[Suggestion] Female friendly features

By on October 19, 2009 12:11:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ikros

Join Date 10/2006
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Greetings forum-goers,

Before diving into my suggestion, I'd like to introduce myself. I used to work in the games industry (casual games and FPS) on the business side. Beyond being involved in the business strategy, for fun after work I contributed to beta testing for several games (e.g. Turok, Army of 2). I've since moved to a management consulting firm but I like to stay involved with the games industry; that's the reason I'm here!

I have a few simple suggestions to make the game more female friendly, and thus appeal to a larger audience.

1. In the unit creation screen, allow the creation of female units.

2. Provide visual character customization options (e.g. sovereign and soldiers can change hair colour, clothing colour, doesn't even require more character models, just textures).

3. Feature women prominently in roles throughout the game (e.g. soldiers, sovereigns), and in a normal way (i.e. normal looking women, not ones in bikini armor with giant chests).

4. Allow user to change the appearance of their soveriegn (e.g. hair) whenever they wish.

To men, these options seem superfluous. But to women, the ability to roleplay and "get into" the game is a critical component in the suspension of disbelief. Customization is one possible avenue to this, as is the ability to play as a female. It doesn't even need to be extensive; a few options go a long way.

Here's an example of this in another context. One game that I helped manage was a casual puzzle game called Paparazzi that was targetted toward a female demographic. The dev team initially put work into developing an interesting storyline, engaging puzzles, and beautifully drawn graphics. But of course, the dev team was mostly male. When we tested the game with a female audience our most consistent feedback was that they wanted to change their character's appearance. Once we spent a few days building customization options, the ratings from our female test group increased significantly. 

The key learning was that men don't know what women want in games. We need to ask them

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

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October 19, 2009 12:39:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice ideas, I will second them.

Now may I ask a question?  Does it matter for the female players what the male characters look like?  Do they all have to look like the guys on the covers of romance novels?  Would it be good to have some NPCs and Heros look like intellectual males (Harry Potter types), tough cowboy/lumberjacks, humerous/happy fellows, bad-boy Elvis types, etc?

Personally, I would like to have my soveriegn customizable.  But I don't want him looking like a classic Greek hero.  I want him to end up looking like me:  middle height, paunch, balding but with a twinkle in the eye and a passion for knowledge and careful analysis.

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October 19, 2009 1:00:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I want my sovereign to have glossy, scaly skin, Elliptical eyes, an extra set of eye-lids, and a lust for gold.

a lack of hair, claws instead of citin nails, and lack of ear-cartilage would also be nice.

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October 19, 2009 1:39:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now may I ask a question? Does it matter for the female players what the male characters look like?
Depends on the game. If you're doing another Madden or a Barbie spinoff or something then probably yes, but my experiance with TBS fans of both genders (and a few of neither) has been that they really aren't in it for they sex appeal/eye candy.

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October 19, 2009 2:03:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps you should look at this thread

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October 19, 2009 2:30:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I second these suggestions, although I hardly think it is only a female think to enjoy changing the appearance of your character.

BTW, does ayone know how the gender of your Sovereign works with the system of marriages, offspring and heritage? I guess the game could either go for a medieval style solution (unpolitically correct if applied today of course) where women did not have the same rights (i.e you marry them off in exchange for some land, and you get more land the more beatiful she is ...). Or it could be more of an updated "fantasy version" where there is no difference for inheritance / marriage between men and women. Anyway, it should be said that in a game where you exterminate whole kingdoms and transform the land into ashen ruins it's a bit difficult to respect today's values all the time ... For the record in my home country (and several European countries) marriages are today completely gender-neutral (man-woman, man-man, woman-woman).

   

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October 19, 2009 2:39:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps you should look at this thread

 

I was going to add to that thread, but it's about incorporating population gender as a gameplay element. Not really the same.

 

I second these suggestions, although I hardly think it is only a female think to enjoy changing the appearance of your character.

 

I absolutely agree! But IMO, it's even more important to [some] women than to men.

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October 19, 2009 3:54:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I strongly oppose these suggestions as a horrible waste of developer resources, and as a boring attempt to be political correct whatever the cost.

I'm so tired of this female sexism, I'd almost wish I lived in the time before computer games.....

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October 19, 2009 4:00:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's not a political correctness complaint. It's a suggestion to boost sales based on industry experience. 

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October 19, 2009 4:05:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, I seldom like the kind of games girls like...... Sims comes to my mind......

Edit:

As long they are fat and ugly like most female queens in real history, I guess we could have a few of them, but only if it is the last hope for the ruling family to keep the bloodline in power.

 

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October 19, 2009 5:11:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It reeks to me as well as balance for balance's sake.

Besides as husband to a gamer and father of two gamer girls, making a female friendly game isn't as simple as putting a female face on a character. My wife still creeps me out because she likes to roleplay male characters. The biggest draw to her is simply non-combat gameplay.

My girls, being little girls don't care so much about boy or girl characters but the biggest attraction would be animorphic animal characters.

My recommendation is that there is no mathematical formula of female or male characters to even try for. If you want a good game that appeals to women the simply and only thing to do is to have women working on the game to make fun for themselves to play!

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October 19, 2009 5:46:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In case you didn't know, I'm Cari Begle, Stardock's Senior Game Developer, and I'm a woman.  I'm not saying that makes me an authority on what all women want in games, but it gives us somewhat of an edge.

1-3 are definitely planned, although we don't yet know if we're going to have time to make female units (other than the sovereigns) before release. 

As for 4, I don't think that we've considered that. You'll be finding items that your sovereign can equip, so that will change their clothing and armor, etc, but I don't know about hair color/texture.

There will be no chainmail binikis in Elemental because of the gross historical inaccuracy. (Do you know how much that would chafe?!) Unless you guys mod them in.

We've had a few non-official discussions about having differences between female and male sovereigns for diplomacy, which I won't give any details since Brad hasn't heard them yet. But it's something I'll be bringing up when we start working on Diplomacy.

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October 19, 2009 6:00:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Besides as husband to a gamer and father of two gamer girls, making a female friendly game isn't as simple as putting a female face on a character. My wife still creeps me out because she likes to roleplay male characters. The biggest draw to her is simply non-combat gameplay.

My girls, being little girls don't care so much about boy or girl characters but the biggest attraction would be animorphic animal characters.

It's not that simple, but character customization appeals to a lot of gamers, not just women and girls. 

I like to have the option to play a female character when possible, even if there are less female choices than male choices, even if I can't customize it.  But it irritates me if there is character customization without the option to play a female character like in Fable.  I don't think that it would have taken that much more work to add the ability to play as a female in the first Fable. 

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October 19, 2009 6:02:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I strongly oppose these suggestions as a horrible waste of developer resources, and as a boring attempt to be political correct whatever the cost.

I'm so tired of this female sexism, I'd almost wish I lived in the time before computer games.....
I smell a troll......

It reeks to me as well as balance for balance's sake.
And, why is that SUCH a bad thing..... or are we even using the same terminology here?

In case you didn't know, I'm Cari Begle, Stardock's Senior Game Developer, and I'm a woman. I'm not saying that makes me an authority on what all women want in games, but it gives us somewhat of an edge.

1-3 are definitely planned, although we don't yet know if we're going to have time to make female units (other than the sovereigns) before release.

As for 4, I don't think that we've considered that. You'll be finding items that your sovereign can equip, so that will change their clothing and armor, etc, but I don't know about hair color/texture.

There will be no chainmail binikis in Elemental because of the gross historical inaccuracy. (Do you know how much that would chafe?!) Unless you guys mod them in.

We've had a few non-official discussions about having differences between female and male sovereigns for diplomacy, which I won't give any details since Brad hasn't heard them yet. But it's something I'll be bringing up when we start working on Diplomacy.
Interesting....... the easy non-hackle-raising way to approach female units is to just use an RNG to decide gender, and not have it change much of anything besides the physical appearance..... if you gomuch  beyond that, you risk setting the crazy people on either or both sides off.........

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October 19, 2009 6:13:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

, nice post ikros.

 

It's not balance for balances sake or political correctness, it's for reality's sake. Women tend to be massively under-represented in video games.

I mean, look at WoW.  Blizzard combined solid gameplay with a lack of the absurd sexulaization that's 'normal' to the genre (some might call it 'boring female sexism') and - as if by magic - the game is popular with both men and women. Go figure.

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October 19, 2009 6:24:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CariElf,

Besides as husband to a gamer and father of two gamer girls, making a female friendly game isn't as simple as putting a female face on a character. My wife still creeps me out because she likes to roleplay male characters. The biggest draw to her is simply non-combat gameplay.

My girls, being little girls don't care so much about boy or girl characters but the biggest attraction would be animorphic animal characters.
It's not that simple, but character customization appeals to a lot of gamers, not just women and girls. 

I like to have the option to play a female character when possible, even if there are less female choices than male choices, even if I can't customize it.  But it irritates me if there is character customization without the option to play a female character like in Fable.  I don't think that it would have taken that much more work to add the ability to play as a female in the first Fable. 

If anything you need to add it for the hordes of male gamers who like to have a female avatar. I think it is a well known fact that the average female avatar in a given MMO is played by a guy.

Anyways I love character customization and will spend a lot more time than my wife (by at least a factor of 10) fiddling with a character's initial appearance. I think those things need to be in the game to make it more FUN, not to appeal to any demographic.

... and that is exactly what it boils down to. People play games to have fun and not to conform to demographic stereotypes.

 

[sarcasm]P.S. - a female lead game developer? Next thing you'll be telling me Frogboy really does work at Stardock! [/sarcasm]

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October 19, 2009 7:41:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I strongly oppose these suggestions as a horrible waste of developer resources, and as a boring attempt to be political correct whatever the cost.

Is this ironic? If not, the OP isn't making an argument for political correctness... but for sales. You do support Elemental's making more money, yes?

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October 19, 2009 8:16:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Is this ironic? If not, the OP isn't making an argument for political correctness... but for sales. You do support Elemental's making more money, yes?
Probably doesn't. As I said above, I strongly suspect he's trolling.

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October 19, 2009 9:53:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Changing hair At-Will seems kind of silly in this type of game, however.  Can you imagine playing multiplayer and waiting as your opponent visits the hairdresser for the fourth time this game?  Perhaps a particular rare event, though ALA "Gandalf the white" could allow a player to completely redesign his/her character's physical characteristics appearance included.

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October 19, 2009 9:59:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Rishkith,
The biggest draw to her is simply non-combat gameplay.

My wife stoped playing Civ4 games once the world map was revealed. She liked the early exploration part the most.

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October 20, 2009 2:42:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great ideas.  Also, unsure if it's an option but you should be able to save your sovereigns appearace template for future games.

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October 20, 2009 7:41:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can you imagine playing multiplayer and waiting as your opponent visits the hairdresser for the fourth time this game?
Simple solution to that: disable it in MP.

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October 20, 2009 9:10:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,

Can you imagine playing multiplayer and waiting as your opponent visits the hairdresser for the fourth time this game?Simple solution to that: disable it in MP.

Or  - you can do it while you're waiting for some other action. The Peggle addon for WoW works that way. When idle, it opens up and you play. If you get put into combat, it pauses and hides itself automatically. Quite handy when raiding and waiting for everybody else to be ready.

Besides, if you have to wait a bit, so what? You have to wait for other people all the time for one thing or another in a game like this.

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October 20, 2009 9:13:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting NorsemanViking,
I strongly oppose these suggestions as a horrible waste of developer resources, and as a boring attempt to be political correct whatever the cost.

I'm so tired of this female sexism, I'd almost wish I lived in the time before computer games.....

So... doing something very simple that makes the game more commercially interesting to the other 50% of the population is politicial correctness and sexism?

I do not think those words mean what you think they mean. I do suggest you look up "free market" though. It's a very useful concept wherein companies sell goods and try to convince people to buy them. The more people buy, the more successful the company is. This provides producers with direct incentive to create producs that customers actually want.

 

Actually a lot of these suggestions don't just apply to female players. Males who like to be immersed in games also love customization options for characters, especially the one that actually represents the player (the Sovereign).

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October 20, 2009 10:10:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

No half nude females in the titanium swim suit? Aehm, armor? Too bad! I thought it was (with the chastity belt) a standard medieval equipment.

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October 20, 2009 11:16:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tridus,



Quoting NorsemanViking,
reply 7
I strongly oppose these suggestions as a horrible waste of developer resources, and as a boring attempt to be political correct whatever the cost.

I'm so tired of this female sexism, I'd almost wish I lived in the time before computer games.....



So... doing something very simple that makes the game more commercially interesting to the other 50% of the population is politicial correctness and sexism?

I do not think those words mean what you think they mean. I do suggest you look up "free market" though. It's a very useful concept wherein companies sell goods and try to convince people to buy them. The more people buy, the more successful the company is. This provides producers with direct incentive to create producs that customers actually want.

 

Actually a lot of these suggestions don't just apply to female players. Males who like to be immersed in games also love customization options for characters, especially the one that actually represents the player (the Sovereign).

 

OK, I admit I was trolling a little bit. Read this thread just after looking at one of those hopeless suffragette debates on norwegian television, so I guess I confused a thing or two together. Please forgive me.

 

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