to play as a woman tends to do better with women.  Take Lara Croft, from the Tomb Raider series. Sure, her breast size and body can make ladies feel bad about themselves, but at least she is a woman, which is why women like the Tomb Raider series. It is that simple. We don’t need fashion video games, we need more strong female characters we can play as.

Women have always been short-changed when it comes to video games. One of the most insulting moments in my gaming life was when I realized Lucas Arts didn’t flesh out a romantic story line for the female character in KOTOR, like they did for the male. There was no kick-ass male equivalent to Bastila –  just the whiny scaredy-cat Carth as  my only male option (the lesbain romance is just one line).  Just thinking about Carth today makes me shudder. Why would I, a video gaming female, be attracted to the likes of a Carth? Gender role reversal is one thing, but Carth is something else.

A more recent example:  I just downloaded Tropico 3 (an excellent game where you design a fascist or communist state in the Caribbean) and lo and behold, if I played as a male, I had numerous clothing options, but if I played as a female, I had only 4 (and only 2 of those were actually workable). I had only 4 hair cuts, 4 pairs of earrings, 4 hats to choose from. Really, Kalypso Media? You know that this is a simulator, and therefore will do well with the ladies. So why would you not make more clothing options for us, when you know that part of any game tickles us pink? Tropico 3, why would you insult me like that?

Thankfully, some video game companies are somewhat aware of women liking to play as strong women, and have begun providing strong female characters women can play as. The most recent example is the women of Red Dead Redemption (a game I will definitely be purchasing when the price lowers).

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8 Comments on “Video game industry still doesn't understand women”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lester Macintyre and Lester Macintyre, Fruzsina Eordogh. Fruzsina Eordogh said: RT @trueslant Video game industry still doesn’t understand women – Fruzsina Eordogh http://bit.ly/apxpat […]

  2. some1 says:

    Is someone pointing a gun at you and forcing you to play barbie and shopping simulators, instead of World of Warcraft? Do you see me complaining that the industry is not taking me seriously as a man because they assume I would want to play racing and sports games (I simply don’t play them)? Also, if barbie and shopping simulators keep getting made it must mean that they are selling well enough, which in turn means that there are girls and women buying them. Whether you like it or not.

    You want the industry to specifically target women, but when they make Fashion Designer you complain that it’s demeaning and stupid. You then eventually work your way towards the conclusion that women apparently play the same games as men do, which means that any attempt by the industry to specifically target women will be either a failure or redundant. Unless you mean to say that games like World of Warcraft should be aimed at women only. Which would be idiotic.

    You were “insulted” by KotOR because you’re a garden variety feminist always looking for an opportunity to martyr herself and get outraged about something. Case in point: Mass Effect 2 (by the same developers) has three romance options for both genders, but this was not enough for feminists and their cohorts because none of those options are homosexual. And you were insulted by KotOR because the female romance option wasn’t in line with your personal preferences. As if BioWare exists only to cater to your sensibilities.

    And next up on your feminist outrage to-do list is Tropico 3, because the female avatar (apparently) has less customization options than the male one. Which of course means that the developers intentionally set out to insult women. Had they not included a female option at all, you would have of course complained about that as well. But they did include one, so now you complain that you don’t have enough customization options. If they had included a 1:1 ratio of options for both genders, you would have simply complained about something else. You already mentioned that some of Tropico 3’s clothing options did not satisfy your stringent requirements (as if the developer was making the game specifically for you).

    It’s also funny that in the beginning of the article you condemn games like Fashion Designer, but now you assert that what women are looking for in a game is the ability to play dress-up. And since when have simulators and strategy games done well with women? They are clearly far more popular with men.

    Also, sorry to break this to you but you don’t play as a female character in RDR. I guess you won’t be buying it now (I, on the other hand, have had absolutely no problems with playing games that only feature a female player character).

    • Fruzsina Eordogh says:

      LOL! to everything you wrote.

      As for who’s buying these stereotypical female games, well, it’s mostly parents for their little girls, because they don’t know any better. And why is that a problem? I refer you to this SMBC comic:
      http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1883

      • some1 says:

        You pretend to be lolling because you can’t come up with a real response.

        Even assuming that “stereotypical female games” only sell because clueless parents buy them, they’re still selling. I doubt publishers care who’s buying their games and why.

        Also, that comic is nonsense. There are relatively few female engineers because by and large women just aren’t interested in engineering.

      • Fruzsina Eordogh says:

        Maybe I can’t justify responding to your long comment because you seem to be attacking me personally, and not what I’ve written, like a troll. You assume things, like I would be morally outraged by the Mass Effect romances because there is no homosexual storyline, but I don’t give a shit about that. Woot. They finally made romances for females! Many games are making romances for women! One step at a time….

        And while True/Slant fosters communication between commentors and contributors, you haven’t provided me with a real name, so I see no problem being flippant, or disrespectful with you.

        You throw the “feminist” word around as if its a bad thing, because you don’t like equality for some reason? You also seem to have forgotten that women were only granted the right to vote a hundred years ago, and we still haven’t had a female president since then? Look at the burka muslim women have to wear. Are you denying man’s sexual weakness for women (which in turn keeps women from being educated, independent, or autonomous)?

        If you are blind to the fact that the male population of our modern society has latched onto video games for the very obvious reason that men made these games ( men make fancy toys for men), then how can I convince you of my point? Do you think that half of the gaming developers are women, but they refuse to show penises, only boobs, in games?

        As for SMBC being shit, no, sorry, it talks about how we educate our genders differently. Maybe there aren’t women interested in engineering because they weren’t exposed to those ideas. And my childhood friend is an engineer who went to MIT. So surprise! Female engineers do exist, even though you don’t want them to.

        Maybe telling ladies that it is ok to be stupid as long as you’re pretty isn’t the way to go. We should be educating our entire population the same way, because how else can we do things that would qualify us as an advanced civilization, if only half the population is educated enough to deal with problems?

        And who doesn’t like customizing their avatar?

      • some1 says:

        With regards to Mass Effect, I was talking about feminists in general. I brought it up to illustrate my point that feminists will always find something to complain about, and are satisfied by nothing. BioWare did not “finally” start doing romances for female characters, because they already had them in Baldur’s Gate II, almost a decade ago. Fallout 2 allowed you to marry a male or female character regardless of your character’s gender. That was in 1998.

        “You throw the “feminist” word around as if its a bad thing, because you don’t like equality for some reason?”

        Feminism has nothing at all to do with equality.

        “You also seem to have forgotten that women were only granted the right to vote a hundred years ago, and we still haven’t had a female president since then?”

        As if people should elect a female president just for the sake of having one, or because being POTUS is some ceremonial position that has to be given to a representative of each gender and every ethnic group. As if there haven’t been plenty of female heads of state in other countries already (not to mention that women have served in high level political position in the US: the current Secretary of State is a woman, and so was her predecessor. Then there was Madeleine Albright). Considering the different inclinations of men and women and the statistical likelyhood of being elected head of state, it’s not a big suprise that relatively few women have held that position. If you were serious about equality, you would only care about having the most competent leader, regardless of gender.

        “Look at the burka muslim women have to wear.”

        Look at all the feminists who don’t give a shit. Muslim women are of no consequence to them, and going against Islam would be a) politically incorrect and b) far too dangerous.

        “If you are blind to the fact that the male population of our modern society has latched onto video games for the very obvious reason that men made these games ( men make fancy toys for men), then how can I convince you of my point? Do you think that half of the gaming developers are women, but they refuse to show penises, only boobs, in games?”

        I have no idea what this means.

        “As for SMBC being shit, no, sorry, it talks about how we educate our genders differently. Maybe there aren’t women interested in engineering because they weren’t exposed to those ideas. And my childhood friend is an engineer who went to MIT. So surprise! Female engineers do exist, even though you don’t want them to.”

        You know what’s REALLY typical for women? They think a single exception is enough to invalidate ANY rule or generalization. Your friend went to MIT, ergo women are as interested in engineering as men are! Any woman who fails that hard at logic should not consider a career in engineering or science.

        Feminism has penetrated every level of society. You cannot go online, read a newspaper or turn on the television without immediately being up to your ass in feminist ideology and propaganda. The feminists of the sixties and seventies are now mothers and grandmothers (assuming they didn’t renounce childbirth as a tool of patriarchal oppression), so their children should be highly indoctrinated. Television shows and movies portray women as being just as capable as men in any endeavor, if not more so (e.g. the competent action girl and her bumbling, comic relief male sidekick, or the wife and her incompetent and lazy husband). It is hammered into everyone’s brain that men and women are the same in every imaginable way (several feminist have told me, in all seriousness and with the silent approval of many other feminists, that men and women have no size or strength differences). The desire for “diversity” has also reached a fever pitch, and everyone wants more women everywhere, even if it means enacting laws to that effect.

        And yet women are not beating a path to the university’s engineering department. Since the theory of feminism dictates that men and women naturally have exactly the same inclinations, this lack of female engineers must be explained somehow. Sure enough, it turns out that if a girl isn’t told to become an engineer, her uncle’s friend’s brother once said that girls can’t be engineers, and there isn’t engineering education specifically tailored for women, she can’t possibly become an engineer. The circumstances must be perfect, and then a pumpkin carriage must arrive and whisk her away to engineering school, while someone points a gun to her head. Only then can she become an engineer. Maybe.

        Meanwhile on planet Earth, women don’t study engineering, math and hard sciences because they just aren’t interested. Men and women are biologically different. The end.

        Also, do you know about Grace Hopper? She was born in 1906 and got a master’s degree in physics and a Ph.D in mathematics. She joined the Navy and became a notable pioneer in computer science. She retired as a Rear Admiral (Lower Half), received a Defense Distinguished Service Medal and had a ship named after her. Fast forward to the 21st century and we’ve got women crying that they can’t be computer scientists even though they have every conceivable advantage and live in a society dominated by feminism. They are spoiled crybabies wallowing in victimhood and blaming their own shortcomings on everyone except themselves.

        “We should be educating our entire population the same way, because how else can we do things that would qualify us as an advanced civilization, if only half the population is educated enough to deal with problems?”

        Girls get the same education as boys. Or actually, that isn’t quite true: it has become a growing issue that schools are geared more towards girls, causing problems for boys. Also, humanity had no trouble advancing to its current state with almost no help from women, and even today it’s men that do the majority of the heavy lifting.

        Everyone likes customizing avatars, but you first attacked barbie sims and then said that Tropico 3 should have had more customization options because that’s what women look for, even in a strategy game.

  3. […] Video game industry still doesn't understand women – Fruzsina … […]

  4. […] Video game industry still doesn't understand women – Fruzsina … […]


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