October 24, 2006

Invisible Girl Gamers

Filed under:Gaming Women, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:18 pm

Real Girls Don’t: The invisible minority of female video game players: a wonderful article by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman. She recalls her experiences in the role-playing club at her high school. She was mistaken for being in the wrong room when she first joined, but her being there made it easier for other women to join the group. She also writes about how casual games, played by many women, are ignored by men.

Sometimes girls are told that they can’t or shouldn’t play RPGs or video games. But more often, I think, they are told that they don’t. The cultural message is sometimes wrapped in hand-wringing and good intentions, but the underlying assumption beneath “Why don’t girls play video games?” is still “Girls don’t play video games.” Technology in general, but game technology in particular, is viewed as a masculine domain. Girls use computers to word process, send instant messages, make a MySpace profile—but they don’t use them to slay dragons. They just don’t. And it’s a lot harder to see what’s wrong with that argument than a straightforward claim that slaying dragons is not ladylike.

Great point about how technologically savy we are. I won’t spoil the rest of the article: go read it.


October 16, 2006

Sixth Carnival of Feminists at the Hathor Legacy

Filed under:News — Lake Desire @ 8:38 am

The Sixth Carnival of Feminist SF is out today at The Hathor Legacy. A few of my posts were included.

The next issue hosted by Racy Thoughts on November 20, 2006.


October 11, 2006

Misogyny in Kindom Hearts Fandom

Filed under:Gender, Kingdom Hearts Series, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:04 am

I read a great post today on I Am A Tree that I want to highlight: You Feel the Need to Overcompensate by Being More Ruthless Than Your Male Counterparts. Blogger Michelle discusses gender, villains, and the Kingdom Hearts series and its fandom. On her favorite character, Larxene:

Her “status,” as mentioned, was as the only female character. Out of the 13 Nobodies, Larxene was the only woman. To me, that made her even more awesome, being the strong female who not only fought among the baddest boys, but often came off as the most ruthless on the entire bunch.

She wasn’t sexualized in canon, either. As a member of the Organization, she wore the same long, black trenchcoat, tall boots, pants and black gloves as the guys. She may have had breasts, but that was never emphasized by her outfit.

Michelle noticed something intriguing and disturbing in the Kingdom Hearts fandom: Larxene is transformed into a slut, sexualized, a woman of contempt.

But, you know, we knew that. Larxene wasn’t some big, busty ‘n’ lusty villainess. She wasn’t using her womanly wiles to infiltrate the enemy. All she was doing was being just as evil as, if not more than, the rest of the Organization. Twelve aggressive and ruthless men, but the only woman in their midst isn’t a delicate little Disney Princess(tm)? Oh no, video game law has been violated! Send in the fandom clean up crew to get her image on straight!

Michelle does a great job compiling images and linking to posts illustrating her observation.

My experience with slash and fandom is limited, but I’m really curious why a woman among the (almost) canonically gay Organization is transformed into a scorned character amongst the role-playing fans.


Manipulation 101: Get Your “Girly” Gaming for YOU

Filed under:Gender, Sexism — Lake Desire @ 8:28 am

Browsing Jade Reporting I found this forum post: Coastal Michelle’s Top 10 ways to get your girl into gaming. I’m not familiar with Video Game Outsiders, the podcast Coastal Michelle hosts, but I found her list problematic coming from someone with an influence over her listeners. I’ll break down some points on the list and point out the attitudes about women–in this case that we’re stupid and consumer driven and easy to manipulate–that it embodies.

My top 10 ways to get your GIRLY GAMING!

Girlfriends as your girly instead of an equal partner: this language sets up girlfriends as second class, as sidebars to their gaming men.

10 * Get a co-op game and come up with a sob story about how none of your guy friends will play it with you. Repeat, adding words like “sad” and “lost”.. her mothering instinct will kick in and you’re GOLDEN!

There’s a bit of biological essentialism in this point; women are innately nurturers and men just need to manipulate that to get women to do what they want.

9 * If she reads at night, secretly replace her latest Oprah book club novel with a PSP. If she becomes suspicious, tell her Oprah gave PSPs away to her entire audience last Wednesday. Smile and nod.. a lot.

I could almost find this funny–knowing a few Oprah fans myself, who are not necessarily female–until the smiling and nodding. Against, women are stupid and easy to manipulate, this time by their consumerism and emulation of media figures.

7 * Give her jewelry and shoes every time she gets a gaming achievement you don’t have. Fake Diamonds work too, shhh.

Again, women can be manipulated by their consumerism. Jewelry in particular: a display of status that circles back around to reflect well the man who gave it to her. This is about getting men what they want.

4 * If she is competitive.. challenge her to a verses game. If she isn’t, mock her until she dislikes you. If all else fails, compare her to her mother. Try again.

(My emphasis added.) Teasing and cruelty are apparently acceptable and normal. Is having a healthy relationship with her mother out of the question?

A note on competition: I find it frustrating to compete against men in something they’ve been trained to do since they were knee-highs.

3 * Invite her to watch you play a captivating single player game. Let her know you want her to be there.. ask her for her help, or opinion on what to do.

2 * Listen to the podcast with her.. use girls like myself and Dana as examples.. perhaps invite her to join the forums and talk with us for ideas on games, etc.

1 * Do your research. In all seriousness, find out what your girl likes and doesn’t like. Get her a game that is specific to what she is interested in, even if it seems silly to you. Although it may not be true for all, a lot of women seem to be more into the nintendo products – so a DS is a great way to start. Plus she can play that, while you game on a console.. in fact you can let her know it’s just another way for you guys to spend time together. An honest talk might be all it takes, and who knows, she might not only find it an honor that you want to involve her in a hobby of yours, she might just end up becoming more of a gamer than you!

These two bits aren’t necessarily bad advice, as long as you’re doing it as equals: one partner inviting another to get into a hobby. I’d suggest letting her take the controller, though.

Good Luck men.. and errr ladies, if you are into that sorta thing.

Same-gender relationships aren’t weird–or at least they shouldn’t be.

If this is how the game community sees women, no wonder they’re not into games.

I’m not attacking Coastal Michelle. Rather, I’m criticizing her list because it reinforces sexism and perpetuates the women-as-gamer-accessories–even if it places those accessories on a pedestal–ideology in gamer culture. The Top 10 list is an example of a woman rewarded by men for what they want to hear. In return, the posters praise Coastal Michelle for a list well written.

For more in depth discussion of problematic “For Her” lists, check out tekanji’s series.


October 8, 2006


Filed under:Feminism, Sexism, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:54 am

Mad Gamers.net recently interviewed Geek Woman of WomenGamers.com about being a gamer, writer, and feminist and her book, Geek Woman’s Guide to Gaming.

Geek Woman says:

I can’t say that I can predict what will happen for women in gaming in the future. If the present is any indication then I would predict that nothing will change. Oppression sometimes breeds good things and people get fed up and take back their power. In the gaming world, guys said to us “You aren’t a real girl” or “If you are playing video games you must be the ugliest girl on the planet”. So the women put on their makeup and heels and did photo shoots and said “Hello. We play video games and we are pretty, and smart too.” Unfortunately instead of creating empowerment, it back fired. Real world sex workers and models started calling themselves ‘gamers’ even though they know nothing about games. Then these women began to take the jobs that the real female gamers should be getting. Instead of hiring booth babes, women who are expert gamers and champions should be getting those jobs. If publishers were smart, they would know that knowledgeable people sell more products. Anyone can put on make up and nice clothes and look good for a show. Your own UK Lara Croft is a model, not a champion player of Tomb Raider. When a beauty contest for female gamers was held there were no requirements in it about gaming. Professional models entered the contest, and the two largest female game clans, The Frag Dolls and PMS boycotted the contest.

I find Geek Woman’s pessimism disheartening; I think we do have the power to change things. I’m uncomfortable with criticizing models when they’re players in a greater gamer culture. Who puts on these gamer beauty contests? Who are they serving? Who is treating women like console accessories?

Via Jade Reporting.


October 5, 2006

100 Most Influential Women in Gaming: The Follow Up

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 4:18 pm

Remember the list of Game Industries 100 Most Influential Women? Next Generation posted the reader-nominated updates of those they missed the first time around.

But wait! Why do women get special attention? The writers say this in response to criticism:

Some have argued that there is no good reason to highlight women as a particular ‘separate’ group within the industry. But while our list and this follow-up demonstrates the senior positions and key creative roles held by women in the game industry, this is still an industry overwhelmingly male at almost every level. The lists that we occasionally publish which are gender-blind reflect this fact and are usually, unavoidably, dominated by men.


October 2, 2006

Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

Filed under:Videogames — Lake Desire @ 12:36 pm

Space Woman

October is turning out to be a wonderful month; we’re getting two issues of my favorite blog carnival. Today, we’ve got 5th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans at One Hundred Little Dolls. Next issue is at The Hathor Legacy. Submissions are due Friday, October 13. As if I didn’t have enough to look forward to this month with corn mazes and winter squashes and Final Fantasy XII coming out and all.