[UbuntuWomen] What makes a video game "female friendly"?

Thierry psyping at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 06:56:34 UTC 2008

On Wednesday 27 February 2008 18:32:56 Lucy wrote:
> On 27/02/2008, Thierry <psyping at gmail.com> wrote:
> >  We are trying to make this this game as enjoyable as possible for both
> >  genders. Which means we are working hard to make sure there's nothing
> >  offensive for female players. We also try hard not to include any
> > content that is specific to one gender.
> Hi Thierry,
> Thats a very difficult question to answer and I hope you get lots of
> replies ;)

Thanks. The more opinions, the better. ^^

> Just to start the debate, my personal opinion is that you should try
> to ensure that the female characters avoid any obvious stereotypes -
> not just in clothing but in roles and skill sets too. Try to make sure
> they have the same skills as the male characters (no better either!).
> Also try to ensure there are equal numbers and varieties of female
> characters as male.

The player does not get to choose what gender to play - it's a linear game 
with a female character in the lead. However, from the five major male 
characters, there's one woman (Athea, which the player gets to control), her 
daughter (~15 years old), Athea's husband and brother. Plus the main 'enemy'.

The main enemy is the final enemy and is obviously the strongest in the game - 
there's a good reason for that in the story. Athea is about equally strong as 
Andy, because they both do a lot of sport and have healthy food habits. 
However, Athea has some extra protection such as a special kind of armor and 
a whole bunch of tools that make sure she can keep her body and emotions 
under control, thus making her better suited for dangerous situations. The 
main enemy is of a much higher level, and Athea's daughter and brother aren't 
that strong (her brother because he doesn't do any sports, and her daugher 
because of her age).

As much as I'd like it, there's no way left to really  make all characters 
equal in skill. However, I'll keep this in mind and try to apply it into 
other things than battles, such as the skill of NPCs around.

> If you're asking what sort of games appeal to women, then that's a
> much harder question to answer and depends very much on the
> individual. Personally I'm not much of a gamer, so I'm probably not
> the best to answer, but I'm pretty sure that women are interested in
> just as wide a variety of games as men.

I personally believe that interest in gaming does not have to do much with 
gender - it's more that a lot of games are obviously designed with only male 
players in mind, making the gap bigger with every game that comes out.
According to some articles I read on feminist sites, World of Warcraft's 
advertising campaign may be one of the best examples there are - whenever a 
male character is portrayed, the focus is on the face. But when a female 
character is portrayed, there's a heavy focus on chest, which usually isn't 
all too small either.
But that's just my opinion - I may be wrong about it, and I'm open to any 
critique. :)

> Finally, do you have any women helping with the development? If not,
> maybe some women here would be interested joining your team? That way
> you can guarantee at least some women will be interested in the game
> ;)

We're currently with three: a writer (me), programmer and artist. Our artist 
is female, and is currently focusing on character and clothing sketches.
The problem is that there seems to be a horrible lack of women in the computer 
field, especially Linux. Which would make it hard to find a good share of 
female developers. I also try to pick people based on skill and motivation, 
rather than focusing on gender.
In other words, it's hard to get control over, but I'm hoping that we can get 
a good balance in our team. :)

> Lucy

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