Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 21, 2012
 
Sexism as a marketing plot

Rohan from Blessing of Kings has an interesting theory on the use of sexism as a marketing plot. No, not "sex sells". But he suggests that "A signal that the company is slightly female-unfriendly is also a signal that the game will emphasize difficulty and more hardcore elements like PvP.". While I had to chuckle about the implicit insult that all hardcore players are chauvinist pigs, I do think Rohan is onto something here: If a company was making a game that was "female-friendly", it would probably be less hardcore and less PvP-centric. I am pretty certain that World of Warcraft has a higher percentage of female players than Darkfall has.

I do reject the simplistic notion that a game would have to be easy and have pet-collecting to appeal to women. I do however think that women are better at judging games as an artistic whole entity, and would in most cases prefer a broader game (a "world" MMORPG) to a game where the goal is to do just one thing very well (a "game" MMORPG). Women being under-represented in first person shooter games has less to do with those games being "too hard" or "hardcore", but more to do with these games not being all that interesting and varied to start with. The reason why broader games have to be easy is because otherwise the women would outperform the men. :)

I think many of the failed attempts to create a WoW-Killer MMORPG were due to the developers only looking at the "game" parts, stuff like leveling, PvP, or raiding. To be attractive to a broader, and more female audience, the game needs to be broader too, offer more different activities. The makers of Rift clearly got that message when they introduced fishing. But lots of games still release with at best half-baked crafting systems and very little to do in the game which isn't directly related to progressing. And then Rohan's theory kicks in: If your game is too narrow to be attractive to women anyway, you might as well put a sexist image on the cover and at least get the hardcore players in.

Comments:
Rohan has succumbed to a logical fallacy where he thinks 'the advertising for this game shows something I like, therefore the rest of the game must also be tuned for my tastes.'

A moment's thought will show that semi naked women are also used to advertise magazines like Nuts and Maxim, and games like Evony. Which I think throws into question the notion of the desired player base being either more intelligent or better gamers.

(To be fair, the Rift girl isn't as porny as some of those others.)
 
Or there is just a false misconception that women are under represented in FPS and other 'hardcore' games, and this is this the true sexism in the industry. I think it's more prominent in those over 25 and will probably
 
Will probably become less common as new generations of gamers come to the fore, and the industry isn't run by 40-50-60 year olds with antiquated perspectives.
 
As a female MMO junkie I agree completely about preferring a more rounded experience. I stopped playing SWTOR very swiftly because of a lack of variety in things to do (you didn't even do the crafting yourself really). This makes games like LOTRO, full to the brim of extra goodies very appealing. Even the simplicity of collections and achievements add to what you can spend your time doing. Questing / PvP alone, forget it. But I also like a challenge, just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I want an easy levelling experience.
 
"A signal that the company is slightly female-unfriendly is also a signal that the game will emphasize difficulty and more hardcore elements like PvP."

PVP is a Hardcore element?Well first of all I am not female but i don't give a shit for PVP. I am 30 years old and I think that my age matters a lot. I want a relaxing experience, I want a huge virtual world to be lost in...I play lotro now for that reason, I played Skyrim for that reason.

It isn't about sex, female or male. When I was playing wow years ago the most hardcore member of our guild was a girl and she is still playing lineage now..I got retired from hardcore but she is not.

So in conclusion

1)pvp is for the kids and is not hardcore
2)ase you grow you seek more simple and relaxing gaming experience..not a streamlined gaming experience like wow, but something like lotro if I dare to say..a huge world with lot of travelling, atmosphere and story to get lost in
 
"Rohan has succumbed to a logical fallacy where he thinks 'the advertising for this game shows something I like, therefore the rest of the game must also be tuned for my tastes.'"

I'm not saying that. I'm saying that 'the advertising for this game shows something I like, therefore the game company is trying to signal that the rest of the game must also be tuned for my tastes'.

Signalling is not reality, but it does inform reality. It shows who the company thinks its audience is, and what it thinks its audience wants.

But that may or may not be reality, but it's what the game companies *think* is reality.

All I'm saying is that the rise is sexist advertising reflects a shift from companies chasing the non-gamer/casual/female audience, to refocusing on the traditional gamer marker.
 
"I do reject the simplistic notion that a game would have to be easy and have pet-collecting to appeal to women."

Glad to hear it.
 
I'm a female gamer of many years and I agree with your assessment that women in general want a variety of things to do. Like leelubutterfly, I lost interest in SWTOR very quickly because there really wasn't much to do except follow a specific path.

I currently play Rift and love occupying myself with achievements, quests, dungeons, artifact hunting, crafting, some PvP, and definitely role playing.

To me, variety is what interests me, not whether it is easy or not. Let's face it, easy games are boring too.
 
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