November 2nd, 2009

When will gaming companies start targeting the hardcore girl gamers?

I remember when I first heard about Ubisoft and their Frag Dolls venture, and thought it was a great way to promote women and gaming. Sure, they were all smoking hot girls but they also did something no other company promotes – showing girls as hardcore terrorist-shooting gamers. These were girls with a serious love – and serious skills – for first person shooters, long considered the cream of the crop when it comes to gaming sales. Need to think of a video game title off the top of your head? Chances are good that regardless of whether you are male or female, something like Barbie Horse Adventures won’t be the first title to roll of your tongue. Nope, something like Halo, Gears of War or Call of Duty will likely be the game you think of first.

But recently, there has been a push in the media to target female gamers in order to bump up their sales, because women account for 40% of the gaming market. But what kind of games are they peddling to us girls? Well, anything that has to do with fitness or weight loss, as well as anything that is somehow revolving around pets (Littlest Pet Shop, Petz), puzzles (Sudoku, Bejeweled, etc) or other girly pursuits (Cooking Mama, Princess-y games, pretty much any Imagine DS title).

But have you ever seen marketing of any game that would be classed as non-girl-centric actually targeting girl gamers, particularly girl gamers of the hardcore variety? I didn’t think so. Even while the Frag Dolls are all women and are arguably a good role model for other girl gamers to look up to, you know that they are also there to look good for the guys interested in buying those Ubisoft FPS titles the Frag Dolls play.

Looking at some of the recent gaming advertisements, I see plenty of eye-candy advertisements featuring women characters with their chests bursting out of barely-there leather (heck, who am I kidding, it is more likely latex!) outfits. Eye candy for girls? Not so much unless you think Marcus from GOW is swoon-worthy with all his gear on… okay, maybe some of you do, but that ad was definitely not created to make women think about how hot Marcus is, it was to make guys want to buy the game so they could be just as badass as Marcus while rocking the lancer.

Now 40% is a huge chunk of the gaming market that women now control, so companies are trying to tap into those gaming spending dollars. But they are making the mistake of excluding hardcore girl gamers in their marketing efforts. I know I spend way more than the average consumer on buying XBox games, as well as downloadable content (Hello COD XBox console with the 250GB HG). So why aren’t they targeting me, and my (eek!) probably 30+ video games I purchase a year? I have nary a Barbie Horse Adventures in sight, but instead its all Halo, Rainbow, COD, L4D, Fallout, Rock Band, Gears of War, etc. But instead they are targeting the women who might buy 2-3 games a year. Now, I am not a rocket scientist, but I have a feeling that gaming companies will make a heck of a lot more money off me than they would off of someone like my sister who buys a couple DS games a year. Yet, my sister is the exact market they are targeting.

Even when I attended PAX this year, the marketing was all to men, despite a ton of women attending. I got at least a dozen swag t-shirts for all kind of video games, such as Left 4 Dead, BRINK and Beatles Rock Band. But not a single one of those companies had girly shirts, because trust me, I asked them! I only came away with one single shirt that was actually made for women… and ironically it was an “I Play with Dolls” t-shirt the Frag Dolls were giving away to the winners of the Just Dance competitions. And if any of those companies had women’s shirts, I would have been proudly wearing them around PAX and given those companies even more free advertising, not to mention wearing them when I got back home.

So when will gaming companies stop assuming that females only want to play games that will either help us to lose weight or immerse us in a pink-themed pet world? Well, this hardcore girl gamer isn’t holding her breath that things will change anytime soon.bake

May 18th, 2009

Games that let you play as a girl

Sometimes I get annoyed when I am playing a game, particularly a RPG style game (hello, Two Worlds?) and I can’t play the main character as a chick. And more often than not, when I am forced to play as a guy, the gaming companies seem to think all I want to see is barely dressed bodice-busting female characters thrusting themselves at me. Okay, if I am a guy, I could see how that would be appealing. But as a chick, I would rather have barely dressed hot male character thrusting themselves on me!

Now, there are definitely some games that are definitely girl based, such as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series or playing as Princess Peach in one of the many Super Mario games. But what about if you are a gun-toting terrorist hunter or trying to save an old empire from corruption of evil? When it comes down to it, most games make you play as a male, since there is still the abundance of false perception that girls are only interested in playing Barbie Horse Adventures or Tetris.

Then there are the games like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. Yes, you can play as a girl, but her FFF cleavage was clearly designed with the male gamer in mind, especially since Lara spends most of her game time practically falling out of her barely-there black latex outfits.

The unfortunate thing is not very many male-centric type games allow me to play as a chick, especially a chick that appeals to a true girl gamer who isn’t just interested in T&A. So to satisfy the inner male-ogling girl in me, here are some recent games that allow me to play as a female instead of a male, without going over the top for the guy’s gaming dollar.

This was the first game I picked up for the Xbox 360 when I decided to retire my trusty original Xbox console. And not only did I get to play as a female, but I even got to customize the look, so I could make my character as hot or not as I wanted. And even though it is a medieval style game where most games try to get away with chicks wearing little more than an elastic band, this one actually features a ton of conservative clothing for my character.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2
While the original Rainbow Vegas allowed me to do multiplayer as a girl, the sequel allowed me to also do the campaign as a female lead. I admit, since this was my 6th Rainbow Six game, I found it a little weird to suddenly be playing as a female. And in multiplayer, there is nothing like playing a female with a little bitty pink or purple tank top… and if you look closely, the girls even have nipples, but without gratuitous cleavage.

Mass Effect
If you didn’t hear the whole girl-on-girl sex scene controversy last year (started by a bunch of people who not only never played the game but started spouting off “facts” about what you’d think was a constant orgy of in-game sex), not only can you play this game as a girl, but you can also have, um, relations with either a guy or a girl. And while you are wearing a skin tight body suit, again, your girls aren’t trying to bust out of the top!

Fable II
Sparrow is a character you can make as either male or female. And later in the game, if you are female you can even become pregnant if you practice unsafe sex. And it is worth noting that if you play a female character, doesn’t mean you can only have sex with a male, chicks are up for grabs too! And one quest has you playing matchmaker for two male characters who inevitably fall in love. The wardrobe options are limited, although fairly decent, so you can sex your character up with a corset or cover it all up with high necked shirts and jackets.

Saints Row 2
A change from the previous Saints Row game, this one allows you to choose a female character when you start the game. You’ve probably heard about the naked girls streaking in the game, well, Saints Row 2 is equal opportunity, because you can make the guys streak naked too… but all the important bits are blurred for both sexes. And if you are into male eye candy, it is pretty funny to make a male character wearing nothing but tightie-whities.

Fallout 3
The recently released Fallout 3 allows you to be a guy or a girl as you traverse through a post-nuclear blast world. There is even a Black Widow perk which allows females to inflict extra damage on male characters. You go girl!

If slaying vampires is your thing, the two Bloodrayne games feature the ultimate female vampire slayer. Unfortunately, it also features over-the-top amounts of cleavage. So I probably shouldn’t be surprised the character was featured topless in Playboy, which also mentions her oh-so-realistic measurements of 34-22-36! But while she does ooze sex, she is also one serious hardcore chick. But sometimes I think she needs to leave a little something to the imagination.

World of Warcraft
Again, another game that allows you full-on customization of your character, whether male or female. And if you do a Google search, there are a ton of galleries devoted to the women of Warcraft, showcasing all their, um, assets.

MetroidEven though this original game is over 20 years old now, this game is worth an honorable mention (and it is downloadable on the Wii virtual console as well as in sequels). This game tricked many a male gamer who thought they were playing a guy cyborg, right up until the end of the game when it was suddenly revealed that Samus Aran was actually female.

So next time you hit your local gaming store, think about the games that allow you to be a chick, as well as flaunt it if you want. Which raises the question… what are some of your favorite girl-centric characters you can play in games?

October 8th, 2007

Why Two Worlds really needs a commit suicide potion

I can handle a few glitches in a game, but while I do like Two Worlds, it is becoming a lesson in how high I can make my stress level… seriously. Here are a few things that have happened.

  • Jumped behind the structure where the fire element was… then discovered there was no way out, so I had to return to a previous save.

  • Got stuck on two staircases on two different occassions… Yep, had to return to a previous save, and none of them were too recent.
  • Screen froze multiple times after teleporting… you guessed it, previous save time
  • My horse and I got stuck under a tree branch, took forever for some wildlife to discover us and attack.
  • And now, after slaying about 30 Orcs in ::spoiler alert:: Ashos, I am now stuck on a door frame inside a three-room house. Unfortunately, the floor is littered with orcs but none alive to kill me.

And yes, there are potions that are poisons, BUT they don’t allow you to drink them unless you have a higher HP than what it will poison you with. And I have no teleporting stones with me (although that wouldn’t have helped me with the fire element since I would have permanentl lost it them).

ARGGHHHH…. And did I mention one of the achievements is glitched, so that nice 1000 gamer points is actually only 930, with still no game update to fix it.

So what I really really want is some way I can commit suicide so I can teleport to the nearest healing site and get my game going on without having to go back to the previous save.

Added: So here is how I unstuck myself from the edge of the door frame. I summoned an Octogron who went off to kill nearby Orcs and opened the front door of the house as he did so. I took advantage of the opened door to fire a fireball at an Orc I could see, who then came in to attack me… unfortunately, he was doing it pretty slowly while he shot me with an arrow, but it worked in the end with my death and respawn out near the former Zombie infested house.

Do I recommend the game? If you are an RPG (Role Playing Game) fan and remember to save often, definitely. If you are wanting to try an RPG for the first time, go for Oblivion (Elder Scrolls) instead… much better, one of my favorite games, and the only one I have my perfect 1250/1250 achievement points in!

August 6th, 2007

Use your mics ladies and gentlemen

I was in an attack and defend match in Calypso Casino tonight. I was playing defense, but I only knew one other person on the defense team. The assault team was a fairly weak team, so it should have been a piece of cake, right? Wrong! Because in this scenario, the only players on the entire defense team who were speaking were… you guessed it… me and my friend.

Now winning on defense is easy with a good team… and even with a bad team so long as everyone is talking so people can jump in and cover where others have died. And especially crucial are those little tidbits like “Watch your back, elevators” or “there’s a guy in the sniper spot” or “skylights”. These all help you get on top of the enemy. But for the entire first five minutes of the game, nobody spoke except me and my friend, and this was despite the two of us giving specific warnings to team members by name, to which they physically reacted to so we knew they were listening. And even asking positions on other players or “XYZ, where did you just die” elicted zero response.

It wasn’t until we were about eight minutes into the match… by which point assault had the package since whoever was covering escalator or the front of the vault never bothered to alert anyone when they died… that we finally heard the first word spoken by someone else. And what was it? Yep, “Fxxk”.

But just a heads up to the Fxxk guy, chances are pretty good if you had spoken up long before that, you probably wouldn’t have needed to say that word in the first place. So plugin those mics, and then be sure you use them.

July 24th, 2007

Ten things guy gamers should never say or do to girls in a game

Having been a chick gamer for a long time, I think I have heard it all… especially out of mouths of twelve year old pre-puberty little boys. But there are also those geeky twenty-somethings who have been hiding in their parents basement gaming all day, and you’d swear they had never talked to another female in their lives. And I have been asked on occassion what guy games should do to get the attention of a girl gamer they have played with and wouldn’t mind getting to know better.

But first, I think it is important that you learn what you shouldn’t say to a girl gamer, before you even think about what you should.

1. Don’t ask me to suck your teeny weenie.
Yes, and I am sure it is a teeny weenie, no matter how much you try and convince me otherwise. And no, I am not interested. Period.

2. Don’t teabag me.
Yeah, that is one of those things that the twelve year old pre-pubescents like to do. Rifle my body with your shotgun if you must, but don’t teabag me.

3. Don’t ask me to teabag someone, no matter how wickedly I just nailed the poor sucker.
No matter how you slice and dice it, a girl teabagging just doesn’t have quite the same effect.

4. Don’t ask me my age.
Never, ever ask a woman her age. If you are worried about the whole under-eighteen thing, then maybe ask if she is legal. But don’t expect her to tell you her age. Sometimes it is better thinking she is a nineteen year old hottie than a forty-five year old grandma. And for the record, I am far closer to a nineteen year old than a forty-five year old 😉

5. Don’t ask me my boob size.
Enuff said. And same goes for weight and overall hotness rating.

6. Don’t follow me along like a puppy dog
Yes, I am hot. But you don’t need to follow me all over the map ogling my character’s girliness.

7. Don’t pretend to be getting it on with me
Don’t come along and rub your body up against mine, especially when I am working it. I can’t count the number of times some random guy I have never played with will see me in my custom pink camo holding my position in Calypso Casino and come along right next to me and do the whole “crouch and stand up repeatedly” thing, and think they are cool. If you do it, you are anything but cool.

8. Unworthy friend requests
Send random friend requests just because I’m a girl, and it is usually sent following the guy doing at least one of the above. I don’t have time to waste on immature little boys, nor room on my friends list.

9. Have some idiot gamertag like MILFHNTR or BALLINherHARD.
Once again, enuff said.

10. Being a sexist idiot.
Ok, I realize it can be a shock that there is a real live girl in your game. So I will let you get away with one or two duh moment questions like “Are you a girl?” and “So is it like your boyfriend’s account and he actually lets you play?”. Men tend to be stunned I am a chick playing and am a non-glitched Elite. But if you think I’m going to listen to your ten minute rant about why girls shouldn’t be allowed to play anything other than Viva Pinata and PacMan? You’ll find yourself booted PDQ.

Now, if you don’t have a dream of finding a hot gamer chick as your next girlfriend/wife – then you probably don’t have anything to worry about when you come across an elusive girl gamer on XBox. But if you do, or you just think it is cool to play with a girl, try and restrain yourself from doing any of the above… or at least until I know you well enough that when you tea bag me I can call you a dirty name in return and all in fun. Cause don’t forget, you just might find yourself on the team with me and a bunch of my friends, and let’s just say most of them don’t take kindly to anyone trash talking “their girl.”

July 22nd, 2007

Why video game stores should treat women better

So I buy a lot of video games…  and here are some of the responses I have received from male employees at the stores….

Buying Rainbow Six Vegas the day it came out… “You do realize whoever you are buying this for has to be at least eighteen?”  Well, usually a girl takes this as a compliment, but not when the insinuation was that the game wasn’t for me.

Buying Shadowrun…. “You know you have to be hooked up to the internet to play this?”  Gee, what’s this thing called the internet I keep hearing about?

And random game shopping…

Employee: “Can I interest you in reserving Halo 3?”
Bad Gamer Girl: “No thank you.”  If I was interested in spending an extra $5 at your store just to reserve my copy of the game, which you are notorious for shorting people on anyway, I would have.
Employee: “Well, how about Crackdown, they have the Halo beta going on right now.”
Bad Gamer Girl: “Nope.”  Yeah, I’ve already been playing the Halo 3 beta.
Employee: “There’s a new Tom Clancy, Ghost Recon out.”
Bad Gamer Girl: I do my best to give him my I’m tired of you trying to upsell me look, besides the game has been out for months already, hardly new, and yep, I bought it the day it came out.
Employee: “So just this book then?”
Bad Gamer Girl: “Yes, please.”  But as I am paying, I notice a new Tetris game for the 360.  Now, a friend of mine loves Tetris, so I think this will be great for when she comes over, since she tends to go for the PacMan or Frogger type games.  I used to be a old school GameBoy tetris fiend, so I figure I can game and school her at the same time :)  “Actually, I’ll get that new Tetris game too.”
Employee: Rolling his eyes at me “Yeah, I try to offer you the good stuff, I should’ve figured you’d want something like Tetris.”

And there was the time I was buying the XBox magazine for the Rainbow Vegas demo.  And I got the quizzical “and who are you buying this magazine for?” from the guy ringing it up.  Maybe he was wishing he was my boyfriend, if that was who I was buying it for.

Now, I am not conceited or anything, but I am sure I could kick his butt in any FPS game, but I didn’t feel like he was worthy enough to actually divulge my gamer tag to.  And I am certain I have spent more $ in gaming in 2007 alone than he has in his entire life, even including what he bought with his allowance.

And video game companies wonder why more women aren’t buying their games… they do a fairly decent job at it, but then when it hits the stores, it all falls apart.  After all, women tend to be the ones doing more of the buying… and they don’t have to cater to women, but come on, try acting just a tad bit more accepting that it could be the chick who wants to shoot terrorists, not her hubby or boyfriend.

And I should add that I only go to the chain of stores where those incidents have all happened if I have no other choice… I actually pay more to buy my games elsewhere.