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ARGs and Women: Moving Beyond the Hot Brunette

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ARGs are often trotted out as a shining example of woman-friendly games. They boast unusually high rates of female developers and players, and a slew of kick-ass female leads. But if you dig a little deeper, are they just the post-Buffy version of Princess Peach, always needing to be saved?

Published in: Entertainment & Humor, Sports

ARGs and Women: Moving Beyond the Hot Brunette

  1. 1. Andrea Phillips * SXSW March 13, 2010 ARGs and Women Moving Beyond the Hot Brunette
  2. 2. What’s an “Alternate Reality Game”? An alternate reality game (ARG), is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions.
  3. 3. Some Stuff I’ve Done
  4. 4. IGDA ARG SIG Learn more: http://www.argology.org Participate: http://five.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/arg_discuss
  5. 5. “female” by DiscourseMarker on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
  6. 6. Cloudmakers Established April 11, 2001
  7. 7. The first ARG brunette? Laia Salla
  8. 8. SHE NEEDS YOUR HELP
  9. 9. Internet Use by Gender Data from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d01345.pdf “Characteristics and Choices of Internet Users,” US General Accounting Office, 2001.
  10. 10. http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/cloudmakers/message/5097
  11. 11. Recipe for an Alternate Reality Game ✤ Some fictional websites ✤ Some puzzles ✤ A hot brunette
  12. 12. Brunettes of ARGdom
  13. 13. DO GIRLS PLAY GAMES?
  14. 14. DUH
  15. 15. Numbers Show That... Two in five gamers are female. “The State of the Video Gamer,” The Nielsen Company, 2009.
  16. 16. Numbers Show That... 52% of PSP owners are female. “Gaming Device Profiles” NPD Group, 2010.
  17. 17. Numbers Show That... Women over 25 play more gaming minutes than any other group. “The State of the Video Gamer,” The Nielsen Company, 2009.
  18. 18. GIRLS OR BOYS?
  19. 19. GLITTER
  20. 20. GUNS
  21. 21. FIGHTING
  22. 22. DANCING
  23. 23. STEAK
  24. 24. CUPCAKE
  25. 25. SO WHY ARE GAMES “FOR BOYS”?
  26. 26. “DSCF1925” by adubber on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
  27. 27. “Day 252 - Sibling Rivals” by Ken WIlcox on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivativeWorks 2.0 Generic license.
  28. 28. GAMES ARE MARKETED TO MEN
  29. 29. GAMES ARE MADE BY MEN
  30. 30. More Men Make Games Percent of women working in the games business, by department Game Developer Magazine salary survey, 2009.
  31. 31. Women Make Less Money Gender pay disparity in the games business, by department Game Developer Magazine salary survey, 2009.
  32. 32. Women On My ARG Teams
  33. 33. Numbers Show That... One third of ARG creators are female. “The State of the Video Gamer,” The Nielsen Company, 2009.
  34. 34. FEMALE CHARACTERS IN GAMES SUCK
  35. 35. Numbers Show That... One in five characters on a game box is female. “Sex, Lies, and Video Games: The Portrayal of Male and Female Characters on Video Game Covers,” Burgess, Stermer, Burgess, Sex Roles, 2007
  36. 36. Brunettes of ARGdom
  37. 37. SO WHAT?
  38. 38. Sexism 101 Intro to sexism with Mr. Kuntz “Emily’s meant to be doing her homework!” by squarepants2004j/auntyh uia on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution -NoDerivativeWorks 2.0 Generic license.
  39. 39. “Blue Eyes” by jimmybrown on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
  40. 40. “Women-in-Uniform_Germany” by MATEUS 27:24&25 on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.
  41. 41. “Fairy Nuff” by left-hand on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution -NoDerivativeWorks 2.0 Generic license.
  42. 42. GIRL STUFF SUCKS
  43. 43. “A Twisted Family Tradiition ~The Lime Jello Brain” by hurleygurley on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivativeWorks 2.0 Generic license.
  44. 44. THE SLEEPER EFFECT
  45. 45. PRIMING
  46. 46. WE ARE THE MEDIA
  47. 47. WE MAKE CULTURE
  48. 48. WHY ALL THE BRUNETTES?
  49. 49. “Asleep brothers” by fofurasfelinas on Flickr, available under a Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivativeWorks 2.0 Generic license.
  50. 50. Archetypes & Stock Characters Cheerleader Mad Scientist Hooker With Heart Of Gold Hapless Husband Alcoholic Detective Gold Digger Grizzled Veteran Drill Sergeant Wise Elder Used Car Salesman Mysterious Wizard Rock Star Kindergarten Teacher Grumpy Old Man
  51. 51. Stereotypes & Stock Characters Sassy gay friend  Latino gangster Asian convenience store owner Jewish mother Italian mobster Dumb blonde Trophy wife Homophobic Christian Jihadist Arab Drunk American Indian Stoned Jamaican Man-hating lesbian Ignorant Southerner Racist Republican
  52. 52. How to Make Complex Characters 1. Pick an archetype 2. Give it atypical traits Bonus: Mix and match
  53. 53. NOW YOUR TURN
  54. 54. STUFF YOU CAN TRY
  55. 55. Pass the Bechdel Test ✤ Two or more women ✤ Who talk to each other ✤ About something other than a man
  56. 56. GIVE HER AGENCY
  57. 57. DIVERSIFY
  58. 58. “Vanishing pier” by Ravages on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
  59. 59. STORIES ARE TRUTHS
  60. 60. CHOOSE YOUR MESSAGE
  61. 61. DISCUSS
  62. 62. Resources ✤ Wonderland http://www.wonderlandblog.com/ ✤ Sociological Images http://contexts.org/socimages/ ✤ Geek Feminism Blog http://geekfeminism.org/ ✤ The Border House http://borderhouseblog.com/ ✤ Tiger Beatdown http://tigerbeatdown.com/ ✤ Feministing http://www.feministing.com/ ✤ Game Girl Advance http://www.gamegirladvance.com/ ✤ Jezebel http://www.jezebel.com ✤ Racialicious http://www.racialicious.com/ ✤ Shapely Prose http://kateharding.net/
  63. 63. Andrea Phillips ✤ Game designer, writer, strident feminist ✤ andrhia@gmail.com ✤ Twitter: Andrhia ✤ AIM: Andrh1a ✤ Skype: Andrhia ✤ Deus Ex Machinatio http://www.deusexmachinatio.com

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