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Of Women in Games

April 10, 2013

I had a hard time finding a blog name that married the two cores this whole thing will gravitate around. It seems a good idea to explain it a bit, so I’ll do that in two posts.

Today, we’ll see who are these women I intend to write about.

Bustles

One obvious association for ‘bustle’ is ‘crazy crunch time’ which game development (too) often involves. But that’s not why I chose this word.

When I thought up this blog, I knew I wanted to talk about women and game development. I figured that using a typically female underwear in the name would both say ‘woman’ and ‘what lies under/behind what the public sees’. I just had to find something whimsical but not distasteful (there’s enough of that elsewhere).

Just like corsets, ‘bustles’ are a way to represent womanhood. They’re all about accentuating the curves unique to a woman’s body. They’re about that girly habit of dressing up. Because women in games aren’t all tomboys.

On the other hand, they are also, historically-speaking, a way to please man and, to a certain extent, objectify womanhood. That’s another aspect of women in games.

But nowadays, with steampunk’s popularity, women are reclaiming corsets, bloomers and bustles as tools to express themselves and their feminity. Hopefully, I’ll do a bit of that here by talking about three main women in games.

The Developers

I’ve been a Game Designer since 2007 and Game Design Director since February 2012. There aren’t a lot of us female game designers – and the percentage drops even more when it comes to female programmers – which apparently makes us both a desirable addition to a team and a misunderstood one.

I’m not saying we’re better than our men counterpart; we’re just wired differently. I’m not saying we’re persecuted; we’re just often limited by pre-conceptions.

I’ll try to explore all of the above and talk about my experience in the industry. I also hope to get guest blogs by other female game developers from time to time.

The Characters

So there are women behind the curtain who develop games for a living. There are also women ‘on the stage’, as characters in a variety of games.

I don’t intend to get on a soapbox and yell against jiggly breasts in video games. In my opinion, if I want to complain about Lara Croft’s sexiness, I have to bash Drake’s too. I am interested in analyzing some female characters and comparing them with their male counterparts. And there are good and bad characters, regardless of their gender.

The Players

Then comes the audience, the third group of women in games.

After years and years of not finding anything interesting in a male-oriented market, women now play an ever increasing amount of games, thanks to the industry’s efforts to broaden its audience.

These women are part of my topics; I’ve designed quite a few casual games, which are typically perceived as ‘women games’.

And, obviously, I’m a female gamer myself.

Closing Words

I think I’ve covered the main points of the first gravitational pole for my blog. Hopefully, this sparked a bit of interest without scaring any of you away.

In a nutshell, I’ll talk about women and our place, impact and representation in the game industry. I promise it won’t be a pity party.

I hate pity parties.

Unless they involve shooting virtual zombies.

Any woman around here? Shout!

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Kick-Off!

April 9, 2013

Hello everyone,

This is the first post of many, I’m sure, and it took me quite some time to write it. I’ve been thinking about this blog for about two years now. Not just thinking, actually, I had my friend  Melanie Bourgeois do the header too.

Everything was sitting there, pushed aside by work, my other blog and my writing projects.

Then, the #1ReasonWhy movement started, and more than ever, it mattered to me (as a female Game Design Director)  to kick off this blog.

For those of you who don’t know about #1ReasonWhy, the Twitter hashtag gained momentum in November 2012 and invited people to name the number one reason why there aren’t more women in the video game industry.

I’m familiar with what the women reported with #1ReasonWhy. When I worked as a sales person and sold swords and table-top RPGs, I had three types of clients: the ones who wanted to date me (Girl+RPG=Love, apparently), the ones who insulted/tested me, and the ones who didn’t mind my gender at all. However, I never encountered the first two behaviors in my professional career.

I was taught game design by men who never treated me differently. I did an internship at Ubisoft Quebec, where the producer would say “Hello ladies!” one mourning meeting out of four instead of the “Hello boys!” that applied to my three teammates. I was hired by men and worked with them without ever feeling left out. One of the men who taught me, hired me for my first employer, hired me for my second employer when the first cut my position, and promoted me instead of men with more seniority because he trusted my abilities.

In a nutshell, I’ve studied with, worked with, mentored and supervised men throughout my career, and if there was ever any doubt about my competence, it was based on my blue hair, tattoos and age, not my gender. The occasional distasteful comment has been quickly followed by an apology any time it went beyond what I considered a joke.

And yes, people are surprised at my career choice but, really, who can blame them?

Apparently, I’m one of the lucky ones and I hadn’t realized it. Once it hit me, I had to kick off this blog.

Then the post-GDC articles started coming out  (like Leigh Alexander’s Why I Cried at GDC and Kirk Hamilton’s And Then The Video Game Industry Woke Up), telling tales of women, games, and a new, more inclusive demeanor. I knew that I needed to make time to write this blog.

I want women to focus on the #1ReasonToBe (the offshoot of #1ReasonWhy focusing on reasons to be in the industry) because the more of us there are, the less #1ReasonWhy there will be. I want to share my approach of game design and my thoughts on game development, so it may help men and women alike to find their place in the game development world.

I want to be a #1ReasonMentor. But more than that, I don’t want this to be a “me” thing; it has to be a “we” thing.
I don’t have the universal truth and good discussions help everyone grow. 😉

That’s why, at last, I welcome you to Games’ Bustles!

Are you in?