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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | July 21, 2000
   

PQ Mailbag

Post-Holiday Mailbag

Well, I've been home for almost a week now, and I've gotten back into the swing of things. It's nice to see that as opposed to my last vacation, I didn't have 300 e-mails waiting for me. This time, there were only 180! Thanks to everyone who helped out on that one. Hellchick so totally messed with the PQ Mailbag last week, so it's time for me to right her wrongs, and, strangely enough, I'm going to do that by defending her opinion right away. Confused? Read on!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Hellchick stirred the poo in a major way this week with her editorial "Girls' Day Out", focusing on the somewhat segregatory outlook some women have with regards to the gaming community. Some women feel the need to make themselves separate from the rest of the community, as they feel that will help them earn respect. Hellchick thought otherwise. We got a ton of fantastic feedback on this, including a letter from Katherine Anna Kang, former Director of Business Development at id Software and founder of Fountainhead Entertainment. Read on for some interesting comments.

From: Shukri Adams
Subject: Hellchick's female gamers editorial

Short and sweet - I really liked the way it went. I'm a guy. My girlfriend is a serious gamer, but she hates Quake. I'm not going to try to force her to play it just because it will increase her "equality status". As Hellchick says, people play the game if they like it. Something like "affirmative action" to get more women into Quake would only be necessary if there were organised attempts to keep women out of Quake in the past. From all the articles and interviews I read, there hasn't really been. There has been a tendency for some male players to act like sexist dorks, but I think the best way to solve that problem is by publicising that THEY are being dorks. Don't make a big festival about the concept of women playing Quake - women aren't the problem, stupid sexist retards are. So why should women have to constantly be spotlighted like oddities when all they want to to do is get some good gibbing in and enjoy the game?

BTW - PQ is THEE Quake site. There is no other.

cheers

I'm only commenting here to congratulate you on your correct use of "thee". I love that.

From: Niptlar ()
Subject: Hellchick's Article

Hellchick's article hit everything right on. When you play Quake 3, gender does not affect the nature of combat. When you form a mod team, you want to recruit the best people, not just the best women or just the best men. When you win a tournament, you should feel that everyone had a fair chance of beating you. If you are included or excluded from a mod team or a tournament because of gender, you feel either insulted or deprived. Indeed, Hellchick should have never needed to write the article.

I encourage all QuakeCon participants to boycott these particular events. For males, this move is a no brainer, but females can send a strong message to the organizations sponsering segregating activities. It would not be appopriate to dignify these activities with your presence, even if you would like to challenge any speakers with questions about how demeaning their ideas are.

I'll see you at QuakeCon and witness history of Quake and the power of the individual. There are few honors any greater.

Niptlar

From: Mara'D Smith
Subject: Women in gaming

I'm a female gamer, have been gaming since I was teeny, like so many others. I've always been 'one of the boys' and never cared. I worked as a game tester and even ran a Q/A department for one of the not so leading game software developers. I was always the only female and I hated the little pats I would get on my head. I was like their little puppy, their mascot. The women in HR would try to fix me on a daily basis. They felt it wasn't feminine to play.

The only reason I can see for companies to push these All Women or whatever events is to open a relatively untouched market for sales. Ok, its marketing, nobody expects marketing to be unbiased, honest, or to respect any one. So if they don't stand to make sales , its just simply insulting without the excuse of marketing.

A local newspaper once printed an article from a game company in town. In it they spoke of "Games for Girls". I hopped up on one of my favorite soap boxes and wrote back. We don't need special treatment, we don't need special games. If a girl is going to play games shes going to play it for the same reason as a man. It's fun, challenging, looks good, or a combination of these and other reasons. We don't need games that come in pink boxes with a coupon for free doilies!

The average girl is not going to go out and buy Riana Rouge, or some of Duke Nukems more seedy titles. But that's just fine. We don't want the world of games changed to suit our tastes, we don't need special treatment. We aren't special because we play games. I don't want a pat on the head because I'm so called brave enough to face a world dominated by men. I play games because I like them. And I never really got into knitting.

We are gamers. We aren't GIRL gamers. We shouldn't be held in higher respect because we can beat a male at a game. My alias I play games by, harrier, is so often considered to be male. I just let people think whatever unless they ask. It has no bearing on my gameplay whether I'm male or not.

I guess the whole point I'm making is that I've watched the girl gaming thing from day one. I've had run ins with a lot of key people at e3 and such about the girl gaming concept. (I even got into a quite verbal battle with Gillian, creator of Riana Rouge, when she tried to pass off her half naked girl running around trying to have sex as a game for girls, when it was obviously targeting for a male teenage audience. I didn't care that it wasn't made for girls, I cared that she tried to pretend it was to gain respect for helping out her fellow women). I really appreciated your article. It says what a lot of companies need to hear, not just in the gaming world. Thanks.

harrier

From: (A.)
Subject: RE: Hellchick - "Girls' Day Out"

I just wanted to say that I agree with Hellchick 110% on this. Whole-heartedly, even. Mucho agreemento!

It's just another way to seem "Politically Correct" by announcing that every so called "male hobby" needs to be re-marketed to gain an equal number of female hobbyists in that same field. Ever since that thing came into existence (which we all know as "affirmative action") which dictated that females and minorities must be forced into the ranks and statistical spaces otherwise previously taken by white males, society has gone completely backwards in using sexism as a tool to end sexism (?) A complete paradox and self-negating.

There are *no laws or rules restricting females from getting into gaming and FPS games like Quake* -- those females that were/are interested in playing have indeed been playing!! Why turn a *hobby* into a campaign platform? (I thought hobbies were about personal interests, not about proving gender issues?)

I myself am a female gamer (Starcraft, Quake2, Quake3, Diablo II, AvP, etc) and think it's really really embarrassing to be going to Quakecon this year only to see genders openly being divided and females being given "special attention" and "recognition" during the weekend. I am *not* some token or gender statistic! I DON'T want any special "help" or "boost" to push me into this community just because I was born a certain gender -- that's really really patronizing and demeaning, not to mention sexist! Leave gender out of gaming conventions completely. The focus should be put back on the GAME, not the country's poorly run pity parade for females.

Besides, online, you're neither male nor female -- you're just another computer-drawn model with a computer text name.

- Althina

From: Drilla
Subject: Female gamers article

Hi,

Read your article on PQ entitled Girls Day Out and thought I'd send my thoughts for you to...err...throw away probably!

I run a very large first person shooter operation in the UK consisting over 200 servers. A large proportion of these are dedicated to Quake1,2,3, UT and Half-Life [particularly Counter-Strike]. We have probably the largest single CS community in Europe if not the world.

Recently, an all-female CS clan formed consisting mostly of experienced gamers some of whom have been on the scene for some years and are extremely good players. Some are also in male dominated clans.

I took a decision to create a Female CS gamers server to be run by this clan for other females in the community. They open it up to anyone a lot of the time anyway, but are also going to run practice nights aimed at getting girl gamers into CS without being made to feel intimidated and be put off by abuse etc from the small percentage of males who are misogynist/immature/ignorant that appear in on-line gaming anywhere [and yes if we get details of any player male or female being seriously abusive, we ban them from our servers].

Anyway, the creation of that server has been an interesting psychological exercise; the amount of polarized abuse/praise I've received from males is astounding. And now the female clan in question is receiving abuse from some females elsewhere on the net; basically a stronger version of what you say in your article.

You have to understand that my motivations are not intended to irritate anyone; I have seen very talented all-female clans group together before but they break up pretty quickly simply because there aren't enough females on the scene to build the size of squad necessary to enter leagues etc. Why? Well, imho the atmosphere which pervades in FPS on-line gaming is just too testosterone-injected; yes I know most of the games are about killing etc, but I'm convinced there are many many more women out there who'd be well up for getting into the scene if they didn't have to put up with the abuse/chat-ups/other inane communication which gets in the way of having fun, as on-line gaming is supposed to be. When did you last hear of a male who left the scene because he felt the pressure of gender-related abuse? In other words, it seems the scene as a whole unfortunately discriminates against females. One possible way to combat this is to positively discriminate in favour of women with the occasional female-only server or event. Once they're introduced to the scene in that way, it becomes less intimidating to wade into the male-dominated mainstream. Females like yourself can deal with the scene as it is; I'm guessing your not typical of other females who may not be willing to stand up to the various forms of...erm...in-game communication on-line. It doesn't have to be like that.

I disagree with your male "crocheting lace" analogy; if I was into crocheting lace [which of course I am big style] I would join the local female-dominated crocheting club, but I wouldn't be worried about receiving abuse and innuendo. The expectations of females when considering getting into the FPS on-line scene is somewhat different I suspect. I have somewhere a list of actual abuse lines copied from the in-game console received by a female member of the community. There were about 10 highly offensive anti-female comments and this is before any of the current controversy.

Anyway, enough of my opinions. I'd be interested to know what you think of my views [puts on crash helmet....] and even how I could encourage female gamers in other ways that don't attract quite so much heated debate. Or maybe I should just give up and let the status quo remain....

FYI, I'm 35 [i.e. reasonably mature on a good day] and treat people, male or female, with the same level of respect they show me.

cheers,

d.

Okay, I'm going to comment on these letters before I get to Anna's letter, because I think hers should definitely be set apart from the rest. The above letters show some interesting viewpoints; we have two females that agree with Hellchick (and there were many more that agreed that weren't printed), a female that disagrees, and two males that agree. Strangely enough, none of the men that wrote in disagreed with Hellchick. Perhaps the community that many women feel somewhat alienated from is accepting after all. Anyways, on to Anna's letter, where I'll address most of the issues.

From: Katherine Anna Kang
Subject: Re: Girls day out

I'm disappointed and somewhat appalled with Hellchick's antagonistic commentary titled "Girls day out". I don't believe Hellchick understood what the day is supposed to be about but rather jumped to a conclusion based on an inaccurate post on the QuakeCon site. As an editor, Hellchick should have had the foresight to have asked or interviewed some of the ladies before writing the story. Her points would have been valid "if" the premise of the workshop day is what she speculated it to be, but it is not. I don't believe she understood what the day is supposed to be about.

As one of the guests putting a workshop together, I can speak only about my workshop. I was welcomed to speak about a field I know, business, and I hope to give some aspiring entrepreneurs tips on starting a business - my panelists were to include other business people along with an accountant and an attorney for an informative Q&A session. As far at the general planning of the workshop day were concerned, the extent of what had been discussed are as follows:

- Many of the female gamers planning on attending were/are doing positive things in the community and hoped to have time in the workshops.
- To increase the female presence and bring a lot of women in attendance we hoped to have the workshops in one day.
- Some of the suggested workshops included discussing the development, maintenance and pitfalls of putting together some unique endeavors.

The titles of the workshops had not been discussed.

The workshop day is NOT about a women-only event; its about letting people know that there are women who not only play these games but who are also doing things in the community willing and desiring to share it with their fellow game fans. If the Quakecon Webmaster represented it in any other way, it was a simple mistake. I agree that a "How To Assemble An All-Female Mod Team" workshop is ridiculous but it's obvious that the wording was an error - I don't believe any of the members of the mod team were aware (until this article) that such a thing was being advertised. Regardless, it was a simple mistake unworthy of such hostility and easily remedied had Hellchick checked her sources.

I tend to agree that it is wrong to focus on a group of gamers "SIMPLY because they're female", but in this particular case, that's not the case. The focus may be in part because they're female but I'd like to believe that they would not be given the time at QuakeCon if they had not accomplished other things. We have ladies from womengamers.com, an exceptional site with good information, intelligent articles with data and services that are VERY helpful - all presented by a myriad of qualified professionals who use their knowledge in their respected fields to enhance the experience of the visitor. We have ladies who are programmers, designers, artists, and entrepreneurs who are willing to speak about their fields and show that not being the greatest Quake player shouldn't minimize their status as a gamer simply because they are female - they, like their male counterparts, can enjoy a game and do other things related to gaming as well. We have female gamers who are willing and/or excited about sharing their thoughts on what they would like to see in a game or any product pertaining to a positive gaming experience. These ladies enjoy games (and/or certain products) and believe they might enjoy it even better if some things were implemented. This event is a great way to give voice to a usually quiet sect of gamers and I see nothing wrong with granting them this opportunity.

I know the ladies who desired the QuakeCon workshop event - they vary from psychologist to professional gamers and entrepreneurs to artists - and I'm very proud of every woman in that group because of their accomplishments. I hope they are not deterred from speaking about what they've done in the community because of opinions, inferences, and/or attacks similar to Hellchicks. Nevertheless, articles like Hellchick's are hurtful, and in my opinion, exploitative and hypocritical; hurtful because it attacks a group of really great women based on assumptions rather than facts - hypocritical because she uses the "female gamer" issue to draw readers when she herself claims that doing so is wrong. Her commentary and actions are analogous to someone claiming not to be a racist simply because they are in the minority race. Does the fact that one does not recognize the act to be racist or the fact that they believe they are not racist make the act any less racist? Hellchick claims that she does not want to exploit the female issue but she has.

Opinions are one's own and as the saying goes, everyone has one. However, good opinions are based on facts - this article at least was clearly not of that nature. As a writer for a business, writing for the business and posting on the business site, she should have spoken to some of the ladies to find out what the story was behind the ladies wanting to do their workshop before going on a rampage. I find that "ridiculous and demeaning" issues revolving women and gaming does not include wanting to share their experiences in putting together websites, mods, etc. through their own effort.

Sincerely,

Katherine Anna Kang
President/CEO
Fountainhead Entertainment

Well, my dear readers, what we have here is a brilliantly written letter from Ms. Kang. She makes some fairly good points in it, the majority of them valid. Unfortunately, she managed to miss the point of Hellchick's editorial.

The point was not to single out a group of women doing things for themselves, such as presenting workshops at QuakeCon, but to take a look at the broader issue, which was women segregating themselves from the rest of the community. If women don't feel like they're a part of the community, and then try to set themselves apart from it by doing things that are for females only, they're not doing themselves any favours.

If any group tries to make themselves separate from a larger group, there will undoubtedly be resentment from the larger collective; this smaller group is essentially saying they are different, and thus should be treated differently. Women are equal to men. Why should they be treated differently?

Let's say a group of gay gamers decides to segregate themselves from the community. They start an all-gay clan, an all-gay gaming website, and have all-gay tournaments. That's absurd, isn't it? Why should homosexuals be treated differently from the heterosexuals in the community?

This is exactly what all-female groups are doing. You can make the argument that women get teased. I will guarantee that if they are openly gay, gay gamers get teased a lot more; and I don't see anything happening like my example in the previous paragraph.

Yes, while Ms. Kang totally missed the issue Hellchick was getting at, hopefully anyone who reads this will get the point. I'm not condemning female gamers at all. One person wrote in suggesting we boycott the female workshops at QuakeCon, but I think that's absurd. We don't need to segregate these females any more than they're segregating themselves.

I wish you luck ladies, and I hope you'll change your viewpoints soon. A disclaimer: The preceding comments were my (Spyke) own opinion. If anyone has thoughts on my comments here, please e-mail me directly at spyke@planetquake.com.

On Page 2: Silly Mods & Leftover Gibs!


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