In response to "Women at the Pinnacle" from The Escapist Lounge: I was one of those women designers that Ken and Roberta hired to create adventure games. I did Conquests of Camelot and Conquests of the Longbow for them. Sierra was great fun in those days, with a wide-open creative environment the likes of which no longer exist. I was hired along with my late husband, Australian artist/illustrator Peter Ledger, who did the art for the Camelot game.
I also write for TV, animation and comics, so I enjoyed the challenge of bringing storytelling techniques into games. Since then, I've continued to do writing and design for other games, including console and MMOG, but I would dearly the opportunity to create another adventure game. Is anybody listening?!!!
- Christy Marx
In response to "The Truth About Little Girls" from The Escapist Lounge: This discussion brings me back to a project we were pitching to THQ, back when I worked for GameFX, a THQ-owned studio. The game was a platformer for the PS3 (which at the time was still a year or so from launching). There were two main characters and you could control one or the other at your discretion, a la Banjo and Kazooie. One character was a budding mad scientist, inventing time machines, inter- dimensional portals, rocket shoes, and so on. He was perhaps 12. The other character was his younger sister, tomboy-ish, perhaps 10.
The feedback from THQ was that no player ever wants to play a character younger than themselves. This was "Unchangeable Conventional Wisdom" requiring no proof. So we kept making the characters older and older until they were well-advanced into their teens, but THQ ultimately killed the project anyway.
I've always distrusted conventional wisdom, having seen it proved wrong so often over the years. After all, who remembers that prior to Tomb Raider it was conventional wisdom that male gamers wouldn't want to play any female PC, not no way, no how? I think if the characters are right for the setting and the story, and the gameplay is solid, the audience will follow.
- Steve Meretzky
To the editor: [In] regards to Bonnie Ruberg's piece, "The Truth about Little Girls," there's no denying that Lara Croft's ample breasts are a major driving force behind Tomb Raider's success as a franchise, but I'm not convinced she would have been so popular had she not appeared first in a groundbreaking and excellent game. Extremely sexualized women had appeared in games before Tomb Raider, but their success as a genre in itself began because of Tomb Raider's popularity, which I believe was greatly influenced by the quality of the game, not just the size of Lara's boobs. Is it possible that a truly excellent game featuring a young girl as its protagonist could launch the character- type into the mainstream? I don't know, but I think it's your best bet.
Given the assumption that female characters in games are sex symbols (which is the case in the industry today), I imagine developers are disinclined to feature a young female protagonist for fear of being called Humberts themselves ... and I think the same holds true for gamers ... I think it is the Humbert Barrier that is the greatest challenge to young girls running alongside Link, Duke, Lara and Mario. The question becomes, how do we surmount the Humbert Barrier? How do we convince developers that it's possible to feature a female protagonist that is not a sex symbol? How do we convince gamers that it's possible to play a game with a girl in it without ogling her polygons?
In response to "The Truth About Little Girls" from The Escapist Lounge: It seems that North Americans don't want little girls featuring in their media. Make a list of all movies intended for adult consumption with a little girl as one of the leads; 90% of them are horror movies, because there's something so darn creepy about little girls. But why? Are little girls so strange and inexplicable that the only way we can see them is through the lens of horror? This is certainly not so in Japan, which seems to have a cultural youth-fetish. Anime contains a plethora of young female protagonists, and the majority of girls in video games are probably found in Japanese RPG's...
Contrast that to games like the GTA series, bestsellers in North America. What can I say, we prefer our women [as] hookers.
In response to "The Truth About Little Girls" from The Escapist Lounge: Bonnie, time and time again you insist in shoving your views on sex and game protagonists down our throats. Stop trying to fit a round world into your square view and whining about how poor the representation of women (and girls) is in our games. We get it already!
I understand you view the world through a lens that magnifies sex and sexuality, but please try to look around it, or, if you can't, stop repeating the same mantra in every article you write for the Escapist.
To the editor: [To consider] the topic in a different way: Why has it taken women so long to realize that gaming is fun? It's the current player base. Just like the geek in the chat forum might actually be a mature nice guy without socialization problems; its almost impossible to tell as they are surrounded by wankers. This makes separating the diamonds from the filth very difficult.
In response to "Asexuality Actually" from The Escapist Lounge: This is an absolutely brilliant piece, and I believe the general philosophy behind it extends well to other topics of bias and stereotypes in our culture. I think our entire culture self-obsesses over such stereotypes that we actually end up reinforcing them, rather than beating them down, and John's points in this article and the facts he presents seem to support that.
In response to "Asexuality Actually" from The Escapist Lounge: Great article! I'm a woman, I game, and have been for many years. I enjoy selections from lots of different genres. Women, like men, have individual tastes - I know both men and women who think GTA is sick, but still enjoy plenty of other games.
I don't think gender should be used to stereotype tastes in gaming, or stereotype who plays. Many women gamers overreact to prove they can game and still be sexy or feminine - hence the use of "grrrl" and group photos with cute matching guild shirts. We should just be proud to be normal women (or men) who play games because it's something we all love to do.
I am not at all surprised that the percentage of women games is at 38% (almost every woman I know games to some degree, and there are plenty more who would if they had the time) - and I expect it will keep rising.