I don’t know whether us gamers are just programmed to enjoy a good argument – or flame war – but it seems to me that for a social group that essentially all love the same form of entertainment we have a daft amount of internalised divisions.
Console vs PC. ‘Core’ vs ‘Casual’. Single-Player vs Multiplayer. Inverted Y Axis vsNon-Inverted Y Axis…
The particular division that has been discussed multiple times in the space of a few days recently is that of gender. This is not a new debate within games, and this is the fact that makes this particularly odd, because in modern society there are few things where an obvious division between masculinity and femininity would be tolerated. Yet within the games industry there is a trend for making a mountain out of a molehill over the fact that sometimes, the fairer sex also indulge in this entertainment medium.
On the one hand, we have the recent column in Edge magazine by Clint Hocking who says that studios need to encourage more women to join their development staff. As Quinn Dunki rightly points out, making an issue of the fact that there are minimal female staff is part of the problem – any women wanting to break into the industry immediately feel singled out.
On top of this sort of attitude, there is another assumption bubbling under the surface that all female gamers can be tarred with the same brush – the one that drips with Nintendogs, Cooking Mama, and the entire Imagine series. The image above is from a recently announced game from the developers of the Professor Layton games entitled, rather worryingly Cinderella Life. CEO of developer Level-5, Akihiro Hino, also stated that the majority of the development team were female.
This smacks of an incredible level of patronisation. Not only is the subtext here stating that female gamers want an abundance of pink and the ability to dress up their avatars in the same way they may have dressed up a Barbie when they were little, it also suggests that even when these girls grow up and become professional game developers, that all they are then capable of doing is producing more of such games. I’m not female, and even I feel offended on behalf of the numerous female gamers I know that like nothing better than to shotgun soldiers’ faces off…
It is as though the industry is saying that ‘boy games’ – i.e those that contain war, fighting, blood, guns, most sports and generally not much pink – are all far too hard or far too scary for the feminine mind which requires pretty colours, nice clothes, and not a lot else. It is misogonystic to medieval proportions.
The likely reason that there aren’t so many female gamers is precisely because they are prevented at every turning from liking games – because after all, girls don’t play games. It is a never ending cycle. It is an entertainment medium like any other, those that like it, like it, those that don’t, don’t. Stop making an issue out of a non-existent divide and that’ll be that.