Amazing -- Sex always causes such a ruckus.
Before I begin, I'd like to say that I am not attacking men or women.
I have a great appreciation for the differences of the sexes and
our opinions. Why am I choosing to write this editorial? I am a
"real-life" mature female with what most would consider a nice gaming
history; I immensely enjoy playing RPGs and beyond a doubt believe
that both men and women want one another to be a part of these new
and profound online worlds. As such, it is my desire to help bridge
the gap between our sexes - with class and dignity.
The implementation of feminine aspects in
games will evolve just as women's movements has into "real world"
societal facets: with many blunders, bumps, and bruises. I began
online role-playing several years ago with Dragon
Realms. My experience here spoiled me. The feminine rarities
and focus to emotional detail are unsurpassed. Hence, my introduction
to Ultima Online's Beta was a near trauma. Here my quest to have
"girl" ideas implemented into online RPGs began. I started with
emails and directly telling Game Masters the type of items and functions
I personally would like to see. I encouraged other women to call
upon the creators and I have tried to be open-minded and understanding
of men's point-of-views. Consequently, I expect the same regard.
Change has been slow. However, I am glad to see the new focus to
women in games.
I recently read an article that attacks
Turbine for implementing promiscuous dresses for its female player
characters. To this and many other pertinent topics in our headlines,
I say, "Wow!" The author, Lietgardis states, "Who would choose to
wear this? I'll be brave and abrasive: those who choose to play
characters cloyingly feminine, with extremely feminine names and
clothing, are doing it for attention." Now it so happens that I
have an extremely feminine name, and I personally would wear this
dress. I will as well be brave and abrasive; women attacking women
is surely not the way to get feminine aspects into a game. I have
helped run a PvP guild -- four years strong -- of real life men
that do not seem to mind my womanly charms. I have no problem with
being a woman gamer and I have spent thousands of hours developing
great and powerful characters.
I do admittedly laugh-out-loud at times over
the way women are perceived by men. However, I would be a fool to
think that games or game developers/publishers caused or can prevent
these scenarios. Men and women, throughout our existence, have struggled
to understand one another. As proven, our species is not easy to
master. Reality, not history nor fantasy, dictates that men and
women come in all shapes and sizes. These games are fantasy in nature.
I am a grown woman and need not worry about men thinking all women
have D cups. If looking for a fair portrayal, women seem to prefer
some sexuality to none.
As tacky as I think this subject, it is something
that is being addressed more and more frequently. I choose to write
in the gaming industry because I love to play games, and I want
women's voices heard from an intelligent, hands-on gaming experience,
addressed by more than one or two female extremes. I happen to be
one of those females in a game "doing it for attention." Oddly enough,
I dress like a woman in real life as well. I even allow men to open
my doors and precede me down flights of stairs. This makes me a
lady -- not a jealous, attention-craved schoolgirl. I think implementing
women of all fashions is not only necessary but also more enjoyable
As of late, many more women are beginning
to play online games. Three years ago, PC Gamer posted a survey
that revealed a mere 4% of massive online gamers being real life
females. Today, that estimate is more than doubled. Likewise, a
recent survey revealed women made up a larger, although very small,
percent of Internet users over their male counter-parts. I think
games will very soon start to implement more feminine aspects. Accomplishment
will not stem from bashing developers, but by joining them in their
endeavor to apply females into what has always been a predominantly
male world. Mike Wilson, CEO of Gathering of Developers agrees;
"if we're right, and we're reaching a stage that focuses on content
over features-lists, then we'll see a big trend toward female involvement
on both the consumer and developer side."
Moreover, I strongly feel once women begin
to voice their opinions more frequently, games will naturally reflect
more of a feminine female. Until then, we deal with the developed
masculine-thought-provoked models. Due to the fact that my guild
has always treated me with respect and honor, I purport that men
want women to play online games. When asked, male players and developers
tend to agree. Glitchless' Lead Game Designer, Jeff Friedman elaborates,
"I'm very pleased with the interest that women are showing in videogames.
In a game like Dawn it's essential to have a decent balance of males
to females. Of our well over 10,000 beta testers about 25% are female.
While we are very pleased with this percentage we'd love to see
it rise to 50." Men enjoy the impact that women may have on their
gaming experience. To insinuate large breasts will make me less
of a fighter in game, less of a leader, or believe that other folks
will assume likewise is ridiculous.
Although some women do feel "playerbases
aren't mature enough to handle" sex, you must remember that you
are discussing games where you run around and kill - yes kill -
people and creatures. While studying Human Sexuality, I learned
very quickly that my peers were dreadfully reluctant to talk openly
about sex. However, talking about death was much more acceptable.
Admittedly, I am seeing my generation and younger begin to open-up
somewhat. Nevertheless, there is still an enormous misconception
and huge debate over what people should be allowed to talk and know
about. I, frankly, believe that hiding "stuff" from children will
only cause society more turmoil. Restricting does not work. With
some study of our culture you can clearly see this. The War on Drugs
is a perfect example. Simply, keeping sex/sexuality out of games
is impossible as long as real people are the creators and players.
For years I have been trying to get women's
ideas heard in the gaming industry. I hope that I am taking the
route that will help facilitate this. Efforts by women such as;
Stevie Case, Aurora, Onnie (internet/gaming journalists), and many
others will help this industry incorporate real women into our gaming
worlds; each of us with unique and emotional ideas. Until then,
I say we do not out-right attack gaming companies for trying to
implement more feminine tokens into a game. Like it or not, some
women enjoy being women and do not mind the fact that they are different
from men, and therefore intriguing, and at times mistaken by men.
Reproaching Turbine or other gaming companies
for trying to apply more female-like models is unfair to the women
that love the changes. I have had ludicrous comments made to me
by immature "boys" in games and in my real life. In as much, I have
whistled at a few men and I am proud of it. Changing men's views
will not be easy. They see women through different eyes because
they ARE different. If we never learn to embrace these differences
we never, in my opinion, ever understand the most beautiful thing
about human nature. See, it is survival of the fittest. And regardless
of what either sex spouts, it appears that neither of us really
desires to out-survive the other. So, why would men intentionally
portray females in ways they thought would be detrimental or harmful?
The implication of such is not even worth pondering.
Importantly, the gaming world is realizing
that women do and will continue to have a huge impact on the online
industry. I plan on sticking my ideas and thoughts out there whenever
any of you developers and creators will listen. All women do not
feel exactly the same. However, I think speaking our minds in an
intelligent, "womanly" fashion will earn respect of the folks making
the games. Hence, improved and more respectable feminine ideals
will continue to be applied to our fantasy worlds.
Personally, I would like to see more options
for females. Clothing, gems, anatomy, armor, weapons, feminine emotes
(e.g. curtsey), etc. Recently, I enjoyed the opportunity to speak
with Game Designer Ryan Palacio, an original designer for Everquest,
currently working on Star Wars Galaxies. After a lengthy discussion
of headlines concerning women in gaming we discussed several options,
which might help portray women in games, without being offensive.
I expressed to Ryan, 'listen to what we have to say and give us
female options.' What does this mean? It means - if I am able to
choose the color of my hair, skin, and the shape of my nose or my
height, I should be able to choose my waist or even breast size.
As well, it is important to make women feel as though they are partly
responsible for the creation of female-models. This in my opinion
is why women are so upset; we see ourselves being depicted by men
and then we as women have to try and portray/role play men fabricated
females . . . Make sense? It might be enjoyable for some women to
walk around attracting the attention of even the Gods themselves,
but some women are timid and the furthest thing from their thoughts
is public or humiliating experiences.
Regarding most people's perception that women
are implemented into games as sex objects; I will compare our gaming
industry to "Hollywood." Women such as Jennifer Aniston and Sarah
Michelle Gellar, "Buffy", might easily be seen as "sex objects."
Furthermore, women dating back as far as history tells have been
viewed as sexual. Remembering these same women are powerful, intelligent
and very capable. On the other hand, using Everquest as an example,
the female dwarf characters have facial beards - not so attractive.
However, for the most part it is difficult to argue whether or not
we are viewed or implemented as sex objects - by men and women alike.
More importantly, is how do I, as a woman, feel being perceived
as a sex object? With any awareness of my capability of being an
intellectual, funny, sensitive, strong and intuitive woman, my sexuality
would and could only be an extension of these qualities.
In retrospect, I have always played a female
character. Actually, I have several girls that I enjoy role-playing.
Pen and Paper, single-player, and/or multi-player characters; all
of them barring one are cute, girly, and fun to be around. I am
not offended by being asked if I am a real female. I am very proud
to be female. Furthermore, I am very strong in my convictions that
I am sexy because of me and not because of what others think. Standing
physically in front of you, inside a game world, well endowed and
a low-cut dress or flat chested and plate-mail clad, a woman can
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