G.I.R.L. artificially added to games industry

Julia Brasil of San Francisco has won the 2008 G.I.R.L. (Gamers in Real Life) Game Design Competition. She now gets a $10,000 tuition scholarship toward her education at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco and a paid internship of up to 10 weeks at the Sony Online Entertainment studio of her choice in Austin, Denver, San Diego or Seattle.

“I am shocked and overjoyed to be the first G.I.R.L. Scholarship recipient,” said Brasil. “I’m really looking forward to my internship with SOE, and getting some hands-on experience at such a well-known company. It’s such a great opportunity.”

In order to become the winner, Brasil had to submit an in-game design, original concept art and two essays.
Brasil was one of nearly 100 applicants vying for the winning title of the 2008 SOE G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition (so not wildly popular then).

“We believe our groundbreaking G.I.R.L. scholarship can give Julia the foundation she needs to pursue a successful career in the video games business. SOE is thrilled to jumpstart the first step in pursuing her goals,” said Torrie Dorrell, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “We anticipate G.I.R.L. continuing to evolve and snowball, creating even more opportunities for women to get behind these games.”

Hmmm. How do we feel about this then men?

I tell you what, don’t hold your breath if you are waiting for the G.U.Y. (gamers usually young men) Game Design Competition, because there isn’t one.

I am all for equality and in a few situations I am even in favour of positive discrimination (black people in South Africa need help after the centuries of oppression they suffered), but do women need a leg up to get in to the gaming industry? I expect software companies are crying out for female employees, even if it is only so there is someone to use the other toilets. Is the reason that there are so few women in the industry (17% in 2004) because they are being discriminated against? Of course not.

The fact is that most women are NOT INTERESTED in games, and nothing will change that fact. We can all name exceptions to this rule, but it is true for the overwhelming majority. The reason that there are not many games made for girls is that there are not enough girls out there who want to buy them. We can argue about the finer points of this for as long as you like, but the fact is that boys and girls are different and like different things. Try and get a boy to play Barbie and see what happens (at best he will make her have sex with GI Joe – oh, was that just me?).

A little competition, with only 100 entrants (lol), is not going to do anything at all to change the imbalance of genders in the industry. If Sony (or anyone else for that matter) really want to do something about it then they will create positions for women consultants and game designers. They will create focus groups of women to tell them what they want from a game, then they will use more focus groups to tell them how to refine their games to appeal to as many women as possible in as many different countries as possible. But they don’t do this. Why? Because it will be a waste of time and money.

Does everything in life have to be equal? It has to be fair, I’m not suggesting that women should not be allowed to work in the games industry, but if they don’t want to then who cares? What does it matter if the games industry is for blokes only? I don’t see competitions encouraging men to get into the Bridal magazine industry, and nor would I want to.

Maybe women are the last great untapped market for the games industry. Maybe this is the hidden agenda for Sony et al. If this is the case then they need to get serious in their efforts to cater for the needs of the female gamer and not just put on a feminist pacifying show that will have absolutely zero long term effects.

Even if they did get serious I suspect that getting girls to be interested in games would be a bit like getting blood out of a DualShock 3. Am I wrong? Comment below…