We take a look at the changing role of women in video game development and the rise of female gaming audiences.
One of the biggest points of contention in the discussion surrounding women in video games is the phrase "women in video games." This implies that women are special in a way that requires them to be singled out; it implies they cannot be lumped into more general descriptors such as "video game developers," "video game characters," or "gamers," but require more-specific female-gender descriptors. The reason for this distinction between men and women in the games industry is no secret: video games are, and have always been, a male-dominated medium. Men make games, men play games, men are in games. Yet despite this being nothing if not obvious, talking openly about the lack of women in the games industry is still an uncommon practice.
It has been argued that the industry should stop making a distinction between games that are made specifically for women and games that are simply just made and that the term "female gamers" is outdated, because the gaming audience has grown significantly in both gender camps. However, these distinctions are important. While the gaming audience is expanding, it is bringing with it an increased demand for new experiences that move away from the traditional formula that has dominated the development of mainstream AAA titles. This means stronger female characters, games for women that steer clear of fashion, material goods, or small animals, and, most importantly, a viable career path for both genders within a rapidly expanding and profitable industry at the centre of a bold new art form.
The female prefix in the games industry shouldn't be shunned--it should be embraced as a new direction for the industry, one that has the potential to shift gender imbalances and create bigger, better, and more original games that will help drive the industry forward.
In this GameSpot AU feature, we look at women who are changing the industry from within, from industry luminaries to the new players, and analyse the role women have played in video games while seeking to address the reasons behind the lack of strong female characters.
The Role of Women in Storytelling
When it comes to storytelling, history has taught us that a story's outcome usually depends on who is telling it. Video game stories are about men because they are told by men: men have been writing stories about other men since the time of ancient Greece. There is an undeniable trace of misogynistic tradition in Greek literature, supported by the representation of women in the Greek myths. While the literary sources of the Greek myths are varied, all of the sources currently on record are male, from Homer and Hesiod to Sophocles and Euripides. The subjects of Greek myths are almost always male, and the stories almost always involve the role of the hero and his journey in overcoming obstacles (sound familiar?). Women, on the other hand, seem to play only a supporting role in the Greek myths, painted in one of four roles: the object of desire, the goddess, the demon hindering the hero's progress, or the harbinger of doom.
Stories told from the point of view of women differ greatly: fairy tales, for example, evolved from a predominately female tradition, which explains why a large portion of fairy tales feature female protagonists and themes that relate to family, child rearing, education, and morality. Widespread female education did not begin in the Western world until the Enlightenment of the 18th century and was not common until the 19th century. Until then, the role of women in literature was not as masters of the craft but as muses. Even when women found the courage to begin writing in the 1800s, they did so with a male pseudonym. Jane Austen, one of the most widely read and respected writers in English literature, published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, under the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym "A. Lady," and although her works are regarded as classics now, they brought her little fame during her own lifetime--her subject matter dealing with the necessity of marriage to secure social standing among women of the day earned her little praise among her male peers. It wasn't until the 1940s that Austen became widely read.
Literature wasn't the only medium where women had to prove themselves: the history of visual arts, film, politics, and the sciences is dominated by a strong male presence, combated only in later stages by a rising female influence. We no longer find reason to debate the number of female artists, filmmakers, authors, or scientists because it is widely accepted that women are now just as influential and active as men are in these once male-dominated fields. Video games, on the other hand, are a nascent medium. The fact that women play a diminutive role in the games industry shouldn't be ignored: it should be addressed, debated, and rectified. Why? Just look at the current formula that most AAA games follow. Are we still surprised that we always seem to be playing a beefed-up bro who never has any trouble operating weaponry or delivering constant loops of delightfully caustic repartees?
Uncharted is written by a woman, Jane Austen is overrated, and men throughout history are just better writers.
In order to cement the position or role of women in video games they should not just play games. Instead, they should also make games. There has to be a brilliant female computer genius out there who knows how to make video games for women in general. What she should do is put up her own game development company compose of mostly female computer programmers and just make games.
Okay, last comment on this. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it has no logical end. Where does it stop? For example, I write stories. If I want a sexist male (or female) lead character, then someone is going to complain about it. However, if I make all my characters polite and politically correct, then there is no conflict and the story is suddenly boring. No readers for that one. Games, like books, are an artistic medium. It is like playing a book. If you get too wrapped up in pleasing all the people who might want to play a game, your games are going to appeal to no one. Political correctness has its place, but I honestly don't believe it is in the realm of art (games, movies, books, visual art, etc.). In all art, there will be people offended by it and there will be people who love it and there will be people who don't care. So be it. You can't please everyone so long as you are in the public eye.
I was going to post my final opinion here, but it got kinda big, so if you guys really want to read (if you don't, I will not be surprised) you can check in my gamespot's blog ( my blog debut Yeah! just click in my nickname). Now it's getting really late and i'm going to bed. Bye and thanks.
The political climate of America for the past forty some years has been "women are oppressed by men, lets find ways to reverse this, give women more options, better options" all the while society shames and blames men for what women dont get (ignoring what women get thanks to men) what we are left with is a massive culture war that isnt getting any better. confusion among the sexes, complete changes in social norms that are more greedy and hypocritical than they are productive and responsible. You have an entire class of men who think they owe their lives to women and women who think men owe them their lives just because of whats between their legs or what politics says. These articles about women and the gaming industry are no different. You have some women out there that will use every trick, gimmic or law to get a free ride while nothing of the sort is offered to boys. Most women just want to spend some time to play a game they don't care about this misandry surrounding the gaming and social climate. So please do your studies but please stop blaming men for what women have not accomplished. Stop trying to get an industry to change based on what "you" think is good for women or men and let honesty and democracy take its course.
@ deviant74 The point I was making was that if I were a woman I would be offended by just the first few sentences in your comment about adult only ratings, which has apparently been removed,due to what it said.Women need not be degraded or stereotyped like that. I know because I happen to have met quite a few and have many who are friends.I'm sure they'd enjoy squeezing candy out of your spleen if you said that to them. And just look through these comments,none of the women here even care about all of this.They just want to game like the rest of us,and have all this drama and politically correct garbage get out of the way.I agree. And if what you said had absolutely nothing to do with what it certainly appears to have said,try to be more careful about your wording.
@wbezuidenhout - Special treatment is boring, it would just be nice to see an understanding come from male gamers and male developers and to see that the industry is in dire need of change. Without change the cycle will repeat time and time again with many refusing any change that's needed while demanding that things say the same. What good is having everything stay the same when change is important in everything?
@Smokescreened84, read your blog and commented. Though I stand by my point. Equality is a term often thrown around when people should be saying "special treatment". You are unfortunately in a minority of the market, and demanding that you be catered to as much as for the majority means that you want your voice to matter more than the rest. That is not equality. You are in a very sad situation, and I sympathize, but as I said in my comment on your blog, you play games for a vastly different reason than most.
@wbezuidenhout - If you want to know why it's a big deal for me, then feel free to read my blog on this site, it's in my profile page, the first blog that appears. Though I recommend an open mind when reading it, it explains my feelings towards male leads. For equal measures in all things, both sides have to be willing to work towards those equal measures and both have to be open to one another's ideas and suggestions on improvements. If one side isn't open to another's ideas, then what change will there ever be when one side refuses to listen?
@Smokescreened84, that's exactly what I mean - stop yelling for someone else to do it, you're not going to be heard with the market the way it is. Change isn't going to happen as long as there is a large majority of male gamers, end of story. It has nothing to do with "growing up" or "perceived sexism", it's a pure result of capitalism: publishers want to make money, and they only bet on a sure thing. Do you honestly think that Mirror's Edge having a female lead had ANYTHING to do with its success or failure? Even if it had a male lead, or if it allowed you to choose, I will bet you it would have had the exact same result. None of the reviews I read ever said anything like "If only it had a male lead". My biggest question: Why on earth do you care whether you can pick your gender or not?! I don't give two shakes whether a game allows me to choose the gender of the lead character. I play a game because of the experience or adventure I feel like having, if I want to race I grab Motorstorm, if I want to shoot someone in the face I go for Bad Company 2, if I want strategy I'll play Shogun 2. In Borderlands I play as Lilith because I like her stealth abilities and high damage. It has nothing to do with whether I play a male/female character. Who's fault is it that there's about 50 more types of shoes for women than there are for men? Is that sexist? Should we write up articles about how women should change the fashion industry to include men in equal amounts?
@wbezuidenhout - It's all well and good to say that female gamers should work towards making changes happen, but the thing is, and as has been seen in various reponses not just to this article but in many threads and more in regards to female leads in games and female developers, is that they aren't heard. Many male gamers refuses to accept change, it's why so many games are the same thing time and time again, many male gamers have a hatred towards change, they always have. So as badly as change is needed in the industry and female gamers need to be heard, it isn't likely to happen as long as there is a large majority of male gamers who are against change of any kind that takes them away from their comfort zone. And many developers end up catering to those who hate change by giving them the same thing time and time again, while those who do try something different more often than not get ignored. Take Mirror's Edge for example, it tried a new take on the First Person aspect. It was largely ignored because it wasn't COD/Halo, it had a female lead. Yet it was a great game, it was different. But sadly it didn't do as well as a yearly shooter rehash like COD, it was too different for the majority who hate change and hate anything different. Change needs to come from the male gamers just as much as it does from female gamers.
As a girl gamer, I am perfectly happy to have steriotypically attractive men and women in games. When I have the option, I play male or female characters depending on my mood or goal with the play through. I don't see a need to change things. I like the violence when I need an outlet for my frustrations. In other words, I don't think there is anything wrong with the games as they are. If you like to game, you like to game. End of story. The biggest problem with this article is that it encourages those people who have some bias against female gamers to speak out against them. How does that help exactly? If you want girly games. Make them. I want to weild a big ass gun and shoot with the big boys. Thank you very much.
@Smokescreened84, the problem is that any female gamer who doesn't buy it because of that lack of choice just does not put enough of a dent in the bottom-line to warrant spending extra time to allow for a female choice (Think extra voice-acting, script and joke adaptations, custom look and outfits, additional testing). Sorry, but the only way the gaming industry is going to adapt to a more equal setup is if women actively try to change it. As the article says, the AAA section is already so damn risk-averse they won't take a single step into the 'unproven', so you'll have to. All-in-all I think it's pointless to complain about the current situation if you're just sitting around waiting for "someone else" to fix it for you. Stop trying to separate games from other entertainment forms, I've yet to hear a single complaint about Stephen King using mostly male leads, or how there's a clear stereotype about action movies and "chick flicks". And keep the story and setting in mind as well, as it will be the determining factor in whether there will be choice or not. I still remember nearly falling off my chair laughing because a woman was complaining that The Witcher didn't allow her the choice of a female lead (In case you didn't know, the game is based on a book).
@Lucas_BRAM I disagree about the importance you place on ada lovelace. She made a valuable contribution but it wasn't integral to modern society as you suggest. Charles Babbage on the other hand was undeniably integral to modern society. @ramileous The problem is that there are cases where women experience oppression due to their gender rather than their ability to work. Not all women are valued for their ability to contribute something.
Wormkid_64 One day when you meet a woman you will know that I have that almost perfect. Instead of your no feed back comment why don't you say something I can talk about. What I wrote is female over the age of 25 game addiction. Add a casino, and have the kid or husband give her nasty looks is she does bad or he takes her out and tells her how wonderful she is if she does good.
@ deviant74 It'd be great to hang you in a tree and give some women some sticks.I'd come back later and see if any candy came out.
mmmmmm, I'm a female gamer and when I choose a particular game I really don't pay attention to if its female or male oriented, what I look for in a game is a good story and that it's fun to play, I love it when a game hooks me so much I can't put it down, I play different types of games, rpg's are my favorite, but I also enjoy action games like ninja gaiden (Love that it's difficult), gears of war (chainsaw is so cool), bayonetta, devil may cry, Dantes inferno, I could go on and on. If it sounds interesting and fun I will for sure try it out
One more thing.Women often don't realize how good they've got it. If you saw two men hugging each other,or walking around holding hands at the mall,what's the first thing that comes to your mind?Yeah.Women don't have to worry about being labeled from that.If they do it,they're just good friends. So enjoy your more diverse freedoms in displays of friendship.Use guys will have to stick to subtle nods of the head.
Are we still having this debate?Seriously women in this day and age have just as many rights as men,they can do anything they want.She wants to develop games?Go give it a try.Want a female game character?Try Samus,GLaDOS(female oriented machine,and one of my favorite female characters ever)Laura Croft,whoever that woman in Mirror's Edge was.(Didn't play much of the game.Can't remember details.)What about games with customizable characters?Many games allow you to play as male or female.It isn't that no one accepts "women in games".I'm always pleased when I hear about a female gamer who plays more than those cooking and babysitting games. I'm sorry if more games feature men saving women than the other way around,but that's the way human society has functioned for a very long time.I don't mean women can't defend themselves,as I said,they can do anything they want,but men have always been the ones societies through the ages put into battle,charge with provision for their family,and charge with protection of them.It's to be expected that things would have the imbalance they did.But it isn't hard for developers to get over that at all. All we as gamers can do is respect others' decisions.If a woman plays one game or another,whoop-de-do,it's no different than a man.And if there is a female protaganist,well.You play as her for lack of choice.Really it's the devs who need to be sure they include "women in games."
By the way, I would hope that when the author mentions that video games should contain more themes related to motherhood and such, I would hope she's talking about something along the lines of Uma Thurman's character in kill bill. She's a mother out for revenge and I don't think anyone would deny that she's badass... otherwise, I can't really think of many instances where motherhood would be a good theme to integrate into a video game.
I just don't really care. Let me explain: one of my parents is Caucasian Australian, the other is Indian Malaysian. I'm sure if you add up all the Caucasian characters in games compared to all the 'ethnic' (non-white) or Eurasian ones, you're going to find that the latter demographic is under-represented. But ... I don't care! I'm not about to jump up and down and say that non-white ethnicities are rarely protagonists, over-represented as villains, etc. You know what I really want? Good gameplay and a decent story. I don't want to see characters jammed where they don't fit. So if there's a context, a game universe, a story set up where it makes sense that a woman is in a lead role, then awesome, I'm all for it. See e.g. Sarah Kerrigan/the Queen of Blades - makes sense in the context. BUT I hate political correct, demographic pleasing characters where they shouldn't be. Example: there's no women in most warfare games, because there actually are none in the combat roles that are being depicted (SAS, front line military, etc.). That makes sense to me. Whereas Bastila Shan - great female character - massively powerful Jedi, wielder of the force. Makes sense to me because it fits with what's been created. Story first, please.
Anyone that isn't just frikking dense knows that a woman can rock just as men when it comes to intellectual or artistic work. History has proven that. Just look: if it wasn't for the Ada Lovelace we probably wouldn't be communicating with ourselves as we are doing today. And video game industry is sexist? I don't think so. What I think is sexist? Look at Jenna Rose's new music video. It's all about "WOW! OMFG! THAT SUPERSTAR IS USING MY JEANS!" Altough she's "just" a child, why we are encouraging her to pay more attention to look good and appealing to men instead of encouraging her to think and be more aware of the world surround her? Why is she singing about jeans and not about an super cool adventure she read and what she learnt from it? Which is the truly sexist media, huh? And if we, men, are so worried about this thing about women in video game it is because... Man we have to admit: we want more girls in the cybernetic gamer space. Girls, we would love to see you proving that you can use high heels and still kick ass in Crysis or Starcraft (altough i don't recommend the use of high heels in the battlefield), we like your presence and love to have you around! Now I gonna use the brilliant Rebecca Black's ultimate hipnotyzing technique for you to press the thumb up button: this comment is fun, fun, fun fun fun fun FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUF NFU NFU FNF UFN FUF NFU FUN!!!
Just like feminism charged for the past 40 some years, screaming oppression and subtle and slowly demanding more rights blaming men for what they dont have....i am noticing video gaming taking a similar evolution. Every forum has something about how women are not addressed enough in games, not enough women involved in games, men harassing women in games, men responsible for women not happy with games etc etc. I really hope that women can ignore the notion that boys somehow are stopping them from getting just as much out of gaming as boys. Women are free to create, explore and play games just as well as boys, and i hope we see more of their wonderful creativity and skillz and less of the finger pointing victim-hood poor me male oppressor fiction that filters into game forums trying to shame boys into letting girls get privileges and head starts. You want to win in gaming, then work for it like every honest person did that made the gaming industry so much fun and exciting for over thirty years! Please stop the 'poor girls give them freebies and headstart' crap and get on with the games.
We all know that when we try to force something into the media, it ends up sucking... a lot. Look at the early NES games that tried to force "anti-drug" messages... they were horrible, campy, and ineffective. Don't force anything. Let the gaming industry develop naturally. Purposefully sitting around and thinking, "how can we better represent women in gaming?" is ridiculously counter-productive -- you have already failed by even asking that question. When women protagonists develop naturally in the order of gaming, then they are represented how they should be. Men don't sit around and think, "how can we make this game especially attractive to men?" They don't, really. Instead, they just talk about how to make the good good and attractive to gamers. They don't specifically think about men, it just comes naturally. Let it be so for women, and if it doesn't happen naturally, may it not happen at all.
Me & all other female gamers I know have usually spent most our gaming between rpg/rts's & fps's. Other games too, but mostly those. Almost half my shooters are military shooters, also very fond of Left4Dead/2 & Killing Floor. I've been gaming since the 80's & have 3 gaming PC's and want to order a wheel for my PC for my racing games. None of us go to social gaming sites & up until last year I didn't even know what farmville was! Then I couldn't believe people above age 5-6 actually play that. No offense to those who may like it, something like that just 1) doesn't appeal to me, 2) couldn't hold my interest. The first rpg I played was Morrowind GOTY & recently I've watched the gs review & the reviewer is talking about how it's 'overwhelming'- I'm thinking- "is he serious?"- it's an open world rpg/single player- you have your orders, do that or explore, it's simple. Doom was all the rage while I was in college, spent a lot of quality time on that series & to this day enjoy playing it (I have an older PC for old school gaming & a beast for modern gaming- & an old XP that's kind of in the middle). A couple of my female gaming friends can build their own PC's. We aren't 'anti-male'- far from it! We game together sometimes & we all respect each other & they're secure enough in their manhood to not be offended when they get owned by women. It's too bad the rest of the gaming community doesn't respect each other as much as we do.
Don't care if it's not PC, this cracked me up. ReaversRevenge "women and technology go well together.... the microwave, cooker, oven. all great examples."
An article about women without a video of hot video-game chicks walking around in skimpy clothing while their boob-physics (or lack there-off) are bouncing all over the place? What has the world come to?!
Phew, i like when things were simpler. No one cared about this identification with the character thing a while ago. I have a grandmother that plays Donkey Kong Country ( the old one of SNES) and rocks at it. She has the best eye when it comes to finding those little damn-too-hard-to-find secrets. Yet she doesn't identifies with the main characters in the game. And if she starts indentifying, that would be anwkward, to say the least. What i'm trying to point out is that, the lack of realistic, strong female characters in video games history is a pity but not that dramatic. In real life it is just as hard to find a strong, brave man as to find a strong, brave woman, right? And why i seem to be the only one that remember that April Ryan, Jade (from beyond G&E), Sheva, Ada Wong, Jill Valentine, Wynne, Zoe Castillo, Yuna, lightning, SAMUS ARAN and CATE ARCHER (for god's sake), and other strong female characters do exist in video game industry. Why they are less important than their male counterparts? It's just natural that in a storytelling media that has been more appealing to men have this male character predominance in their stories. It's not a signal of a sexist society, it only is what it is. (Duh!) Just for the record: my grandma isn't poor, she just thinks that new generation consoles are too complex to her. Who can argue against that?
im basing this off of nothing but the reason why there is a lack of women leads in games results from two factors one: video games are about the content. most games that people talk about are multiplayer probably because it's easier to relate. even so, most people would probably tell others how they beat that other guy rather than saying that is sucks cuz there's no choice of character gender. two: games have a target audience. of course women are not a minority but what if there was a game with some deformed cripple (no offense) as the lead? would a deformed cripple actually buy it? i wouldnt think so. same concept. XD
Consider this: Brink, yet another shooter, promises character creation. However there is no gender choice at all, it's male only, so how can it be 'character' creation when the only character you make is a male? Where's the gender choice? And then there's LA Noire, once again Rockstar only has their ever generic male lead, no gender choice. And there's Enslaved where the female character is reduced to a support role while you're lumped with playing as only the male. And Bulletstorm, male only lead, no gender choice. And the Red Faction games, male only lead, no gender choice, females limited to NPC support roles. And one DLC allowing you to actually play as female, but it's a short DLC. And that's a few games. None of those games interest me, they don't offer me any choice, so why should I buy them and play for hours with a character I didn't choose, and have no say on? Why should a male lead be forced on players when a game might last for hours, what about letting the player decide for themselves? Is this the future of gaming, for it to forever be stuck in a rut of uncreative, unimagnative male only leads with no choice of gender for the player? It's been this way for far too long and it's clearly showing how much developers have run out of ideas when they do the same tired male only leads over and over again. Will the video gaming industry ever grow up and show it can be more than what it's haters think it is? I doubt it at this point.
"While I enjoy playing Crysis or Battlefield 2 Bad Company, they are not real and I am so glad they're not. It would be just a little traumatic, I would think. Is this because I am a female or is that just my personality?" I don't know, but if you think censorship is the answer, you're fighting a losing battle. When you're in a war game, realism matters - cursing fits into the realism, and most war games are actually becoming very much like war films, AMP up the realism, and use that simulated trauma to say something significant about the nature of actual war. Taking out the blood and the swearing adds to a disconnection with a very very dark reality. Basically why the hell are you playing War games at all if you're all anal about cursing and violence? You did basicall just say "If you want women to be more into games, make them all nicer and like, friendly and stuff!!!" You're not helping.
hush404 said it pretty well too - The key argument isn't WOMEN IN GAMES - that's a red herring. Nah, it's the "are video games art" argument that matters. And like hush said, if you get that down everything else falls into place. Games that are art transcend the "let's market this to this kind of gamer" and become "let's create something timeless and significant" Your Mass Effects and Metal Gears are proof of that possibility, and it's been happening very naturally as our generation has matured within the industry and within life. It's the most important defense for the gaming community to build.
What! There are plenty of female characters for women players to latch onto. There's the super hot impossibly toned and stacked "nerdy" girl, who wears outfits that teeters on good taste that helps the male character accomplish the mission with hints, advice, and useful infomation from her command post Then there's the smoking hot T&A machine "tough" girl who wears an outfit that looks like it was painted on and will need to be cut off, that accompines the male character and pitches in to help him save the day Next up there's the super model with the body from heaven "Bad" girl who wears what can only be an outfit straight out of a porno bondage film, who is a side villian that the male character will eventually turn and persuad her to become a good girl. See ladies, plenty of women characters out there, all unique and fresh
Whenever there is a lack of women it turns into an injustice, nobody ever considers that maybe most women just don't care for the industry. Is this a societal cage women are trapped in? No. I work in a data center for a web hosting company. Females work for this company, where? Customer service, sales, human resources (emphasis on human, basically)and the like in the main office. We are the techies. We are all...literally ALL men. How would we feel if a woman got a job here? Would we be annoyed or upset and get into a oppression mode? Ok, I won't pretend a few people here might not go into sexual harassment mode, but most of us would simply happy to have her. There's literally no reason for us not to want females in this industry. But what we do is highly technical, and like or not - there is a huge lack of females who are even slightly interested in the highly technical. We pretend it's some massive societal oppression, but those walls broke down years ago. Women and men are still different. And most of them don't want to do this kind of work.
Good points VintAge68 - especially about "Imho that women should however refuse being put in the box of casual games only (though SIMS players are said to be 60% female"). Those who have been following this thread are familiar with my post below, so I won't repeat, but I play military shooters, have a lot of racing games (PC racing wheel), I played Quake, the original Unreal & Doom back in the day, I watched the original Transformers/GI Joe cartoons with my older brother & now I play War for Cybertron- also StarCraft1&2. What I 'haven't' done is ever played farmville, I have No memberships to any social networking/gaming site- I've never been to one, have never played the Sims, (the only one I kept track of was the recent Medieval, but only because the time period interests me, but what I hear it's just decorating & running errands according to the gs review (or too close to it), & that's all it took for me to loose complete interest- now Stronghold (Medieval time period)- I love Stronghold! Can't wait for Stronghold3 this year- I'll be all over that!). Just my 2cents on something JodyR touched on- I personally wouldn't mind shooting female characters (I do it frequently in UT3 Black edition) & I don't think a man disrespectful for shooting female characters either. I look at it this way- A) It's just a game, they're characters, get over it or don't play such games if you're too sensitve. B) It's us against them- whoever they are- a woman- a man- you're going down. :)
@snap-dragon: You are right. We don't always have to play a female character to enjoy a game. I loved playing as John Marston in Red Dead Redemption, and he was a manly man. I also liked how he treated the ladies, though, so in some way I think his gentleman manner caused me to feel good about playing as him in the game. I imagine that some of the problems with women characters or women in the industry can often be a double edged sword. If there are female focused games, regular gamers feel left out. Ladies like to be treated as ladies, but we also want to be able to play games with others (regardless of gender). I have found that once we are given any opportunities to play as a female character in a storyline or multiplayer mode, I've noticed how some women dislike not being treated appropriately. For an example, kicking or shooting a female character in a game kind of feels wrong to some men who respect women. Then we have women (non-gamers or gamers) who might find this behavior as disrespectful. If we want games to be diverse for every kind of gamer, regardless of gender, I kind of think any changes will not satisfy every gamer (including the hardcore or casual gamers). That's why I like just focusing on seeing better games that attract all kinds of gamers.
I agree with a lot of the comments... but not the one continually iterated over the entire article that "female gamers need female games". The article even tries to say the opposite of this and yet keeps going back to it. Both male and female gamers like differing kinds of games for different reasons. Not every person playing farmville is a 43yo mother. Not everyone playing Dragon Age is a 19 year old single male. When a game is built with heart and the core story is genuine, then most other things fall in line (look at the Uncharted series). If you go out, looking to create a game for a group of people, it usually just blows up in your face, because you A) Don't actually know what you think you know about this particular group or B) It's obvious and lame and regardless of group, they'll not buy your bad game.
@VintAge68: I've been enjoying games that give me a choice these days, too! Mass Effect 2 was one of my favorite games last year, and if I played as a male Shepard from start to finish instead of the female Shepard, I honestly don't think I would have been so in love with everything about the game. Back in the Quake 1 days, the rare female gamers changed the Ranger dude to wear pink outfits. Boy did we get laughed at when we ran around in Pink armor. lol :)
Cybil Bennet is one of my favorite characters... they should make a remake of the first silent hill and have her point of veiw on what happened that would be cool!! XD (yes, i realize that there was a play novel on the GBA but... i think an actual SH game would be cool..)
Samus Aran=badass, she is probably one of the most powerful game characters in gaming history, also Zelda kicks ass when she is Sheik
Lady gamer myself I appreciate that nowadays there are more video games on the market letting one choose the sex of the protagonist to go on with (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age II...); this being basically a technical question --"making every character bisexual is the least resource-intensive way of handling the issue", Kevin-V in his comment to a recent HotSpot podcast-- I decline but the issue's tasteless political instrumentalization: making the story's hero *optionally* a women has nothing to do with bisexuality, but means just a little more equality as to the female condition, also societally spoken. Happy that here in Spain the relation of men-women as users of video games is 2:1, which has a lot to do with the country's own emancipational tradition, Imho that women should however refuse being put in the box of casual games only (though SIMS players are said to be 60% female), as well as (m)any sexist facets that may vary as much as between female submissive behavior (Duke Nukem) or ostentatious clothing (e.g., nail'd). Personally preferring action-type games rather I don't think that video games (woman-)made for a "typically female" public would really help making things better, though, neither within the gaming sector nor in society in general. Yet Laura Parker's essay, and the fact of GameSpot's web-publishing it, does surely contribute to putting them straight by raising a wider consciousness that this is *really* an issue no to be disregarded anymore.