The article on ‘Wonder Women in Video games’ that was published last year introduced and examined five female video game characters that had the shoulders broad enough to carry a full-fledged mainstream video game (AAA title) on their shoulders. This week, we build on that and look at the role of women in the global gaming industry.
The gaming industry is laced with stereotypes and we are talking about a lot of them. The most prevalent of which is that of games largely being played by men/boys who are well to do financially and are largely anti-social (terms like “nerd” and “geek” are often bandied about with abandon), the same stereotype also extends to game designers and developers as we often view them in similar terms as players.
So, to surmise things, gaming is often stereotyped (rightly) as an industry where anti-social men design products for anti-social boys/adolescents and, thus, an industry which is no place for a woman to work.
This week, we will discuss four areas where women have increasingly made their presence felt in the gaming industry.
The gaming industry has a come a long way from the time when studio heads could say that designing a woman character or protagonist was too much work. With brilliant characters like Max (Life is Strange), Aya (Assassins Creed) Ellie (Last of Us), Ciri (Witcher), Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn) players now have a lot of new choices. This trend is a welcome sight as the newer narratives and plots not only seem more balanced and well-rounded but also more nuanced and organic.
Streamers & players
Female gamers have been able to tap into services like Twitch and YouTube Gaming to make their presence felt worldwide. Their ability to showcase not only their abilities of play but also their way of thinking offers a great alternative to mainstream game casts. Players like ItsHafu, LegendaryLea, Kaceytron and KittyPlaysGames have established dedicated viewer bases with some serious gamer rep.
Some of the most exciting research in the field of video game studies is being carried out by women across the word. Researchers like TL Taylor, Adrienne Shaw, Bonnie Nardi and Mia Consalvo have done some truly path-breaking work in their quest to unravel the mysteries of gaming culture as they have studied issues ranging from patterns of representation to the use of cheat-codes with aplomb.
Designers & developers
The global gaming industry has seen a spike in women interested in developing games as movements like #gamergate have made the industry aware of the skewed gender ratio. Development of games like Tampon Run and the call to action from people like Anita Sarkesian have brought about change as names like Tracy Fullerton, Jennifer Hale and Carol Shaw have been given due recognition.
While the gender divide might take years to bridge it is imperative for us to realise that the gaming industry will be a much more vibrant if the enthusiasm of women interested in gaming is carefully encouraged and nurtured. If we don’t see the potential of movements like these, then, we are pretty darn stupid to avoid half the world! Literally.