San Francisco -- Girls want to make games, too. It's just that they're intimidated.
At least that's what a survey conducted by Sony Online Entertainment has revealed. Conducted among female students currently enrolled in game design, programming and visual effects at The Art Institutes schools, the survey showed that 61% "believe male dominance in the industry is a deterrent to women pursuing a career in gaming" and 42% "would like to see women portrayed as leaders in video games."
As a result, this inspired SOE to form G.I.R.L. (Gamers In Real Life), a scholarship program to educate and recruit women in the video game industry. The announcement of the scholarship program was made during the Game Developers Conference last month at an event for SOE's upcoming spy-themed MMO "The Agency."
Representives of G.I.R.L. included some of SOE's executive staff as well as women working directly on "The Agency" from SOE Seattle, like producers Sherry Floyd and Heather Sowards.
Being that women working in games is a topic I'm quite interested in, I sat down with both Floyd and Sowards the day after the event to talk about what it's like to be women working in a male-dominated field.
One reason why it's good to have women in games? They know how female video game characters should dress. During my conversation with Floyd, who works on the art content of "The Agency," she told me:
"We have to do a lot of women's clothing; half of the characters in the game are women. ... I think it's really good to have a female perspective there. I know more than once I've talked to an artist and said, 'Um, you can't cut the sleeves like that because her bra would show.' You've got full-figured women in the game, and they would have to wear a bra! [laughs] Actually, everybody's really respectful about it, and we do laugh a lot when we have these conversations. And I would say the men in our creative group definitely know a lot more about shoes, the cuts of blazers, A-line skirts versus pencil skirts and everything else than they ever cared to know. But they're definitely educated now, and they've educated me as well, so it's been really good."
We're on vacation this week but trying to keep you informed and entertained with a round-up of our favorite Multiplayer content.
MTV Multiplayer blogger Tracey John had been wanting to interview women in the gaming industry for quite some time.
As 2007 drew to a close she found five with whom she could conduct frank interviews about the highs and lows of being female in a predominantly male industry.
We're indexing those conversations in one place. Lots of mixed opinions in these Q&As and some interesting feedback in the comments sections.
More Multiplayer highlights coming tomorrow!
Last week, I posted a series of interviews with five different women working in and around the gaming industry.
We heard from female journalists, developers and even a publicist, about what it's like to work in a field dominated by men. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman? Did they ever feel treated differently because of their gender? They each had unique perspectives and shared personal experiences from the workplace.
We received a huge response from readers, along with some very good questions. With that, we decided to pose a few of your questions to Game Girl Advance's Jane Pinckard and "Sex in Video Games" author Brenda Brathwaite via e-mail. In my original phone interview with Pinckard, she spoke about empowering women to overcome sexism within the games industry. However, one commenter had this to say:
"Let's say you've got someone who's championing the cause of women in a specific industry, and she's all about empowering women, and against their denigration. Sounds great, right? Then you look back at her own history, and find that she's done some of the exploitative things to herself on her own, like writing an article about how she used a gaming peripheral as a sexual aid, and posting pictures of herself doing so."
Read on to find out what the commenter is talking about, and see Pinckard's and Brathwaite's responses to your burning questions...
This week, I spoke to different women working in games. Today's interview is the last of the series.
We've heard from journalists Morgan Webb and Jane Pinckard as well as game developers Elspeth Tory and Brenda Brathwaite.
Another sector of gaming that I wanted to delve into was public relations. There are many, many women working in public relations in general, and gaming is no exception. When I was asking around for female game developers, I stumbled upon Tali Fischer, who was willing to answer my questions via e-mail earlier this week.
Currently a public relations manager at Sega of America, the 32 year-old has been working in gaming PR for eight years. She seems to have had a positive experience overall and doesn't see any sexism within the video games industry:
Fischer: ...I feel like there is this constant scrutiny on everyone's behavior looking for an indication of sexism here. Almost like people outside the industry hope there is more sexism to point a finger at. I don't feel like there is. I do feel like every industry has its politics and every industry has its personality conflicts and every industry has its extreme example of bad interpersonal behavior. But when it comes to video games, there really is no dramatic story of women prevailing over the big bad men. ...
Read on for Fischer's thoughts on what it's like to work in gaming PR, how the industry has evolved, and speaking with journalists about Lara Croft's breasts...
Continuing Multiplayer's special week-long series of "Women Working in Games" is an interview with game designer, author and professor Brenda Brathwaite.
After speaking with two journalists, "X-Play"'s Morgan Webb and Game Girl Advance's Jane Pinckard, and another game developer, Ubisoft's Elspeth Tory, I also really wanted to talk to Brathwaite because of her experience in the industry. She is the "longest-serving woman in computer games," with 26 years under her belt, and she's also the chair and founder of the International Game Developers Association's Sex Special Interest Group. Brathwaite has extensively studied and worked on sexually-themed video games, such as "Playboy: The Mansion," and written a book on the subject titled "Sex in Video Games." With her experience and expertise in the industry, I figured that she would have a lot of interesting things to say to about her personal experiences as a woman in gaming over the years.
I caught up with the 41 year-old trailblazer on the phone last week. We covered a lot. Here's just one highlight from the long interview that follows:
Brathwaite: Sheri [Graner Ray] in this lecture, she gives has an amazingly great slide of these hyper-sexualized men. And they're not even fully hyper-sexualized. If they were really hyper-sexualized , they'd probably be showing something you wouldn't show in a large auditorium to people. With this hyper-sexualized male characters, I love to look at the audience and watch how they react. The men are like, "Agh, would you get this off?" And the women are pleasantly surprised like," Finally, something for us to look at." And it's always amusing to me to see people's responses to this. And as a gamer who has been a gamer forever, if I see a woman in a thong in a game, honestly I don't even think twice, because I'm so used to it at this point.
Read on for more of Brathwaite's anecdotes, including how she's hopeful for women getting into the industry, the weirdness of working on a "Playboy" game, being the first pregnant woman at her company, and what it's like to be mistaken for a booth babe.
This week, I've been posting interviews -- more like conversations -- I've had with women working in the games industry.
First, I spoke with two journalists: Morgan Webb of G4's "X-Play" and Jane Pinckard of the blog Game Girl Advance. They both had different perspectives about being a woman working in games. Now, I bring you another female voice in the world of gaming but on the development side: Ubisoft's Elspeth Tory, the project manager for animation on "Assassin's Creed."
I know what you're thinking. With all the hubbub surrounding "Assassin's Creed" producer Jade Raymond, why not talk to Raymond herself? I originally asked Ubisoft to speak with Raymond, but was told by a company rep that she was "not interested at this time." Totally understandable. However, Ubisoft suggested Tory, since she was available and another female able to speak about working on "Assassin's Creed."
I admit that I knew very little of Tory before the interview, but I learned that she was an animator on games such as Microids' "Syberia II" and Ubisoft's "Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones." I didn't know what to expect, but the 29 year-old gamer was very honest about her experiences when we spoke on the phone last week.
Here's an excerpt from when I asked her if she's ever felt uncomfortable in the workplace:
Tory: ... At some point, there was a woman who came in for an interview, and she was an attractive woman, apparently. We had these windows in our meeting room that were high up. And the guys, at some point, I so clearly remember this, they actually got up on their desks to look in on the woman in her interview. And they were making comments. Like, that was the kind of working environment that I was in. It wasn't all the time, but it was ridiculous! ... This was at Microids when that happened. I specifically remember it, and I was so disappointed. ...
Make the jump to read more of Tory talking about doubting herself, having to do well for womankind, and the comments made about her co-worker...
Yesterday, I posted an interview I did with Morgan Webb, co-host of G4's "X-Play," about being a highly visible woman working in the games industry.
Webb's interview is part of Multiplayer's special week-long series called "Women Working in Games." A few weeks ago, I decided to speak to a few prominent women in gaming to find out about their personal experiences working in the male-dominated field.
Aside from Webb, another woman that I really wanted to talk to for my set of interviews was Jane Pinckard of Game Girl Advance. For years, Pinckard has written and talked about gender and games, and she recently wrote what I thought was a passionate and thought-provoking entry about all the attention surrounding "Assassin's Creed" producer Jade Raymond. In it, she captures the anger, frustration, sadness and ambivalence that I -- and perhaps other people -- have felt about gender issues in gaming, which seems to have come to a head once again.
On November 29, I called Pinckard while she was at the Montreal International Game Summit to talk about gender in the gaming space. Here's a tidbit from our conversation, where she mentions the sexualized Jade Raymond comic when we talk about the kind of comments women can get:
Pinckard: The whole Jade Raymond comic thing to me... it's a super big deal, and it's terrible. And if you are a woman, let alone Jade -- that comic affected me as a woman. I saw that, and I was like this is an attack on me and on you and on all of us. And the thing is the guys just didn't get it. They were like, "What? It's the Internet. Don't take it so seriously" and that kind of thing. … some people really didn't get it.
Read on for more of Pinckard's thoughts on Lara Croft, Ubisoft and what women can do to thrive and survive in the video games industry...
As a female gamer myself, lately I've been thinking a lot about women in the gaming industry.
And it's not just me. Other people have been discussing the topic during the past few weeks.
From extreme and public cases, such as the recent sexualized comic about "Assassin's Creed" producer Jade Raymond to even subtle instances where male developers overlook me to speak to my male associates, I've noticed that women gamers are viewed and treated differently from (and by) their male counterparts. But this is nothing new, and people have talked about it before.
Recently, I decided to track down some major women in the industry to really discuss what it's like to be a woman working in games. In this special week-long Multiplayer series, I'll be publishing an interview with a different woman every day. From journalists to developers to publicists, these women told me about their personal experiences. Had they encountered sexism in this predominantly male industry? Is the gaming industry an environment where women can thrive? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a female in this field?
One woman that first came to my mind was G4's Morgan Webb. As the co-host of the video game program "X-Play," she's a highly visible woman in gaming, and last week she gave me an honest interview over the phone. Here's an excerpt, where she answers my question about the negative attention some women gamers get, particularly on the Internet:
Webb: I do not read fan e-mail because 0.1 percent of people ruin it for everybody, and I don't read forums because 0.1 percent of people ruin it for everybody. And it would be really great if I could go on a forum and talk to people who like the show and talk about games, but I can't because there's some 14 year-old jerk somewhere who just wants to be an idiot and try and get attention.
Make the jump to read more of Ms. Webb's candid responses about posing for Maxim, Jade Raymond, and why the world doesn't really need more women playing games...