Saturday, April 22, 2006

My genitalia has nothing to do with being a geek.


I was invited to go to a focus group tomorrow for the new X-Men game. I was all set: tonight I've been playing X-Men: Rise of the apocalypse, and I've also started to plan what games or anime I was going to buy with the hundred bucks I was going to make. Then I was called by the person who invited me with the information that I couldn't come because I'm a woman. Immediately, I was pissed. I asked why it mattered. His only explanation is that focus groups are split into age groups, therefore the groups are also split by gender. He then wondered how many women could there be that are interested in gaming and the X-Men? How many women do I personally know that game? I could only respond that while I only know a few women in real life that game, I know they're out there. I know that from blogs I read. (Besides, I live in fricken Chicago--there's a lot of women here.)

I asked if there's going to be focus group for women and he wasn't sure. I'm sending Shion's Glasses in my place--he promised to find out if there will be a separate group for women, and if there isn't, to give them hell in my honor. Hopefully, either way I'll convince him to post his experience up here.

It's annoying that I won't be getting the cash, and it's aggravating that my voice won't be heard. But the worst feeling is that this is all because of the attitude that women and men are completely different, which in turn fuels the gender gap in gaming in terms of perception and representation. I know that biologically there are differences between men and women, such as the fact that symptoms for a heart attack in women are different than that of men--but we're gamers. It's a hobby, an interest. If everything, especially video game marketing, keeps focusing on the differences between men and women, we're not going to get anywhere.

Update: I found out that there won't be any focus groups dedicated to female gamer's interests.

Update #2: per zeldasrevenge's suggestion here is Activision's mailing address:
Activision, Incorporated
3100 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Their phone number: 310-255-2000
If you would like to shoot them a message electronically, click here.
Let's let them know that women gamers are part of their demographic.

21 comments:

zeldasrevenge said...

I've got an idea. Have you got an address or email addy for this company? How about asking all the women gamers you know to write or email to express their disgust at non-representation? I'm in (email only cos I'm in the UK unfortunately)

100LittleDolls said...

That's a great idea! I'll work on getting that address.

Jacob Saenz said...

It's really disappointing to see that this particular focus group wants to retain the gender gap you mentioned. Here, they could have had a chance to have a meaningful discussion not only on X-men and video games but the target audience of the video game market and why continue to separate men and women when it comes to video game discussions.
I do commend your blog for addressing this issue, though.

100LittleDolls said...

Thanks for your support, Jacob. I'm still confounded as to why Activision wants to alienate women gamers.

zeldasrevenge said...

Thanks for the info :) I'll be sending them an email.

btw have you seen this:
http://www.grrlgamer.com/article.php?t=futureofgames

Apparently Eidos Interactive are running an ad for Hitman Blood Money.... I'm actually a bit speechless. The link above has a link in the page to the ad. Not sure what to say, you really have to see it for yourself...it's not good.

Dan Jacobson said...

Are these folks honestly wondering why women would be interested in the X-Men? Where were they in the '80's? Okay, I suspect that most of these folks were in elementary school in the 80's like I was, but still, know your products, man.

Dan Coyle said...

If you think "Beautifully Executed" ad is sick and wrong, wait till you see the "Shockingly Executed" ad. It's a woman electrocuted in a bathtub, complete w/death stare. bubbles and rose petals conveniently covering her nether regions

Apparently in Europe the "Beautifually Executed" ad features the same woman with her robe open, showing a lacy bra and panties and more skin.

100LittleDolls said...

Thanks for that link. The ad reminds me of some of the ads that were used for the _Beyond Killing Us Softly_ documentary.

Disgusting.

Brinstar said...

Wow. That is pretty shitty. It's so sad that the reinforcement of gaming as a boys' activity is so deeply ingrained in corporate culture. No wonder that attitude is extended into mainstream culture as well. :-(

Stephanie Chan said...

I hope you don't mind, I posted a link to your story on my website PulpArcade.com.

100LittleDolls said...

I don't mind at all, thanks so much for the link! I also saw the linke from Womengamers.com (awesome) but then saw from a couple of replies that I'm not telling the whole story.

If it helps for clarification: I wasn't invited to the focus group by the directors of the focus group, but rather by one of the participants who had nominated me because he knew I was into comic books and video games. He didn't know that there was a gender requirement. Thus, him having to call me to tell me I couldn't come when he found out.

Scott M Davis said...

Thats messed up. My gf is a bigger gamer then me. I'll show her this when she gets home from work.

Hopefully a write in campaign or email assualt (nothing nasty!) will change Activisions attitude towards female gamers.

b said...

Funny how grrlgamer had nothing to say about the two other ads they linked which contained men being killed.

http://www.tombraiderchronicles.com/hitmanbloodmoney/print_ads.html

Guess sperm is cheap, right ladies?

b said...

Thanks for your support, Jacob. I'm still confounded as to why Activision wants to alienate women gamers.

It's really not too hard. You are not the main demographic they are targeting with this game. Kinda like if Tampax is coming out with a new tampon. They are not going to actively seek out male opinion in any marketing research / focus group.

As a side note, I'm pretty bummed that Tampax hasn't bothered to focus their efforts on the untapped male market for their hyginene products.

Jeff said...

b: You mean the ones where the male victims are half-naked and in highly sexualized poses?

100LittleDolls said...

Yeah, that's right guys, men are just as objectified as women.

Also, I didn't know that men had periods, you know, the biolgoical function. (Plus, the tampons adds are sexist in their own way--treating menstruation as if it's something to be embarrassed about.)

However, if you guys can't be respectful, or add to the conversation,(I don't mean agree, you can respectfully disagree without being inflammatory), I'll erase your comments.

I want this to be a safe space to discuss sexism, classism and racism. We can't do that if we're always catering to the status quo. If you don't like it, talk about it on your own blog.

100LittleDolls said...

This was directed to b., btw. Noticed I put "guys." Sorry. :(

Anonymous said...

http://www.archive.org/details/012193

Is this the game you speak of because descriptions of it sound an awful lot like the plot I read long ago in a 90's video game magazine of this game never released.

100LittleDolls said...

Yep, it sounds like what Shion's glasses had described in his post that they were thinking about rehashing the Genesis game.

Anonymous said...

The Hitman series has always focused a lot on visual style, the death poses are supposed to show a sort of elegance to the assasinations and create juxtoposition between violence and the peaceful appearance of the victims. Of course the series has arguably always used sexuality somewhat excessively, but many of the locations in the game centre around people with excess wealth indulging themselves. The contrast between decadence and 47's calculating motives is a key style aspect.

100LittleDolls said...

Well, it certainly does have its own style. I think the criticism comes from the fact that the images of the dead women come from a place of necrophilia, or even speaks of abuse, rape or assualt, instead of women just being artfully slain. It's hard to ignore that aspect of our culture when shown images such as this. Not to mention that beaten or seemingly dead women have been traditionally used to sell products (such as designer clothes) and people see this as a tired cliche.