Strategy Game Lets Men Go Hunting, Women: Shopping. Thanks But No Thanks
BAD IDEAS FROM SMART PEOPLE
Nival’s Prime World actually looks like it’s going to be an interesting mash up (where interesting means “I won’t actually play it, but I’m curious as to what kind of reception it’s going to get because they’re doing some interesting things). The DotA-like strategy RTS is merging itself with the kind of social layer common with most Facebook games, and a number of things that will appeal to the non-competitive player like non-strategy minigames that can confer bonuses on your team as they play the strategy game, and being able to visit other players at their castles for joint activities like hunting, shopping, or throwing parties.
But where we get out of “interesting” territory and into “problematic” is when they decided to have your real life gender (as confirmed by your Facebook account) have an effect on which activities you can participate in and which roles you can play.
Nival is taking a huge gamble on the idea of tying players’ real-life gender into their game experience. On the social side, your sex determines which activities are available during a visit. For instance, where a guy visiting a guy may launch a hunting activity, a couple of girls visiting might go shopping together. In the multiplayer sessions, male and female players have different heroes available to them at the beginning of the game, with female heroes skewing more toward support roles and male heroes tending to be front-line fighters. Nival has yet to determine exactly which heroes and roles will be available to each gender at the beginning of the game. Hopefully women will have at least some options to be big tanking ass-kickers, since telling female gamers that they are only allowed to be support for the men doing the real fighting would be a huge mistake (see sidebar). Either way, everyone can eventually unlock everything through in-game currency.
Yeaaaah, see, I get what you’re trying to do here, Nival. The majority of Facebook gamers out there are women, and you’re expecting or hoping to grab a bunch of them, and you don’t want them to be discouraged by throwing them into the deep end of DotA style reactionary strategy gaming, so you’ll restrict them to playing support roles at first and throw them into minigames that are more likely to appeal to their perceived interests. Maybe you’ve even got some statistical data to show that women are more likely to play support roles, and so you figure you’re actually helping women find the stuff they naturally like.
But here’s the thing: what you actually need to do, is offer inexperienced players the ability to play only support roles, or the hint that they should try support roles first, or a “guided” track to learning how to play the game. You should not restrict the options that you offer new players based on their gender, regardless of what it is.
Because inexperienced is not synonymous with female, not to mention that this plays to a very common and tired trope of RPG gaming. And when you make it look like you’re forcing women to take the path of the inexperienced player, it makes you look like dicks.
Oh, and also guys like playing healers, too. Thanks, but no thanks.
(via Geek Feminism Blog.)