PAX East 2010: A Girl and a Shirt


To see that the landscape of gaming is changing, you need look no further than Red Dead Redemption‘s swag.

Peek into the closets and bureaus of most game journalists and you’ll find the same thing: game t-shirts. Lots and lots of game t-shirts. Despite what you might think, it’s not because we love games as much as we love free clothes – though both of those are true. No, it’s just because more often than not, after you’ve finished trying a game demo at a show or convention, a cheerful PR person pushes a t-shirt emblazoned with the game’s logo into your hands. Sometimes it’s a large, sometimes it’s an extra large, but it is always, always a man’s shirt.

Not that this is some kind of huge conspiracy, or anything. Not only does the industry skew heavily male, but while a girl can wear a man’s shirt, a man can’t wear a girl’s because of the cut. So if you’re only going to have one, it makes sense for it to be for a dude. I get it. But it’s still always a little disappointing.

Imagine, then, my surprise and delight when the lovely Rockstar PR girl asked what size ladies shirt I would like. There, at her feet, was a box of girl’s shirts, right alongside the expected box of boy’s.

This may not seem like a big deal, and in many ways, it isn’t. Rockstar put in an order for female shirts along with male shirts. Done. But it’s also a big deal, because it’s quiet acknowledgement, finally, that a significant part of the videogame audience is female. Females who are proud enough of being gamers to want to cover their chests and backs with game titles and developer names – and proud enough of being female to want to look like a girl while doing it.

PAX East was a consumer show, of course, so the ratio of male to female was slightly different than it would be at a straight up trade event, but GDC had ladies shirts available, too. It seems like every other day, someone is asking how we can get more girls interested in the industry. Sometimes, it’s as easy as giving them a shirt that fits.

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