Today I learned about Girls Make Games which, according to their website, “is a series of international summer camps, workshops and game jams designed to encourage girls to explore the world of video games.” Visitors to the site are greeted with a cute introduction video which challenges viewers to think about why there are so few women working in the gaming industry.I particularly enjoy the part when the speaker asks the viewer if gamers would “self-destruct if that armor you picked for your female warrior actually looked practical?” As a womanly gamer myself, I know all-too-well about the mystical properties of in-game full plate that somehow magically shapeshifts into a steel bikini once a female player equips it.
The fact that Girls Make Games is encouraging girls to participate in the gaming industry is pretty cool in itself. What’s even cooler is that 7 high school girls (The Negatives) are now pitching their game on Kickstarter after winning the Grand Prize at the Inaugural Girls Make Games Demo Day.
The girls’ game is titled The Hole Story and features a “budding young archaeologist” named Wendy as its protagonist. Equipped with her trusty shovel, Wendy must dig for clues to solve puzzles and uncover the secret of the missing princess, Alonna.
What I love about this game is the direction the girls have taken in regards to a fairly typical story – that is, to rescue the princess. However, unlike typical games, players are rescuing the princess not by slaying hundreds upon hundreds of enemies in a display of manly aggression, but by using their wits instead. I love that these girls created Wendy as a competent, intelligent girl interested in archaeology instead of one that flirts with her arguably much-more-interesting male counterpart while she prances about in her steel bikini.
That is not to say that there are no interesting, well-done female characters in video games, (Ellie from The Last of Us, for example, is absolutely fantastic). It is, however, wonderful to see young girls taking the initiative to create the game that they want, and portray their character the way they want, instead of falling into the typical stereotype traps for female characters that are intended to sell games to a primarily male audience, despite the fact that there are actually a whole lot of female gamers like me out there.
Finally, I love that organizations like Girls Make Games are encouraging young girls to enter the industry and change the way that games can be played and enjoyed, while combating the hostility that female gamers and developers face on a daily basis. I’ll be interested to see how The Hole Story progresses!