Last april I was given the chance to speak at the “Women and Videogames” Conference at Madrid.
As a Game Designer, my first idea was to talk a bit about what does “Design Games” mean. Most of the people I know, even my parents, have no clue about what I make my living of. When I tell them that I design videogames almost everyone thinks that I’m the one making nice drawings… I was told too that most of the audience would be students that are interested in breaking into the industry. So, the first part was mainly a description of the different tasks a Game designer does, and the different kinds of Designers you can find in the industry. I recalled that in a Game Design workshop with Alfredo González-Barros we depicted those roles in a plain and common language, so I decided to use it in my talk.
Then I talked about the “dark side” of being a game designer in the Spanish industry… it has usually a low salary, companies may close, you will have projects cancelled after tons of work is done, you will have to consider working in a foreign country if you want to progress… so I thought that many people would wonder… why do you still work in this?
The answer is simple… because I work in what I really enjoy. Because when it’s monday, I like to go to work. And also because you feel really good when you see something you have done in a retail store, and people having fun with it.
And at this point I also wanted to relate my talk to the topic of the Congress: Women and Videogames. That is why I thought to tell a bit about my own story as a woman working in the industry, and giving my insights about what challenges I had to face when I started in the industry.
I was lucky to have a gamer dad. And I’m taling about the 70s. They bought an Overkal and since then, almost every gaming system. Thanks to that, gaming was something natural, fun and a family activity. Since then I started thinking about my own games, and learning BASIC to program my first prototypes in Spectrum. But I had too many things to create and I was really slow… so I started creating those games with pen and paper. Since then I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to make games.
Anyway, I will have the chance to talk more about how I started in the industry in future posts, and I will also publish some of my early designs.
One of the main challenges I faced in the industry as a woman were the prejudices. When people knew me in the first place, they couldn’t imagine that I was a gamer or even a profesional of the industry. The first impression was that I lacked the knowledge. But when people get to know me, and I prove that I’m a good co-worker, that I know what I’m doing, that I keep calm at crunch time, that I talk about games as any other… I no longer had problems for being a woman. I have to add, of course, that prejudices are not exclusive of any gender, race or nationality. So If I ever had a problem with someone, he or she already had it with most of the team.
And finally I talked about how games are evolving to a more universal target. And I’m not talking about facebook games for women. I’m talking about AAA games that have been designed to appeal both genders, like Assasin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Uncharted and so on. The best example we can find nowadays is the redesign that Lara Croft has been into. From a sex-symbol with unreal proportions, and marketed as a object of desire, to a more realistic strong woman, that can appeal to women too.
I also pointed out as a conclussion, that we as women gamers should focus ourselves in being that, gamers… and not using us as sexual objects, as you can see in many pictures on the internet with naked girls covered by game consoles, proclaiming they are gamers. That only contributes to continue the stereotype that the only role a woman can have in videogames is as a sexual object and eye candy.
Well, so I hope you enjoy the talk!