June 29, 2006

The World of Warcraft Community Loves Women

One of my most linked posts has been the narrative voices of women who play World of Warcraft I surveyed last winter. My questions were open ended and by no means scientific as I invited respondents to openly define themselves and their experiences as gaming women. I included excerpts from everyone who responded in the blog post I made in December.

A user on the official World of Warcraft, Bleahadin, forums has plagiarized the survey results and reposted them in their entirety. Fortunately, other users have pointed out the post is plagiarized and linked to my original post. I mind that the voices of a diverse group of women being represented as the opinion of one individual.



Noble Pink DS Lite

Filed under:Nintendo DS Lite, Personal, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:26 am

noble pink ds lite

Figures Nintendo announces the Noble Pink DS Lite not two weeks after I purchase my polar white. And I do find pink rather noble, it’s my second favorite color. Fortunately, white is my third favorite color (and we’ll probably never get a brown DS Lite, although I don’t know that I’d want one), although it does show the dirt easily. I got bike grease on my DS Lite the first day I had it.

What happened to the good old days when I was able to get a Gameboy Advance on clearance because nobody wanted pink? In all seriousness, though, if the pink DS Lite is popular I’ll be happy. It’ll be a sign that femininity and gaming aren’t as odd a pair.

The Pink DS Lite comes out July 20, 2006 in Japan. If it makes it over here (or I can bribe tekanji to send me one), I may just pass the polar white on to my little brother.

Via the play girlz gaming blog.


Realism and Objectification

Filed under:Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:00 am

New blogger Collie of Collie’s Bestiary has written a wonderful post called What don’t we see?. She does an image analysis of 1999’s computer game, Planescape: Torment and asks:

So why did the creators of the game feel the need to make only the women look silly and ineffective? Are they afraid of strong, athletic women? For that matter… why do we use the term ‘girly’ disparagingly? There’s not even a word for ‘boy-y-ness’ — it’s as if we believe male behavior is the default, and therefore needs no description or explanation. But men are statistically the minority; women are actually the human norm. Why do we allow this aberrant treatment of women? Further, why does our culture consider it “bad” to be a girl?

I recommend reading her post to see the images she’s collected of contemporary female athletes. Compare their builds and uniforms to some of your favorite video game and comic heroines.

Jeff, who recently joined us at Shrub.com, responds in a post called The Realism Defense. He discusses how women being penalized in games is defended as realistic in a backlash against being “politically correct” (which I don’t consider myself, but that’s another blog post), and that he enjoys games that are fun rather than realistic. He writes:

The realism that’s being defended in the above examples is selective at best. Some elements get focused on while others are ignored entirely; it’s not so much that these design decisions are expected as it is that they “feel right” to the perceived core audience of male gamers. Gaming, especially fantasy role-playing, has been a “boys’ club” for so long that these little touches of sexism have become cliches that players take for granted. If an area is poor, the reasoning goes, it will have prostitution, and that will invariably take the form of female streetwalkers, no matter what the rest of society looks like. In a multi-species society like Sigil, why would all of the prostitutes be human women?

What the realism defense ignores is that any game – indeed, any narrative or documentary medium – is limited in scope. The game designer makes a conscious choice about what to model in the game world; including sexism under the guise of “realism” makes a statement that sexism is sufficiently important to be included in the world model.

In closing, Jeff calls on game designers to ask the following questions when making design decisions:

1. Why am I including this feature?

2. How will this decision make the game more enjoyable?

3. For whom will this decision make the game more enjoyable?

4. For whom will this decision make the game less enjoyable? Is there any way to minimize this?

I’m going to take this advice to heart, and try to offer advice for game designers more often in my own posts. ‘Cause I know you all are out there, and you want to be gender inclusive.


June 21, 2006

Queer Gamers Get Some Airtime

Filed under:News, Statistics, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:53 am

Newsweekly has an article on the first academic study on queer gamers. Recent graduate Jason Rockwood tells Newsweekly that first he has to prove that queer gamers exist, and that:

Gay gamers experience a double edged sword of prejudice. [...] The mainstream gay culture and media is not supportive of video games. Then you have the video game culture that is not supportive of gay culture. So you have these people stuck in the middle who have this double edged prejudice. I’m hoping this survey would shed some light on how or why people go through such a process.

You can help Rockwood out by taking the Gaymer Survey yourself. I just took it and this is what I wrote in the feedback box:

The survey only allows female, male, FTM, and MTF as options for sex, when biological sex comes in more varieties (i.e. intersexed). I also saw no question asking for gender identity. I also had to pick my sexual orientation on a spectrum, so I felt dishonest because I don’t really feel that represents who I am. In future surveys, I hope that there are open option for respondents to write in their physical sex and gender identity and sexual orientation, since indentity doesn’t always fit into ratio checkboxes.

But don’t let me discourage you… take the survey!

Via Netwoman.


June 20, 2006

The Truth about Little Girls

Filed under:Gender, Personal, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:39 pm

I rather enjoyed reading Bonnie Rueberg’s The Truth about Little Girls in this week’s The Escapist. Rueberg points out that we never get to play women beyond their sexual potency (it’s an interesting word choice, since post-menopausal women are still sexual). Even games for girls are sexualized:

Even so-called “girl games,” which are designed specifically with young girls in mind, rarely feature children. Instead, their protagonists are Barbie, a tight-sweater-clad Nancy or the Bratz, those cool girls on the block who all seem to have had their noses surgically removed. Much like the women of adult-oriented games, girl-game characters are sexualized through dress and physical design. They prove that the issues surrounding the depiction of grown-up women extend far beyond the grown-up world.

Rueberg also asks, in her closing, how playing a little girl will challenge the masculinity of Western gamers.

I played video games as a child, and didn’t find myself as a little girl in protagonists. I related to the pretty-boy Link, the egg-laying Yoshi, and youthful animal characters like Tails or Buster Bunny–I never could get into the head of a grown man like Mario. In a way, I was used to playing boys. In my favorite cartoons like Tiny Toons or Rescue Rangers, the boys out numbered the girls. When playing make-believe with my girl friends, I’d be one of the male characters so they wouldn’t have to gender-bend. I didn’t especially want to be the boy, but I wasn’t willing to fight to be the girl. After a while, I didn’t really notice it. In most of the narratives I read and watched and played growing up, being a boy was normal.


Escapist Does “Girls in Games” Again

Filed under:Gaming Women, Gender, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 7:32 am

This week’s issue of The Escapist is called Girl Power 2. I haven’t had time to read the articles yet, but only one is written by a woman (one of my favorite game journalists, Bonnie Rueberg).

Not quite the 30 percent Escapist editor Julianne Greer mentions in her editor’s note (I guess that’s the in-house staff, anyways, not writers). We’ll see if the Escapist has listened to criticism or is another example of the gaming male gaze. But hey, it’s not like I’ve ever applied to write for them. I know a lot of my readers are game journalists… what experiences have you had with the Escapist as a writer?


June 18, 2006

Feminist Science Fiction Carnival: Call for Submissions

Filed under:News, Online Communities, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 8:13 am

Hey bloggers! Ragnell of Written World is hosting the first issue of the the Feminist SF Carnival. The issue will be posted July 2, 2006, and the submission deadline is June 29, 2006. From the carnival introduction:

The Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans periodically collects posts from the hazy side-reality where feminist social consciousness meets the outer limits of the imagination. This is to draw attention to lesser known bloggers, to bring individuals of like-minded (or at least, understanding) interests together, and to foster the growth of feminist fan communities.

Discussions of science fiction, fantasy, and fandom–from a feminist perspective–in all mediums are cool, including books, film, video games, television, and table-top games.

Submissions for the first issue can be E-mailed to Ragnell ( ragnellthefoul AT hotmail DOT com ) or submitted at the submission form.

Cross-posted on Feminist SF – The Blog!


June 16, 2006

Photoblogging #1: I did it!

Filed under:Nintendo DS Lite, Personal — Lake Desire @ 6:02 pm

I did it! I got the Polar White Nintendo DS Lite yesterday, which came with a free copy of Brain Age. I’d never spent more than a minute fiddling with the old DS, so was I ever pleasantly surprised when I popped it open and the DS greeted me with two vivid and bright screens. I spent the last two afternoons outside playing Brian Age at my parents’ house, where I was greeted by the critters Scott and Garnet (yes, she’s named after that Garnet–we used to have a Quistis, too).



June 14, 2006

DS Lite: I’m Doing It!

Filed under:Nintendo DS Lite, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:06 am

So I’m going to do it. I’m going to get the DS Lite, probably from Best Buy so I can get the free copy of Brain Age with it. But before I shell out 130 dollars, I have another question for you all: what’s the story on the flash cards? Are they compatable with the DS Lite? How much do they cost? I’d like to be able to download fan-made software/games for the DS Lite, but am a little clueless (as usual!).


June 13, 2006

Xbox GamerchiX

Filed under:Gaming Women, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 3:32 pm

Clans for women gamers. We’ve heard about them. This one, by Xbox player TriXie, made me smile. I love her manifesta:

  • If you play games, you’re a gamer chick. Whether you’re an Xbox Halo 2 Champ, play RPGs on the PC or Mah Jong Tiles on MSN Games, you’re a gamer chick.
  • Xbox GamerchiX don’t talk trash about other women. Ever. When women stop hating on each other…we will rule the world!
  • Xbox GamerchiX support each other.
  • Xbox GamerchiX are good role models for young gamer girls.
  • Xbox GamerchiX are not pin-ups. We’re all hot in our own unique way, but it’s about the games and the companionship, not T&A.
  • Cool, eh?

    I’ve decided “chick” is being used in a reclaiming sort of way. Bit of a “you can define your own positive gamer identity, too.”

    Via Aeropause.