Women gamers

Why Marketers Fear The Female Geek

Here is the reasoning, that drive execs and marketers to pro-actively exclude women from their audiences and to pro-actively encourage a culture in which women do not feel welcome. This is why we can’t have nice things… or can we?

This is an excellent piece, by someone inside the industry, outlining quite clearly how and why so many games all but refuse to acknowledge women gamers even exist.

And it really is tough sometimes, in games. Perfectly good, reasonable people just succumb to the prevailing wisdom, feeling helpless. I’ve written female characters in games with attitude and agency, then been required to tone it down for fear of offending male players.

In one (unreleased) game, I was told to change a cut scene because “the woman NPC can’t try to save herself, the male PC must save her.” And the number of times I’ve had to remove snarky comebacks from a female NPC (“the player won’t be attracted to her”), I can’t even count.

And these were not horrible, raging sexists. But they were following market wisdom, doing what they knew publishers would require of them.

(I should add that these are all AAA games I’m talking about. The indie/mobile space I’ve worked in is so, so much more progressive.)

(Also saddening: almost exactly the same reasoning applies to the comic market’s obsession with superheroes.)

Anyway. Great article, well worth a read.

Adult women are now the largest demographic in gaming
It's time to flush your stereotypes down the drain.

“Congratulations, gamer girls—you’re officially at the top of the food chain when it comes to games. A new study released by the Entertainment Software Association has revealed that adult women now occupy the largest demographic in the gaming industry. Women over 18 made up a whopping 36 percent of the gaming population, followed by adult men at 35 percent.

Teenage boys, who are often stereotyped as the biggest gamers, now lag far behind their older female counterparts, making up just 17 percent of the gaming demographic.

The picture that emerges from the study is one of expansion across the board. More people are playing more games of various genres across more platforms, with social games on mobile and casual games on PCs emerging as huge leaders.

All of that means that stereotypes are breaking fast in the gaming industry, particularly the longheld stereotype of the adult woman as an outlier who sticks to mobile games and “social” games on Facebook while the more hardcore gamer, the “serious” (male) gamer, goes for console games.

Though this stereotype has long persisted, and even been used as a hiring tactic, the new data suggests there’s little if any truth to it—especially not when you consider that the average adult woman has been gaming for 13 years.

And while the total audience for mobile social games is now bigger than ever, the audience for computer and video games is now an even 50-50 split between male and female genders.”

Read the full piece here

Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers (2016) 

“Chainmail Bikini is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers! Forty cartoonists have contributed comics about the games they’re passionate about—from video games to tabletop role-playing to collectible card games. The comics in Chainmail Bikini explore the real-life impact of entering a fantasy world, and how games can connect us with each other and teach us about ourselves.

Alliances are forged, dice get rolled, and dragons get slain! Chainmail Bikini shows that while women are not always the target market for gaming, they are a vital and thoroughly engaged part of it, and are eager to express their personal take as players, makers, and critics of games.

Chainmail Bikini is edited by Hazel Newlevant (If This Be Sin), and features a cover illustration by Hellen Jo and comics by established talents and rising stars including Annie Mok, Jane Mai, Molly Ostertag, MK Reed, and Sophie Yanow.”

Get it now here

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Medievalpoc, in the face of harassment, states the position of the *ahem* "opposition"

Apparently, answering a question that someone asked me about a video game project on kickstarter is a big, scary no-no among certain fringe contingents of the internet.

I will make their argument clear-no people of color of ANY kind in 15th century Bohemia!!! (If you read the link above, you can see screencapped replies from the game developers themselves-all “ethnicities” were excluded.) Therefore, everyone in their game can, and apparently, SHOULD be what we would consider “white” today.

Here is a fairly salient passage that was apparently beyond the reaches of those crying “debunkery!”:

Although many of these Bohemian images seem to reproduce or extend external approaches first developed at the time of the Hohenstaufen, in one respect there is a substantial difference in these two eras. There is no evidence of the actual presence of black people of African descent at the court of Charles IV or in Bohemia. Instead, part of the appeal for Charles, and for Bohemian artists and audiences, may have rested in the notion that the Czechs, like the Ethiopians, were a group on the edge of the Christian world. The fair skin and golden hair of the Czechs, emphasized by Giovanni dei Marignolli, one of Charles’ court intellectuals, may have been seen as defining one extreme of human beauty, just as the Black Ethiopians represented the other extreme.

The Image of the Black in Western Art v. II Part II: From the Early Christian Era to the Age of Discovery; From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood by Bindman, Gates, and Dalton, p. 19.

This seems to support the concept of an all-white Medieval Bohemia pretty strongly! Let’s explore this, especially in light of the CONTRAST made in the above passage, that in that court there was no evidence of Black people, while in another previous court in the Holy Roman Empire, there WAS.

The House of Hohenstaufen, mentioned above, were a dynasty of German/Holy Roman Empire rulers who conquered areas of Sicily and surrounding areas, specifically, a great deal of “Black Moslems”. This major shift in demographics and the way that it was represented in Hohenstaufen imagery is detailed and explored in Black Africans in Hohenstaufen Iconography by Paul H.D. Kaplan (Wake Forest University). <–that’s behind a JSTOR paywall, but you can read the first page at the link which gives a decent abstract.

But you can also see that the influx of immigrants from Germany, which I already mentioned before in this source [ Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c. 900-c. 1300 by Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, Przemysław Wiszewski, Chapter 5: Society and Economy (p. 250), and Chapter 7: New developments of the 13th Century (The Mongol Invasion; p. 244).], would have probably changed the ethnic or “racial” makeup of Bohemia and central Europe significantly at that time. This influx was so massive they actually referred to it as “proto-colonization”, as I frigging mentioned before.

The German influence on Bohemia continued into later centuries, even after the waxing (and waning) of French influence on art and culture.

Although in many things, Charles of Bohemia followed his the example of his uncle, Charles V of France, in this instance he broke with French tradition, which had always depicted Saint Maurice as white; at Karlstejn the Magdeburg model was adopted. To decorate the chapel, Charles IV called upon a painter named Theodoric, who may have come from western Europe but was steeped in local tradition.[…]Probably painted before 1367, Maurice is a Black man characterized not only by color but by the hair and facial traits; he carries the sword, the banner, and the shield with heraldic bearings. So far as we know, this was the first picture of the martyr of Aguanum painted on a panel, and like the Magdeburg statue, it was a brilliant stroke.

The Image of the Black in Western Art v. II Part II: From the Early Christian Era to the Age of Discovery; From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood by Bindman,Gates, and Dalton, p. 155.

Here’s an example of some of the Bohemian art influenced directly by images out of Germany, specifically in the style of images from Madgeburg, which made a rather large impression on the Bohemian gentry and royalty:

Enameled glass feat. Saint Maurice w/ armorial bearings of Magdeburg, Bohemia, 1568.

These disturbances and their influence on art and culture are corroborated and documented in Kymberly N. Pinder’s Race-ing Art History: Critical Reading in Race and Art History p. 44; 59 (Article by Jean Devisse; originally published in Image of the Black in Western Art, but more is visible/accessible in the preview ebook)

Now, does this necessarily mean “Medieval Bohemia was full of Black Moslems”?

No, not particularly. But it *does* allow for their presence. And that’s what I’m doing here: I’m opening doors instead of closing them.

As for the Mongolian invasions, Here’s a bit more on the History of the Battle of Legnica from The Mongol Conquests in World History by Timothy May p. 47-48:

ANYway. Toward the end of the Empire, cities like Karakorum (the capital in the 13th century) became hubs of trade and wealth from all over Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. As described by Timothy May (p. 114-115):

Here you can read the full account of William of Rubruck (a Flemish man, who lived farther away by a good deal than Bohemia) and his opinions about Karakorum, and the people who lived and/or traded there.

If you want accounts that connect Bohemia and the Silk road as well as Medieval intercontinental travel, here’s some bits and bobs which spent centuries apparently ignored for whatever reason:

Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, tr. and ed., Cathay and the Way Thither, Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, III (London, 1916; repr. 1998), 209-269, preceded by a useful introduction, 177-207.

^ That’s a primary source, so it ban be a bit thick. But the best part? This is the account of Giovanni (John) dei Marginolli, the “court intellectual” of Charles IV mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.

There is more evidence about Central Europe and other regions, including massive movements of various people, at the Fordham University Internet Medieval History Sourcebook.

There’s also the connection between the Duchy of Bohemia and the Byzantine Empire, which is full of rather intricate and confusing politics but forms another connection: that of any empire with travel, movements of the population, assimilation AND diversity. It’s another open door, rather than a closed one.

Now, every last person who reads this can feel free to disagree with it, ignore it, or choose to ally themselves with other sources that state THEIR position more to their satisfaction. As I have said over and over again, there is evidence, and there are interpretations.

The creators of the game have made it their prerogative to exclude any people of color whatsoever from their video game. And guess what? They can do that. Their game is already funded. I assume it will, in fact, be made. And I’m sure many of the white men who funded it will enjoy playing it very much. As for women and/or people of color, maybe not so much.

Playable female characters are optional and less important than two different types of music for the game; people of color have been purposely excluded. I’m not making that up, that’s all right there for anyone to look at, from the developers themselves.

The only thing that seems to be under debate is whether or not this exclusion is “historically accurate” or not. The problem is that apparently this is perceived as something that would absolve the game developers and their choices, which it was never meant to be. This blog was created as a frame to work from to counteract assumptions, namely that “historical accuracy” absolves anyone creating media that is all-white, for whatever reasons given.

Read these, or don’t. Play the game, or don’t.

But this entire conversation, the reaction of the developers, my response, and its subsequent backlash just go to show that perhaps this game was only meant for white men to play and enjoy. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way. But I don’t know, the message seems pretty clear: stay out of “our” history, stay out of our Middle ages, stay out of our game.

Men who harass women online are quite literally losers, new study finds

“Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, respectively…watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.”

Read the full piece here

The Chainmail Bikini Kickstarter is live!!!

Chainmail Bikini is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers! 40 cartoonists have contributed comics about the games they’re passionate about—from video games to table-top role-playing to collectible card games. We’re using Kickstarter to raise the money to print Chainmail Bikini as a 200+ page perfect-bound book, and reward the artists.

Chainmail Bikini is edited by Hazel Newlevant, and features comics by exciting talents like Molly Ostertag, Yao Xiao, Annie Mok, Jane Mai, Mia Schwartz, and Carey Peitsch, and groundbreaking game developers anna anthropy and merritt kopas.

For a complete list of contributors, check out the Kickstarter page. If you can’t donate, a reblog or retweet helps! THANK YOU!

The Maggie Test for Video Games

To pass the Maggie test a video game must have:

  1. a playable female character
  2. which is available to play right away, and not as a special bonus feature

In a previous post, I alluded to this video game corollary to the Bechdel test. We talked about it a bit and my friend agreed to let me use her name to name the test she invented. Like the Bechdel test for movies, the Maggie test for video games doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to pass.

It’s a simple test that starts the conversation about the representation of female characters in games. Pass it on, and let’s raise some consciousness.

Women in Gaming

Stop talking about Anita Sarkeesian. Stop talking about Zoe Quinn. Let’s talk about some actual women in the gaming community that bridge the gap without being controversial. This list includes players, developers, and any woman related to the gaming community.

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn - Competitive Gaming (Starcraft II)

Sasha Hostyn (Scarlett) is a competitive gamer on the Starcraft II seen. She’s well known for managing to best high-tier Korean players in competition. She was deemed champion of the Red Bull Battle Grounds tournament in the North America region in the 2014 Summer championship. Sasha is also one of the few well known transgender female players in the competitive community.

Kellee Santiago - Developer

Kellee Santiago is a video game developer, a cofounder of Thatgamecompany, and has worked on several well known console games such as FlowerBraid, and Journey. Kellee was a primary developer of the game Flower which was ranked one of the top 10 Playstation games for two years running. 

iHasCupquake Let’s Player

iHasCupquake is a female Let’s Player with a focus on Minecraft and assorted indie games. She also implements baking into her videos. She is one of the first female Let’s Players to break 1,000,000 followers. 

Carol Shaw - Developer

Credited as one of the first female game developers, Carol Shaw worked on several Activision titles and later Intellivision. She worked on such titles as Polo and River Raid. She’s considered a pioneer for women in gaming.

Mary Demarle Writer

Mary Demarle was one of the co-writers of the acclaimed Deux Ex as well as Myst. Demarle also worked in design and story development, and has conducted interviews on the complex ethical questions in the Deus Ex

Barabra Dunkelman and Lindsay Jones - Entertainers

(Pictured from left to right: Lindsay Jones, Michael Jones, Gavin Free, Barabra Dunkelman). Employees of the highly popular video game themed entertainment channel Rooster Teeth, Barabra Dunkelman and Lindsay Jones are among the most present women on the team. Dunkelman is present in many of RT’s podcasts and skits, and Lindsay Jones Tuggey was the first woman to be considered a member of the Achievement Hunters. They also are both voices in Rooster Teeth’s short series RWBY. 

Kiki Wolfkill - Producer

Kiki Wolfkill, aside from winning the award for “Most Metal Name of Any Game Producer Ever” is a executive producer behind the wildly popular Halo 4. Wolfkill has also worked on other famous titles such as FableGears of War, and Mass Effect.

Rieko Kodama - Designer (submitted by lumforjustice)

This wonderful lady has worked on multiple games with SEGA. Most notably is a game she made herself; Phantasy Star. She also continues to work on the PS series.

Rinmaru - Developer (submitted by lumforjustice)

As a hobbyist, Rinmaru does not directly work within the gaming industry, but she does make her own dress up games on her website. Other than dress up games (and this is the important part!), she has made a visual novel called “Ascension”, which you can play the first chapter here. Right now, she is making a sequel to Ascension called “Ascension: Echoes in the Dark,” and RPG-style game. Unlike the first Ascension, you’ll have to pay for this one. So, I suggest you buy Ascension ETD when it comes out!

Tsunako - Character Designer (submitted by lumforjustice)

Tsunako is best known for her character designs for Date a Live, as well as the character designs and illustrations in Hyperdimension Neptunia.

Christie Golden - Writer (submitted by cyadine)

Writer of many Starcraft and World of Warcraft books - Her books cover so much of the story that is left out of the games and gives so much rich history! Also a writer for few Star Trek and Star Wars books.

Kayo “Kayo Police” Satoh - Competitive Gaming (submitted by she-who-defied-fate)

Kayo Satoh is a transgender model, TV personality and competitive Street Fighter player. She wrote a book about her experiences as a transgender youth called Re-Born. She’s become well known for defeating some of the best SF players in Japan.

Soyo Oka - Composer (submitted by thatspazinthehoodie)

Soyo Oka worked as a musical composer for Nintendo from 1987-95 on games like Ice Hockey, Pilotwings, Super Mario Kart and Wario’s Woods.

Kim Swift - Designer (submitted by thatspazinthehoodie)

As a graduate of Gigipen, Kim Swift and her team developed Narbacular Drop, the portal based game which would lead to her being hired by Valve and creating Portal. Swift was the leader of the Portal team, and a level designer for it. She was also involved in both Left 4 Dead games on the development team. She left Valve in 2009 to join Airtight Games where she would lead a team and develop the game Quantum Conundrum.

Amy Hennig - Designer/Writer (submitted by thatspazinthehoodie)

Hennig started work in the game industry back in the late 80’s. She assisted development of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain after moving to Crystal Dynamics in the late 90s. She would the work as directorand writer for Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. She left Crystal Dynamics to become creative director of Naughty Dog where she began her most notable work as the head writer and creative director for the Uncharted series. She has since left Naughty Dog for Visceral Games to work on Star Wars games.

Roberta Williams - Designer/Writer (submitted by jake-from-state-farm-school and like a bunch of other people)

Co-founded On-Line Systems, later Sierra On-Line/Sierra Entertainment, with her husband. Essentially created the graphical adventure game with Mystery House, later designed the King’s Quest series (all eight of the classic series), the first animated graphical adventure game and pioneer of the open world, which led to Sierra, along with Lucasarts, basically being -the- names in adventure gaming. Also wrote and designed Phantasmagoria, which is not only one of the few good FMV games from that era, but would probably cause Sarkeesian to scream misogyny. 

Jane Jensen - Designer/Writer (submitted by jake-from-state-farm-school and also a bunch of other people)

After working on other Sierra games, including co-designing King’s Quest VI, Jane Jensen her first solo outing with the Gabriel Knight series, still my favorite adventure game series and the second game, The Beast Within, also managed to buck the usual trend of FMV games. Has also worked on other fairly good adventure games recently, such as Cognition

Janett Carr - Entertainer/Producer (submitted by dmranything)

This is Janet Carr, gamer, executive producer and creator of Australia’s only gaming show, Good Game. The show has become a big hit with gamers all across Australia, and both the hosts (Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell and Stephanie “Hex” Bendixsen, another great woman in gaming) and the crew are gamers who love what they do.

Karen Traviss - Writer (submitted by sunbleached-jacket)

Karen Traviss, who wrote many Star Wars and Gears of War books, including the entire series of Star Wars: Republic Commando.

Jade Raymond - Director (submitted by failedturingtest)

Jade is an executive director for Ubisoft Toronto, working as a producer for the Assassin’s Creed series. She has also worked for EA. Currently she is on the Board of Directors for for Women in Film and Television International, an organization designed to help advance women in media and entertainment industries. 

DexterityBonus - Entertainer/Journalist (submitted by justwestofweird)

DexBonus is a Let’s Player and commentator, making several videos covering popular gaming events, and several series including Newz (which covers gaming news) and Swords and Stitches (which demonstrates gaming related crafts).

Suzy Berhow - Entertainer (submitted by justwestofweird)

Aside from being a model and animator (seen on her channel Meeperfish), Suzy is also a member of Game Grumps. She is featured in many Game Grumps videos and is a returning member of Table Flip which focused on tabletop games. She has advocated for mental health awareness, making a video about her experiences with ehr own manic depression.

Holly Conrad and Jessica Merizan - Cosplayers (submitted by justwestofweird)

Both popular cosplayers at PAX and other gaming conventions. Jessica was also a community manager for Bioware.

Carmen Kennedy - Executive

Founder of Imagery Media, along with her husband Robert, Carmen was among one of the first to begin designing simple flash games for the Internet professionally, as well as educational programs for e-learning initiatives. The company has designed flash games for Cartoon Network, FedEx, and Canon.

Have anybody to add? Do so! It’s strange to me how people suddenly care about female developers when they make the news because of some controversy, typically one they themselves caused. But are quick to ignore the many women who gladly go about their position with grace and poise. 

- Mod Dawes Sr.


Women in video games! I had tried to finish this for International Women’s Day, but here it is now. :D

And before I get comments about “why didn’t you include so-and-so,” “what about so-and-so?” etc., there are a ton of awesome ladies in the video game industry, but I limited myself to ten.  So I tried to have a good, diverse cross-section of different women, but I know I left a lot of people off.  If there is someone you admire who wasn’t included here, reblog this post and add them!  I want this to be a post all about women in gaming.

If you’re thinking, ‘oh come on that doesn’t seem like that big of a problem,’ then congratulations on your WHITE PENIS, because if you have one of those, you probably have a very different experience of the internet!
—  John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, discussing abusive behavior towards women gamers and advocates online (Video here)