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How To Express Conflict in Games: Silicon Sisters Criticizes Male-Dominated Games Industry

August 23, 2011

by Joel Jordon

A company called Silicon Sisters Interactive bills itself as a game developer aiming at designing games for females. The company has so far released just one game, School 26, which is about forming relationships in high school. Here’s a quote from the COO (from this article):

“It took 30 years to really perfect the three things that males seem to really love, which are shooting, and driving, and sports,” Forbes said. “And those are absolutely kick-ass games now, and you really have to sit back and go, ‘What is the equivalent for girls? And please God, don’t let it take us 30 years to get to as high a quality level as that.'”

I find something troubling about this. It seems very reductive, counterintuitive to fighting stereotypes, and maybe even sexist toward both males and females. Forbes seems to be assuming that all males want to play shooting, driving, and sports games and all females want to play some other kind of yet-to-be-discovered game.

It’s certainly true that the games industry has traditionally been dominated by males and that that’s a big part of the reason we see a lot of games that have to do with shooting, driving, and sports—activities that, in real life, are typically associated more with males than females. But it’s also true that it’s just really easy and obvious for designers to create gameplay conflicts that manifest themselves in the form of violence or races or sports matches. A lot of game designers just fall back on violence because it’s the simplest and most visceral kind of conflict to have a player engage in; and races and sports matches, for their part, are just simulations of real-life activities and fail to represent any ingenuity of game design. A lot of game designers just haven’t really experimented with other, more complex ways of expressing conflict. If they did, I think the issue of there not being many games targeted toward females would resolve itself: both females and males could appreciate games that express conflict in new, more subtle ways.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2012 10:31 pm

    I really enjoy the idea of this gaming company being pro-female and expressing gender equality. But there isn’t a lot of interactivity in this game, simply clicking a smiley face or choosing a number is not entirely thrilling. The graphics are great, and I like the concept a lot, but it seems lacking. I wish I didn’t feel that way!

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