… from playing games I really don’t enjoy so far is that this industry is single minded and one eyed (no pun or anything else intended). We’re making games primarily for a male audience but the issue with that is of course that 40% of console players are women at this point.
We do what we’ve always done – we play what’s there because we have very little choice in the matter. What is there is usually sexist drivel, focused on a male power fantasy and there’s nothing else to choose from.
Games are still made by men for men, because evidence to the contrary, white men are seen as the default. I doubt anyone would be surprised considering that men make up approximately 80% of the professionals in the industry. Not for lack of trying on women’s part.
I recently read an article in the Guardian about the power structure that supports racism. It’s called society, or rather, capitalism. The writer argued that in order for us to deal with racism, we have to deal with capitalism and the power structures supported by capitalism.
I’ll probably sound like a total radical by saying this, but I believe that in order for us to deal with sexism and misogyny – and racism for that matter – we need to change the industry from the ground up.
Anything else just repeats patterns that we’ve established at the birth of this industry, and we will keep supporting as long as all new studios are founded by the same people that were immersed and soaked in this culture from the moment they entered it – and – crucially – saw no issue with it.
If you are unaware of your privileges or even unaware that you have privileges, you won’t see far enough to change the situation for those less fortunate. You might not even want to, because it would be giving up your own power and advantages and share them with someone else.
Another aspect of this is that most players actually don’t finish games as they are released. Only 10 – 20% 1 of players finish games. The reason not to finish a games is sometimes because there’s a new release that’s more interesting, sometimes because players would rather play with friends, sometimes because of the time required to play, and sometimes because at the end, the game becomes too difficult.2
With this in mind, it becomes hard to defend some of the choices made in a game. The player may not be there to see the end anyway.
What I bring it be back to my own corner of the designs I do is the fact that I’m a damned good one. I’ll paraphrase a UX director who evaluated my work – that I’m a strong designer with an expertise in solving complex design problems.
This is what I do, and this is also why I’m so harsh towards other games. I analyze and I improve. I can – and this is not a boast – see aspects of a system from start to finish. I understand the interconnectedness of features in a way I’ve come to realize few others do. And I feel that this is reflected both in my work and in how I analyze games.
Maybe this is why some people tend to get pissed off at me. My analyses, both of my own work and that of others, tend to be merciless.
I have high standards and I expect much from something I’m expected to spend 40 – 100 hours on. I will not get that time back if I don’t like it.
In the long run, I expect that the games I play now will give me some insight into why something is popular. I think a lot of this is related to how the games are received by the loudest voices in the industry rather than the merits of the game itself. I’m becoming more and more convinced that games are a popularity contest more than a reflection of actual quality.
Sooner or later, I suppose, we’ll find out.
- The numbers vary quite a bit depending on the source of information.
- It is my duty as a UX designer to inform the developers reading this that a game that is either so unbalanced that players can’t finish it, or if it relies on functionality that the player is “supposed to know”, what you should have done is tutorials and also difficulty balancing that isn’t reliant on in house devs. End of message.