This morning I was privileged to have breakfast at the G.I.R.L. - Gamers in Real Life panel. With a group of about forty people, the women involved in the G.I.R.L. program discussed gaming, their personal experiences, and how the gaming industry involves and represents women.
Moderated by Dana Jongewaard, Editor-in-Chief, IGN.com, the panelists were:
- Torrie Dorrell, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, SOE-San Diego
- Laura Naviaux, Director, Global Brand Marketing, SOE-San Diego
- Lorien Gremore - Producer, The Agency(tm), SOE-San Diego
- Laralyn McWilliams - Lead Designer, Free Realms(tm), SOE-San Diego
- Julia Brasil, G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition Winner
Over a lovely champagne breakfast these talented women discussed their gaming preferences and background, from how long they've been playing to their preferred game medium and playstyles. Lively discussions occurred about the evolution and devolution of female game avatars, the personalization of game avatars, and the role of society in defining gaming gender roles. Also discussed was the role of the gaming industry in providing a variety of gaming and playstyle options to appeal to a broader demographic.
The panel attendees were a very diverse group. Women men and women of all types were attending, and some of the most discussed questions came from men. Ms. Jongewaard did an excellent job of keeping discussion from devolving into diatribes on society or feminist industry bashing. Instead we enjoyed very intelligent conversation on the nature of the game industry, the evolution of gaming in regard to gender, and where gaming in general is heading in regard to women, both players and in the industry.
Among other observations, the panel agreed that with the youngest generation of gamers the gender stereotype of video games being a "boy thing" is already a thing of the past. Further, the pioneering women in the game industry today have opened doors for women to progress in the field. With mentoring, programs like G.I.R.L., and the next generation of gamers being unconcerned with gaming gender stereotypes, the panel seemed confident that within about 10 years there will be a more even playing field for women in the industry.