Female Characters in Video Games (Sasquan / Worldcon 2015)
Annalee Flower Horne: science fiction writer, avid gamer of RPGs and old school adventures, also a costumer
Lauren Roy:
Maurine (Mo) Starkey
Tanglwyst de Holloway: avid gamer, costumer who has to make these customers
Andrea G. Stewart (moderator): writer, avid gamer, sister writes mobile games
  • 44% of video game players are women
  • but only 22% of video game developers are women
  • Diablo: ground is made of acid. Each time a woman character drops tunic on ground to give to another, there are less clothes available. but this doesn’t happen to men’s clothes. (apparently men’s nipples much be objectionable)
  • CEO company review of video game  in which male character is violently chopping up female character..sexual violence…but the CEO complains about the fact that greek statues in the background have visible nipples.
  • Female characters in video games are treated with the same tropes as the rest of genre fiction: women are trophies to be won. Even in an example where you can choose to be a woman, you’re still subject to abuse, with the justification of: but if the NPC disrespects you can punch him. But that’s not actually satisfying. What’s satisfying is to not be abused in the first place.
  • Lara Croft:
    • In the original game, she was a cool adventuring women, something of a cypher. So the player can fill in the details. It make her rich and intriguing and fun to imagine.
    • Now, it’s too real. They think they’re going to make the character gritty by soul-raping them. The character is so shattered by the end.
    • If you are going to play a video game, you don’t want a fully realized character. You want a character that the player can put themselves into.
  • If you want to hurt a male character, you hurt his woman. If you want to hurt a female character, you hurt her.
  • Superman principle: he can look down, but he can’t look out. You can make someone look hurt, look tired, but not beaten to a pulp.
  • Anecdote of art direction: had an entire plan for how everything is going to work. Then over the weekend, the male manager takes the guys out for drinks to a men’s club (excluding toe woman art director), and changes everything. When the art comes back, the woman is beaten to a pulp.
  • The real world is often terrible. We need games to be uplifting, not a worse version of reality.
  • Far more dollars are poured into marketing the male focused video games than female-led gamers. As a gamer, vote for your dollars: games by women, games with women leads.
  • Old School
  • Giant Space Cat
  • Gone Home
  • Q: Is there something unique to video games or just the same as the rest of media?
    • essentially the same: example at marvel – manager liked particular art, wanted to hire the artist right away, heard that it was a woman, and then dismissed the art as “draws like a woman” and didn’t hire her.
  • Q: Is recent media awareness now helping? has it made a change?
    • Yes, those 22% female developers are up from 11% in 2009.
    • I tell women we hire to stand their ground, insist on equal pay, equal voice.
    • story of adding male equivalent to princess leia’s slave uniform to mock trope.
    • it’s heartening to have people to have your back and to tell other people “dude, that’s not cool”, when they are being abusive.