It's Hip To Be Square: Taking Videogames Out of the Basement
Welcome to another special installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to me. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!
What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?
I’m inclined to think that incorporating any diversity into this game in terms of RL personas, play-style, or ideas is a good thing, so consider me in the “get more women to play Eve” camp.
I know both male and female players in his game. I’ve met women playing as male avatars, characters that are clearly men with a female avatar, and characters that are clearly men with a female avatar but are vehmently denying it. When all’s said and done though, Eve is a game, and I really can’t fault anyone for playing a game as a means of escapism. If that escapism involves trying to convince people you’re actually a member of the opposite sex than so be it.
The point I’m making here is that I see no difference or matter who’s behind the keyboard of the character I’m talking or interacting with. If it’s someone I’m trying to work and fly with, all I need is a certain level of maturity and intelligence, and you could be any gender or gender combination in the world for all it ultimately matters. The same reasoning can be attached someone I’m trying to garner tears and boo-hoo’s from, as long as that inherent ability to over-react to and cry about internet spaceships is there.
Of the female gamers I know, there is definitely a higher level of maturity than the what can be gleaned from the average glance at a local channel in Eve. However, there’s also a higher mean player age amongst those women I know who game than the male-dominant player-base of Eve. “Older” is a relatve term I realize so for the purpose of this piece let’s say “over 21″. Most of them have played a variety of games for a number of years, and are at the point where they’ve very obviously made peace with the notion that they are a minority: the female gamer.
I think the notion of a “gamer” in general has rapidly lost the stigma and negative connotations it once held. When I was 12 and watching my friends play Magic: The Gathering (I could never really get into that game myself), I and everyone present realized that it was uncool to be playing Magic, at least in the scheme of adolescent jr high politics. Later on in my teen years when I was rabidly playing Starcraft with my friends online every day after school, there were no illusions that this was something generally considered geeky and uncool, and was in no way acceptable to the majority of our peers. Again, we were ok with that, but we were aware of it.
Be completely honest, 10 years ago when a girl asked what sort of things you did for hobbies, you said things like “I’m good with computers”, not “my clan just totally OWNED in Starcraft using a fuckin RAD combination of zerg rushing and terran turtling strategies” (and if you did, and it worked, go ahead and give yourself a huge pat on the back for having nads of steel).
Now look at where we are today. Gaming consoles (xbox 360, Wii, PS3) are prevelant in the home/dorm/apartment/etc of most self-respecting cool persons under the age of 35. Major game releases are advertised in popular culture; on prime time television, before blockbuster movies, in trendy magazines. So what flipped the switch? Where did this bizarre paradigm shift and the reversal of “geeky” happen?
I think a lot of it is gaming companies, developers, and marketers getting smarter; finding content that becomes more accessible to a larger audience, and pushing that. That douche with the popped collar in your general psyche class talking about “playing Madden with some of the bro’s later online”? Yeah, we used to call those LAN parties my friend, and they were decidedly UN-cool, even to those who were there, trust me.
Four guys in a basement playing at being warrior elves or an alien command force with four other guys in another basement three states away is geeky. Switch out the elves for NFL players and you’ve got “cool” marketing genius.
What I don’t mean to suggest though is that Eve should “change” to incorporate a female player-base. Actually, I think to do so would ultimately discourage them. In the case of video games in general, it is because of dumbed-down pop-culture shit like Madden NFL that we have a generally higher social accepteance of games and the “gamers” who play them. Its not that we’ve CHANGED video games, its that we’ve added enough content across the spectrum that they become accessible, and therefore less misunderstood.
The main obstacle when it comes to opening up Eve to a larger and more gender-diverse group, is that its ultimately an amalgamation of the most male-dominant themes and hobbies out there. Strike #1, its a video game. And yes, as discussed, the social-barriers and stigmas surrounding the idea of a “gamer” are slowly breaking away, but then you have still have Strike #2: its a video game about spaceships (and I am not suggesting that women aren’t sci-fi fans, but I think there is unquestionably a larger contingent of male sci-fi fans out there then female ones).
Ok, so its a sci-fi video game, but if you can manage to get people to swallow that, you still hit them with the big one: its a massively multiplayer online ROLE PLAYING game. Strike three, do not pass go. Video games might be losing their stigma, but labels like “role playing game” are still eyebrow-raising to most people. Hell, it was even a deterrent for ME when checking out Eve, until I realized that it didn’t have to be literal.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s a quick solution to bringing in more women to this game. The idea’s I’ve seen so far in this blog banter about Incarna encouraging women to play or “showing women how much fun building stuff in Eve is!” seem short sighted at best and fairly sexist at worst.
There will be more women in Eve eventually; I think it’s thankfully inevitable. Continue to break down those stigma barriers and show that anyone, male or female, can have fun kicking back and relaxing with a little online spaceship fun, and you’ll get anyone hooked on this game who wants in.
List of Participants:
- The Ladies of New Eden
- Is EVE a man’s world?
- Sorry, No Pink Spaceships Here Please
- EVE Blog Banter: Chicks ‘N Ships
- Eve Blog Banter: The Girls Who Fly Spaceships
- It’s not about fluffy bloody Kittens people!
- Space Boobies Are Bad, m’kay?
- Special Blog Banter: I Like Girls
- Special Edition or making Eve More Casual
- I wish my wife played EVE
- Is there something special about women?
- CK’s Blog Banter
- The Female of the Species
- EVE Online Can Appeal to Women By Adding Casual Content
- Blog Banter: The Ladies
- Women Who Want EVE
- Tech 2 stilettos
- New Eden doesn’t need to change for Eve – Adam needs to get over himself
- EVE Online and… women (sorta)
- Think Outside the Spaceship
- EVE’s monthly banter – Women, women, women
- Girls Just Wanna Have… Guns!
- Draco Horizons (Blog) <– Needs to add intro (with links) and list of participants
- Don’t change Eve for me!
- Where Are Teh Laydeez of EVE?
- Where Are All The Wenches?
- EVEquality: The Rise of the Female Gamer
- Women? In MY SPACESHIP? Is she from Mars as well?
- Blog Banter: Captain Kirk Hates Eve
- The Female of the Species
- The Ladies of New Eden
- EVE and the X by X Genetic Succession Unit
- Sociability V
- Girl on Girls in Space
- What women want (in Eve)
- Time Is On Our Side
- Roc Appeal <– Needs to add intro (with links) and list of participants
- Women in EVE
- Getting In Touch With Our Feminine Side
- It’s a woman’s world (they just don’t know it yet!)
- Women in EVE – Can it be done?
- You’d Rather Be Playing The Sims, Right?
- Blog Banter #17 – Women in Eve
- How To Get The Betty’s
- EVE: WTB girls?
- All about EVE
- Ladies to the gunfight
- Hell hath no fury
- The Ladies of New Eden (An Analysis on How Men are not from Mars, and Women are not from Venus)
- EVE Blog Banter 17: The Ladies of New Eden <– Needs a link to the original banter post in the intro
- The Ladies of New Eden
- Getting ladies to play Eve Online
- Why Don’t More Women Play EVE?? <– Needs a link to the original banter post in the intro
- Getting Girls to Play EVE
- “Prove It”: Women In Eve
- Your Agent Has Ended Your Mission…
- It’s Hip To Be Square: Taking Videogames Out of the Basement