Monday, February 6, 2012

Gaming: Enter the male bastion - TOI Bangalore Article

TOI Bangalore had contacted me for an article on women in gaming. Considering the fact that it's always the Bangalore newspapers that contact me, I think I should shift base there! :P

Click here for the article.

Posting the article here. Colored my quotes.

Gaming blows these girls away 
Narayanan Krishnaswami TNN

Bangalore: Nehal Shah is a twentysomething independent design researcher.She is also a level 67 Tauren Druid in Blizzards Massively Multiplayer Online blockbuster,World of Warcraft,and a gamer for the last 12 years.
Shah says she spends two to three hours everyday gaming and spends at least a thousand rupees a month on her hobby.Shah is one of a very rare breed,the female Indian gamer.Worldwide,women make up 40% of the gaming public.In India,that number of those who identify themselves as gamers is almost non-existent.Mehr Singh is a film student in Pune.I just dont get why women dont game,I really dont think its because games are marketed more towards males.I grew up with gaming--we started off with those ancient consoles that used cartridges and I have always enjoyed it, she says.

Gaming: enter the male bastion
Bangalore: Mehr spent most of her second year of film studies two to six hours daily playing Defence of the Ancients in a nearby gaming parlour.I was introduced to DoTA by a bunch of my friends all guys,though,and I was blown away, she says.

Pradipta Sarkar,27,is an editor in a New Delhi publishing house.She doesnt have a console,but she says she loves playing games whenever she has access to one.I go to my friends places when I want to play and I play for hours at a time. Pradipta believes buying a game console is simply not on the radar of women consumers. I like to play,but I'm not willing to spend Rs 30,000 on a gaming console,"she says.

Purnima Iyer is the co-founder of Pinaka Interactive,a Mumbai-based game and app design company.She says there could be several reasons for the low numbers of women gamers in India.The expenditure may not be supported by the family,the friend circle may not be involved in gaming,and some have the notion that gaming is for men and women playing games are looked down upon or even called irresponsible.Plus,not many games are women friendly and tend to have strong stereotypes that are oriented towards men,like violence,gore and skimpily-clad women.

Purnima says there are things about gaming behaviour that she finds irritating which may put off other women gamers. In a MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) context,when you walk in as a female avatar,firstly they assume you are a cross-dresser.Once you make them realize thats not the case,they get all lovey-dovey.While this can be advantageous for some (many quest items can be easily retrieved),it gets really troublesome.They rarely call you for a raid etc,just because they assume you cant play as well as a guy! 

The gaming industry,which has always been a male bastion,believes that a game with a female as a main character will suffer in terms of sales unless she is skimpily clad and improbably endowed as in the early iterations of Lara Croft or the more recent Bayonetta.Stereotypes like these have perpetuated the association of videogames with male adolescents.

There have been attempts within the industry to change this.Lara Crofts latest avatar shows her realistically proportioned and giving up her very short shorts for a sensible pair of jeans.Mass Effects advertising now shows Commander Shepard as a woman in armor."Things are changing for good",agrees Purnima. "But sometimes,it's fun to play as a male character like in GTA".