Earlier this week, there was an interview over on Gamasutra with Brandii Grace. Brandii wants to develop AAA games aimed at women. A noble enough effort in of itself. The problem I had with the whole business is how she’s aiming to go about it. I think a fair few of the original commenters on the article put across a few of my points.
Mainly Brandii’s reliance on gender stereotypes of what women want. Without saying it directly, the interview pretty much shows that Brandii wants to develop games that help to carry forward the gender stereotypes that have existed for decades in other mainstream media aimed at women. She wants to put together stuff that’s family friendly and makes a big emphasis of games that mums can play with their kids.
Err, how about the women who want to play something to get away from the day-to-day of childcare? Oh and there’s talk of cooking games…
She manages to demonstrate that women like a “good” story in her Twilight vs. Underworld moment at the beginning of the interview, but then starts trailing off about things like relationships and social interactions. And basically all the traditional stuff that many societies dictate that women should like.
At no point does she mention creating a narrative heavy game with social interactions as an important aspect with the kind of strong female character that you find in someone like Alex Roivas in Eternal Darkness. And at no point is the discussion of a character like Buffy the Vampire Slayer get mentioned (and a lot of women liked the TV series).
No, she wants to make games about women doing pretty much the stuff they do in their everyday life. It’s almost as if she’s bypassed the popularity of things like erotic fiction among women, which are very much not about the everyday for them as individuals.
The easiest way – to me – to look at the differences between game preferences in men and women is by looking at their porn preferences – most men appear to want something visual and don’t want to think about any of it, women in the other hand will often prefer porn where there’s story and character development leading up to and after the action. Women still want the action, they just want a bit more substance around it.
But I’m stereotyping here. And perhaps what offends me most by Brandii’s attitude is that she thinks all women are the same.
And which comment on the original article best summarizes my views? Probably the one by Dave Endresak.