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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

Women in games on games for women

Pink hardware: hot or not?
 
True Multiformat, thumbnail 1
Slowly but surely, women are filling more jobs in the games industry. There are more female artists, scriptwriters and game designers than there used to be, and just as many women in PR and marketing. There's even a handful of female games programmers.

A good thing too. Making games is getting ever more complex, and studios need all the talent they can get. But just as importantly, it means there are more people in games companies looking out for girl gamers. Over time, that'll hopefully broaden the kinds of games we're all offered.

What do these professional women make of pink games consoles? On the whole, they're supportive. Some draw the distinction between girls and women, while others see no need for that, but pretty much all we asked were glad to see anything that made gaming more amenable to females. Most stressed the need for a wider range of games too, and for changes in marketing.

But don't take our word for it, you'll find theirs below.

Ali Wood
Editor, In Stock Magazine
 

"Introducing a pink DS Lite and PSP is a great way to attract female gamers and shows that both Sony and Nintendo are looking at different ways to attract new people into the market. It's a good way of attracting younger females in particular; everyone knows how much they love pink. 

Obviously just introducing pink versions of consoles isn't going to automatically change the mind of every non-female gamer, but it's certainly a start. I don't see anything wrong in looking at a stereotypical way to try and attract them. Perhaps if this doesn't work new methods will be trialled, but why not go with an obvious first? The industry is doing its utmost to shake its 'geek' image, and the sooner it happens, the sooner women are going to be happier to be considered gamers. 

What's really important is that there are good games for females to play, and not necessarily ones that are pink and fluffy with ponies. 

Price is a major factor. Even with consoles available for under £100, who'll try gaming for the first time at that price? If they don't like it, many would think, 'I could've bought a new pair of shoes/coat/bag with that money'. I know I would!"

Suggests: The Sims, Metroid Zero Mission, Wario Ware

Kaye Elling
Creative manager,
Blitz Games 

"Pink hardware is very popular in many consumer electronics markets at the moment, not just in consoles but from mobile phones to DVD players. 

Anything that gives us more choice is a good thing. Whether this will actually attract women into games, only time will tell: I suspect that it will appeal more to men who will buy these items for the women in their lives, be they wives, girlfriends or daughters, rather than attracting women directly. 

We need more females to play games, so we need more games that appeal to women and girls. This in turn means we need more women developing games, and this won't happen until we have more female gamers. Whoever finds the answer first will make billions!"

Suggests: LocoRoco, Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?, Bratz: Forever Diamondz

emily brittEmily Britt
European PR Manager, Eidos

"I own a pink iPod, and have no qualms whatsoever about doing so. In fact, I'm rather amused by the fact that I own a pink one. It's a slightly ironic statement: I'm quite a girly girl, have loads of shoes, and like pink provided I don't have to wear it.

If one considers marketeers to be nothing but cynical, mind-bending tricksters wanting to make a quick buck from the unsuspecting consumer, then, yes, maybe one could consider pink hardware a retrograde and shameless step. But, they aren't and it isn't. Nor, however, is it a progressive move, either: it's simply symbolic of the amount of choice consumers have come to expect these days.

What's important is that the games are of good quality. An iPod can contain thousands of songs, and it doesn't matter if some are average as they don't last very long. Games are different. Gamers will buy the console provided we give them good, compelling games. Colour may be a slightly important lifestyle choice, but it's what's inside that counts!

If we're talking stereotypes, I think handhelds can be slightly more appealing to the female gamer, as they don't appear to 'dominate' in the way a home console does. Psychologically a handheld looks more like you can fit it around your life, rather than the other way around."

Suggests: Nintendogs, Mario Kart

Rhianna PratchettRhianna Pratchett
Games scriptwriter and consultant


"Many young girls are almost magnetically attracted to the colour pink, as the worldwide success of Barbie franchise only goes to show. More young female gamers will mean more females growing up with gaming, which can only be a good thing.

I think attracting older women who currently have no interest whatsoever in gaming, or perhaps only have a casual interest, is going to take more than a pretty colour. The games industry really hasn't got its head around the whole 'what if the player is female' question. That's something that needs to be addressed in more ways than just making sure that our virtual heroines don't look like they've just stepped out of a porno flick!

Better marketing would help. Many women simply don't know what kind of entertainment experiences the industry has to offer. When they come across something like Buzz or SingStar for the first time, they're amazed at what they've been missing."

Suggests: Pac Pix, Bomberman, Nintendogs, Tetris, Diamond Mine, WarioWare: Touched!, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

kirsten kearneyKirsten Kearney
Frag Doll and games journalist

"Sony and Nintendo's decision to release pink handhelds is purely financial. They can sell DS Lites, PSPs and some more PS2s at the end of the console's life-cycle to young girls and the parents of young girls on the basis that they look cute.

It's a mystery to me why they didn't sell them in pink with glitter on. Though I suppose the glitter could get into the components. But so what? It would be shiny!

I don't think women need to be attracted to buying consoles by colouring them pink, but 10-year-old girls do. Have you been down the girls toy aisle in Woolies recently? The whole place is pink and smells vaguely of strawberries. That's just the way it is.

Also us adult gamers aren't above that. There's a reason why consoles are black or silver - because guys like black and silver. In Japan they have bright orange Gamecubes that you can't get here (of course, I have one). You know why? British people think orange is a stupid colour.

A lot of games mags, shops and developers have for many years made a point of pushing gaming as a male-only hobby, which is crazy bananas in my view. The realisation has dawned that there's money to be made from girl gamers. Slowly slowly, catchy monkey."

Suggests: LocoRoco,Animal Crossing, Brain Training, Trauma Centre, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Wario Ware

Janine CoughlanJanine Coughlan
Country manager UK & Ireland, Living Mobile

"Anything that encourages women to get involved is good news. If I was in product development with these guys, I wouldn't stop at pink though as not all women are that overly girly. I'd be thinking about a range of alternative 'soft' colours. But the principle is spot on.

A lot of females are playing games now and specifically in mobile they're a significant audience. However the perception of gaming as a male (and dare I say it, nerdy) preserve still holds. There are titles out there for women, but we need to communicate with them more to shift perception and further increase their involvement.

Disney has some great casual titles for mobile launching between now and Christmas across all the networks. But naturally, I am a little biased!"

Suggests: Disney's 3-in-1 Puzzle Pack, Disney Winter Fun

alison beasleyAlison Beasley
PR guru

"Sure, pink PSPs and DSs are pandering to a stereotype but I only see this as a good thing. Add sequins too if possible! Girls (and, dare I suggest, some gays) love pink. The issue is ensuring there's enough for girls/women to play once they've got their girly handhelds.

That definitely means publishers taking more risks and enabling developers to be more creative – girls don't generally want to run around endless grey, brown environments toting big bazookas (whatever your interpretation!) nor be subjected to scantily clad and impossibly proportioned female characters.

You only have to look at SingStar and Buzz to see that women of all ages not only enjoy games but are actually very competitive when playing them. It's all about offering a broader gaming experience, just like TV offers a broad range of programmes for women, from the trash of Trisha and the witty Sex In The City to long-running soap operas.

I think this will happen, particularly with the consoles due to take pride of place in the living room and the long-awaited arrival of downloadable, episodic content. Sure, lots of women can still enjoy the likes of World of Warcraft but generally those games require a huge investment of time - alone - which the majority of girls and women find unappealing."

Suggests: Brain Training, Mario, Nintendogs, online poker

beth hallBeth Hall
Sales and marketing support, I-play

"Mobile gaming already has a strong female following - in fact 48 per cent of mobile gamers are female. Publishers and developers of mobile games made the smart move to think about their potential female audience right from the beginning of the mobile gaming revolution.

I love puzzle and casual mobile games such as Jewel Quest and My Dog, but also racing games such as The Fast and The Furious franchise. I usually play games on my commute to and from work, which makes my journey seem much quicker. These casual games are easy to dip in and out of and are very compelling. Jewel Quest is the most addictive and I've got into the habit of checking My Dog everyday!"

Suggests: My Dog, Jewel Quest
 

Reviewer photo
Owain Bennallack 27 October 2006
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