While Ifritah (who normally covers the crazy world of gaming for us) takes a hiatus from posting, I was lucky enough to run across some interesting stuff about gaming.
Sensing the potential for higher profits, Nintendo is expanding their reach to include female gamers and baby boomers:
Obviously a big part of that is a fresh game concept with a wide appeal, but Fils-Aime also points out that the marketing of Nintendogs reached out to new people. Ads were placed in teen magazines, TV commercials ran aimed at female viewers, and a word-of-mouth campaign was kicked off by giving free games to people around the country. The result was a great buzz among people who normally wouldn’t buy a handheld game.
Which would seem to indicate that, contrary to traditional marketing wisdom, women do have money and do spend it on stuff other than diapers and soap.
And Kameron Hurley recently posted a link to an article in which Patrick revealed an insider’s glimpse into why it’s hard to introduce a brand new element into an existing product line – in this case, gay or bisexual romance into gaming. His company has released some games with possibilities for gay or bisexual romance, and the response just hasn’t justified the additional cost involved in recording extra voiceovers for all the possibilities built into the game. And in defense of how hard his company has worked on this, he offers a rebuttal to Kameron’s original post.
Now, I do see where his company is coming from. Additional costs met with no increase in profits = bad business. But I foresee an awful lot of head honchos in the gaming industry – the people Patrick’s company had to fight to do this in the first place, like MSN – using these examples as justification for why they need not try anymore. After all that’s what the film industries been doing for years regarding good female characters, an option that doesn’t cost anymore to produce than the usual male fantasy gals: offering the occasional great female character(s), then interpreting the overwhelming audience response as being to some other aspect of the show/film, and not proof that people enjoy good female characters.
As Kameron points out:
There was a time when video games didn’t exist (perish the thoughts!) and *somebody* went out there and said, “OK, what sorts of games do young boys like?” and they made games catering to that demographic.
Can I just state for the record something I would’ve thought was obvious to the people who made that initial choice? When you target stuff to one demographic, the rest of us get the message that we’re not really welcome. When you decide, decades later, to invite us to the party already in progress, you don’t have the right to be surprised if we don’t immediately rush into your arms. Especially if the option we wanted wasn’t going to cost you anymore money to produce - i.e., well-drawn female characters, just as cheap to produce as male fantasies.
Here’s hoping Patrick’s company, and a lot of others, will keep trying. Small steps are way better than nothing.