19 May 2009

Deadline Extended for Womengamers.com Scholarship

The deadline for the WomenGamers.com - National Computer Camps Scholarship for Girls application has been extended to Friday, May 22.

WomenGamers.Com and National Computer Camp (NCC) are offering a scholarship valued at $985 to a female student (age 8-18) for one week. The National Computer Camp is America's original computer camp with locations in Connecticut, Georgia, New York, and Ohio.

14 May 2009


Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: ESPN Zone
Street: 1011 S. Figueroa Street
City/Town: Los Angeles, CA

This event is sponsored by Disney Interactive Media Group and Sony Computer Entertainment.

Be sure to RSVP and bring your E3 pass for admission. (No admission without E3 pass.)

Click here for info on how to RSVP.

09 May 2009

Video Game Girls Burlesque Show

Hmm. I suppose this is a natural extension of cosplay.

Since male video game characters are not included in this show, which ones would you want to strip for you?

08 May 2009

Beyond 'Sweetie'

New York Times Article that looks at female learning styles. Does the Socratic method put women at a disadvantage? How can we incorporate knowledge of female learning styles into our games? Now that there are more women in higher education, classroom dynamics have changed...

"The criminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz, an advocate of the Socratic method who has taught at Harvard for four decades, has found that classroom dynamics have ''changed dramatically'' with the increase in women's enrollment. After he commented in one class that rape was -- statistically speaking -- ''a rare crime,'' a group of women complained to Professor Minow. When their concerns were relayed to Professor Dershowitz, he asked them to teach a lecture on rape from the victims' perspective. The women assigned the class to read the standards of consent to sexual intercourse and argued that statistics on rape could be inaccurate because of underreporting."

07 May 2009

WIGI Mixer at GDC Canada

Date: May 13th
Time: 6-9 pm
Where: Uber Lounge @ Steamworks (375 Water Street)

Plus, discount code for WIGI members attending GDC Canada.

Register and receive CDN $100 Discount on GDC Canada All Access and Main Conference passes. Enter code GCA09WIGI during the registration process.

03 May 2009

Action-Packed Short-Form Games: An Ideal Date?

This blog entry originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month for April 2009's topic Designing Quality 2 - 3 Hour Games.

At GDC 2005 and GDC 2006, as co-founders of the non-profit, Girls in Games, Inc., Michelle Sorger and I conducted the popular "Attracting Women to Game Development" roundtables, which focused on recruitment and retention of women in the game industry. One comment during a discussion about bringing games into the lives of teenage girls has intrigued me over the years: a suggestion that the industry create 2 - 3 hour narrative-based games that teenage boys and girls could enjoy together, akin to going out to the movies.

Young girls, according to research, are enthralled by video games just as much as young boys, but in their teenage years, girls' interests typically turn to issues dealing with dating and socialization. Video games just like any type of sciences or maths are commonly viewed as interests for females who are socially awkward and undesirable. Therefore, girls veer away from the very subjects that could make them employable in the video game industry years from now. For years, people have said the issue is not that young female college freshmen are not interested in computer programming, but that teenage and middle school girls are not interested in computer programming. We're wasting our efforts if we devote all our energies to the college level.

But by transporting video games into the realm of social interaction and dating, the act of playing a video game become socially acceptable to teenage girls. It becomes part of the dating ritual, like going to a club or a movie. But what sort of short-form game would be appropriate for a date? And how would that dynamic be?

Normally, when boys and girls play video games together, boys end up playing the game. This has been noted in several studies of games used in educational settings. There are many explanations for this: girls typically are not video game literate and girls' play patterns differ from boys. Noah Falstein in a GDC 2009 session noted that when girls play, one takes the steering wheel while the others crowd around and give comments. For girls, no particular person is in control whereas boys are continually jockeying for control of the controller. Moreover, girls are not comfortable playing a game without knowing exactly how everything works. As Sheri Graner Ray has often stated, even back in the arcade age, a boy was playing the game while a girl stood watching.

However, I would posit that while girls' lack of controller dominance may discourage educational theorists who would want girls to participate (and learn) from games, this is perfectly OK in a social setting. No girl wants the possibility of failure in front of boy and repeated failure only leads to frustration. As casual game developers know, the more a casual player fails at a game, the more likely she is to stop playing the game. Moreover, when considering gender play patterns, it simply follows that a boy playing the game and a girl watching is a normal situation. And a girl's lack of controller dominance does not mean that she is not enjoying the game.

Anecdotally speaking, when a couple of game designers and I went through Gears of War 2 in one sitting, I was quite happy to let the guys go through the game because I knew they could get through it faster. Yet, I felt like I was participating because at choice points, I could voice my opinion, yelling "Right, Right!" or "No, Left!" when we drove over the frozen lakes. Normally, I find it silly to yell when I watch DVDs with friends, but because this game was interactive, I could participate in that way.

I might add that I typically do not enjoy action flicks on the wide screen. I have even fallen asleep during a Vin Diesel film because of the lack of deep characterization. So, it is somewhat surprising to me that I have come to this conclusion that action-packed short-form games would be ideal date material. Simply, in my experience, no other genre of games seemed to be right for this purpose. I have played Braid with the same guys and even though I used the controller with others commenting to me, a puzzle game is simply too slow-paced and furthermore, does not deliver a satisfying shared experience at 2 - 3 hours. I have found the same to be true for RPGs, which often meander and have a slow build-up.

Scientists have said that in the science of love, increased adrenaline output is part of falling in love, which is why television matchmakers try to hook couples up by giving them exciting dates like race car driving or bungee jumping. Fast-paced action games, if at 2 - 3 hours, incite adrenaline and are spectacles to be watch. The narratives, while they could be better, are straightforward and usually on rails like a movie. To top it off, if the couple had something like the Rez trance vibrator, then every time the boy blew away demon-alien hybrids, the girl would receive a happy jolt. However, that's not for first-date hijinks!

So what do you think? Should video games be part of the dating ritual?