RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Women in Gaming

Women in Gaming Industry: Aya Kyogoku

Posted on
Women in Gaming Industry: Aya Kyogoku

kyogoku-streetpass-mii-plaza I have a lot of respect for anyone who makes a living writing.  I also have a lot of respect for anyone who makes their living in the gaming industry. Someone who is a script writer for games is awe-worthy to me due to the difficulty of both fields, let alone combining them. Aya Kyogoku has been officially working for Nintendo in that capacity since 2003. During this time, she has helped to give us many successful and, quite frankly, fun games throughout the years.

Kyogoku is a native of Japan, where she honed her skills for working in the gaming industry. After joining Nintendo, she worked for the Entertainment Analysis & Development portion of the company. Kyogoku has been a huge asset to the company in a few different roles since being hired. As well as script writing, she has also co-directed a truly adorable game. Yes, I am talking the ever popular series Animal Crossing.

original

Who doesn’t want to become mayor of their own perfect world? Especially if you get to  be around adorable animated characters. Well, that is what you get to do in the Animal Crossing franchise. Kyogoku co-directed Animal Crossing: New Leaf , which introduced all new characters and a new setting. She also used this game as a way to address diversity in the gaming world. In this interview, Kyogoku talks about why she continues to want a workplace where many ideas are able to be shared.Aya-kyogoku (1)

Kyogoku has also worked on two games in the ever popular The Legend of Zelda franchise. In The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess, Link must try to save Hyrule from being engulfed by a parallel universe. In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure Link goes to once more restore peace in Hyrule. Both games were critically acclaimed and enjoyed by most fans.

Aya Kyogoku is a hard working and creative force in the gaming industry. She is a voice for greater diversity. We in the gaming world are lucky to have her fun-loving presence in one of our biggest companies!

Always keep sparkling!  

Influential Female Characters: Evie Frye

Posted on
Influential Female Characters: Evie Frye

evie eye roll

It isn’t easy being a woman in Victorian times. Neither is being an assassin intent on cleaning up an insanely corrupt London.  Evie does it with grace and snark. Her targets hardly stand a chance against her precision when killing. When it comes down to it there really isn’t a better woman for the job then Evie Frye.

acs-gameplay-og-EVIE Assassin’s Creed is a gaming franchise that has produced many successful games. There was even a movie made from the concept of the games recently. Players have been able to choose highly trained assassins in multiple areas and times in history; including but not limited to the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the golden age of piracy to play. These characters have targets, for various reasons, to dispose of. In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate the player gets to play as both Jacob and Evie Frye.

Evie  is the elder of the Frye twins. Both were trained by their father in the ways of assassins. Evie, however, took her training just a little more seriously. She and her brother are in London trying to rid the city of corruption in their own way. Evie’s way just happens to be using all her training and brains to kill her targets.


tumblr_nq0ldznuFn1u16m3do1_500.gif

Evie is honestly just a fun character to play. She is beyond capable in a role that we haven’t gotten to see many of her gender participate in. She is sarcastic. She is ruthless at times. She is so smart. She fights just as well as any of the other assassins. If you have been searching for a female character with depth and daggers, I suggest you pick up Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Yes, you have to switch between playing Evie and Jacob but at least she is an option, which has been lacking in the other Assassin’s Creed games, save one.

Evie and Jacob have a great sibling relationship despite being so different. It is nice to see a character whose base concept is that of a killer to also be shown as so human. Her scenes with Jacob help to show that. They tease each other. They challenge each other. The Frye twins keep each other human as they hunt down their targets and I am really happy that they get to have that complexity given to them.

So if you are looking for a femme fatale in a historical setting, I would giving Assassin’s Creed Syndicate a try!

what a cutie

Always keep sparkling!

Influential Female Characters: Princess Zelda

zeldahyrulewarriors

I know a lot of people who love Princess Zelda. Why wouldn’t they? She’s beauty. She’s grace. She’ll punch you in the face. Well, that is all dependent on which incarnation of Zelda one is playing, that is. She has evolved and changed with every version of The Legend of Zelda that has been released.

Despite her name being in the title of of the games, Princess Zelda is not the main character. The main character is our own pot smashing Link. In every game, we have a different version of Link. Usually he is saving or aiding Zelda. Then why name the games after Zelda? Because there would be no need for Link to be adventuring if not for Zelda.

Yes, she starts off as a damsel in distress, but in many of the newer games, Zelda handles herself fairly well. Also every Princess Zelda is chosen by fate, though often also a member of the ruling family,  to be charged with the Triforce of Wisdom. So, basically, she is a boss with all the wisdom to rule and a chosen one to boot. So yes, her name should be in the title of all the games.

In the first Legend of Zelda game, Zelda is not even seen until after Link defeats the big boss. However, she guides him throughout the game. Zelda usually has some form of psychic powers, including telepathy and sometimes premonitions. She is always very wise and fair in her judgement, which makes her a wonderful ruler. It, however, does not seem to be able to help her evade being captured.

zelda_lyre_3_ss

Zelda’s age and appearance depend largely on the game and Link’s age. Sometimes she is a child, a teenager or a young woman. Usually she has blonde hair – though sometimes brown – with blue eyes, pointed ears and long dresses. There are a few times where she wears boots and pants. Normally she looks very much the picture of a princess. She is always proficient with music.

Her role in the games also varies depending on the game. In earlier games she was normally a damsel for Link to save. There are times when she even wields Link’s blade. In some games, she has her own sword. Other times she has a bow and arrows.

zelda

She is a kind ruler. Zelda tends to be forgiving of those who have wronged her. However, if you hurt someone she cares about, *coughLinkcough*, all bets are off. Her relationship with Link changes from game to game. Sometimes they seem to be together romantically by the end of the game. She does always seem to care about him and his welfare.

I like how feminine she is. I like how she is always strong, but not always in the way of having to physically fight. Zelda does everything within her power to protect her people. At the end of the day, Zelda is a really interesting character. I think it is important for her strength of mind to be something for gamers to look to as a positive trait as well. Sometimes we push away characters like Zelda because they are not always physically strong. That is is a mistake. Zelda has a lot of positive qualities that we can look to and emulate. 

Here is to Princess Zelda, the chosen princess of her people and overall boss!

Always keep sparkling, friends!

Women in Gaming: Carol Shaw

stuffmomnevertoldyou-86-2014-03-carol-shaw-600x350

As an old-school gamer, it’s always been a part of life that women game, and women develop games.  From the beginning, advertising has included boys and girls playing Nintendo together, men and women at the arcade, and in company photos from some of the greats.  While there’s never been an even split, it never seemed strange to me that girls in my neighborhood liked video games as much as I did.  It was only within the last ten years or so that people have not only raised the question “Is it enough?” but also began to inundate our gaming news with so much negativity about being a woman in this industry.

I’ve interviewed female developers and gamers about this, and while their experiences vary greatly, most agree that the lack of positive coverage of women in gaming is a hindrance to making any substantial change.  When young women start looking at gaming as a possible interest, many will be turned away by the lack of any good examples in the media.  Let’s face it, bad news sells, but it also skews our perspective.  Take a look yourself and you’ll find top searches are a mix of contradictory stories, negative and frightening press, and too few articles about the women who have helped shape this hobby we all love.  So I’m glad to be able to do a little profile on one of the first, Carol Shaw.

Carol Shaw is credited as the first female game designer with two titles for the Atari 2600 in 1978.  Polo, which was never released, and 3D Tic-tac-toe.  She worked for Atari, Activision, and Tandem Computers during her career.  Her game credits are not long, but as far as I and many gamers are concerned, they are pivotal in early game development.  Her lesser known credits include Othello, Video Checkers, Calculator, and Happy Trails.

Her early childhood, she notes, was mostly spent with an interest in her brother’s railroad set rather than the typical girl’s toys of the time.  Her father was an engineer and she excelled in mathematics in school, all of which likely lent themselves to her interest in computer sciences.  In fact, her first introduction to gaming and computers was together in high school with text-based games many of us can remember if we’re old enough.  She attended Berkeley, achieving a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and eventually finishing a master’s in Computer Sciences.  From there, it was onto Atari, who was the leading video game company at the time.

Before we talk about the game most consider the best of her work, and one of the top games Atari ever had, I want to bring up Super Breakout.  We had a lot of games on the Atari growing up, but there’s only a handful I remember.  One of those is Super Breakout.  It’s a game where you control a flat paddle, similar to what you find in Pong, and use it to bounce a ball around the screen.  At the top of the screen are bricks you are trying to destroy with said ball.  Let it hit the bottom of the screen and you lose a ‘life’, or ball.  I believe you had three balls to use.  Higher levels added a double layered paddle, and sometimes balls were trapped in the bricks, that once released into play, could all be bounced around to destroy more bricks.  As long as you kept at least one ball in play, you were in the game.  To this day, its one of the more challenging and fun games I’ve ever played, and we have Carol to thank for it.

Then there’s River Raid.  We had this on the Atari 5200, which Carol helped port over from her original design.  This game was by far my favorite, and is probably the reason I later fell in love with flight simulators.  River Raid, if you’re never played it, is based around navigating a plane through an obstacle course inside an ever-narrowing channel.  The screen moves forward and you can speed that up, but you can navigate the plane left or right.  You have to dodge, or shoot, balloons, helicopters, and other planes while avoiding contact with the sides of the channel.  It was probably more difficult than any game I’ve played, and I never did beat it.  This game is considered by many to be the best 8-bit game Atari ever put out.

There’s a great, and thorough interview with Carol over on Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Let us know what you think about Carol Shaw’s games in the comments below!

 

Influential Female Characters: Lara Croft

tomb_raider_original_game

Lara Croft. It only seems fitting for me to start off this first blog post of Influential Female video game characters with Lara. I have spoken about how she is one of my favorite characters. I like her for a lot of reasons; she is smart, sexy and she gets to raid tombs. Basically Lara is everything I wanted to be as a kid. She has come a long way and I am excited to explore some of her story with you, my dear readers. So grab your gear and let’s dive in.

Lara_Croft_film.jpg

So I have to be honest with you. My first encounter with Lara Croft was the movie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from 2001, so that is where we are going to start. I was in high school watching it with two of my best friends and we loved it. One of them played the games and she was the one who had got us together to watch the movie. We watched that movie a lot. We quoted it a lot. I loved how smart Lara was. I loved her lust for adventure. I loved that she was so unapologetic about being herself.

It didn’t hurt that she got to look for valuable artifacts. I had wanted to be an archaeologist for as long as I could remember when I was growing up but had been beginning to believe I couldn’t be. Up to that point, I hadn’t really seen any kick ass female archaeologists. Lara made me feel like I could go after the later dream if I wanted. Guys like Indiana Jones no longer got to have all the fun. The movie, even with its flaws, fueled my need for a female role model and was my gateway into the Tomb Raider series.

lara_croft_evolution_new

The first Tomb Raider game debuted in 1996. Its protagonist was, somewhat surprisingly, a female archaeologist. Lara has gone through many different games which has given us many different backstories for her. She has been an heiress who shunned her old life, a woman searching for answers about her parents through the unexplored and a woman who hungers for adventure no matter what the cost. Through all of it there is one theme that is the same; Lara is a survivor.

She loses her parents and survives. Lara makes it through some pretty crazy places in the games and survives.She fights of foes both natural and supernatural. Through every evolution though Lara is, well, Lara. She never loses her drive.She continues to evolve and become more herself. 

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Lara is influential because she is female. She is also a person. She is never not portrayed as a person. She has flaws and is very real for a lot of us. She has dimensions and layers. Lara wears what she wants. She goes after what she wants. She does not strive to be a man. She just lives her life the way she wants.

Lara Croft is smart, she is sassy, she is capable, flawed and female without the last being her only quality. That is why she is the first influential women I will write about. Because she is a women who gave me the courage to be a dreamer and a person despite how people see my gender.

Women in Gaming: Felicia Day

women-in-gaming-felicia-day

I can’t even tell you the first time I heard of or saw Felicia Day. To me, it felt like she burst out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere I looked. I knew she was a nerdy girl but that is about all I was sure of until I saw The Guild on Netflix and, after having it on my list for months, decided that I was going to watch it.

I was confused because the episodes weren’t long at all and quickly found out they were webisodes, so entire seasons were only 20 mins long. I dove in, watching an episode lead to more until I binged everything they had to offer.

I quickly identified with Codex.

A quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t get people. Just wanted to have friends and for people to get along. Couldn’t help but be awkward at the best and worst of times. Check, check and check. Hell, I am still all of those things; there is nothing I could do to change any of that. However, representation matters. So, more than anything, here I was, being represented. Even the character Tinkerballa wasn’t a healer (nothing wrong with healers).

I played World of Warcraft, my main (the character I played the most) is a two-weapon fury warrior. No one believed that I am a girl. Girl’s should be healers, boys play warriors. Watch me roll my eyes. I love my warrior and I always typically make a warrior first in all games I play, even RPGs like Dragon Age. /End Mini Rant.

So here I was staring at my representation and at first I had no idea how to take her. Not only did she fit, but she was the center of the show. A show full of awkward, nerdy, typical geek stuff. Ok, some of it’s exaggerated but not always and not always overly so. So of course, I looked into her even further.

In real life, she is a quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t always understand people. Um, what now? I was floored. What am I supposed to do with that? More representation at my very finger tips. She geeks out, is running a successful Gaming Entertainment Company with a fabulous community and is just like the rest of us. She is an inspiration.

Felicia even appeared in one of my favorite shows (Supernatural, so jealous) and played a quirky, weird gamer girl. Even as I do research for this article, I realized that she did the voice acting for a character I just encountered in Guild Wars 2, last night. SHE’S EVEN BEEN IN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Holy crap, I have to go back and watch that again.

She is accessible. Even if you’ve never been on YouTube or Twitch, people typically know who she is. Maybe they remember her from that one episode of House, a commercial from Supernatural or caught her one of the millions of places that she has popped up.

Of course, we could name the tons of times that she has appeared in video games, even getting her own character in Dragon Age 2 DLC, Mark of the Assassin, Tallis, a character she created. They created DLC for a character she created. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

To me, Felicia Day is epic. She is helping to normalize women in all forms of gaming, while actively affecting the gaming industry in more ways than one. Not only her, but her company raises so much for charity. Even more, her representation continues as she announced she is going to have a baby very, very soon.

I wish her all the luck and welcome her to the geeky mom club.

You Can’t Please All the People All the Time

TT_NotTheFandom

Recently the developer for World of Tanks was asked, as part of a larger discussion about women in esports, whether he would do anything to make his game more appealing to female gamers.  His response was very on the nose, and highlights a couple of things I’ve noticed over the last few years with a higher demand for representation that has been logical and measured from some, and completely irrational from a few.  What he said was:

Not necessarily. I think there’s very little we can do to make photorealistic tanks appealing to females.

Now, on one hand he has a point.  World of Tanks is a very specific type of game.  It’s a wargame simulator that strives to present historically accurate battlefield scenarios involving tank combat.  That’s going to appeal to a very specific demographic.  Of course there are women out there that like historical wargames, photorealistic tanks, and combat sims.  I’m 100% sure there are.  Just as sure that there aren’t as many of them as men that like the genre, and as sure that the few women who do like it wouldn’t want it changed to reach this nebulous ‘broader demographic.’  Too often, demand is put on developers to try and make everyone happy, and many try, and fail.  We see them attacked from all sides for including this, or excluding that, or including it wrong.  We saw it with Assassin’s Creed, heavily criticized for a lame excuse for not including female characters, then criticized for including them wrong, or including them only as a marketing scheme.  It was a much-needed change to add the option, but they still got beat up.

On the other hand, I think he misses something.  Like I said, some women like World of Tanks.  The game is already appealing to those women who it was going to appeal to.  I know the developer wasn’t blindly dismissing those gamers, but it servers a larger point.  Different types of games will always appeal to a certain type of person, despite gender.  Women and men are both competitive to different degrees.  You don’t always find fewer women playing FPS games or wargames because those games don’t appeal to women.  I know a lot of women that enjoy those types of games, are competitive and love the action, violence, and chaos of those them.  Some of them don’t play them for other reasons, which can be addressed, but a lot don’t and never will.  It’s not because those games are missing some hook they need in order to play.  Some gamers, men and women, just don’t like those games.  My wife, as few games as she does play, would never be interested in Battlefield, no matter what they changed about it.

In World of Tanks’ case what could they do?  How was it even a legitimate question?  I don’t like Japanese dating sims, and there’s nothing a developer should, or could, do to make me want to play one.  In all likelihood any change they did consider would only make it worse for the current player base, and not win me over anyway.  That’s a little specific, however.  Imagine instead a romance novel publisher was asked what they planned to do to draw in more male readers.  Books in general already serve a wide market, with a plethora of genres that appeal to different demographics.  I would hate to see what someone’s idea of a romance novel that appeals to the average male would look like, but I have a feeling it would no longer appeal to the average romance novel demo.  The only logical answer is, nothing.  There’s nothing to do.

When we’re talking about wargames like this one, the women who like them will like them, and the women who don’t, won’t.  Likely any changes that anyone would consider are the same insulting, superficial changes we see often in FPS games like pink gun skins, or in this case tank skins.  No one really thinks women are avoiding this game because they can’t have a pink tank, right?

This is much bigger than a single question about one game however.  It’s a trend we’ve been seeing grow over the last few years.  Many games, and entertainment in general, can stand to diversify.  It does, however, come with a caveat that is often recognized by the vast majority.  Sadly the vast majority is usually quieter than the vocal minority.  Recently The Mary Sue published an article that, nearly in the same breath, criticizes the upcoming live-action Mulan for casting a white character, and one that is ‘too Chinese’.  That caveat is that is has to make sense.  Are we to no longer tell stories about a group of guys that go on a road trip, because we can’t tell a story about all guys anymore?  What about a sisterhood of girls with migrating pants, need a male character because it’s not diverse?  Do we shove pink, rhinestone tanks into WWII because we need to draw in the preteen female gamer, or do we stick with a little realism because they won’t like it anyway?

The moral of the story, ladies and gents, is if you’re a creator, artist, writer, developer, or whatever, don’t try to please everyone.  You can’t.  If you try, you’ll fail, and it won’t always be something you can bounce back from.  There are people out there that just can’t be happy with anything, they aren’t your audience.  I’m begging you all to stop trying.  Stop being swayed by the one person that thinks Tracer’s (Overwatch) pose is too sexy, or that Marcus Halloway (Watchdogs 2) is too ethnic.  It’s your creation, your art, and your vision.  If it’s not something people want to see, you’ll know when they don’t buy it, but at the end of the day if you just create to satisfy the vocal minority, they’ll never be enough to keep you creating.