Friday, February 12, 2016

All the Ladies in the House Say... SOMETHING!

It's easy to forget this when you're the intended audience, but every once in a while, you'll be reminded just how insular the video game industry can be. Case in point: Sony just offered a flash sale for Valentine's Day, with such female-friendly titles as Hard Corps: Uprising, Far Cry 4, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Wait, this was supposed to be a Valentine's Day sale, right?

When I voiced those complaints on CheapAssGamer, they were quickly dismissed, with one user simply stating, "No dudebro games equals no profit for Sony." However, that argument fails to take into account that Sony (and Microsoft) haven't even tried to court an audience beyond the mostly male "hardcore" crowd. They're there, though. They were there to make Nintendo's Wii a big success, due in part because no other console manufacturer wanted to market to them or address their concerns. Now that the Wii has faded away and its successor has fumbled its baton, it feels like companies are eager to return to the status quo of games that embrace a single demographic while pushing everyone else away.

Make a game system for girls,
but no games for them to play!
Brilliant move, Sony!
(image from Amazon)
It's very easy to say that game companies don't market to women because women won't buy their products. But perhaps it's more accurate to flip that sentence... women don't buy video games because game companies (Nintendo excluded) don't make an effort to appeal to them. Judging from this recent flash sale, it doesn't even seem like Sony wants their money, or their involvement in the hobby. 

I don't even know why I should care. I'm firmly in the bullseye of Sony's target audience; white, male, and heavily invested in the hobby. But I've gotta tell you, even I get tired of the same heavily distilled sludge that pours out of the video game industry year after year. And I wouldn't mind some fresh perspectives... not necessarily from frustrated feminists like Anita Sarkeesian, but ordinary women who would really enjoy video games if the industry didn't make it so hard for them. 

I sold that cheap PSP Go I purchased last month to a female friend, at cost and loaded with software, just to get her more involved with video games. I was happy to do it, but I can't offer that assistance to everyone... and Nintendo can't be the only company that reaches out to the thousands of gamers outside the traditional audience. Companies like Sony and Microsoft are going to have to put down the machine gun and pick up the slack.


  1. "Celebrate this Valentines Day by picking up Man Shotter 16!"

    Yeah, I just looked up the games on sale for Valentines Day and they're mainly your general shootmans and stabmans type stuff. And I'd expect buying the missus Girl Fight would result in a knee to the balls. You'd think they would've at least put some of the indies on sale...

    Anyway, you're definitely not the only white guy who wishes there was more diversity in the gaming landscape. I'm generally apathetic when it comes to a lot of what passes for big name releases nowadays and I would greatly welcome more variety. We lost a lot of devs and publishers last gen.

    Certainly don't trust most marketing types to know how to appeal to girls though, given that their idea of what appeals to them is some pretty purple PSP with a crap Hannah Montana game. They should take a long look at Animal Crossing and try to get it through their dried up reptilian brains that a huge part of making a good game that appeals to women is MAKING A GOOD GAME.

    1. I appreciate your feedback... mostly because you and Ochalla are the only ones who provide it. And yeah, I'm definitely in agreement that the quality of games for girls and women needs to improve. That's So Raven or whatever ain't feedin' the bulldog.

      I don't know if indies alone will bring sufficient diversity to the Playstation and Xbox gaming experience, but it's at least a start. I'd like to see more high budget games with a wider audience... you know, more Banjo-Kazooie and less Bad Guy Kablooie.

    2. Agreed. Hope the day will come soon when we see stuff other than white people or suits of armor with killing devices filling up store shelves again. And just having a female protagonist ain't enough. Modern Lara Croft can whimper all she wants but it still doesn't change that her new games have her gunning down more people than Rambo.

      I mean, her games were always shooty, but at least in the early ones humans were a rare and formidable foe instead of the main thing you kill.

  2. I love how you refer to me by last name now, Jess. I don't mind, by the way. I like it!

    Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly with you and MetManMas. It's sad what little effort most game makers and publishers out into making quality titles aimed at women -- or anyone who isn't a straight, white male.

    As such, those companies -- as well as companies like Sony and MS -- can't complain when women and racial minorities and LGBT folk continue to give them the cold shoulder, if you ask me.

    Here's hoping that changes sometime soon. Personally I would love to see more games that take my interests into consideration. And I'd also love to see and play games that take into consideration the interests of women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, etc. Games such as those surely would be more appealing and interesting that most of the boring shit your average Western game maker and publisher puts out these days.

    1. I dunno, I just kinda got used to doing that. Anyway!

      I was referring to women specifically in this blog post, but you make a fair point. You just have to find a right balance when making games for an underrepresented audience. If you're not careful, the product could either be too preachy, or too stereotypical, as was the case with the well designed but often groan-worthy Guacamelee. I don't know if that game caught the ire of any Latino groups, but I couldn't really blame them if they had gotten upset.

      I suppose the best way to make a game for a particular minority group is for that game to be designed by members of that group. Read Only Memories certainly seems to suggest it's the right way to go, anyway.