Friday, March 21, 2014

Gaming Gender Gap - 20 Years Later?!?

Posting a repost!

I stumbled upon this reposting of a Washington Post article dated way back in 1994. What's it about? "The Electronic Gender Gap." Yep. The Post was posting about the boy/girl, male/female inequality with gaming when the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were the new consoles on the block.

Post.

Sorry. I just want to see how many times I can get away with typing "post" before it becomes a nuisance. I'll stop now.

While the nostalgia factor is great, this is really f-ing depressing. Two decades later and we're still talking about the same exact damn thing; nothing has changed. The industry is focused on male marketing. Video games are not for women or girls. Products are designed for boys and men, using women as objects of desire or things to be rescued. It's this same mindset that has given us a modified Lightning for FFXIII-Lightning Returns, with a larger chest, thinner waist, and more dominant hips.

"Basically, the people who gravitate toward video games are prepubescent males. They're the ones putting in the quarters for fighting games. That's what the market wants, that's what we're going to continue to develop. Girls aren't part of that market, so we don't focus on girls."

Truthfully, I can imagine a lot of gaming companies today saying the same thing. 20 years later and it's still the same mindset. And that's depressing as f*ck. I feel like I'm on an episode of 'Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t'. It's been proven a myriad of times over the past decade that girls and women make up half of gamers. And according to the ESRB's 2013 stats, we are the majority now. Developers can say that they are making more girl/women friendly products, but slapping Barbie or Disney on every title does not work. We're more reluctant to pick up those products because we know that the stories, game play, design, and logical dimensions just plain suck. We want to play a game that we know is worth our money, even when they're not advertised to include us. (Capcom's public relations coordinator commented even back then that their adaptations of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid sold well with girls. Well, you tossed a Disney name on it. That's why. Mechanics in those games were subpar and didn't offer the intensity they brought to Street Fighter.)

I have to thank and recognize The Post (did it again, sorry!) in being one of the early runners in seeing the glaringly obvious issue of gender equality in games and gaming. But now I'm depressed that. I read their article and, if it weren't for the obviously out dated references, I could easily see it being a news piece made today. Nothing has changed in 20 years. Not. A. Damn. Thing.

*sighs*

I'll end this with another quote from the 1994 article that echos the same sentiments many of us feel today:

"What the industry lacks is not social agenda and political correctness, but an openness to different sorts of creative people with insights, messages and styles of expression."

2 comments:

  1. I'm not going to say you're wrong - because many of the stats are the same. But the difference between then and now is that women like you have a lot more access to publishing your opinions and concerns. Your blog is a PRIME example of what HAS changed. I've been watching all of this for way more than 20 years and the proliferation of women TALKING about gaming is phenomenal. Things do change - slowly, but distinctly. Thank YOU for being a part of the change.

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    1. This is true. I guess a lot of my "wtf" moments stem from the fact that, growing up, my parents never discouraged us from playing what we wanted to play. There were no "girl" or "boy" toys. And it was like that with the kids in my neighborhood too. Everyone played together. Video games, street hockey, dolls, whatever. We didn't make distinctions. So for me it's "why are things still the same???" when I've seen it all of my life.

      I'm starting to digress a bit, but you're right. A lot of it is because women haven't had a voice until recently with the internet becoming the hub of communication that it has. While gender issues has always been a concern for gaming, it hasn't been noticed until recently. I'm with you there.

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