Silicon Sisters: Women Are Rarely in Decision-Making-Roles

July 12, 2011 -

Silicon Sisters' co-founder Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch believes that the video game industry still has a long way to go when it comes to figuring out what women want from video games. Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz from the company's Vancouver studio, Gershkovitch said the higher proportion of female gamers on platforms like the Wii and Facebook is a good thing, but still feels that women are still being short-changed when it comes to gaming experiences that fully appeal to them.

"There are a lot of examples of successful games in the casual and social sphere that are connecting with women," she said. "We know the numbers: over 50 percent of casual players are women, and some people are saying that on Facebook it's closer to 70 percent so, clearly, they are connecting. But how deeply? And how much are they playing?"

"These games are superficially connecting, and they're connecting because they're smaller games that don't have a huge barrier to playing them. In that way there's some success, but in terms of real gameplay and real mechanics designed for women, I don't think we've solved that yet."

Gershkovitch went on to say that during her career working for other game studios, she was often one of only two or three women in a group of 40. Being in the minority means having less of an influence on the games that are made by these studios.

Gershkovitch's comments were echoed by Clint Hocking earlier this month in a recent column for Edge magazine, and Silicon Sisters' COO Kirsten Forbes said that they have been following that conversation with great interest.

"We're trying to build games with a female sensibility," Gershkovitch added. "It's not impossible that men can build games for women, of course, but most men that go into video games build games that they want to play - not as much games for their sisters."

"My point of view is that most of that has been done from a male perspective, and I think it's important to ask what those games might have looked like if there had been females in design decision-making roles. That's a really crucial missing piece. You have women on teams, but rarely in decision-making roles. That's the idea we wanted to play with: what would that look like?"

Gershkovitch admits that no one has really figured all of this out. She suggests that the "development process is iterative," so every new game is based  in part on the games that came before it.

"You look at the games that are being made and you made additions to that; you take a mechanic from this game or an idea from that game and add a different narrative. Everything is building on something else."

Gershkovitch is also concerned that the majority of games for women are too shallow to hold their interest for long, but says that the first studio to properly serve the audience will be reap the rewards.

"We developed something we call the Girl's Gaming Bible. We were able to identify particular things that mainly girls enjoy. There are a number of them, and some are checked off in social and casual realms... [but] there's a whole bunch that aren't, and I think the games that can include those things - that can create a much deeper connection to women and girls - will be hugely successful, whether smaller games or AAA games."

"There is real science behind the reasons why women are or aren't connecting with games. We're trying to understand it all and see what applies."

Source: GameIndustry.biz


 
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NeenekoI keep forgetting we even have forums.10/02/2014 - 11:48am
ZippyDSMleeA shame we can't have good convos in the forums, seems to me its time to nuke and restart fresh on them.10/02/2014 - 11:45am
Papa MidnightOh, no problem! Just wanted to let you know that it's what we're discussing. By all means, join in!10/02/2014 - 11:36am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, No problem. In juicy conversations, key points of discussion get pushed off quickly.10/02/2014 - 11:36am
NeenekoA rather scary censorship. I have known too many people and small companies destroyed by such pressure, so this unnerves me at a pretty personal level.10/02/2014 - 11:36am
NeenekoMy bad, I always have trouble working out what is going on in shoutbox10/02/2014 - 11:34am
Papa MidnightTo a point stated earlier, it very much is a form of indirect censorship. Rather than engage in rhetoric and debate, one side has instead chosen to cut-off opposing viewpoints at the knees and silence them via destroying their means of income.10/02/2014 - 11:28am
Papa MidnightNeeneko: the topic of Intel's dropping of Gamasutra is indeed part of this very ongoing conversation.10/02/2014 - 11:26am
NeenekoThis can't be good... http://games.slashdot.org/story/14/10/02/1558213/intel-drops-gamasutra-sponsorship-over-controversial-editorials10/02/2014 - 11:25am
Andrew EisenAnd there's also the consideration that the fact that a former IGN editor was one of the people who worked on the game's localization may be unknown (although in this specific case, probably not. Drakes been very visible at events IGN covers).10/02/2014 - 11:24am
Papa MidnightAlso, let's face it: people seem to believe that a conflict of interest can yield only positive coverage. Who is to say that Audrey Drake did not leave on bad terms with IGN (with several bridges burned in their wake)? That could yield negative coverage.10/02/2014 - 11:23am
Papa MidnightThat's a fair question, and it's where things get difficult. While Jose Otero may not have any cause to show favor, Jose's editor may, as may the senior editor (and anyone else involved in the process before it reaches publication).10/02/2014 - 11:21am
Andrew EisenWould such disclosure still be required if Fantasy Life were reviewed by Jose Otero, who wasn't hired by IGN until sometime after Drake left?10/02/2014 - 11:19am
Papa MidnightIn that case, a disclosure might be in order. The problem, of course, is applying it on a case-by-case basis; As EZK said, what's the cut-off?10/02/2014 - 11:19am
E. Zachary KnightAndrew, a disclosure would probably be in order as she likely still has a strong relationship with IGN staff. My follow up question would be "What is the statute of limitations on such a requirement?"10/02/2014 - 11:09am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, my hyperbole was intended to illustrate the difference and similarity between direct censorship and indirect censorship.10/02/2014 - 11:07am
Andrew EisenOpen Question: Former IGN Nintendo editor Audrey Drake now works in the Nintendo Treehouse. Do you think it's important for IGN to disclose this fact in the review of Fantasy Life, a game she worked on? Should IGN recuse itself from reviewing the game?10/02/2014 - 11:07am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, My thoughts on disclosure: http://gamepolitics.com/2014/09/25/what-your-gamergate-wish-list#comment-29598710/02/2014 - 11:02am
Sleaker@EZK - using hyperbole is a bit silly. I'm asking a serious question. Where's the line on disclosure as relates to journalistic involvement in the culture they report on?10/02/2014 - 10:59am
E. Zachary KnightSo a journalist reporting on general gaming news mentions a specific developer and their game involved in said news, and it is suddenly some nefarious conspiracy to hide a conflict of interest. I think someone is reaching for validation.10/02/2014 - 10:53am
 

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