[casual_games] Games for women made by women?
hal at finitearts.com
Wed Jun 7 14:31:17 EDT 2006
Struggling to make games women want to play is a fool's errand, and an
unnecessary one, since women form the bulk of casual game players.
Geez, read the statistics all the pubs supply. So we already know that
women, say, like match-3 games. Figuring out what women (and men) might
like *beyond* the cliches filling up publisher slots, that's another matter.
Should we agonize over this problem? Some, I guess, but a little goes a
long way. Let's not get confused. Women seem to resent games that
cater to men, but the truth is, many activities and enterprises in our
imperfect world are tailored strongly toward one gender or the other,
and aside from our biz, no one bats an eye. Look at clothes: one tiny
area of Nordstrom's for men, two huge floors for women. TV
demographics, the same: women watch a lot more entertainment television
than men do, as advertisers and networks will reluctantly admit.
Best-selling books of fiction? Also mainly women. Who cares?
My impression is that, as women enter our biz in greater numbers, we
will slowly alter the demographics in their favor -- but that's for AAA
mainstream games on PC and consoles. Casual games will slowly go the
other way, as more and more men get interested. So the good news is out
there, soon to happen, since it's obvious that women are, in fact,
entering our biz in increasing numbers. Big studios like LucasArts have
always embraced this trend (as I did while there), and the small
developers that seem like boys' tree-houses are certain to change.
Is it possible that the furor over women & games has less to do with
games than with a fear that women won't become familiar enough with
computers without playing games on them that they'll miss the main
economic opportunities of the future? If so, that seems silly, since
women compete successfully with men in virtually every field these days.
spocilujko at comcast.net wrote:
> Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
> I figured Jessica was joking, I knew Dustin was joking (because he knows if he wasn't I'd track him all the way down at Full Sail and give him a stern talking to [or just on IM cuz its a lot cheaper that way]), but I'm glad this is going in the right direction.
> 'Cute-n-fluffy' is not it, for women. I don't even think 'Cute-n-fluffy' is it for girls, at least these days.
> And yes while women who enter game development are atypical and not your 'average female gamer' there are two things to remember. One, they are still female and closer to your target demographic than a male is. Two, there is no 'average female gamer'. Just like males like FPSes, RTSes, Fighters, Action-Shoot 'Em Ups, RPGs, Puzzles, etc. so do women.
> The reason that casual games tends to fit the 'older female player' better than most other types of games may be related to the following:
> 1. They are short-time based games or easy to pause. Many women are constantly doing a lot of things, some of them are moms or wives trying to cook dinner, take care of chores, run errands, etc. As such surveys had them saying they liked games they knew they could pause at any moment or games where they could save often, or games that they knew they could pick up, play for 20 minutes, and leave not feeling obligated to stay (like you sometimes are with MMOs if you're camping for a mob or in a big raid or just feeling pressured to stay up in level with your friends).
> 2. They have relatively small learning curves. When you don't have much time or you aren't a 'hardcore gamer' it helps to have a game you can pick up, learn to play, and be having fun in a relatively short amount of time. It's the whole 'easy-to-learn, hard to master' mantra. They don't want to feel frustrated or feel like the one half hour they had to play the game they spent the whole time just trying to figure out how to start the type of game they wanted.
> 3. They often have tutorials or decent instructions. It's the whole 'women read manuals, men don't'. Although that also is a generalized stereotype (as almost all things in these sorts of discussions are) its often true. Women tend to read the help or play an optional tutorial more then men. In a shrink-wrap game they'll be more likely to read parts of the manual before starting the game. In a coin-op/arcade setting they'll be more likely to watch the attract mode (what you see when you're NOT playing the game) to try and get an idea for what the game is, how it works, what type of game play to expect, etc. as well as read everything on the control panel.
> 4. They don't have some of the stereotypical turnoffs for women. Although there are women who play hardcore and love those 'hardcore games' (think PMS Clan and the like...) there are women who are 'casual' or 'older/average' or whatever you want to call them who don't. In anecdotal and actual scientific surveys here are some reasons listed why a female did not buy a game or won't play/doesn't like to play various types of games:
> a. Too much unneeded violence. Violence for violence sake is not what they are into. This is where you go around killing just to killing. However, in many cases if you gave them a reason to kill it made it more justified and more acceptable to the player. I.e. your hero/heroine has to kill the guard at the door in order to rescue the kid behind it. If its just there so you can spray blood and body parts all over it might turn them off.
> b. Boobs the size of real melons. When you tell your artist the boobs should be about the size and shape of a melon he shouldn't be holding up a real melon to his computer screen and tracing around it. *grins* If, like in one of the Tomb Raider games, you are going down a passage with your female avatar and when she starts to walk sideways down a passage to fit and the zoom of the camera makes it so that her boobs take up 90% of the view, then something is wrong. Women aren't necessarily turned off by big boobs and cleavage, but something that is physically ridiculous, or as was noticed in the XNA noir scenes at GDC a couple years ago physically impossible, then it starts to become a turnoff.
> c. Bad box art. If they can't tell what the game is from the box or it looks like just a romp through areas filled with scantily clad women and bad potty jokes you're probably not headed in the right direction.
> d. Bad game trailer. See Bad box art.
> e. Bad game demo. See Bad game trailer.
> f. Games purely about 'shopping, clothes, makeup, jewelry, and dating'. Although this may work for some 'girl games' (but many of the successful ones are not) this is not the direction to go to target older, grown women. In fact even to 'casual gaming women' its often an insult.
> g. Physical limitations. Many women report getting nauseous or motion sick while playing games like FPSes. We're not sure completely why, or if there are a lot of males who do that just don't speak up or are hidden from teh majority who do, but this is what tehy are reporting.
> As far as having women on your team making a difference? The development team of Sims2 was 45% female with most top people in the team, excluding Will Wright, being female (including the producer). But for the most part diversity helps no matter what (and studies prove it - search for it at workforcemanagement.com I believe) and even if they aren't 'typical female players' they still probably have a new perspective to bring to your game than you do.
> A few of my 2 cents, glad the other Sheri isn't here. ;)
> spocilujko at comcast.net
> Design, Direct, Deliver
> -------------- Original message ----------------------
> From: "Joe Pantuso" <jpantuso at traygames.com>
>>> While there are Movies, Books and TV Shows that have a high "female
>>> demographic", I suspect that the truly successful ones have a much
>>> broader appeal.
>> This is dead-on. It seems to me that making a "game that will appeal to
>> women" is an impossible task. It implies a sort of prejudicial thinking
>> that is unrealistic and possibly a fools errand too.
>> In response to the original question, we have two game designers who are
>> women. I'm not entirely sure it makes a difference at the end of the day,
>> as women who enter the field of software development in general seem a bit
>> atypical, which is broadly the case in male dominated fields. Clearly
>> things are improving though, just looking at the crowd at CGDC now vs. 10
>> years ago and it is obvious.
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