From characters to developers, it’s undeniable that women play a massive role in the gaming industry now. But that role can, and should, be bigger. So, as a woman in gaming I thought i’d turn this month over to reading about the impact that women have had over the industry in itself and the titles it has churned out. My favourite picks from the month take us through a conference celebrating female empowerment within the industry, right up to the forefront of female auteurism in gaming – a subject I have particularly grinding interest in because it’s the topic of my upcoming dissertation (pray to Kratos for me on Thursday).
“If female developers have proved one thing, then it’s that the art form needs them” – The Daily Beacon
Castello begins with a discussion of Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida’s recent statements that a female protagonist was a “risk” in Horizon Zero Dawn that made him “nervous”. From this diving board of a statement, this short piece describes the many PlayStation titles that feature a female protagonist, ultimately concluding on an optimistic note that the future of the company is looking decidedly female.
“Why the Choice to Play as a Woman in Video Games Is Holding the Industry Back” – Emma Welsh, The Culture Trip
Welsh contributes the brilliant point that playing as a woman still only remains an option for mainstream gaming. Games are rarely built around a female protagonist, they are simply shoehorned into male roles as an aesthetic cue to grant the developers a nod of equality. Take a read for yourself, and compare the number of Horizon Zero Dawns we have against the number of male-advertised protagonists.
Fowler describes the Nancy Drew games of his childhood playing with his sister and ultimately names the franchise as the industry’s most revolutionary step forward for women. Megan Gaiser is hailed as a true visionary in her accomplishment of the successful development and marketing of games for girls. While relating that inequality is still rife in the video game industry, Fowler asserts that the writing of female characters in games has improved.
“The industry insisted that only boys would play games. You could write their insistence and short-sightedness off on gender roles, stereotypes, peer pressures or societal expectations, but either way [Gaiser of Her Interactive] proved them all wrong”
This evening showcasing the work of five female developers including panel and discussions was refreshingly blase in its write up from TechRaptor. While discussing marketing, inspirations, narrative, and development trends, Ehrenhofler not once reports on the women as inspirational beacons of light for girls in gaming everywhere. Whether that’s Ehrenhofler’s write-up or if it was a running chillness throughout the event, it certainly does a lot to stop the female developer being a novelty and keeps us in the conversation in exactly the same manner as the boys. A must read for some in-depth games industry knowledge with the warm feeling of knowing it comes from women.
Ah, yes. The video game auteur. A question i’ve been grappling for the past few months in my attempts to construct a dissertation. Dale too has decided to dabble in the difficulties of applying auteurism to video games, and too has reaped some of the rewards the theory can offer. I won’t get into too much detail (for fear of self-plagiarising when it comes to marking time… hi Debra), but Dale settles on the commonly recognised notion that developers often labelled auteurs are men. Dale posits her best argument for a female auteur in games as being Roberta Williams for her work on King’s Quest but after this there is an incredibly thought-provoking analysis of why there seems to be less women in mind when considering auteurship.
“This differing dynamic makes it a lot easier for any male dominated industry not pushing for diversity lift up confident male creators willing to take credit for creative vision and label them auteurs”
Let us know what you think about this month’s round up down in the comments!