So. Obama won. The Republicans got routed. But what does that mean?
Okay. It means a lot. It means an awful lot. Since my wheelhouse is supposed to be “the intersection of politics and gaming”, though, it might be a good idea for me to take a stab at what it means for gaming. So I’ve put together a short series speculating on how the Democratic triumph (which, honestly, is what it was) is going to change and/or be reflected in the future course of gaming. This is the third one; a follow-on on the gender issue.
#3: Games aren’t just boys’ toys.
I think there’s a connection to gaming in a more general way, though. Right now women are still seen as a bit of a secondary audience in gaming. They aren’t “core”, whatever that means, and games that are aimed at them tend to either be half-assed girly-game crap that’s drenched in pink or social-network games that cynically attempt to ruthlessly exploit society’s pressure on women to be helpful and cooperative.
That should end. It must end, because the lesson of this election is very simple and very applicable to the gaming industry: white males just ain’t enough. The targeted audience for the Republican messsage are white males, just as the targeted audience for console gaming is (generally) white and (definitely) male. The former failed, and the latter is failing too, because there just aren’t enough to sustain the enterprise.
It’s becoming really, really clear that games should focus a bit more on the sorts of things that girls and women want in their games, and a bit less on the things that (the industry thinks that) boys want in their games. What are those things? Don’t ask me: I’m not in a place to say. Go ask Mattie, or Patricia, or Kate, or Leigh. Go ask girls and women. Go ask your girlfriends and partners and mothers and sisters and daughters and wives. Ask focus groups if you must. But don’t ask me.
I do suspect, though, that it doesn’t mean that there won’t be shooters or action games. That sort of essentialist attitude makes no sense and is rooted in the same beliefs that generate “girly games”, and it’s just silly when you’ve got Patricia Hernandez writing great pieces about her experiences playing shooters. It may well just mean having female protagonists that are well-written and visually reflective of their audience. It works for boys. Why not for girls?