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The Time for Women in Games 96

VeeCee writes "Next Generation has an interesting article on why few women are game developers, why it should change, and how." From the article: "Fulton then cited workforce statistics, showing that in 1950, 30 percent of women worked, compared with 70 percent six years ago. 'We're rapidly becoming equal players in the larger workforce. More women are playing games.' Citing a study that showed women outnumbered men as players in the 24 to 35 year-old demographic, Fulton granted that casual games were a factor. 'However I think there's an appetite there. As we get online, as the games start getting more interactive, more social, women are getting more and more interested in what it means to play games.'"
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The Time for Women in Games

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    • OMG PONIES!!ONE11!!
    • Seriously... what are you trying to prove? You took part 4 of a 6-part series. So right away I'm not sure what you're trying to prove. That girls don't play games because guys make fun of their OMG!!! PONIES!!!111! mods? That girls don't play games because guys think they have OMG!!! PONIES!!!11 mods?

      What?

      My one question is this: why is it always an assumed premise that if there's a statistic in which girls or boys are over-represented:
      1. it's automatially a bad thing
      2. it's automatically a bad thing fo
      • You mean "treat women as equals"? Hahhahahha! You can't do that, you have to bend over backwards to 'fix' whatever problems there are.

        Women not represented equaly in every facet of existence? Holy crap! We need more female Nascar drivers, stat!

      • My one question is this: why is it always an assumed premise that if there's a statistic in which girls or boys are over-represented:
        1. it's automatially a bad thing
        2. it's automatically a bad thing for girls


        Not true. Nobody seems to be concerned that men outnumber women in suicides (in developed countries, with the exception of Chine -- if you count them as developed), or that men outnumber women as drug users, or that most of the people in jail are men, or that most garbagemen (garbagepeople, sorry
        • Not true. Nobody seems to be concerned that men outnumber women in suicides (in developed countries, with the exception of Chine -- if you count them as developed), or that men outnumber women as drug users, or that most of the people in jail are men, or that most garbagemen (garbagepeople, sorry) are men, or that most coal miners (or any other crap job) are men. If only there was some sort of conclusion we could draw from all of this...

          I think the conclusion might be called feminism.

        • The only conclusion I can draw is putting together random isolated statistics as if they somehow relate to one another is foolish and stupid. It's even worse when you try to use them to prop up your thinly veiled misogyny.

          Regarding men in jails, what are the statistics over many decades, or centuries for that matter? Haven't men *always* been the majority? How is this suddenly new now?

          WRT jobs, welcome to social conditioning. There very few women who do garbage. There are also comparatively few who wor
    • Team leader: "So, today we are going to discuss why so few women are working in the industry, but first, lets hear some reactions on the latest artwork for our upcoming Tomb Raider game."
      Programmer A: "Good lord, what is wrong with Laura's breasts!? That's only triple D cups, max!"
      Team leader: "Ok, note to art team...'bigger breasts'. Check. Ok then, why no girls in the gaming industry?"
      Programmer A: (Scratches head)
      Programmer B: "No idea."
      Programmer C: "Perhaps they aren't any good at it?"

      I can't remember
  • Perception (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foundme ( 897346 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:01PM (#15200200) Homepage
    I think in more developed countries, game-playing women are perceived as nerds, hence reducing their chances of finding mates.

    In less developed countries, game-playing women are perceived as lazy, hence reducing their chances of finding mates.

    Honestly, I'm surprised Ms Fulton titled her keynote "The Best Defense... Why Gender Doesn't Matter (As Much As You Might Think)". If gender really doesn't matter, then why would the general public care of 10% or 99% of the game developers are female?
    • The article says that women are more "casual" players. I know a lot of women who play games, but are perceived neither as lazy nor nerds. They just play different games. The Sims comes to mind. As do "trinket" games like solitaire, mah-jongg, and tetris. Maybe women aren't involved in game development because these games they play don't require much developing. Most of them (with the exception of The Sims) can be made in a highschool visual basic class.
      • Funny, I play tetrisDS, yet i still get negative labels. Maybe it is because i play for hours at a time, and claim that I will "pwn" people on wifi. Who knows.
        • Hmmm... I actually had a co-worker randomly come up to me today and ask if I had my DS with me so he could play TetrisDS with me. I've played DS games via download play with total strangers on buses too, and nobody even gave me a weird look. I haven't noticed any normal people (with the obvious exception of Jack Thompson and his ilk) labelling me negatively just for playing games, but then again, I currently work as a co-op programmer at a game company, so I'm surrounded by fellow geeks and gamers most of
    • How pithy. However, the article is talking about women as game developers, not as game players - a profession somewhat on par with technical arts such architecture. To answer the question of why there aren't more women in game development, it might be wise to first ask why we see a minority of women in the computer sciences.
    • I think in more developed countries, game-playing women are perceived as nerds, hence reducing their chances of finding mates.

      Reduce their chances? What do you think the chances of a gamer girl being picked at E3? In fact, their game playing would add to their attractiveness.
    • If gender really doesn't matter, then why would the general public care of 10% or 99% of the game developers are female?

      They don't.
    • I think in more developed countries, game-playing women are perceived as nerds, hence reducing their chances of finding mates.

      Reducing? I'm pretty sure there are plenty of single male nerds looking for a woman. Or hoping for a woman, at least. Perhaps that's the problem.

      • Heh, I agree. I'm a single female nerd, but I'm only single by choice. Ever since I left highschool, I haven't had any problems finding dates. There are a lot of guys who find me at least conceptually hot purely because I like long, romantic walks through Ironforge as my level 55 undead rogue.

        Unfortunately, it is indeed the whole "hoping" for a woman bit that makes it hard for a lot of nerdy guys to find a real life female nerd -- a lot of us (myself excluded at present) are busy "hoping" for a hot ma
        • A female on Slashdot?

          !!!!

          The End is surely near! Make peace with whatever gods you worship and beg forgiveness for your many sins! AIEEEEEEEE!!!
    • If gender really doesn't matter, then why would the general public care of 10% or 99% of the game developers are female?

      Because there are three types of discrimination/racism/sexism -- positive, negative, and nonexistant. Negative discrimination occurs then the person perceived to have the upper hand is of a group designated as "the aggressor" (usually white men) as opposed to "the victim" (usually !("the aggressor" || "overachieving Asians") ). Positive discrimination occurs when a policy of active di
    • Can you please turn some of those poor, unfortunate female gamers who can't find mates my way? I'd consider it a bonus, not a negative.
    • I think in more developed countries, game-playing women are perceived as nerds, hence reducing their chances of finding mates.

      No. Because game-playing women are going to want a mate that shares their interest. There are more than enough "nerdy" men who would date a "nerdy" girl in a heartbeat. How do you think I met my wife? We've been gaming together for years now.
    • I'm a female gamer, and I started when I was about 6 years old.

      When people (especially guys) found out I was into gaming, the responses I got were positive. I wasn't labeled a "nerd" and I haven't had problems finding a "mate". I also have a degree in computer science. By your generalizations, I should be living in a basement somewhere, cast away by society. Hate to tell you, but I'm happily married with friends and a happy, well-rounded life that includes gaming on a regular basis.
  • ...sit my girlfriend down with a bejeweled type game and we may not see her for a few days (well, hours at least). Also, that girl could play the Sonic Collection for years without stopping.

    Most of the women I know can't stand shooters or most RPGs, but give them puzzle or platform jumpers and they're as happy as me with Oblivion.
    • I see that my female friends (not all but some) sit near me while the others ridicule my game playing habits (including shooters), not too near, mind. They watch out of the corner of their eye, i'm sure that it is their own perception of gaming that stops her having a go and having some fun.

      My girlfriend maintains she cant stand stand RPGs, she tells me the story and gameplay is dull and slow. But after a couple of beers she gets intrigued.

      "kill that one" she will say,

      "I cant kill him just yet because

  • as the games start getting more interactive, more social, women are getting more and more interested in what it means to play games.

    Sadly, long-term gamers are the exact opposite of 'social', so still no sex for them.

    • You, sir, fear no flame. I agree with you, but the audience will hate it. My bottom is still recovering from the last time I said sports may indeed have more benefits than videogames.
  • by SpecialAgentXXX ( 623692 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:15PM (#15200314)
    I should know. I'm sitting in an office full of men. The only women we've hired were for Sales & Marketing, booth babes, etc. Haha, reminds me of when college recruiters came to my all-boys high school and didn't know it was single-sex. "Oh, it's only guys here. Great! You'll feel just at home in our CompSci classes." It was right then and there I decided not to major in I.T.
    • I always thought 'Real Men Program in Assembly Language'. But my Assembly professor is a woman :O

    • Hm, not in the Comp.Sci dep. here in Aachen. The quotient isn't 50:50, but there's tons of female students (and many of them better than the males, because they informed themselves about comp.sci beforehand, while many males still made the mistake of trying to study "something with computers" :-P)
    • The little light-bulb went on for a friend of mine when his sister with a Ph.D in computational physics was hired by a high-end as "a fukin' booth-babe! A Demo Dame! What kinda sh** is that?!" as he'd say with considerable outrage in his voice. And quite right too -- when you help put your sister through the best schools, she gets the degrees and demonstrates the prowess and formulates important (physics/math) problems and writes the code and brings in the grants and gets the postdocs and --- then the

      • The little light-bulb went on for a friend of mine when his sister with a Ph.D in computational physics was hired by a high-end as "a fukin' booth-babe! A Demo Dame! What kinda sh** is that?!" as he'd say with considerable outrage in his voice.

        Rage that his highly-educated sisted TOOK a job as a booth-bunny?

        You fail to see this from the "business" angle. People don't get hired because of their skills - They get hired because their skills can make the company money

        In the case of a software dev env
        • If your friend had a "hot" sister [with a Ph.D in computational physics], the company could best use her skills not by stuffing her in a cubicle, but by parading her around in a skimpy outfit. Four weeks out of 52 "lost", but sex sells.

          So then why doesn't the company put her on the product's physics engine team for 40-odd weeks out of the year and just have her do the booth bunny thing during the cons?

      • Based on the PhDs that I've met, I'm not terribly impressed with your sister. Maybe she oughta just go all the way and start selling her snatch.
      • A PHD is a pretty worthless degree unless you're going into teaching for a living. If she didn't make the right connections to get that academia job, it's really her own fault for wasting so much time in school doing the wrong things.
    • by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:50PM (#15201010) Journal
      I'm the only female programmer (technically just a co-op, but I'm on a work term as a programmer) at a small game company, but we're still just a startup, and quite honestly, I generally don't even notice that I'm in the minority unless somebody points it out.

      I obviously can't speak for other girls, but I'm in this field because I like it. I get to dress casually (long skirts, tall socks, and comfy shoes!), play with code, and game or read Slashdot during breaks. I won't claim to be a particularly good coder -- hey, I'm still a student here -- but I've never found myself thinking that having a little something extra between my legs would make my job faster or easier.

      It does, however, irk me when people (not you specifically, but far too many others) repeatedly bemoan or otherwise find occasion to rant about how few women there are in IT. If more women want to get into the field, they're welcome, but going on and on about how terrible it is for us poor little girls who actually have to *gasp* work with or even *double gasp* talk to male colleagues is just going to scare people of both genders away. Why not just shut up about it? Why not just let people choose what they want to do and leave them to it? A few more pairs of breasts around the office may be a welcome sight to the average guy, but if the girls don't want to be there, maybe they shouldn't be.
      • Why not just shut up about it? Why not just let people choose what they want to do and leave them to it?

        Because they can make a living by saying that.
      • The company that I work at is about 25% female, which is an exceptionally good number for the industry.

        Only one of the programmers is female. But quite a few artists, sound engineers, and producers are. Some of them come from traditionally female-strong fields like Art and Web Development. Others came in through their strong project management skills. Still other just got jobs in QA like the rest of us, and worked their way up.

        And in fact, far less than half of the company consists of coders.

        There are o
      • Amen.... I am sick to the back teeth of hair shirt wearing women, telling people who have no natural interest or ability in IT in general that some mythical gender balance has addressed. Like someone else mentioned is now an industry in itself, other women and manginas telling women what they must do for the sake of political correctness. Every single job, college place and training course I have ever attended has had positive discrimination in favour of women. At the end of the day things sort themselves
      • As a fellow female in the CS/IS industry I have to agree, while I'd love to have more girls in my field, I don't feel discriminated against. I took a gender studies class in College, as a girl in a male dominated field I was the center of attention, "Do you get treated differently?", "Are you the only girl in some of your classes?", "Don't you get tired of their male chauvinism?" When in reality the place I felt the least judged or discriminated against was in the computer lab. everyone was just CS/IS in
      • Too right. If you don't want to do a job, then you shouldn't be there to make up numbers. I can't imagine anything worse than a positive discrimination position where you find that you weren't the best candidate, you were just hired to improve the male/female ratio.

        Grab.
    • Oh. Mah. Gawd. We aren't interested in programming? What have I been doing with my life? I knew I should've become a hairdresser! Maybe it's not too late! Somebody get me the number for the nearest cosmetology school! Why, here I was, all about to accept another game programming job offer, when I could be perming hair! What was I thinking!?!
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:16PM (#15200325) Journal
    The time is finally right for a female-centric game company. Don't know who Brenda Laurel is? You should. [wikipedia.org] The woman is a freakin' genius and a pioneer in the field of human-computer interaction.
    • I tend to think Roberta Williams [wikipedia.org] is more of a pioneer here. "King's Quest"? The founding of "Sierra"?
      • Oh, hells yeah. When I was a kid and played her games I always fantasized about marrying a geek chic like her. Roberta was more influential in gaming, but she didn't write particularly girl friendly games. Blue Moon, Brenda's game design company, wrote games (maybe only 'a game,' I can't remember) with a social interactive slant that was aimed at girls. But besides that, Roberta is a fairly talented but mostly self taught game programmer while Brenda is a genius computer scientist who has researched some ve
        • How exactly were Roberta's games not girl-friendly? As a proud owner of not one, but two X chromosomes, I devoted many hours of my ill-spent youth to puzzling my way through King's Quest and other such games. There were no "Boys Only" stickers on the box, and I never found any puzzle that required either the use of a penis or any intimate knowledge of the male psyche. Seriously, they were pretty gender neutral as far as I could tell, and there really wasn't anything about them that might discourage a gir
          • Gender neutral, yes. I'm not saying they weren't girl friendly, even. Just not to the same level as Blue Moon's games, where there was no quest or overall goal, just lots of characters to interact and develop relationships with.
        • Blue Moon, Brenda's game design company, wrote games (maybe only 'a game,' I can't remember) with a social interactive slant that was aimed at girls.

          Yeah, and Blue Moon promptly went under. Maybe she should have taken her cues from Roberta instead.

          -Eric

  • Well, how about starting by simply having a choice of male and female characters for games? It seems almost every game features the adventures of "generic caucasian guy".

    Especially in online games (BF2, CS Source etc) a female character would NOT be hard to do at all.

    Not a solution, but a start.
  • by Lewisham ( 239493 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:48PM (#15200563)
    That statistic is BS. Sure, I watch girls play games all the time. They play Sudoku, Solitare, FreeCell. They like puzzle games, and that's cool. But it's almost always going to be on a casual basis.

    Being casual does not make you that bothered. I ride bicycles, but I don't want to be a bicycle engineer. I would even say I love cars, but I don't care about their engines past how loud they are and how fast they can go. That's a casual relationship too.

    Why would girls who play Sudoku care in any way shape or form about programming Sudoku games?

    We can run around these circles all day about why girls play games or why they don't, why they program or why they don't, but the end result is the same. Unless someone can fundamentally change the nature of programming, or indeed, development, they aren't going to do it.

    I have stopped caring about how many girls play games or how many girls develop games. It's not a big deal.
    • Sure, I watch girls play games all the time. They play Sudoku, Solitare, FreeCell. They like puzzle games, and that's cool. But it's almost always going to be on a casual basis.

      You obviously don't know the women I know. :) We're obsessive gamers, though mostly RPGs (pen and paper or MMORPGs). My mother would have been a gamer if she hadn't had two kids and a lot of work to handle. Twenty-some years ago, after several days straight of playing Space Invaders on the Atari and no food being cooked or laundry
  • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:52PM (#15200587) Homepage
    I wonder why we never hear people complaing that women are not 50% of the criminal "workforce".

    From the UK [statistics.gov.uk]: "Men outnumber women in all major crime categories. Between 85 and 95 per cent of offenders found guilty of burglary, robbery, drug offences, criminal damage or violence against the person are male. Although the number of offenders are relatively small, 98 per cent of people found guilty of, or cautioned for, sexual offences are male"

    Or how about garbagemen (garbagepeople) or coal miners? Why are people never concerned about women not making headways there?

    Riddle me that, Batman.
    • As an interesting exercise, let us substitute $men for $women and $female_dominated_profession for $male_dominated profession. Example: nursing for engineering, and lets see how the rhetoric sounds.

      "It is self-evident that the low number of men in nursing is the result of systematic discrimination against men by the sexist women who dominate the profession. Without affirmative action, the entrenched and dominant female hierarchy will never allow men to compete as equals. Hospitals should stop hiring femal
      • There IS systematic discrimination against women, as well as several other factors that contribute to the way some of these careers work out. For instance, nurses. Many women become/became nurses rather than doctors because:
        a) they are not expected to support a family alone, but are more likely to spend several years at home, so such an investment of time and money is less worthwhile
        b) it is extremely difficult to take maternity leave for a year or whatever in the middle of med school or residency, wherea
        • I see.

          Few women in engineering = systematic discrimination against women.

          Few men in nursing = systematic discrimination against women.

          Huh?
          • The point I was making was that there is discrimination, PLUS OTHER FACTORS, and I then went on to talk about the OTHER FACTORS. I am sorry if I wasn't clear, but I was not trying to prove that there is discrimination, which I think it obvious to any rational observer (of American society, anyway), but rather discuss some other factors that contribute to the dichotomy of male/female jobs etc.
        • FWIW I don't think your post should be marked 'Troll,' but I did want to respond to couple of things.

          First, even though another reply to your post says

          Few women in engineering = systematic discrimination against women. Few men in nursing = systematic discrimination against women.

          I agree with you that discrimination against women could (not saying it is) be the reason for both those things. It's not inherently impossible for one thing (discrimination against women) to have multiple effects...

          I also

  • Business Situation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by McD!ck ( 444861 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:11PM (#15200750) Homepage
    I work for a rather large software company, and I am one of the many engineers. In the 6 years I have worked here I have worked with a total of 3 women. Most of them were VERY competent programmers. In contrast I cannot count how many men I have worked with, sure enough the number would be in the hundreds.

    Back in college (6 years ago), we had similar ratios in all the CS classes, and even in the upper division physics classes. However, my upper division social classes were DOMINATED by women.

    I don't want to sound sexist or mysognistic, but I don't think we need more women in engineering any more than we need more male social workers. I think we need more people doing exactly what they want to do; if that fits a pattern, so be it; just as long as we don't restrict people from being in any profession.

    McD
    • Exactly. This whole "statistical equality at any cost" meme needs to die. In my experience, women are not being prevented from going into IT, nor are they confronted with a hostile work environment if they do choose to. Instead, they're choosing not to go into it because they find it boring. What are we supposed to do, press-gang them into programming? Tell any girl who scores in the 90th percentile in math that they have to major in CompSci whether they want to or not? Give me a break. Nobody whines
    • Bingo. The gender imbalance in programming jobs is really a non-issue. The real imbalance is that the majority of designers and artists in the industry are also male which, quite frankly, doesn't make a lot of sense given that I've never noticed a creativity bias to either gender. Fortunately, those are also the two key areas for righting the imbalance in game player gender as well, so fixing that imbalance might cause that much sought expansion in market size.
    • While I agree completely with your comment, there seems to a point you're missing, which is that more and more games are incorporating complex sociological and psychological paradigms into the game. Adding female minds (since they DOMINATED your social science classes) to the gaming industry could aid in this.

      I think one avenue that has clearly not been approached and promoted enough is combining sociology and psychology successfully with game programming. Will Wright seems to get it - I bet The Sims family
  • I don't. I only care if the games are good and fun, and worth my bucks.

    If women don't want to make games, that's fine by me and I don't see the problem. I, as a consumer, care only about the end-result product.
    • I think the people that care the most are the big companies they are losing out on all the money that these women (15 to 34???) are spending on other things. Not satisfied with getting guys to spend their money (agreed they do enjoy the games) they want the women too! So now their thinking is if there are women workers maybe we will be able to lure them to play games...I dont know how far this will succeed but lets wait and watch. Somebody mentioned Brenda Laurel...how about Brenda Braithwaite she was part
  • ... you can figure out a way to make the proposition "completely give up any hope of having a family to get a salary which is significantly less than what you could get at any non-gaming firm with your same degree and a 40 hour workweek, in exchange for the opportunity to work on games you largely don't enjoy" sound attractive for women.
  • "That time for women in games" and shudder at the implications?

    "Lara, you're going to have to swim through this shark infested water to get to the next ruin."
    "I certainly hope not. Blood attracts sharks quicker than anything else."
    "My god, you're injured? Don't you have any medical kits l-- oh."
    <icily>"Quite."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work for a smallish MMOG startup company in a major urban area - I'm the only female software engineer, and the only woman outside of the support staff in an office of ~20 people (including coders, artists, and management). It's quite lonely - the main problem seems to be a lack of qualified female applicants for job openings. We've done the standard craigslist thing, but maybe 1 in 10 of the applications are from women, and all of them so far have been mediocre. As much as I have an axe to grind about
  • by kria ( 126207 ) <roleplayer@carrie.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @08:39AM (#15203782) Journal
    I know a lot of female gamers, but maybe that's because I am one. Programmer, too. But I'm a slight anomoly - most of the women gamers I know are tabletop gamers, while I play both, in nearly even amounts. So for players, I can buy the viewpoint that far too many games drive away women with big boobs and scanty costumes. Female armor in most MMORPGs, for example, tends to get a lot of jokes, just like really bad fantasy novel covers.

    Regarding women as programmers, I think that there are two things to consider:
    a) programmers are geeky and particularly at the moment, teenagers frown on people being smart, as the opposite of cool. Women tend to be more socially aware (or socially malleable) than their male counterparts in high school, so while they may quietly get good grades, they probably won't choose a geeky path like CS in college.

    b) there are still, believe it or not, teachers who discourage women from fields related to math or science. I was lucky enough not to have that problem in high school (now a fading ten years in the past), but I have heard plenty of first hand stories on the subject.
  • You know, I could SWEAR I've seen this story on /. before. In fact, I seem to recall seeing it again [slashdot.org]...and again [slashdot.org]...and again [slashdot.org]...and again [slashdot.org]...and so on.

    You know, if women spent half as much time actually designing games as they do bitching about the lack of women designing games, we wouldn't have this problem. But, then again, I guess they're used to having someone do everything FOR them.

    -Eric

  • The mainstream games industry sucks. What sane person would want to be trapped in there?

    So girls aren't keen to join? That's probably because they have too much SENSE to join the world of perpetual crunch time and all the other misery we always hear about. :)

    Girls who love mainstream games are perfectly capable of getting in there themselves. There's no point in trying to force others into it. I'm a female game designer and programmer and I would be thoroughly MISERABLE if you tried to hire me to work on yo
  • Women have the oppurtunity to join the IT workforce but have chosen not to. For a while there was a big push to get women in IT, I have to ask why?
    Why promote a sex into a certain field. Women have obviously chosen that IT is not a field for them. In a very generalized sense women do not dig IT. So what? Many women do not appreciate that field while many men do. Is this a problem, no it is not.

    Women and men are different, maybe it is how they are raised, but in the broad sense the case can be made that

Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.

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