Guest Post: Gamer Girls Unite #gamers #gaming @JenifyrKaiser

Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Guest Posts | 8 comments

I don’t normally do guest posts on this blog anymore, but I’m thrilled to have this one today because Jenifyr is a long time, personal friend of mine. Please be sure to stop by her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter linked at the bottom of the article.

Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the blog owner.

 

Yes, the title is a bit dramatic. No, I’m not starting a revolution, although…nah, not today. What I am saying is that we game and tech geeks of the female persuasion need to stick together. Being a woman is tough, but being a woman in the gaming and technology world is crazy tough. I worked in the IT field for nearly 20 years and it was definitely a man’s world. When I started back in the early 1990s there were only a handful of women in the field. Getting anyone to take you seriously back then was like trying to push a rope. If they didn’t outright laugh, they would just ignore you and hope you went back to your knitting.

Things have definitely changed in the last couple of decades. Women are getting closer to being paid fairly. We’re not quite there yet, but moving in the right direction. I see a much larger number of women in the IT industry now as well. It’s becoming much more popular and we are actually being viewed as competent, successful members of that society. Considering it’s been less than a hundred years since we were granted the right to vote, I think we’ve come a long way. It just goes to show that with enough time, courage, and downright stubbornness we can accomplish damned near anything.

So, here we are, an enlightened society who, by the grace of our own virtue, have created relative equality for all humans (I know that’s a big stretch, but work with me here folks). Can someone please tell me why I can’t get a female character to play in Assassins Creed or a female version of Link in Legend of Zelda? Why is that such a huge issue for this industry? There is a huge disparity between the number of games with female protagonists to ones with male. The number of games that have any female characters to choose from at all is limited. When I do see one it usually restricts me to one girl. Can anyone tell me why the hell that girl is always a ranger, witch, or sorceress? Come on guys, really?

Don’t even get me started on the clothing. In what universe would anyone, regardless of gender, wander out into the frozen north to fight the evil trolls wearing nothing but a chain mail bikini bottom and nipple pasties? Seriously? Tell me this industry isn’t still male dominated. Imagine, for a moment, a world where female teachers, nurses, and business women were portrayed in the mainstream media as bikini wearing sex goddesses. Imagine the outrage that would cause, and yet we still see it in the gaming world on a regular basis. Now don’t get me wrong, I like playing a strong, sexy, bad ass girl. I just don’t want them all to be airheads with giant boobs, a terrible sense of fashion, and a complete lack of common sense.

As a freelance writer specializing in games and tech, I have noticed a lot more women in the profession now than ever before. In fact, according to the Washington Post:

The stereotype of a “gamer” — mostly young, mostly nerdy and most definitely male — has never been further from the truth. In the United States, twice as many adult women play video games as do boys..

If that’s true then how in the world is the industry still so lopsided? I do hear a lot more of my sister’s voices in the media and see a lot more on YouTube and that fills my heart with pride. I suppose, as with most issues, that we have a long way to go. I do think we are on the right track. We just need to stick together and keep our voices unified.

I tend to make light of and poke fun at our community, but I know the struggle is real. Gamergate has opened a huge chasm and caused an enormous amount of animosity between traditionalists and the rest of us who think the gaming industry should wake up and join the rest of the 21st century. I won’t go further down that road, but if you don’t know about Gamergate or would like to know more, please read The only guide to Gamergate you will ever need to read by Caitlin Dewey. It was an ugly and frightening mess that affected me personally as a journalist in this community and still does today. Suffice it to say that this is not a one off incident, but an ongoing struggle in the battle for women’s rights that is continuing on a whole new front. Misogyny is alive and well and it’s hiding in the dark corners of the gamer culture. The only way to stamp it out is to bring it out into the light. So lets stick together ladies and keep our heads held high.

Jenifyr Kaiser is an author and freelance writer living in beautiful Colorado. She specializes in writing about the gaming and technology industry, however she is also quite talented at writing historical and literary content. She is currently writing freelance web content for Gameskinny and working on her first novel. Twitter Facebook | Website

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  • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

    RE Assassin’s Creed and Zelda:

    The problem with having multiple gender options in games is that the more variety you provide for your character’s identity, the more generalized the storytelling and character development becomes. The requirements of tailoring the story to a character becomes exponentially more demanding the more options you give the player. This is why games such as DragonAge, Mass Effect, and even the Elder Scrolls series end up leaving your main character largely an empty shell; a blank slate with little personality. They HAVE to be in order for the game to work with as many possible character permutations as possible. It’s one thing in a PnP RPG (DnD, Pathfinder, whatever) where the game is flexible, and can organically adapt to your character’s personality and quirks because it’s all guided by another human being. But in those games, the story is set, and the NPCs have a limited number of ways with which you can interact with them.

    By contrast, look at games like Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. The storytelling involved in those two games has FAR more depth than what you can get out of the Bioware RPGs despite their much shorter play times, specifically because you’re following one character’s journey. These games would NOT be the same if you were to play as Larry Croft instead of Lara, because the story is so deeply tied into her identity as a person (and gender really does make a big difference in the identity of one’s self).

    This is why the Assassin’s Creed and (core) Zelda games center around a fixed protagonist. These games are the stories of a specific individual, not a blank canvas. I’m not saying there’s no place for more diversity in playable characters, but that needs to happen under circumstances where it works for the type of story you want to tell. For a Bioware-style RPG, with a sprawling story focused more on the events? That’s great. But once you make the decision to make the story more personal you HAVE to build that around a specific protagonist.

    The solution here is more games built specifically around a female protagonist, NOT to insert a character select into a game where it doesn’t work.

    • Jenifyr Kaiser

      Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree that games with a specific protagonist have better potential for deeper and more engaging story lines. I’m not suggesting we add a female option to every game. I just want the women that are in games to have more substance and less nipple pasties.

      • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

        I’d love to be able to make a game out of my Elsabeth Soesten books to do just that. I even have a couple ideas of genre that would fit; 3rd person action/adventure a’la the Tomb Raider reboot, a true adventure game like the old Quest for Glory series by Sierra (I think it’d be fun to see a 2D adventure game done entirely with traditional animated sprites. At 4K resolution >:-) ), or my favorite would be a sort of open world action/RPG like a hybrid of Witcher 3 and Mount and Blade, but without the kingdom conquering or world-threatening stakes. Lots of minor quests and jobs to do, fighting duels, etc., but then to occasionally release “story packs” that introduce a major quest/story that would take several hours (something like 10 or so) to complete.

        Unfortunately, about the only part of the game making process I’m really good for is a bit of model work, and conceptual stuff, and lack the resources, knowledge, or connections to make it happen. Which is a shame because I think the character has potential for it.

  • http://www.erinbedford.com Erin Bedford

    As a fellow gamer and a IT specialist I completely agree with this. The majority of female characters are side characters, but when we do get a female character they are usually dressed as skimpy as possible. Lara Croft for instance had a kickass job and can kick some serious ass but she has to have huge knockers and tiny shorts to do it. While the gaming industry is trying to change for female gamers, I have yet to see a lot of this stereotype go away. Which would be totally cool if only they would sexify the guys as much as the girls. Where’s my shirtless hunky dude to drool over as he does a 180 flip? Just saying.

    • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

      Speaking as a guy, I found the redesign of Lara Croft in the reboot — where she looks like an ACTUAL human being — far sexier than Archaeologist Barbie from the classic games. Not just because of the character modeling, but because she’s far more realized as a person as well.

      • Jenifyr Kaiser

        I agree with you here as well. There are companies making a real effort. I just wish there were more of them.

        • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

          One of the game modding communities I’ve been a part of (off and on) for a LONG time had a saying, which unfortunately I think fits the bill:

          If you don’t like it, do it yourself.

          I think making that happen is going to rely on more on bringing flesh blood into the industry and establishing new studios, than it would be to get the old guard to make changes themselves.

          Of course there should still be room for cheesecake and beefcake alongside it. And I supposed that weird-ass shit Japan gets up to, as well…

    • Jenifyr Kaiser

      Right! Definitely not saying they should take men out of games or anything like that. Just that we give women a more realistic treatment. Maybe Elle King should make games 😉