In this #Metoo era, it can be easy to overlook the good that comes from it. Even with all the good, some game developers and gamer-centric companies, still have no idea how to truly appeal to women gamers, streamers and podcasters. If you listen to our podcast, you'll hear us often discuss (for over 13 years now) how women gamer streamers, podcasters, and pro-gamers are still not treated the same as their male counterparts. Twitch has been notorious for inviting us to stream and then shutting us down as soon as we get there. We've quietly ventured back recently, but only to support a few women streamers. We have no desire to help them make money now when we had been early supporters, only to have them shun us later, without providing a real reason. Especially when we saw many male streamers and podcasters being welcomed with open arms. Now, it would be easy to lump all male run companies into a bunch, that seemingly don't care about women in the gaming or tech industry. I have a whole other theory on that, but I'll leave it for another time. I have posted this blog to bring you glad tidings and news of good deeds in the world of gaming. Tonight I was reminded of more good fall out from #MeToo. I then took a moment to reflect upon how the #MeToo movement has affected gaming and Girl Geekdom. It's not perfect, but some companies are still trying.
Back in the day, Xbox had a wonderful Ambassador program. This program placed seasoned gamers in the position, of mentoring gamers new to Xbox Live. I immediately signed up but cannot recall wanting to really game with anyone, until later when Trixie (Trixie 360 if you’re wanting to look her up) became instrumental in creating a women’s only area of Xbox’s forums. (It’s gone, don’t bother running over to look)
It was then that I wanted to live on my Xbox. The joy of hearing only other women’s voices for the first time, laughing and smack talking while gaming, is still an experience I hold close to my heart. I can remember playing against a team of men, who tried the usual vitriol we’ve all grown accustomed to hearing if you’re a female gamer; and them being completely drowned out by our laughter. But it wasn’t until Bungie, the developers of Halo at the time, came calling. They were asking what would women want to see in the next Halo multiplayer release; it was then that I realized how powerful women could be when unified. We asked for a lot of things. Pink armor, a woman’s voice for our characters, pink plasma swords...you name it, we asked. A few things made it in and it made us all happy. It’s the little things really.
I was further shocked, when later I got an email from the developers of Age of Conan, circa 2008 (Funcom), asking mine and my staffs opinion on their latest trailer.
It may be cringe-worthy to you all now, but to have a game developer contact you to ask your opinion on a game trailer was nothing short of astounding in 2008. We loved it! We didn’t love the game so much, but supported it because they were trying their best to reach out to women gamers. Honorable mentions go to the now defunct City of Heroes who were so supportive of my site as a female owned and operated site, that they sent me a gigantic box of things to give away to our readers. There were so many of them, I still have some of those things today. Gamewise, they also added in character sliders so that you didn’t have to have the standard big boobed characters that were so prevalent in MMOs back then. Based on not only our recommendation but all the women playing the game at the time.
Flash forward to 2018 and I’m now finding myself impressed with another company. The minds behind Marvel Strike Force (FoxNext Games). A few months ago, while up late playing, as Dead Pool, I found myself irritated that I saw hardly any female characters. Even further, as a black woman, I was irritated, there were no black women in the game at all. One could argue one of the healers was black and even possibly a few Asian characters were being represented, but they are hidden by hoods. So they are racially ambiguous at best. I popped into their support channel and let them have it. Why is Domino not in the game with Dead Pool? What about Nagasonic Teenage Warhead and her girlfriend?! Where is Okoye and Nakia?! I got a generic response back and put it in my mental back pocket to circle back to later.
Tonight I logged in to get in a few games, it’s been a long day and I wanted to wind down a bit, when I see Ms Marvel..16 year old, Kamala Khan, Muslim, Ms Marvel. Now they’d been advertising her for some time, and Scarlet Witch was being featured as well. So I wasn’t completely surprised, but I’m only 1/4th comic geek, so I had no idea it would be that Ms. Marvel. But wait..it gets better. Playing through her missions, I faced off against none other than Okoye herself. I just bet my neighbors thought I was losing my mind, I screamed so loud. She’s not playable yet, but she’s there and she’s bad-assed (I nearly lost to her, chick took out my entire team!). I am assuming, she will be a playable, unlockable character soon. But to see her lets me know, some companies are still trying to get it right. Foxnet, when Okoye is ready, I’ve got my dollars ready. My money goes to those who show me they are about creating a great experience for their customers. And to do that, you have to be willing to listen.