Roy MacKenzie and Naomi Clark rocked my world at the WAM Conference with the session "Beyond Croft and Cooking Mama: Expanding the Discussion of Sexism in Gaming Culture." I could have stayed there all day!
A gamer myself (not super hard core, but I've done my share of shredding on Guitar Hero II on our Playstation 2, and I couldn't total the hours I've played Civilization or The Sims on computers that have come and gone) and the wife of a gamer, I've certainly been aware of the sexism inherent in the ways women are portrayed in games, and the lack of people of color except for the most stereptypical depictions. Trust me, when my husband started playing Tomb Raider I had no shortage of commentary about Lara Croft.
But Roy and Naomi's session covered several topics about how few women there are in the industry, and if they are attractive and smart, the backlash is overwhelming for them. They covered the utter disdain for girls and women that exists in many online gaming environments. And then of course, there is the way games are marketed to girls, pink and sparkly Barbie games rule the corner game store shelves.
Why can't a girl enjoy a good adventure, strategy, or role playing game without it being dumb-downed and sparkled up, or feeling like she has to be one of the guys to be safe? As Roy and Naomi stated in the panel-- just at the age when girls should be getting interested in games, the hostile gaming environment turns them off.
Are you or do you know a girl gamer? Check out: Cerise Magazine
and read this article or anything else by Latoya Peterson
As soon as I posted this-- I read my daily email from ypulse.com and read the news that 69% of girls play and a story on what they play.