[MUD-Dev] Game design and gender: An interesting article

Laurel Fan lf25+ at andrew.cmu.edu
Thu Sep 2 17:37:50 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


Excerpts from muddev: 31-Aug-99 Re: [MUD-Dev] Game design a.. by Caliban
T. Darklock at dark 
> It must be cheap.
>  
> Boys will not blink at a sixty dollar price tag. Girls will. This is
> because boys are largely clueless about household expenses, and stop their
> concern at "I want". Girls, on the other hand, tend to be more acutely
> aware of what mom and dad can or cannot afford, so sixty dollars to them
> means they're trading the equivalent of next week's groceries for a game.
> This is a terribly selfish thing to do, and a great number of girls won't
> even seriously consider it.

Not really.  My sister (who I would consider a more "typical" girl than
I) would think nothing of paying more than $60 for a dress, which is
arguably no less frivolous than a game.  I don't think girls are any
less selfish than boys when it comes to objects they desire... it's just
that they often desire different things.
  
> It must be flawless. 
> It must be pretty. 

I think this is true to some extent for both boys and girls... Gameplay
flaws can kill a game depending on how annoying they are, and prettiness
(often synonymous with rendering engine features..) can be impressive. 
Any game needs both gameplay and aesthetics in some degree to be
successful, and prettiness can't overcome awful gameplay or vice versa.

> Is that the whole formula? Probably not. But it's a start.

If you make a game that is cheap, flawless, and pretty, I think you'll
have plenty of users of both genders...
  
> >> I have been given a demo of a game called Starcraft.  It is obviously one
> >> of the games aimed at boys. I found it telling that the only female char-
> >> acter in the game is a medic.
>  
> Quake 2 has female characters. The availability of female characters in a
> game is not an adequate representation of its target market.

Correct... For example, the Alien movies (from which Starcraft seems to
have drawn some inspiration...) have many female characters (Sigourney
Weaver's, the aliens, various female cannon fodder..), and are usually
considered "boy" movies.  However, I find that an otherwise
non-offensive game can get annoying if my character (ie. in an first
person adventure type game) does not have the option of being female,
and is constantly referred to as a male.
  
> >I wouldn't say Starcraft is aimed at boys as such.  Though you might be able
> >to say that real time strategy games in general appeal to boys.  
>  
> Take the "real time" out, and you might have something more interesting.
> Boys rush right in and go flailing about trying to get things done, and if
> stuff gets broken so be it. Girls like to be more methodical and plan
> things effectively. This takes time. Girls also tend to be better at
> lateral thinking, and will come up with odd strategies which aren't
> military in nature. Boys push, girls pull: if a boy wants the opponent to
> go north, he will try to put something undesirable to the south. A girl
> would be more likely to put something desirable to the north. There aren't
> many "pull" strategies available in most games. Boys think in terms of

> It is worth noting that I don't really like typical "male" games much,
> either. I don't think very much like a man most of the time, and I tend to
> get a little embarrassed when I catch myself thinking or doing something
> typically male. All of the above are things that *I* would also find
> attractive in a game. Technology has been a big excuse for many of the
> flaws in games, but we don't really have that excuse anymore with modern
> processors, memory banks, and 3D accelerators. 

This somehow indicates to me that you may be equating boys vs. girls
with immature vs. mature :).  Maybe you're right (and this is
ridiculously offtopic), but middle aged women can act like
script-kiddies sometimes...

http://www.salon.com/tech/log/1999/09/02/hotmail_hack/index.html





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