I have heard so many claims this past week about women's involvement in games, gaming community and game development. I am a woman game developer and have been for a number of years now, games have always been an important part of my life so I thought it might be a good time to share a story of a nerdy country girl and her love of games.
I am in two minds about this article, on the one hand I think it needs to be written on the other the games communications streams have been so full the gender issue lately that I am loathe to bring it up again. That being said, the issue that was raised that had me almost launching out of my chair and breaking skulls has not yet been flagged, so here it is.
I want to point out here that I loved Free-Play, I left the festival on Saturday inspired and raring to go. Interesting new technologies and techniques spinning around in my head accompanied by my wallet full of business cards and Mythical C cards scattered throughout the festival. I was inspired with a love for what I do and the passion to get on with it. Then THE Panel happened! (You can download the audio of THE Panel here) THE Panel was called the 'Words we use' focused on game journalism and criticism. I was really excited to look at the cultural-social paradigms that game journalism enforce and build, then how we can go about shifting that by thinking more about the words we use and how we use them. Now I don't particularly like the gender discussion, not because I don't think it is important but because I would rather be working to do something rather than just talk about it. In the words of Gandhi, I prefer to be the change I want to see in the world.
When I first studied creative writing, I felt that I was in the wrong place. People where there because they felt the inalienable desire to write. Nothing more, nothing less. During my interview for the program they asked me why I wanted to study the course, I said I wanted to learn, they looked at me like I had said I want to dance naked in the school quad. In the last class I had for this course before moving on I asked people why they write, why were they there. 90% of the class said they HAD to write, they could do nothing else. There was only one other person besides myself that said I want to communicate. For me writing is pointless unless you are communicating with someone else. I love to write, create worlds and characters, to give people a peak into the way I see the universe in all it’s beauty, wonder and horror. People are so caught up in their own worlds, I love the fact that through words I can show them something else, some other reality.
Stories define, challenge and change us. They define the boundaries of what we know and how we know it. They teach us about the experience of others and how our and their worlds intertwine. They speak to us of the fantastic; they speak to us of the real. A good story speaks on many levels; it grows with us and redefines itself through our own experience. I am not simply talking here about the grandiose sagas of the ancient mythology or the quests and adventures presented in modern novels, I am more broadly talking about the stories people tell of themselves and their lives. We each have a personal narrative, we all tell stories, it is how we make sense of our existence and ourselves. However we also must have other stories by which to compare and contract our own. It gives us a comparative framework a way in which we begin to see outside of ourselves and build an empathetic experience of others and the world.
The idea of the momentous choice is that a single choice in a game that has real and measurable effects and consequences for game play and narrative. In many games choice is defined slowly through character specialisation and personalisation through RPG Stats the introduction of the momentous choice allows the game to develop a degree of complexity by developing the concepts of cause and effect. Though out most game play the notions of cause and effect have been limited as the only real effect is often player death and then respawn or restart, in many modern games even the power of this choice has been lessened with instantaneous respawn and the notion of fainting rather than dying. The impact of this ‘immortality' is that the player is less likely to consider the choices they make, they can charge through with most problems being overcome through brute force. The momentous choice reintroduces the player to the notion of considered action.