[MUD-Dev] games gender bias (Re: Affecting the world)

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Fri Sep 19 21:06:29 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Thu 18 Sep, =?iso-8859-1?Q?Ola_Fosheim_Gr=F8stad?= wrote:
> Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:

> >> So then the question might be:
> >> Outside of traditional muds, what games attract a large female 
> >> following?  

> >I tried to avoid this kind of discussion. It isn't particularly con-
> >structive. Attracting male or female players should not be a goal in
> >itself. What I wanted to point out was that 'combat' muds are single
> >minded. At least that was the most important thing I wanted to say.

> Oh yes, it should be a goal by itself!

On your head it is then!

> If you are able to attract
> female players, male players will come, driven by their very own
> nature...  :-)

Belief me, female players rarely want to deal with male players who
are attracted to a place for no other reasons than that there -are-
female player around.

> The whole entertainment industry has neglected the
> female market for decades, only recently has the industry recognized
> the growth potential in this segment.  I believe this focus on male
> entertaiment has a very good reason: "boys" are going-out-of-their-way
> to get their hands on new advanced toys, and: most engineers are
> male.

Still does. There's a huge entertainment gap for girls between the age
of 14 and 24.  There is also a reason for that,  but that is truly off
topic for this list. Besides it's not a very good reason.

> However, online entertainment systems adds a new dimension to
> "toys", the multiuser aspect, thus designing for "male entertainment"
> only, is probably not the best road to success.  The key to success is
> probably to find the female equivalent to racing-car-splatter-
> entertainment and kill-everything-that-moves-and-if-doesn't-move-kill-
> it-anyway-entertainment.

I would suspect that appeals to only a small part of the male population

> Think about it: 
> - Disney made Pochahontas to get their share of the female market.  
> - How many comics target a mostly male audience? How many comics target a
>   mostly female market?  What are the storylines in these comics?
> - For-girls-only game development teams are popping up.

Note also that the female audience here is generally expected to be not
much older than early teens. The storylines reflect childish interests.
I will not go into feminist theories  of the value of those traditional
stories that serve mainly to enforce gender roles.

> On the other hand, maybe men find technological constructs more
> interesting than women do.  So, maybe the answer isn't to find the
> "Barbie-doll" of MUDs.  Or maybe it is... That is, what is the
> difference between a "barbie-doll" and a "batman-doll", in terms of
> concepts?  Substitute "doll" with "avatar"...  Etc...

If a very, -very-, broad generalisation can be made: we prefer stories
and meaning.  Mindless violence is off putting far more than violence.
Most games excell in mindless violence clad in a flimsy story. Usually
only an excuse.  This is, by the way, not dissimilar with how violence
is handled in most movies.

Returning to the subject of this list. Games with a story will attract
more females than games that do not.  That is the strong point of most
roleplaying games (mushes mostly).  They combine a story,  usually one
where gender roles are less rigidly defined,  with an environment that
discourages  battles of ego (1).  The story puts everything into pers-
pective  and the cooperative environment shies off  the hormone driven
examples of the male species.
(1) there's a well known phrase decency disallows me to use.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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