8th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part 3

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OrbyWelcome to Part Three of our look at Canadian women who game. This section will probably interest those of you who are developers the most and give you some clear insight about these gamers’ thoughts about the products you develop. If you missed previous entries for this series, you can find them here:

The Other Side of the Coin Part One and The Other Side of the Coin Part Two

Today’s installment will look at the benefits we gain from gaming, how we choose the titles we do, and what we’d like to see in the games we play.

Probably one of the most foremost reasons for gaming is the entertainment factor and the escapism many of us seek when we game. That said, as gaming becomes more and more social with multiplayer components, forums, groups and events, gamers are able to enter new worlds of possibility with their games. Without a doubt, one of the most-mentioned gains achieved through gaming was the social aspect, as shown in the replies below.

Question: What do you feel is your greatest gain from being a gamer (friends, community, challenges, learning)

Rachel: Definitely making new friends, and being a part of a community, but also gaming has really forced me to think differently. There’s a lot of thinking outside the box that goes on in games and I like that challenge.

Annette: I feel that the gaming community is one of the best out there. So many of the communities out there work well together and have great people.

Megan: Probably the community. I’ve benefited a lot from the gaming community, particularly GamerchiX. I’ve met a lot of great gamers and have learned a lot around the GamerchiX forums.

Chloe: Oh man, toughest question yet. Friends and community are definitely among my top gains. From my clan, I have some amazing girl friends I NEVER would have without having met them through gaming, and I have learned an INCREDIBLE amount about leadership and the challenges that come with it from the same sources at times! My best friend and I would never have met without gaming, and I can’t imagine my life now without his influence and seemingly unending ability to listen to me rant. Community is so huge though, I think it’s got to be the #1. Because it’s a result of this community that I have these experiences, that I have these friends. So having been a part of PMS Clan and helping to build the community of the GamerchiX was super important to me.

Jenny: I think the greatest gain is the ability to interact with the online community. I’ve met some really great people on Live, and it’s a blast playing with them all.

Lee: Friends and community.

Jen: I love the social aspect of gaming. I’ve made so many friends from playing on Live, some of which I feel closer to than my “real life” friends. I love sharing the sense of accomplishment of finishing a game with a co-op partner, working your team to reach that objective point, or finishing that instance with your guild. It really does enhance my gaming experience.

Celeste: The greatest gain from being a gamer is the community and the friends I have made from it. After becoming a competitive gamer when I was 15, I started to find a lot more security and happiness in my friends in the gaming community. Not only did we share something we loved so much but we found ourselves very similar in regards to what we like to do in our spare time and other interests (anime, movies, etc). I have gained a lot of friends from being a gamer and I wouldn’t want it any other way. My friends are what mean the most to me and it makes me feel great when I can just sit there and talk/chill with them because of our common interests. I have learned a lot about myself and what I want out of my life just from simply gaming with my friends and also understanding how the gaming industry works. Next year I hope to return back to school to pursue my game career. Whether it’d be as a computer programmer or animator, I hope to secure a career in the video game industry because I find that I can excel well within the video game business. In the meantime, I have been obtaining a lot of video game related jobs to help my product knowledge and become more familiar with video games and how everything works.

Jessica: I think my greatest gain from being a gamer is that I get to experience such a different and underrated art form. I get so much inspiration from a video game’s art, stories, characters, etc. And the challenge to use my mind while experiencing such a great form is so rewarding. There’s nothing like interactive storytelling. Prior to attending VFS I was working as a waitress while going to college part-time. I worked/live in a bad area of town so I wasn’t keen on continuing this career path. While I was taking some art courses in a local college I decided to pursue game design, and in the beginning of 2008 I quit my job as a waitress to start the Foundation program. In the future, I’d like to be a concept artist for games.

Sabrina: Definitely the community and friends gained from playing.

Anastasia: The friends made are second to none.

Netzach: have to say my greatest thing that I have gained from being a gamer is community. This is in terms of how I work at Gaming Angels.com as a game reviewer and the gadgets editor. I was able to interact with a number of other females who support my passion and drive for games and technology. I also gained an amazing support system though our come goals and ground.

Question: What do you consider when purchasing a new title?

Rachel: Game length & if it’s a short game, the re-playability factor and price; will it appeal to both husband and myself. When buying a game for our son, we really only take price into consideration, because he’s happy playing everything.

Megan: Usually the campaign quality. I’m a big single-player gamer and I love a game with an excellent story and campaign. Multiplayer is usually a second thought and I’m usually not disappointed if the multiplayer is no good or even excluded.

Chloe: I’m lucky that I don’t have to purchase my 360 collection, but I definitely would either have a Gamefly subscription or would not have the GS I have. For all my Wii or DS games (yes, i actually USE my Wii), I look for games that are going to be entertaining. I love time management games, and often will own the same game across several platforms, including PC, DS and Wii. When i get my iPhone, I’ll get them there too!

Jenny: A lengthy campaign is usually the first thing I look for, because I enjoy playing campaigns a lot more than I enjoy multiplayer. I also try to get games with high replay value.

Lee: If the game has a natural learning curve to it; if it’ll be fun, and if it has good reviews.

Jen: Value for the $70 I’m spending on a new release!! A good single player campaign, co-op and online multiplayer.

Celeste: Other friends’ opinions do have an impact on my choice of purchasing a new title. Whether it’d be a game completely out of my comfortable zone (I’m more into Halo 3, CoD, DDR, Guitar Hero) and if I had heard or seen videos of a possible top notch game, I would definitely go out and pick it up. For example, my friend told me how amazing the game “Bully” is. Sort of like a Grand Theft Auto but turned into teenage style, you know? Not my type of game at all, but I decided to pick it up since my friend was having a good run with it. I played it and I laughed so much. It was a lot of fun just with the mini games where you would go to class and would have certain tasks to do and even the missions to help protect the nerds! Enjoyable!

Jessica: I consider genre, story, replay value, mechanics, characters, art and length. I’d say price but usually the games I want are the more expensive ones. I just wish they were cheaper … Starving student here lol.

Local co-op. Even better, local co-op that doesn’t disable achievements for player 2.

Netzach: Story, game play and replay value.

Annette: I start with genre, then I look at the developer & their track record, from there I look for online and multiplayer capabilities.

Anastasia: The developer, online multiplayer, online co-op, and replay value.

Sabrina: If it’s a sequel, I usually base it off of how the first one was, the price is a big factor, and definatally playing the demo if I can.

For myself, I tend to consider campaigns, missions and story when I pick up a title. Sometimes I will get a game just because it looks like fun, such as Matt Hazard: Eat Lead. I like games which have challenges, problems to solve and things to collect, like the glowing orbs in PROTOTYPE or the flag sets in Assassin’s Creed. Story writing is also important to me – I want to know why the game play progresses as it does, and in games like Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway, I look for opportunities to learn about parts of history I may have been unaware of. Of course I’m also a huge fan of the fantasy genre, so without a doubt I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Dragon Age: Origins. Multiplayer components aren’t as important to me, as I tend to play online with a very small group – and a major reason why many of the multiplayer achievements in the games I play are not…achieved.

I gave the ladies in our group the opportunity to convey their desires in regards to changes they would like to see in the way games are developed. Pay attention, developers. 😉

Rachel: Off the top of my head I’d like to see developers think very hard about including a female in their story, not just toss a female in there because they’re trying to appease the female demographic. I don’t think every game needs a female character, but if they’re going to include one, make sure she fits.

Netzach: Personally I am enjoying the way things are in gaming currently. Maybe move away from the graphics wars to trying to work on games with more substance.

Annette: My biggest issue with gaming these days is the lack of proper advertising to the female gamer, and the belittling of us by continuing to offer us stereotypical “girl” games.

Anastasia: Wow. This is going to be a big list.

• Lack of coherent story. Don’t put something random together and expect the gaming public to be impressed. We are smart consumers, treat us as such.
• Lack of a quick save system that allows you to save at any point. How about a checkpoint every once in a while? Anything!
• Inability to skip a cutscene. If I’m on one of my many playthroughs, I want to the ability to not have to watch a 10 minute mini-movie if I don’t want to.
• Glitches.
• Inability to invert my Y-axis. I can’t play unless my Y-axis is inverted.
• Protecting an idiot NPC who insists on running into a hail of bullets.
• Ability to choose to play as a female. I find myself relating much better (and enjoying the game a lot more) to a female protagonist as opposed to a male.
• Collectibles for achievements (particular to the 360). This is just annoying.
• Team member NPCs that get in your way and/or get incapacitated.
• Inability to re-map the controller.

Sabrina: I personally would LOVE to see a few more games with female heroes or characters. I played the WET demo, and it was awesome to see a female hero, why can’t there be more?

Megan: More women in lead roles, empowering roles. Average women who are smart, capable and wear practical clothing.

Chloe: Hair. I know it seems really silly, but I wish it was either easier or people paid more attention to female hair. I realize it’s hard to make free-flowing hair look good. But if you can’t make it look good, then don’t make it move. It makes it look WAY worse.

Give me the option to just BE female. I’m FAR more willing to be lienient with a studio’s first game. But if you make a sequel, especially if it’s RPG-like, give me that option. I can’t explain how happy being female in Fable made me, or the fact that there’s a female voice option for Halo 3.
Don’t be afraid to write STRONG females. This isn’t a game exactly, but in the recent movie “9”, produced by Tim Burton, there was a female warrior character. She wasn’t butch, she wasn’t overly bitchy, she wasn’t overly sexualized. Just a strong character who wasn’t afraid to fight for something she believed in, but also could show her heart and her strength for things she cared about or believed in. THAT is the ultimate female character for me. I wish there were more of them.

Jenny: It would be nice to see games with a little more depth in the future. Some plots are just so simple and uninspired that it leaves quite a bit to be desired. I’m looking at you Gears of War…

Lee: Not that I can think of this moment. I’m pretty impressed in what they’ve done thus far. It’s tough to imagine what could be improved.

Celeste: I don’t know to be honest. There are some things I have noticed in regards to the lack of video games with females as the main the character. Something I have noticed about me when it comes to games which give you the choice to play as a female or male, I ALWAYS seem to choose a girl to use (Kasumi/Ayane – DOA, Chun-Li – Street Fighter, Shorty – Bust a Groove, Rhyth – JSRF), but when it comes to games that just uses the female as a main… I find the story to always lack depth and there is always way too much concentration on a lady’s “features”. With the exception of Mirror’s Edge (which I loved), games like Heavenly Sword, and Wet, they weren’t beyond amazing and it actually seemed like so much more could have been done with the game and more-so the character (her story). Then again, I can’t really do much as gaming is male dominated and the creators of such games are mostly males.

Jessica: I would like to see more story in games. So many games rely on the mechanics or the genre to sell it. I think people will care a lot more if you give them a higher goal. As for the female characters… I’d like to see just some tough looking female characters in fighter games. In every fighter game every girl either has huge thighs, her butt showing, or bouncing boobs. C’mon people. Ivy is practically naked in Soul Calibur 4.

Allyson: I would love to see longer campaigns and some more great story-lines. If updates count, I would love to see Cliffy B fix the lagfest that is Gears of War 2.

In addition to the mentions above, I absolutely hate poorly-functioning cameras. If you’re going to make an open-world RPG, then please make sure the camera will let the player look upwards – especially along the horizon. Fallout 3 has the best RPG camera – if your game doesn’t have that set-up for open world, then please fix it in an update. That is my current contention with Sacred 2 Fallen Angel. I absolutely hate the camera in it – along with the voice acting. If I had the option to turn off my hero’s voice, I would. Otherwise I agree with much of what the other ladies have said – stronger, more in-depth storylines, better female characters with more realistic appearances and clothing. How can a thin, see-through gauze strip of cloth called a skirt possibly have any armour value at all? It is possible to design female armour for fantasy characters that is both pretty and functional – and maybe even covers her midriff.

Some of the ladies shared which titles they are most looking forward to in the coming months:

Allyson: Modern Warfare 2. Hands down.
Jessica: Katamari Forever (it’s already out, but she hasn’t bought it yet)
Lee: LIPS: Number 1 Hits
Netzach: CoD: Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age Origins and Final Fantasy XIII
Annette: Bioshock 2 is the game I am most looking forward to
Sabrina: Modern Warfare 2

Personally I’m looking forward to Assassin’s Creed 2, Mass Effect 2, Splinter Cell: Convictions, Dragon Age: Origins, Guild Wars 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, CoD: Modern Warfare 2, Army of Two: 40 Days and now that I’ve had a chance to see it, Academy of Champions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series about Canadian women who game. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these ladies who share the same passion for this industry as I do. In closing, I’m giving the last word to Celeste and Anastasia, who felt they’d like to add a little more to our discussion.

Anastasia: I am somewhat conflicted when people ask me if I am a girl gamer. I call myself a gamer. Not a female gamer. I don’t do it for other things, so I tend not to do it for gaming. For example, I golf (terribly, but I do). I don’t call myself a female golfer, just a golfer. I understand the need to characterize groups of people, but I’d much rather prefer being called a gamer.

Celeste: I just wanted to mention that all the girls out there who enjoy gaming – embrace it! Be proud and don’t let the guys intimidate you. We need some more competitive female gamers out there who want to dedicate their time and put forth the effort into becoming the best, so if you’re interested in it, don’t hesitate. And to all the girls out there in the gaming community already, don’t let people walk over you, but also don’t lose track of who you are. Respect all girl and guy gamers and you’ll find that you yourself will excel as a gamer with your better attitude. You’ll know what to improve on to make yourself a better GAMER. Don’t focus too much on just being a female and trying to break out as the best female out there.. Focus on becoming the best, and showing what you’re made of.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009 at 9:57 pm and is filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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