One of the challenges of having decades of experience is it’s easy to become complacent and think you’ve seen it before. It is easy to jump to conclusions, so it’s important to remain open-minded and to look for fresh perspectives. Here are some of my favourite ways to try and stay curious: A playful spirit Playing games is seen as a childish activity, but it requires the ability to learn… Read More »On a mission to stay curious
women in gaming
If you are not familiar with the Bechdel Test, it is a simple test to apply to films; (i) there must be at least two women in it, (ii) who talk to each other, (iii) about something besides a man.
Many films still fail this test, though it was made popular back in 1985. The test only goes as far to look at the visibility of women in film, and to examine that they are defined by more than their relationship to a man. It doesn’t examine how the women are portrayed and a film that passes the test may in no way be a feminist film. It’s simplicity is both it’s strength and it’s weakness.
I’m interested in how this could be applied to the context of video games. But in order for it to work I think there needs to be some changes. So here is my version:
(i)There must be a female character with whom you can interact, (ii) who doesn’t need rescuing, (iii) and isn’t a prostitute.
Such a test comes with the assumption that there are gendered characters within the game. Some games, such as Flow or Space Invaders, do not have any characters of gender.
Samus Aran from Metroid by Ivan Flores
Conversation vs. Interaction
In film, the story is conveyed to a passive audience primarily through the dialogue of the cast. But in gaming, the game is defined by interactions that the player controls. Whether it is shooting, fighting, flying, walking or talking, different games draw on different actions, but it is the the player that performs these actions.
So in creating a test suitable for video games, I am less concerned about women talking to each other, but rather the actions performed to, with or by them. As it’s through these actions that we experience the game.Read More »Updating the Bechdel Test for video games
Another amazing GameCity, we are in year six now and I’ve attended every year in some form or other. Each year the festival grows and develops in new and interesting ways and this year was no exception. There is no other event like this one, it offers a unique experience to explore and celebrate games, playing, art and their cultural significance. As such it draws a diverse audience from all over and it is these amazing people that really make GameCity the highlight of my year.
So here are some of my highlights and feelings about this year:
Journey and Robin Hunicke
One of the most profound moments in GameCity history was when Robin played Flower in the arcade behind the Council House, then her talk on creative minds in the same year inspired this blog post. So I was elated to hear she was joining us again this year to play Journey, the latest game from That Game Company.
This year we had beanbags in preparation, with the addition of consoles set up around the tent to play along. Given the collaborative nature of Journey this seemed a great idea and was a natural progression from observer to participant.
Beforehand Robin spoke of the process of creating a game that allowed and encouraged co-operative play, and how to encourage the desired behaviour, instead of griefing and competitive play, so often found online. I always enjoy this insight into the design of the user experience in games.Read More »GameCity 6
Alice Taylor, Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 (and Wonderland blog) talked recently at Game Based Learning, looking at how gaming enables Channel 4 to engage with their target audience of 14 to 19 year old. But also looks at how gaming mechanisms can be used to engage large numbers with an educational agenda. Video of Alice Taylor To see the full selection of videos go the the Games Based Learning… Read More »Games Based Learning: Alice Taylor
This year I was really sad to see that the Women in Gaming conference has been cancelled due to low delegate numbers. I am an avid gamer and I think the games industry is sometimes behind other areas of technology, where it could really benefit from getting more women involved in games development. Often women go for the human focused areas of development, such as user experience or copyright, which… Read More »Ada Lovelace Day: Robin Hunicke
If you are reading this then you are probably already aware of Ada Lovelace Day, but just in case; it is a day dedicated to blogging about women we admire in technology: I'm choosing to write about Molly E. Holzschlag, and why I admire her. (Disclaimer: fangirl moments are therefore to be expected). I've been working with the web for all of my professional career and it became very clear,… Read More »Ada Lovelace Day: Molly E. Holzschlag
Feminist is such a loaded word I almost didn't use it in my title. But really it is about equality nothing more and nothing less, so I think it is appropriate for what I want to write about. I want to take a look at some of my favourite games, that also managed to handle gameplay related gender in a new way or that made me think, hopefully both. Portal… Read More »My Top 5 Feminist Games
I have been gaming for all of my life; Space Invaders was released in the same year I was born. I’ve been thinking back about not only how the technology has changed but how my gaming habits have also changed. What started with playing arcade tables in pubs and evolved through to Rock Band on an Xbox360. My early and only console gaming for a long time was Wizard of… Read More »Evolution of a Girl Gamer