nascentnovelist

April 21, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Day: Gender in Gaming

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:37 am
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve just backed my first kickstarter project: Shadowrun. Shadowrun was the first urban fantasy book series I read, I was obsessed with the RPG and it was the setting for one of my first short stories, so when they asked for backing, I was in.

Then I watched the pitch video (you know, the please-give-us-all-your-money video), and I got the distinct feeling that it wasn’t aimed at me. I haven’t analyzed all of it, but I know the sentence that alienated me completely: “I love making games and I’ve been making them for a really, really long time. You may have heard of some of them, or maybe your dad has, games like…”

1. Way to make me feel old. I’ve heard of the games he mentioned, so I must be old enough to have kids backing these projects.

2. Or maybe your dad has. Your dad. Not your parents. Not your mom. Your dad. Because girls don’t play games, right?

Now, of course, I buried these peeves and still backed the project. I love Shadowrun, and I’m not going to let the uncomfortable feeling in my tummy telling me that he’s not pitching this game to me dictate whether or not I support it. After all, I know I’ll love this game, even if its creators think that only (old? young?) men will.

Then I got update message number 8 in my email inbox. Along with other news, it said that if you back the game with $60, you get a special backer tee-shirt. Sweet, I thought. Maybe I should back for more money, after all I’m in love with this game, and how cute would I be in a backer tee-shirt. Let’s take a look at them.

You probably already know what’s coming, right? That’s right: three nicely designed tee-shirts, all of them for men. No girly tees. Now, I know there are girls working on this project. I saw them far in the background of the pitch video. Don’t you think they’d like a tee-shirt that fits? In fact, have you ever been in a position where all the participatory tee-shirts are designed for women and men just have to live with it? I didn’t think so.

It’s not so much the fact that I want everything to be catered to me (although I’d love it if mainstream cinema was), it’s the fact that I feel like they haven’t given my demographic a thought at all. The girl gamer is expected to suck it up and wear menswear, ignore problematic gender issues in the games they play and accept that their entertainment will be aimed at others. And I don’t think that’s fair.

This is not a call to arms for fluffy bunnies and more interactive versions of playing house, I love shooting zombies as much as the next person. What this is, is a call for gaming companies to realize that they already have a whole group of people willing to back their projects, but they’re not pitching to them.

I could go into an even longer rant about this, but Bob from the escapist has covered the subject really well in five minutes, so I highly suggest you watch that.

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