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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where Are All The Wenches?

CK at asks us in Blog Banter #17:

"What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?"

First lets get down to the nitty gritty of the matter;
Why are there so few female players in EVE?

Is it because we don't like sci-fi?
Doubtful, if the amount of female Browncoats I saw at last years Dragon*Con is any reliable indicator.

Is it because we don't like space?
Um, no. I come from a NASA family. My grandfather worked launch control during the Apollo missions, and was one of the designers of the Space Shuttle. My mother worked for NASA as well. I could easily say love for space and space travel is in my blood, and I never even made a career of it. And I am only one of thousands, possibly and probably more.

Naoko Yamazaki, Stephanie Wilson and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

Consider the fact that there are currently four women floating around up there on the space station, in a crew of 13. Sure there are still more men, but that its a lot more than 3.6%. All three of those women in the above photo flew together on Shuttle Discovery's last flight, along with four men. That is damn near even.

Is it because EVE is too complicated for women?
Please see the above question. You go become an astronaut, earn a spot on the Space Station, and tell me we can't do complicated. ;)

I think this question might come down to a matter of gaming experience. I am willing to bet most of the ladies in EVE have been gamers all their lives. I am also willing to bet most of the ladies playing say, WoW, it is their first experience in gaming. Purely from a gaming experience stand-point... yes, EVE is complicated, but I think it would be just as complicated for those men who's first experience in gaming is also a game like WoW.

So why... WHY?
Personally, I think it is because of the initial lack of feeling a connection to ones character. In every other MMO I can think of, you physically see your avatar, you can customize them, they become an extension of yourself. I believe women by nature need to feel connected, whether it be to an avatar in a video game, or to a lover. Men can differ in this matter. It all boils down to some primeval instinct.

I confess, it took me two tries to become enamored with EVE. My first try was simply because I am game to give any MMO a shot, and I heard it was like Homeworld, which I loved. But I will tell you my heart sank when I realized the closest I would get to my character was a cold still image. My first foray into EVE lasted only a few days. No, I wasn't confused or overwhelmed. No, I wasn't afraid of the pew pew. I just felt no connection to my own character.

My second attempt is what changed everything. The hosts of several of the podcasts I was listening to at the time were getting into the game. They would talk about living legends, individuals who were doing things that effected and touched almost everyone in New Eden. That is when it hit me, that community is everything in EVE. Admittedly it did take a bit to get over the fact that I could never see Maeve, and adjust my mindset. In time I accepted that she was in that ship, and that she wasn't the ship itself. I began developing a character for her in my mind, maybe to compensate for the fact that I couldn't physically see her, and that only deepened my connection with Maeve. As for community and social opportunities, EVE has the strongest of any MMO I have ever played. And that is what filled my need for a connection.

The player base is definitely not to blame for a lack of female players. If it weren't for you lot, I wouldn't have given the game a second try.

But enough rambling about my personal experience, I should probably get to the point of CK's question,

"What could CCP do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game."

I believe once Incarna launches, there will be a massive influx of female players. Simply because of the factor that drove me away in my first attempt with EVE.

But as the game stands now, game-play specifically, I don't think anything should be changed, especially to lure in a new audience. That would only be doing the existing player-base a disservice.

I do think EveGate is a step in the right direction. Easily accessible socialization, the ability to share ones character and statistics might help us feel more connected to them. We are a social bunch, us ladies. ;)

My suggestions that might encourage more women to play:

The advertising for EVE is VERY masculine. Besides the narrations from the AI Aura, we hardly hear any female voices representing pilots.

Take the video advertisement for Dominion, one female voice for each fleet. Both very submissive (tho it was cool they were thoughtful enough to put one of the ladies in a Dreadnought). They could pump that up by having a few more ladies, or maybe even one as *GASP* a Fleet Commander??

More female voices in an advertisement like this one might be unrealistic for the game in its current state, but putting women in a more powerful and prominent role might encourage more of us to give it a try.

It is female instinct to create. You know its true when I say every girl you know probably adores crafting in the MMO of their choice, and will spend hours happily clickety clicking their wares into creation.
But in most MMOs, their creations bare their mark, even if it is simply (and it usually is) just their name listed on its details. It makes us feel like we've made our mark, and that our creations are out there proudly carrying our name. Hell, I for one would be ecstatic if I could label my drones "Trinity Drones". But as it stands now, you manufacture something, put it on the market, and it becomes another anonymous product. Maybe I want there to be a demand for my drones? How would people ever know they have a bay full of Trinity drones unless they specifically put a contract for me to sell them some. But even then, they hold no unique signature of my time and effort put into them.

Other than that, for now I think we should just hold our breath for Incarna, an expansion I think more than just women are looking forward to.

Some banter replies I found interesting:
Talk Nerdy To Me
La vie d'une capsuliere
A Little Bit of Blue
And, so far the funniest response to the question:
Chicks N' Ships from Eveoganda

As well as one whom insists it is not part of the banter, but is definitely worth reading regardless:
Sweet Little Bad Girl : EVE vs Women

Also outside of the banter, and from the past:
A post on this subject last December on The Real Sisters of EVE on Facebook

And this is a good watch relating to marketing to and stereotyping female gamers.... THIS IS NOT ME.. this is Cindy at Dream Bytes. If you want the point - 7:30

What gamer women don't want.


  1. Just so you know, the fact that your family worked for NASA just jumpd you way up the coolness ladder!! Your Grandma and Mom are awesome in my book, please tell them I said hi and well done.

    Excellent post as always. I couldn't agree more. I do believe CCP has been marketing to their strengths, but that Incarna will start to change that. More facets to game play means more niche marketing can be effective. So we'll see.

  2. Completely agree about Manufacturing. Would be such a great way to bring the whole market community together if you could easily see who created your ship/module/rig/station. Some long standing manufacturers make so much stuff that pilots use everyday, it'd be nice to give them some recognition as well as give small-time creators satisfaction in what they do.

    And if it brings more ladies to EvE that's nothing but a good thing!

    Quick fix really, in my mind, too.

  3. Perfect post. Looks like we have our first place winner! Hopefully I can eek out a lesser prize.

  4. Nicely put post. I think the main thing that puts women off the game is the complexity and masculinity thing.
    I came to eve from the X games (X-BTF,X-Gold,X2,X3)and I struggled to get going following the tutorial. Luckily I had friends to help me, but I wonder how many new players give up at the start feeling lost and out of thier depth?
    My wife has watched me playing eve from a distance and when I suggested I teach her son the game she sulked lol
    Well she plays as well (has done for over a year) and is my co-ceo as she currently doesnt have the skills to be ceo. When she started playing she found it very confusing trying to deal with all the parts of the jigsaw that is eve. I held her hand as she got used to the elements of eve 1 at a time (mining, pve, manufacture) and now she is in charge of manufacture within the corp.

  5. Brilliant. Gamer experience never occurred to me, but now you say it, it's clearly a major factor in those who 'get' EVE. It is probably just a bit beyond those whose only previous gaming experience has been Tetris.

    I love the crafting signature concept, even if it was just the Corp ticker. Can we CSM it in time for Tyrannis.