La Luna

La Luna
The Perspectives of Tracy J. Butler

Vincent Keave | 2 Sep 2008 12:52
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TE: Do you feel that in your workplace, you and other women, by the very nature of your gender, bring some significant change to the development process, or do you feel that you bring change as individuals regardless of sex?

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TB: I think women working in the gaming industry makes the gaming culture more accessible to girls. I think if it's perceived as a normal pastime for anyone with no lingering social stigmas attached, it's more open to everyone, in fact. Being a girl in the game industry doesn't bear any special significance on an individual level - I don't contribute anything special simply by virtue of being a girl. I have to work hard to bring something to the table just like everyone else does. I don't fancy myself some sort of crusader, either. I do believe, however, that my career in games, as well as the careers of the numerous other women I work with on a daily basis, represent a trend toward a more female-inclusive industry. We're there to put our respective talents to use, though, not our X chromosomes.

TE: Companies are realizing that understanding and keeping in touch with their audience is important. But players still don't know who's making their games. Would more female developers really bring more women to the pastime, or is it more likely that the audience itself will attract more female gamers?

TB: I think it stands to work both ways. There are some pretty recognizable faces in the game industry, after all - granted, they're mostly men. Jade Raymond rather unintentionally gained celebrity status as well. Her example, though, I think was rather heavily tarnished by the game community's reaction to her. It's indicative to me that there are still some hurdles to leap over, despite what I feel has been forward progress on the whole.

TE: What would you say turns off women from gaming?

TB: There aren't as many women gamers as there are men for a number of reasons, I think. I don't believe it's generally a matter of girls being "put off" from gaming so much as it has been an issue of girls not being "turned on" to games as boys were, though. I speak in the past tense because I think the trend has changed in large part (if the number of young girls I see walking around with their Nintendo DSs in hand is any indication), but a lot of boys in my generation have been immersed in games since childhood. It was practically encouraged, and quite the standard practice for boys to be gifted with games and consoles at birthdays and Christmas. There are exceptions, of course, but this was generally not the same for girls.

TE: Conferences like WiG (Women in Games) focus on bringing more women into the industry. Should we actively pursue the inclusion of more women in the IT business, or do you think they will come to the industry naturally as games grow in popularity?

TB: I think they'll continue to infiltrate (if you will) the industry either way, but I also see the benefit in encouraging girls with the ambition to consider gaming careers. The pool of talent and ideas can only expand when you take off the testosterone-colored glasses, disregard which gonads happen to be attached to the contenders, and make an effort to put to rest the commonly held notion that it's a made-for-men-by-men industry. In terms of broadening the spectrum, keeping games fresh, creative, and interesting, I think it can only do good to let women know there's a place for them if they have what it takes.

Vincent Keave likes the rain and your face upsets him. You can contact him at vincent.keave@gmail.com.

Tracy can be contacted at tracy@foxprints.com.

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