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Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: The Black Girl Gamers

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The most effective change comes when people band together and make it happen. The Black Girl Gamers are one such group. They work to make sure that the world of gaming is more inclusive for everyone.

In 2015 The Black Girl Gamers formed. They began as a safe space against sexism and racism in the gaming world. BGG has grown from their original purpose to become a tour de force in the gaming world. Which really isn’t surprising due to their dedication. The BGG have become the people to go to for the black perspective of gaming.

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The community that is BGG continues to grow. They have 2400 multifaceted gamers, streamers and game developers in their ranks of members. That alone would be insanely impressive for BGG. However they do even more. BGG are also on panels and do press!

The members who make up BGG are a huge part of their success. They have a dedicated group of main streamers. The BGG also have an amazing troop of writers who help keep the gaming community informed and entertained. There are also a few members who should be referred to as nothing less then Elite. These dedicated folks have been with BGG since it’s start and who continue to aid in it’s progress as a community.

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One of the best things about this group is that they also allow their community to merge into other public streams and discords. This gives the BGG the ability to spread safe spaces throughout the gaming community. The BGG is a family that works hard to make sure that the gaming community a better place. Not only do they make gaming spaces more diverse but they also give others a place to use their voices. That makes this awesome group of gamers pretty phenomenal.

You can unite with them on their Facebook.

If you never want to miss an update you can follow them on their Twitter.

They could also use your support. A great way to that is their Patreon.

The BGG are an amazing force in the gaming community. They are using their skills and passion to make real change in the world. The members of BGG prove that you can be the change you want to see. So fight to make gaming spaces what they should be.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Guest Post: The Number of Female Gamers is Rising, Studies Show, so What’s the Problem?

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Gaming research studies for several years have been dealing major blows to the stereotypical view of the typical gamer as a white guy in his mom’s basement. In 2014, a paper by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that a shocking 52 percent of the total gaming audience is actually women. It indicated a rise from the 49 percent in 2012. By 2017, the most recent research shows that this number had risen to an incredible 65 percent. The 2017 Google Play and Newzoo study revealed that women are now more than half of the gamer population.

The rising number of female gamers should be a positive sign for women in gaming, who have been long marginalized, discriminated against, and openly harassed by fellow male gamers. The million-dollar question now is, is it really? While women are boosting the multibillion-dollar gaming industry, largely by playing various mobile games, the sector is still struggling to accommodate female gamers. Many women gamers, it turns out, largely feel underrepresented in the gaming sector. Let’s consider some of the contributing reasons:

Persistent Stigma
Female gamers may have the numbers on their side, but the general attitudes in the industry largely stigmatize them. Veteran female gamers complain of bias female gamers still have to face. The stigma can be pervasive enough to drive women to pretend to be men when playing. Researchers have noted that a considerable number of female gamers do not disclose their gender because of fear of being alienated by male players. The “gamergate” scandal brought to light the level of misogyny hardcore female gamers have to face. There are also more subtle hints of misogyny indicated in surveys. Another Google Play survey found that male gamers are more likely to spend time playing with others if they know those other players are also male.

Lack of Female Game Developers
While the female percentage in the player sector is on the rise, the same is not true for women game developers, designers, or creators. Women players may be owning it in mobile games or building their own gaming PCs, but according to the International Game Developers Association, only less than 30 percent of developers in the gaming industry are either female or transgender. This affects how women are depicted in games, obviously. The traditional mold of the female characters in games being over-exaggerated sex symbols is still prominent, which discourages female gamers from trying out some of the top ranking titles. It should be noted though that some activist developers are trying to include more diverse and wholesome female characters in games.

Male Toons are Still Prominent
Women are getting into the gaming scene largely thanks to the rise of gaming apps. Women of all ages and from nearly all walks of life can play games while on the move. Some women, like new mothers, report that mobile gaming is a pleasant distraction. Naturally, these female gamers prefer to adopt female avatars and toons for in-game experiences. However, a majority of games still feature male personas rather than female ones. Google found out that the 44 percent of game app icons on Google
Play feature male faces rather than female ones, despite the majority of women consuming these products. A survey found that over 60 percent of female gamers think no more than one-third of mobile games are made for women.

The fact that the number of female gamers is on the rise should be a pleasant and welcoming development for aspiring female gamers and developers everywhere. But as the points above indicate, gender parity is still far from reality in gaming. Hopefully in the future, with more female gamers and developers, these unequal factors may change for the better.

Written By: Tracy Plunkett, Kiwi writer with a love for gadgets, games, and music. I also have an unhealthy obsession with cats.

Guest Post: Why eSports Needs More Media Attention

By Rein
Website: http://promodskin.com/

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I hear quite often from the mainstream media about how eSports or professional gaming (online) doesn’t make any sense.

There is clearly not enough knowledge of the subject by the people who is saying it; I mean sure they’ve read some articles, maybe look for some statistic, and maybe took a glance at the professional gamer’s profile.

It’s kinda annoying sometimes, so this is my message to the wide stream media and whoever else who wants to listen.

I find football boring, watching it is boring as well. I play rugby myself, but there’s no fun watching it all, but eSports? I find myself watching for hours and completely lose track of time.

eSports is incredibly immersive, some of my friends who don’t play Counter Strike: Global Offensive find the matches are fun to watch, noting that the casters are a lot more energetic and entertaining than commentators from traditional sports.

Note: ESPN made their own page dedicated to eSports which is cool. They never stop expanding.

Person’s Preference

It’s completely down to preference of what you like to watch. If you don’t play the game or don’t have any knowledge of it, of course, you’ll find watching it boring. You have no idea what’s going on and have no idea why these people are so much more skilled than the average person.

This is just simply down to exposure. We’ve all seen or played athletic sports at some point of our lives, and we all appreciate how difficult it is to be good at it.

The same goes with eSports. Practice is needed to become good, and consistent practice is needed to stay good. It’s just the most people didn’t realise this because they haven’t tried it.

As an aspiring eSports player myself, I regularly practice my aim and knowledge (CSGO) daily when I can, and I strive before improving myself.

The great thing about eSports is that it takes very little to set up your team and get started to its vast world.

In eSports, warming up is necessary like any regular sport. Regarding CSGO, you have to get your aim refined to be hitting the crucial shots that are needed. You need to practice different grenades to give your team tactical advantage, and you have to be able to read the game and predict your opponent’s moves.

In League of Legends and DOTA 2, it is more complex because you need to practice on last hitting your enemy creeps to have a gold advantage so you can buy good items to help your team win the game. Mechanical skills like warding, aggro-creeping, and skill timings are essential.

Just like traditional sports, it requires dedication and is not just a casual thing you can do now and then. It is not instant that can happen overnight to be good at it.

Interesting Case Study

This study by Professor Ingo Frobose states that “The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person.”

This case study proves that eSports are quite intensive because the entire thing is asymmetrical because both hands being moved at the same time with various parts of the brain are also being used at the same time.

He also said that this level of strain even exceeded sports such as table tennis which requires a very high level of hand-eye coordination.

There’s a hormone that your body releases called cortisol, which is released in response to stress. Frobose states that, “The amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that of a race car driver.”

Again, a race car driver. These people is required to have some of the fastest reactions out there just to stay alive while racing on a track.

This is what an eSports player has. Their pulse increases to, which can often increase to as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute equivalent to a runner.

Conclusion

Playing video games has a long history in our civilization, some people may raise their eyebrows if they hear that it is a sport but believe it or not, there are proofs that eSports should be considered as a sport and USA is issuing an P-1 visas for e-gamers, which is the same visa issued for traditional sports.

eSports has still a long road to cross before everyone accept is a sport. But every single step is an achievement in the industry, not mentioning the money that the industry is generating per year.

Injjj is the owner of promodskin.com where you can download free mod skins for LoL and DOTA 2.

Please, Stop.

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Lords, ladies, lads, and lassies, I am Max Urso and I implore you: Please, stop.

This is not a rant, this is a plea.

The gaming industry is inundated with pre-ordered, crowd-funded, early-access betas that fill the internet with hatred and vitriol when they fail to appease. We’re so addicted to instant gratification that we can’t wait for a finished product to come out. The game developers are more than happy to take our money to fund their unfinished products. It’s a dysfunctional relationship, and I’m not sure who the abuser is and who is the enabler.

Mind you, I’m as guilty as the next guy of feeding into this destructive behavior. My Steam library is full of early-access games that I’ve booted up maybe once or twice, only to toss them aside in favor of the next new game that’s not quite ready for the light of day. I have over 100 games in there that aren’t getting played because I’ve drifted back to World of Warcraft and Diablo III. That will change in an instant though, bets are already placed as to how long I’ll stick with my WoW subscription this time. All it will take is a shiny new game on the horizon to catch my eye.

Then, there’s the case of games that are blatant lies. No Man’s Sky sold itself on false promises. There were over 200,000 players on launch day on Steam alone, and today there’s slightly over 2,000. That’s a 90% loss due to features not present in the finished product but talked of in the promotional media leading up to it’s release. These remaining few die hard fans who read between the lines, ignored the hype, and knew what they were buying are the only ones still playing it.

My gaming habits aside, I still play NMS. I like it, but I made it my own (The Lost Files 1). I don’t play it everyday, but I do enjoy it. My point is that we, as consumers, are obligated to think before we spend our money. It’s too easy to click-click-click and purchase a game without thinking of the consequences, but we must. The game developers will keep offering pre-orders if we keep buying into it.

Day one patches, and paid DLCs (that years ago would have been free) are more of the same bad relationship symptoms between us and them. If nobody bought DLCs, then would they still make them? Would they instead offer them for free or as part of the initial content?

Use the power of your wallet intelligently. Wait for the release. Wait for reviews. Sure, most critics seemed biased or possibly even show a preference, but that’s why we need to do our research. Stop giving the game developers an excuse to release a shoddy game. It is the responsibility of the developers to put out a finished, polished product, and it is our responsibility to hold them accountable by not paying for anything less.

 

We Are All Gamers, Stop Letting Them Divide Us

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We are all gamers, period.  I’ve been living with the constant barrage of negative views on gamers since gaming was a thing.  Never before have we let it cause such a rift in our community as we do now.  There was a time when the Jack Thompsons of the world were universally condemned by gamers, and the press that covered our community.  Who is ‘them,’ ‘they,’ those people who have us fighting each other over petty garbage now?  Now it’s that same press, ‘industry insiders,’ a few developers, and people who have decided they want to be a member of this community, but want to change it into their own version of a utopian tribe.  If you question some aspect of it?  Well you just aren’t welcome in this new definition of ‘inclusion,’ and to top it off they’ll happily print articles spinning it as if  you run a concentration camp in your back yard.  Then, when the dust settles that rift is just a little wider and they go hunting their next target.

But, we’re all gamers.  Why do we listen when an analyst says “PC gamers are like arrogant racists?”  Why do we then go looking for people to call racist just because some guy said it in an interview.  Worse yet why do we accept it as normal that it’s OK to paint with such a broad brush?  PC gamers, just like gamers in general, aren’t any one thing except gamers.  We are all part of the same community, and yet we are all different.  To say PC gamers, or gamers are one thing or another is no different than saying heavy metal fans are all satanists, or roleplayers are all devil worshipers.  It’s the same puritan mentality that has caused hysteria with the ill-informed public for years.  How many of us had friends that had to hide their D&D books from their parents, or could only listen to Megadeth at a friend’s house?

We’re all gamers.  We need to start standing up for each other, because it’s obvious most of our major press isn’t going to do it.  Just Google ‘Gamers are…’ and look at the majority of the posts.  The vast majority right now are links to the article above.  Imagine a parent wants to educate themselves about our community before buying their young kid a console for Christmas.  Our media is doing a terrible job of representing our community to the general public, and in many cases we’re playing right into it.  Sure, we have our fights, but it’s usually about which Zelda is the best or whether PC is better than console.  That’s part of being in this community, just like sports nuts argue over which team is better, or which sport.  Unfortunately, when the media prints an article about gamers being sexist dudebros a lot of us go off and say, “Yup, look at this. This is how it is, gamers are like this.”

A lot of it reminds me of how the media plays us with politics.  They turn us on each other based on our political parties and who we support.  If you back this guy you’re a racist, if you don’t back this woman you’re a sexist.  Then we fight about it all while the politicians and media collect the cash and keep it going.  Who is really being helped here when we fight each other because the games press calls some of us names?  We all know they’re shady as hell, yet when they print an article, or 80, about somebody supporting the ‘wrong candidate’ not only do we believe it outright, but somehow we accept that it’s OK to shun someone just because we don’t like their political choice.  We help the media create a culture that is the opposite of inclusive, and by the time the facts actually come out, and we find out they didn’t give money to the ‘wrong guy’ it’s too late.  They’ve already smeared the guy, run his girlfriend off social media, and forever skewed public perception of the company.  Companies are already cutting ties, people are already boycotting, and most of the media will never go back and correct those articles.  They’re too busy writing the next clickbait to keep us outraged and at each other’s throats.

We’re all gamers.  We have to start having each other’s backs.  Get back to being that awesome community I know is still there, still strong, but overshadowed by all the mess created by a few people looking for their 15 minutes.  We are all different, but we all love games.  We don’t all like the same types of games, and that’s fine.  We can argue about which game is better, which genre, or which platform is the best without devolving to the hate that people have brought to this community.  That’s precisely the issue.  We aren’t a hateful community, but a few people have certainly brought that out.

So what’s the magic fix?  I wish I knew.  We just have to make a conscious effort to be the community I know we are.  Stop listening to media, start listening to each other.  Sure, we have our outliers, but that’s just what they are.  The little trolls and gremlins sitting in the corner spewing garbage.  They’re just like the trolls and gremlins sitting in the light, writing articles that spew garbage.  Neither will ever go away completely, but we have to stop listening to the half that have the loudest voice.  All they do is scream and shout about the other group, and act as if they’re representative of us all.  Call them out on it, back each other up against both of those nasty groups, and above all fight that hate with love, not more hate.

Xbox’s Clubs Feature, the Gender War and Games Media Profits

Xbox’s Clubs Feature, the Gender War and Games Media Profits

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I originally wasn’t going to write about this new feature, because it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  It’s just another social media type platform for a game system.  In a way it is no different than the clans and guilds that formed around PC games, many of which I’ve been a part of myself.  Generally a clan is a group of people who enjoy the same game, or group of games, get together on Ventrilo or Teamspeak, and chat in their own website forums.  Xbox’s clubs feature is basically that, hosted on the console’s Live platform.  It will let people form their own club, select interests and tags, moderate, chat, share game videos, and basically share their interests with other gamers.  It does also allow you to filter out the clubs you don’t want, avoid the players you want to avoid.

Unfortunately some of the games media have dropped the ball on this, with headlines like “Xbox Live Is Getting A ‘No Trash Talking’ And ‘Females Only’ Mode” from Kotaku were slightly annoying, then I saw Microsoft Wants to Make Xbox Safe for Gamers Who Aren’t White Men” from Bloomberg.  First of all, the ‘modes’ offered by this are far more complex than ‘Females Only’, which screams the opposite of inclusive.  These modes, both LFG and Clubs, will allow gamers to join groups and find games with a wide variety of criteria.  Examples from Microsoft include:

Henshaw used the example of “parents who can only game after 10 pm”, “mic required”, “gender inclusive” and so on, as examples of tags people can attach to their Club, to seek like-minded players.

While I’m not a huge fan of separating the community, I have far less issue with these new features now than I did when I first read some of the games media’s reporting on it.  My first instinct was, that’s what the mute button is for.  I mute people all the time on games I play.  Not the smack talkers, or the people taking jabs at me, but the real jerks, yah I’ll mute them.  That’s not what these features are about though, despite what the major game’s media is making it out to be.

That second headline, from Bloomberg, is what convinced me to write this.  That headline, and the article that follows, is so condescending on many levels.  First, the implication that anyone but white men are somehow less capable of dealing with the jerks online.  Are women and minorities delicate flowers that must be sheltered from mean words online?  This seems to be predicated on the idea that white men are somehow safer?  Like we don’t get harassed, insulted, and verbally abused online?  If Dina Bass did a little research, or was honest with her premise, she’d know that everyone, white men included, get harassed online.  If she doesn’t know this, or isn’t capable of the level of research it takes to find a poll related to her topic, why is she writing for Bloomberg?  If she does know, why did she dismiss it in order to write such a biased article?  In either case the media is simply dropping the ball in reporting these features from Xbox, and perpetuating a gender war in the gaming community that they continue to profit from.

Following that up, the second line of the article from Bloomberg says:

The company is creating safe spaces for people who’ve felt uncomfortable or endured abuse at the hands of other gamers online.

This is not what Microsoft is doing, though it is a result of what is being done.  One result among many.  It’s more honest to say that the company is creating a way for gamers to interact specifically with groups that share their own interests.  They are creating a way for everyone to pick who they want to play with, not just ‘people who’ve felt uncomfortable or endured abuse’, but then again knowing that everyone has felt uncomfortable or endured abuse, maybe Dina is correct without knowing it.

The problem now is the popular games media has created this environment where everything has to be about gender, and a perfectly benign and inclusive feature (that helps people segregate themselves, yah strange I know) is now tied to this constant gender issue the media is pushing.  It’s creating rifts in the community that don’t need to be there, and isn’t helping heal the ones already here.  It keeps people on one side of the fence or the other, with many caught in the middle just wanting gamers to game.

Like I said, when I first read these headlines I thought they were actually creating a mode that was going to be called ‘females only’.  The misinformation in the media made me not want discuss this because it seemed so asinine that it wasn’t worth my time.  Then I went to Microsoft’s site, read about the feature from the original source, and realized I should have done that first.  It’s a difficult habit to break, to ignore the media and go to the source.  Even as a writer and journalist it’s something I have to consciously do, so I know how easy it is for people to take everything they read in the media as factual.

Yes, there are assholes online.  I run into them on a regular basis when I play FPS games.  It’s nice to be able to mute the ones that get out of hand.  I’m told that the Xbox community can be worse than the PC players, though I personally have no frame of reference.  If people want to be able to separate themselves into smaller cliques based on interest, more power to them.  It’s not going to solve the issue of assholes online, and it won’t make the community better, it will just split us into smaller groups.  I do know for sure, however, that the media is only making things worse and that’s a sad state of things.

We gamers really need to do more ourselves to keep our community growing, getting better.  It’s become more clear over the last few years that the major games media has no interest in actually helping.  Like the news organizations beating the political drums of one side or the other, the games media is only interested in keeping the drama going so we’ll keep on clicking and fighting.  We must stop reading their headlines and believing everything they post.  We have to stop letting them divide us into classes and groups, we’re better than that.  Gaming has always been a great community, and it can keep getting better if we stop paying attention to the drama profiteers who only want to make a buck.

This Month in Gaming History: June

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This Month in Gaming History: June

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June can be such a great month. Father’s day is a source of joy for many of us.  The promise of summer is imminent. Schools will be letting out. Plenty of opportunities to game with those we care about.

Here are some games that have been released this month in history.

Space Invaders

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In June of 1978, the game Space Invaders was released in arcades in Japan. The popularity of Space Invaders grew quickly. The aim of the game is to shoot aliens with a laser cannon to gain as many points as possible. This game has been re-released many times as a testimony to its popularity.

Lunar Lander

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While these games were not released this month in history Atari did become the first company to register for a copyright in 1980. Lunar Lander used a vector monitor to display vector graphics. It was not an incredibly popular game but it’s technology did lead to more successful games like Asteroids. Asteroids is a shooter game where the player has to try to destroy asteroids and flying saucers.

Tetris

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Tetris was first released in the USSR on June 6, 1984. Different colored shapes fall in a random sequence that the player manipulates to fit in the space available. Oh, Tetris. We have all played it and I think it has helped us with things like packing or putting away groceries. Or it will have helped you with other games that have used the idea of the original game.

Diablo II

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Diablo II was released for PC on June 29, 2000. The game built on the success of its predecessor, causing Diablo II to become one of the most popular games of 2000. The player will go through different “acts” or chapters of game play. There are different classes for characters to choose from as they battle through demons and darkness to the final act.

Second Life

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Second Life was released in 2003. This game features a virtual world where players interact in virtual situations. Players would also interact with other players from around the world by using an avatar.

So there you have it. We have had some very diverse and interesting gaming history for June.

Happy gaming everyone!