Games and Gender by Diane Carr
Throughout this article Diane touches on gender in video games through its representation, players and player culture, and aspects of the games industry. She starts by talking about gender and how it is represented in games. First she introduces some statistics on female gamers. In the UK the average age of women who game is between 30-35 years old. She points out that many theorists believe that women are turned off from video games because of the “look” of female avatars. Female bodies in video games are greatly exaggerated, and while males are exaggerated too they are not solely view for sexual interest.
She goes into how the whole industry of video games is male by default. Some games such as The Thing and Abe’s Oddysee where all the characters in the game are male. But she also urges us to remember that although representational factors are important they aren’t the only factor dealing with gender and video games, as we all know a player controls the avatar.
In the section on how the rules of the game are just as important as the representation Carr brings up the example of Baldur’s Gate where the characters, whether male or female, have the same characteristics. But then in the Sims the gender of the characters determine how the act etc. She argues for these and other reasons mentioned that the manner in which gender is inscribed in the game at a representational level might be over-ruled by the player. She also mentions then creation of “Jen” the main character in the game Primal. When the company attempted to export the game to Japan, the Japanese claimed that Jen wasn’t attractive enough and wanted a change.
From that she starts to talk about the culture of the gaming industry and how it is male heavy. The games are made by males and marketed for males, in fact she shows a stat where 90% of the makers of Anarchy Online where men. The majority of women working in the video game industry are those “booth babes” who take pictures with eager boys.
Next she goes into the “pink games” or attempts to make games for girls and the “grrl gamer” which relates back to From Barbie to Mortal Kombat. She also briefly talks about how sometimes gaming magazines try to lure girls in by having special girl issues, but most the time they are just filled with things guys want to see.
She ends by saying that with games becoming mainstream media the line between male and female players my become forgotten or at least reworked. Also she realizes that just by having female avatars doesn’t mean more females will start to play games because there are so many other factors dealing with gender in games.