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Twoplayer Comic: Did You Say Something?
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: GamesFirst! Internet Magazine
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date posted: 08:53 PM Tue Nov 15th, 2005
last revision: 08:57 PM Tue Nov 15th, 2005

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Click here to read this week\'s twoplayer game comic.

If you haven\'t been following the right articles on GamesFirst these last few days, and their subsequent responses on various other websites like EvilAvatar.com, this comic may be a little on the obtuse side.

Trust me, though, the reference is fairly accurate.

When we published A Look Behind Alice: One Woman\'s Reasons for Gaming, it wasn\'t meant to be a controversial piece. Instead, it was intended as a look at a gamer and their reasons for choosing to take on bad guys and monsters on a console or PC; the goal was actually to introduce a gamer that happened to be a girl.

So often, articles on girls in gaming tend to be about the hardcore, people that get defensive if you say you\'re a gamer without being able to recite - out of hand - every character in every Final Fantasy title. As cool as that is, it\'s not an accurate description of the demographic. Sure, girls are easily as capable of becoming obsessed with video games as guys, but in truth most gamers - male or female - tend to be much more casual.

A Look Behind Alice was in part a chance to expose the hardcore to the more casual, and at the same time highlight reasons that games are valuable from a social standpoint. Far from being \"cop killing simulators\" as they\'re so often portrayed in the media, video games do have role in the healthy life of the average person; you don\'t have to be obsessed to be considered a true gamer.

However, when the article, along with another published on TheEscapist.com, was picked up on the forums-driven site EvilAvatar.com, the posted responses made it pretty evident that few of the commentators even bothered reading the article. The title, it seemed, was about as far as most seemed to make it.

The responses ranged from downright rude, apparently embittered at an article they assumed played some sort of \"I am girl, hear me roar\" card, to accusations that girls that discuss their industry on the web are just \"attention whoring.\"

Apparently, no matter how unbiased an article is, no matter how much or how little gender plays in the theme of an article, a woman\'s gender is the only thing that people seem to care about in online forums.

Yet still people insist that they\'ve come to grips with the fact the girls game.

A Look Behind Alice was written to eliminate preconceptions about why and who female gamers are. It was written with the idea that if you pulled out the mention of gender, what you would find is a gamer with potentially different tastes in games than others. It was an attempt to highlight the similarities as much as the differences, that the reasons a woman might play games have to do with the exact same reasons that anyone else might play games. The venom in the online replies, many of them derived from a preconception of what the article was about, was generally unsettling.

It was also unflattering of the gaming community in general.

What I found interesting, however, was the lack of girl in the discussion. Do I know for sure that most of the comments on Evil Avatar, at least on that topic, are from men? Yes, I do. If you look over the forum, only 13 of the 62 posts do not have some sort language that clearly identifies the writer as male; only three of the postings clearly identify themselves as being from female gamers.

In order for girls to have equal representation on that forum as there are gamers in the world, roughly 43% of those posts would have to be from female authors. In fact, according to the ESA, taken strictly from a prevalence standpoint, you should be more likely to find posts from female gamers over the age of 18 than you do from male gamers below the age of 17.

Anyone who\'s reading over that forum and thinks that is true, please raise your hand. And then go sit down and stop being silly.

Online discussion groups about games are dominated by the male demographic. Xbox Live is dominated by male voices, even though girls do play online in very high numbers.

The point is not that girls are not there, it\'s that often they\'re keeping silent. Girls were reading the Evil Avatar forums, but not posting at nearly the ratio that male readers were. Girls are playing Xbox Live, they\'re just using those nifty communicators less.

When you play World of Warcraft, a high percentage of those orcs are actually girls, but good luck getting someone to admit it without accusations of fraud or attention whoring.

Just like very few women work in developing games, girls are not getting their say in the online communities we build. Not in the gaming industry, at least.

Why do we expect them to talk when all we do is yell in response?

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