Two things I hear from my gaming male friends often are “I can’t find a girl that games!” and “How can I get my girlfriend to play video games?”. Steam is currently having a huge blow-out sale on hundreds of video games for the Mac/PC until July 4th, and with prices cheaper than a trip to the movies, there is no better time to get your lady a video game.
I’ve compiled a list of games the ladies would enjoy despite being unfamiliar with the whole video game genre. These are also the best of the cheapest, because when a game is less than $10, how can your girlfriend get turned off by the price?
In order of ascending difficulty:
1. Osmos, for $4.99
This game is the exact opposite of those “damn noisy shooters” you like to play and is perfect for the lady who has limited to no experience with video games. As the above video demonstrates, this game is as close to a yoga session for your brain as it gets. You have to be patient, flying through space in your quest to eat other orbs. The saying “Good things come to those who wait” is applicable in describing Osmos game play. You have to stay calm and move slowly, or risk colliding into a bigger orb that will eat you. Despite this games simplicity, the levels do get a bit harder as you progress through the game; there is some sort of challenge (I moved too fast and flew into the sun a couple of times).
You can play Osmos for as short increments of time as 5 minutes (a level), and feel satisfied.
2. Blueberry Garden, for $4.99:
If you’re looking to get out of seeing another bizarre European indie film, get your gal this game instead. Designed by a Swede, this beautiful and quirky game reminds me more of an interactive art piece than a video game. Don’t be fooled: there is a goal in this game, not made evident by the above trailer. If Ebert played this game he would give up his silly notion that video games are not an art form. Bobbie Johnson, from the UK Guardian, described this game as ” a dainty piece of indie magic”: “I almost wanted to put it in a ribbon-wrapped box with a kitten and cry a little”.
Blueberry Garden is more fast paced than Osmos and Machinarium.
Naming the most public female representatives of geek (or “nerd”, what ever word you prefer) culture is easy: Olivia Munn from G4TV’s “Attack of the Show“, Jessica Chobot from IGN, and Felicia Day from The Guild. All three ladies are excellent in pandering to their horny male fan base, and each of these ladies can attribute their success on their attractiveness (yes, they are smart too, but we’ll get to that later). If you’ve got it, flaunt it right?
Olivia Munn had a few bit parts as an actress in various TV shows before she was signed on to “Attack of the Show” , and her “tasteful” appearance in Play Boy, combined with her dressing up as slave Leia, cemented her status as one of the hottest geeky girls. Munn has admitted video games are her weak point, but no one has called her a faker yet, and she hasn’t received any backlash for it (unlike former youtube sensation ultraneko). Munn just tried out for The Daily Show, did an excellent job, and judging by her performance she is also bilingual, so that makes her a favorite in my book.
Jessica Chobot’s rise to fame is based exclusively on a picture of her licking a PSP. The picture made the rounds on the internet, and Jessica Chobot was hired by IGN to be their female host for their web-based “IGN Daily Fix“. I want to dislike her, because licking a gaming console is so easy, but Jessica Chobot likes manga and anime, plays PC games with a headset, writes on the show she hosts, and a recent tweet reveals she likes Mark Twain, so all is forgiven, Jessica.
There is a popular image up on reddit as I type this, discussing the perceived snobbery PC gamers have towards console gamers. You can find the pros and cons for each gaming system in the comments, and the conversation has been enlightening.
What I believe to be the biggest reason for all the animosity is the age difference, though no “redditer” has explicitly mentioned this. Console gamers are younger, and more prone to freaking out if they hear a female gamer or a male that sounds gay. Console gamers are also more likely to shout profanities, behave like bigots or put up porn as their sprays, because, they are after all only 14. Why would someone in their 20’s want to subject themselves to such foolish behavior? My experience with Xbox Live has been brief, and to all the girls that do speak into their mics, I commend you, and don’t know how you do it with out a voice changer.
Reddit user beatnik11 touched on my point:
There is no denying that there are idiots and assholes who are PC gamers, but on a whole its far far far worse on console games. Really, just step into xbox live and play some MW or Halo and before you blink you are going to start hearing little kids act out the worst 4chan has to offer, but instead of being just normal people who are trolling for fun, these kids really are a cancer and are not mature enough to understand the value of respect.
I think being a PC gamer and knowing how to connect more than 4 wires and understanding what is in your machine tends to lead those who are older and more mature and these sorts of people are much more enjoyable to play with. I can go on TF2 [Team Fortress 2] all day long and never have to experience some 14 year old who thinks they are edgy and cool being a racist misogynistic bigot, got on MW2 [Modern Warfare 2] however and its a different story.
Games have been around since the 80’s, so is it really that surprising that the “aging” gaming population spends more time on their PCs? “Grown-ups” already have a computer, so why shell out additional money for a console when you don’t have to? Every time I got a console, I got it as a gift, and I assume many Xbox Live or PS3 boys and girls also received their systems as gifts.
So, when did it become a crime to play with my age group?
Online gamers know what happens when a female (or a dude pretending to be female) joins a match. Every sex-starved dude pounces on her like a dog in heat. She doesn’t even need to speak if her handle contains words like “chick” or “lady”. You can guarantee that at least one tongue-wagging guy will flood her inbox with messages or attempt to
harassflirt his way into her heart, completely unaware that she’s probably a hideous monster. On that note, it’s tough competing with all that testosterone, and even tougher finding a hot gamer girl, but that’s about to change, courtesy of GameCrush, the world’s first website that hooks you up with hotties who can handle two analog sticks at the same time
This news is ridiculously apt, considering my latest post on gender issues in video games…
On one hand, this sounds like a great way to make some extra cash if you are an attractive lady, but at the same time, it doesn’t really help with the whole “women aren’t respected in the gaming industry” bit. Hmm…. 30 dollars an hour? Tempting, but I must remain strong on principle…
After a session you can rate your PlayDate on her hotness, gaming skill, and flirtiness. The highest-rated girls will receive preferred placement on the site. GameCrush is assembling a team of its most highly regarded PlayDates called JaneCrush, which should be similar to Ubisoft’s Fragdolls. Members of JaneCrush will generate content for the site like blogs and editorials. GameCrush wants to turn its most popular girls into gaming stars.
This newest development might as well say “only sexy ladies (or those that pretend to put out) have a place in the gaming industry”! And GameCrush wants to be like Ubisoft’s Frag Dolls? Please. The Frag Dolls are normal, respectable ladies that did not start out on some sleazy pay-to-play chat-roulette style game site. I don’t know who is being exploited here, the ladies, or the “sex-starved” males that would fork over cash…
Also, why isn’t there a website like this for girl gamers? I mean, there are some really atrocious looking male gamers and I would love to play with some attractive males. Oh wait, I almost forgot, they wouldn’t make a site like this for women, because women aren’t that desperate-
Or maybe I am overreacting, and this will be the newest way for gamers to meet each other… What happened to the good ol’ fashioned way of falling in love with one another over the internet before you saw each others faces…. : /
I read Katharine Fletcher’s piece “Confessions of a Call of Duty girl: Women in Games today” with my usual omg-article-about-girl-gaming zeal. Fletcher’s piece was interesting for a couple of reasons:
First, Fletcher admits that she probably got her job because she was female, and that is perfectly acceptable, and understandable in the gaming industry. If you have been reading my blog, you should all know that women gamers make up about 40% of the gaming population (includes casual gamers), yet we are severely under represented, and if we are represented, it is in an overtly sexual way. Case in point, Fletcher mentions Alex Sim- Wise, the NSFW model and game columnist. While I am not saying she should not take her clothes off to make more money off horny virgin males, it doesn’t really help us gamer ladies be taken seriously. And, her nakedness, while strictly meant for the males, is potentially a big turn off for women who might be interested in gaming. That’s just my “feminist” two- cents popping out to say hello…. and this video below, narrated by a male, says everything I could possibly say on the subject.
Second, when talking about the cancellation of Women In Games, Fletcher wonders why the conference couldn’t sell enough tickets. I never even heard about the Women In Games conference until news broke that it was canceled this year. Ouch. Well, gaming media is male dominated, and I don’t see much effort being put by the gaming media to reach out to women, so the fact that I never heard about the conference isn’t a surprise.
Could it be that, as with third-wave feminism, the embracing of diversity of viewpoints and lack of a single unified cause is harder to promote?
Third, I wonder if the apathetic attitudes and the mis-notion of feminism as being about women over men and not about equals is a British issue, because the ladies over here in America just want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I don’t think the goal of gender blindness is reasonable, because let’s face, we’re all animals at heart, all motivated by sex. Mutual respect should be our the top priority, but we’re a long way from that….
When it comes to women in the gaming industry, sexually charged conversation is the dominate voice. When male gamers ask to see your boobs, or why you don’t have a sexy picture of yourself as your avatar, they do it because they don’t respect you as a person, and view you as a sexual piece of meat, even if they won’t consciously admit this. But hey, those males don’t know any better, because there aren’t other opinions or behaviors in that subculture, right? Have they been conditioned to behave this way?
I agree with Fletcher wholeheartedly, the more voices in gaming, about gaming, the better. I would think the notion of “many voices” would be easier to promote….