Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girls Game Too

So yeah. I haven't posted in awhile, due to...well, let's just say there's been drama (if you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me complain about it). But there is good writing news, and I'll be posting more often about that. Today I want to speak a bit about gaming, so excuse me while I get up on my soapbox.

funny pictures of cats with captions

As you may know, I game. I've LARPed, I've played tabletop, I own 20-sided dice, and I play both PC and Xbox games. My list of MMORPGs includes EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, and several others that I started but weren't grabbed by (*edited to add: Oh, and City of Heroes and City of Villains, though I'm not playing any MMOs at the moment). I'm also female. And that puts me in the minority, because we're a small (but always growing) percentage of the gaming world. My soon-to-be-ex-husband works in the video gaming industry, so I know firsthand that it is indeed a sausagefest. There are female devs and testers, but they are few and far between. It's a little disheartening. Gamer girls generally don't get much respect. It's a little like this:

(I found that on FB, so I can't take the credit for it.) (Though yes, I have gamed naked. Don't ask.)

If you're constantly on the internets like me, you may have heard about a drama bomb that went off regarding a female writer at BioWare (you can read more about it at the Mary Sue and there's an update here at Kotaku). Some trolls recently found an interview she supposedly gave a few years ago, and they crazy attacked her, calling her a cancer and everything that's wrong with the gaming industry. Because trolls are stupid and hateful, and the internet turns what I assume are normal people into crazies who foam at the mouth (seriously, would you speak to your mother/sister/daughter that way?).

There is some question of whether or not the writer did give the interview, but if she did, she said some stuff that I relate to as a writer, a gamer, and a female. Such as:
if a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s very hard for me to get interested in playing it.
Word. This is the very reason I adore the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. Their stories are really rather awesome. (Well, I have reservations about DAII, but that's a whole other rant.) Before I decided to create my own worlds, I created my own stories for my characters in games when the setting was interesting but the story was blah or got old. I had a lot of fun in Dark Age of Camelot (by the way, Ayslyn Greenwillow, wherever you are, I miss you like mad). Yes, I want to shoot things. I squeal with glee when my rogue one-shots some mob and it explodes in a gory red mist. But I need context, otherwise killing mobs is boring.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?
A fast-forward button. Games almost always include a way to “button through” dialogue without paying attention, because they understand that some players don’t enjoy listening to dialogue and they don’t want to stop their fun. Yet they persist in practically coming into your living room and forcing you to play through the combats even if you’re a player who only enjoys the dialogue. In a game with sufficient story to be interesting without the fighting, there is no reason on earth that you can’t have a little button at the corner of the screen that you can click to skip to the end of the fighting.
I sort of agree with this. I'd like a fast-forward if I've already played through the game. I recently realized that I'm on my 9th playthrough of Dragon Age II. Nothing would make me happier than being able to skip the DAMN FIGHT WITH THE ARISHOK! Argh! I friggin hate that fight. Once was enough.

So here's the thing--okay, maybe a few things. First, as I said above, I demand interesting story, or I won't play. Second, though there was a time in my life when I was willing to devote my the bulk of my free hours to a game, and get my ass up at 4 in the morning for a raid, now I consider myself a casual gamer. I enjoy gaming, but I have other stuff to do. So if I'm trying to finish a quest in Kirkwall and random thugs pop out while I'm running from point A to point B, as they do, it irritates me, because it doesn't add anything to my gaming experience other than more time. Third, I'm a chick. For the love of all that is holy, don't dress my female warrior in chaps and a thong and call it "armor." (I'm looking at YOU, BLIZZARD! Words cannot express how damn annoying it was to see my night elves bounce like they really had to pee. My ranger once drew her bow, stopped, bounced her boobs, and then fired an arrow. Not cool, Blizzard. NOT COOL!)

In closing, I would like to address the industry. Attention gaming and comic book industry: I have a va-jay-jay, and I also have money to spend on your products. I am intrigued, and I would like to subscribe to your magazine, but not if you're not going to at least try to make it worth my while. Really, in this economy, can you seriously afford to turn me and my geek sisters away? Don't listen to the trolls. Haters gonna hate. Gamers gotta game. And I am counting the days until Mass Effect 3. You want me to be that excited about your product too.


twentysomethingfictionwriter said...

I game as well and am a very avid Sims 2 specialist ;D

Robyn Bachar said...

I love the Sims. So addictive. :)

Anonymous said...

i've been a female gamer (fighting games like ssf4 and sfxt) for a year now. i started playing strategy games, rpg at the age of 12,

devin fletcher said...

hey, i cant say i understand how you feel, as imma guy, but i believe you... ive played dozens of games on Steam and most appeal to male audiences; im a full-time gamer when im not a school and if you have a Steam, you could add me... i will be called [MC]Sygma