Girls and Gaming: Don't Pander To Us!

Why Silicon Sisters, a company 'committed to developing high quality, inspirational games with a decidedly female focus', give women gamers a bad name.

Recently I read an article about a new games company, going by the name of Silicon Sisters, a company that is run solely with girls in mind. Their website states their focus as such: €œthe company is committed to developing high quality, inspirational games with a decidedly female focus: games made by women and girls, for women and girls.€ This message made me think about the role of, and more importantly the attitude towards, women within the modern day gaming sphere. Women and gaming have often had an odd relationship, and many an article has already been written by men and women alike about how women are portrayed in games, but it must be wondered, since when do women have to be pandered too with games in the way Silicon Sisters are? Personally speaking as a woman, I didn€™t really get into gaming on a regular basis until my dad brought home a N64 for my little brother. My first gaming experiences were with Sonic in the arcades, Mario at home, and by the end of 1997 I was hooked on Golden Eye. This relates to my choices with games in the present day, some of the most anticipated titles for me are often FPS in nature, with a few RPGs thrown in and a couple of Action Adventure titles. What I am getting at is if I, along with hundreds of other women, managed to get into gaming this way, playing games apparently meant for boys, why do the girls of today need to be pandered to? I admire what Silicon Sisters are doing. It is brilliant to see women carving a niche for themselves in the gaming market, but there are women working in games companies all over the world, working on titles that aren€™t just for girls. I am not saying that these women should be showcased above their male colleagues, just stating that they are there behind the scenes too. My opinions on gaming companies trying to draw in the female demographic have changed over the years. When girly versions of consoles have been released I€™ve mostly ignored it, I never saw the need to have a pink console when it works the same as the regular version, unless it is a limited edition. In the same light though I have thought of the Wii and the DS line as systems that were aimed more at women, not because they pandered to them so much, but more because of the casual market they represent. At this year€™s E3 I was, in want for better words, disappointed with how Microsoft handled their conference. I felt that too little time was spent on the fantastic games appearing over the next year, and way too much was spent showing how the Kinect would turn your gaming console into a entertainment system. For me anyway I felt that Microsoft was trying to cash in on the casual market, while interestingly enough Nintendo appeared to be moving away from it somewhat. In a sense this is not that surprising when you consider some of the people you can encounter in online gaming. I play mostly on the Xbox 360, while I don€™t go on Xbox Live much outside of parties, I€™m never surprised now with the reactions I get if I speak, simply because I am just as surprised when I find another girl gamer online. The women I know who play on consoles mainly play on the Wii, or on the PS3 in a few cases, I only know one or two who play on the 360. It is assumed that a player is male by the majority of the player base, male and female alike, even when stats suggest that the male to female ratio is changing dramatically. Gamers in general, have gotten a bad rep over the years with regards to their female counterparts, and all too many are ready to assume that these young men make up the majority of the gaming population. This isn€™t the case, I€™ve made a lot of friends via gaming, one in particular after he blew up most of our team with C4 when we were messing about on Modern Warfare 2. The fact is that the guys that feel the need to belittle a female player or yell obscenities actually form only a small percentage. In a sense this isn€™t helped but the current fashion of women posing with various games or consoles in strategic places. The girl gamer has become something of a myth on a pedestal. I€™m not exactly saying it€™s a bad thing, and if I thought I could get away with the hot gamer thing maybe I would do it too, but for me anyway this kind of activity screams of the kind of attention seeking that used to be limited to Myspace. In a sense it could be limiting the image of the €˜girl gamer€™, but the old phrase of €˜if you€™ve got it, flaunt it€™ does spring to mind. Before I stray too far from my point, what I have been getting at is this: games have no need to be segregated for just men or just women. Sure we love it when we can play as a girl in a game, or customise options, but who doesn€™t. We don€™t need to be pandered to in order to enjoy games, and while I speak for myself here, and I can see some women disagreeing with me, we don€™t need to be looked after or treated specially. We are gamers just like everyone else. As I said I admire what Silicon Sisters is trying to achieve, even if I don€™t agree with the methods, if it gets more young women into gaming then who am I to argue with them?
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Harriet Jones hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.