Females in GamingMar 16, 2015 | 2 Votes by Aethyna 9.5 rate In a male-dominated field like gaming, it's not surprising to see women being subjected to various forms of harassment just because they "dared" to be a part of this field. This article attempts to describe the various cases where female gamers and developers have been discriminated and the solutions that gaming companies are taking to solve this problem... one step at a time.
The whole gaming community, particularly the pro-gaming community, was rocked with news early this year, where a female Heartstone pro-gamer, MagicAmy, one of the few females in the pro-gaming industry, has been harassed by male players from other team to the point where she resigned from her team and left the pro-gaming scene for good. She was accused by male players of having someone ghost-playing for her in online matches and tournaments. While these accusations are not proven and are rather unfounded, investigations have been launched both by her team and Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind Hearthstone. With her career being scrutinized by everybody, and, not to mention, having to suffer through insults thrown her way, MagicAmy bent to the pressure placed on her and decided to just quit playing a game she loves and is good at.
Quite a number of gamers in the community believe that she was targeted due to her gender and to plain jealousy. The fact is that she has been wildly successful in gathering a huge fan base particularly on Twitch, and some male players may feel intimidated by her success. Nonetheless, due to her withdrawal from the team, any future tournaments as well as anything to do with the game, the issue was calmed down somewhat… after all, the male players who instigated the entire issue got what they wanted.
These issues against women in the gaming industry and community are not exactly uncommon and are not limited to only female gamers. In fact, just last year, the 27-year-old Zoe Quinn, a female game developer, came under fire by the group of gamers, which later formed the infamous GamerGate, which has a truly black reputation of going after females that “dared” to venture into the previously male-dominated field. She was insulted not because of the free game she developed, called Depression Quest, to let gamers experience what she has experienced herself during the murky period of depression in her life, but because of her sex life. .. something that is nobody’s business, except for herself and her partner’s.
Zoe Quinn had to endure verbal abuse and even death threats. However, the last straw came when her personal information was hacked by these malicious fellows and are made public. This incident, called as ‘doxing’, forced her to leave her own home when the prank calls, threatening emails and abusive tweets intensified to a whole new degree and became absolutely unbearable. It is this sort of news that made quite a number of females to avoid participating in the gaming industry.
Despite the fact that female gamers consist of around 52% of the gaming community, it’s still a wonder to many that why 85% of the playable characters in games are still males, particularly in shooter-based games. There are also a huge amount of games that caters to males by displaying their scantily-clad female characters in a very objectified kind of way, while ignoring what female gamers may feel or think when they see such a thing in a game. Not to mention, games at conventions have always employ “booth babes” to promote their games, which makes a huge fraction of the female gamers to avoid such games. There has even been news that females in the gaming industry (or any kind of industry for that matter) are being paid approximately 27% less as compared to their male counterparts.
Thankfully, all is not gloomy for females in the gaming industry and community. Game companies have started to acknowledge that female gamers, and developers, are here to stay. For instance, the highly popular game, Mass Effect 3 provides gamers the option to select a female protagonist, instead of the usual male main character. This new character option is surprisingly a popular feature, not only among ‘girl gamers’, but also among males as well! The same goes to Activision’s “Call of Duty: Ghosts”. After all, you can be whoever you want in games, and that’s the magic of games that had caught gamers in their webs for decades! In short, let’s just say that it’s about darn time we gamers have these options!
Women are also taking up more important roles within the gaming industry. A perfect example is Jade Raymond, the head of Ubisoft Toronto and project head of a team of 300 staff in producing Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Not to mention, Bonnie Ross and Kiki Wolfkill are women that are heading up the highly popular Halo franchise as well! After producing the indie blockbuster game “Journey”, Robin Hunicke also started her own game studio. As more females are playing games, a larger portion of these female gamers will, in turn, head to work in the gaming industry later on. It’s a great cycle that should be encouraged in order to promote equality for both genders in the gaming industry.
Like what the creative director at Lionhead Studios, Gary Carr, has once said, “I don’t just want guys making games for guys. I want guys and girls making games for guys and girls.” With more diversity in the gaming community as well as in the gaming industry, you can certainly expect high profile games to start to look different enough to cater to both genders.