Ask Not ...

Ask Not ...
The Double-X Factor

Erin Hoffman | 7 Nov 2006 11:01
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But the prevailing reason for the importance of a female presence in the development process is that the future is coming. The internet, once a pretty geeky place to be, has surged with a highly adaptable, highly hip, highly lucrative teen girl presence. If you've got a relative in this age demographic, you've seen what I mean: Blogs, instant messages, text messages, and online communities are how these girls communicate with each other, and they do it with staggering proficiency. Is it really much of a stretch to think some tech-savvy teenage girls might become interested in computer science at the collegiate level? And they'll bring that social dynamic with them. If we really want to know how to bring more women into the game industry, we need to ask the right questions of the right people, and that means asking young women of this massive demographic, women outside the current game industry.

Of the games that they would make and the games that they would play, I can make three predictions. Ponies will not be involved; pink will be used only sparingly; and most importantly, the current developer generation won't understand - at least at first. Albert Einstein said that the problems of today cannot be solved with the same kind of thinking that created them, and that applies as well to game development as to astrophysics or world peace.

For game development, social gaming represents the next new frontier, beyond the dollhouse play of The Sims and skewed away from the strange loneliness of Solitaire. In an environment where we are rapidly running out of new gaming genres, high-speed mediated social games are the gateway to a whole new world and a whole new definition of game design.

More and more women will enter the game industry every year. The decision each of us has to make individually is whether to continue to fight the inevitable - the fight that lashed out against rock music, comic books and television - as a force for inertia, or to leap wildly with the rushing wave.

And hopefully, in the process, try not to drool too much.

Erin Hoffman is a professional game designer, freelance writer, and hobbyist troublemaker. She moderates Gamewatch.org and fights crime on the streets by night.

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