Over 150 game developers, artists and designers will gather at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, Canada this July 12th for the very first iamagamer event. The 48-hour game jam marathon is organized with the goal of creating games that feature a strong female lead.
Iamagamer is founded and organized by Dr. Kimberly Voll, a digital media professor who also specializes in artificial intelligence and game design. She runs Full Indie, an independent games meetup and develops indie games on the side. In a guest post on the Corona Labs Blog she talks about Gamesutra’s article on the problems Remember Me had getting published because of their female lead before finally getting picked up by Capcom. The article is just another reminder at how gender is portrayed in video games. We have made some incredible progress but for every Nilin or Faith there are at least a dozen Princess Peaches helplessly waiting for the man to rescue them. Video games are well known for having characters, both male and female, in ridiculously revealing costumes, but only one gender is sexualized.
The female characters are only a few of many strong females in the long history of video games. Every one of them is wearing more clothing than Zangief in the above picture.
Many RPG’s only serve as reinforcement on these issues, even though they allow players to choose either gender with little to no difference in gameplay. Anyone who has played RPGs knows what often happens to female armor as it gets to the higher levels. The issue of gender equality goes beyond video games and mostly results in being brought by the people both in the industry and the players. Video Games are, by their very nature, more interactive than other forms of media and perhaps has the best chance of finally helping the world mature. I believe that the video game industry and community can lead the way in finally putting these issues to rest. We are responsible for every gamer girl who gets propositioned and/or insulted for even daring to speak over multi-player and revealing she is, in fact, a girl. We are responsible for even using the term “gamer girl” to identify ourselves because it only serves to make us different. If even someone like Dr. Kimberly Voll feels the need to prove herself as a “real gamer” just because of her gender, it is long past time we stood up to make a change.
The players have the power to make sure that not one more game like Remember Me struggles just for having a female protagonist.
All that and more is why iamagamer is happening and must happen. You can go here to learn more and even make a small donation to help out. Even Princess Peach has learned to kick ass occasionally over the years.