NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Maybe at some point video games were thought of as ‘just for boys’ – but not anymore. Studies show girls are just as interested in playing video games as boys.
Despite statistics, video game marketing is still ‘all boy’. Game developers say they aren’t even sure what females want – but there are some North Texas women, already in the business, who can tell them.
Grace Blessey, 28, has a law degree and now wants to become a video game designer through the video game education program, or the Guildhall, at Southern Methodist University.
“I always liked video games,” said Blessey. “But at some point, I realized I really just wanted to do something more creative, like truly artistic.”
From Blessey’s perspective, what women want from a video game is the mental challenge. “Ultimately what it is, it’s like the hand-eye coordination challenge that people like. It’s like pointing, can I get it while it’s moving fast and shoot it?”
That type of challenge is one of the things Elizabeth Stringer likes about video games. “You look at who plays games and why they play those games. You stop looking at gender at all,” said Stringer, who is one of Blessey’s professors. “You don’t need to draw those lines. You don’t need to draw that division.”
Women who are already working in the industry say they just want a good video game with female characters.
“I want to play a pink Master Chief,” said video game enthusiast Alexis Ruiz. “I want to have a unicorn on my shoulder when I’m shooting other people online. I want to be identified as a girl.”
Ruiz says she’s been playing video games since she was eight years old. “Christmas morning I woke up and I got the Barbie House and my brother got the Nintendo 88,” she recalled. “And, I loved my Barbie house, don’t get me wrong but there was nothing quite as satisfying as destroying him [her brother] at Duck Hunt.”
At the age of 28 she’s busting female video game myths as a Community Relations Manager for Dallas-based video game developer Terminal Reality. That’s where Jessica Nida-Wright has been building her career as a graphic designer.
“Women want a good game,” she said. “Women want a game that plays well, that maybe has a good story to it. They want the same things.”
Wright graduated two years ago from the Guildhall program. “I think the biggest barrier is that they [women] want to be allowed into that tree house that has that sign ‘No Girls Allowed’ on it,” Nida-Wright said.
But experts at Grapevine-based video game and entertainment software retailer GameStop say women are already in stores buying half the video games.
Though some women might be making those purchases for someone else, 44-percent of them say they want something other than casual, exercise or music games; which is what many developers think women like.
GameStop’s Yavia Gipson said, “Women cannot be kept in a box in video games. They’re playing everything from Sims, to Call of Duty, to Super Mario Brothers.”
Blessey is answering a call to the video game industry and hopes, some day, to pave the way for other women.
“It’s always in the back of my mind. Like, I would like to influence games that can bring more women in as players but also like someday be, maybe a role model to get more young girls wanting to come into the industry,” she said.
While it seems the video game industry has all but ignored women, women can’t ignore the video games. They’re just too fun.