Cindy Gabriela Flores on 27 Mar 2001 08:40:55 -0000

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[nettime-lat] Men Are From Quake, Women Are From Ultima

Interesante... besos =.)

Cindy Gabriela Flores
Coordinadora Editorial
El Sitio México
Tel. 5257-6904 (10 líneas) ext. 291
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tamiko Thiel" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2001 6:32 AM
Subject: [faces] Men Are From Quake, Women Are From Ultima

new york times

January 11, 2001

        Men Are From Quake, Women Are From

        By EMILY LABER

            EVERY month or so Heather
            Crouch's husband, Si, used
        to bring home a new computer
        game, and she considered it one of
        her "wifely duties" to watch as he
        set it up and started killing
        monsters. After 15 minutes or so,
        she would walk away. But one
        day Si Crouch brought home a
        game called Ultima Online, and
        from the first moment Heather saw
        it, she was hooked.

        That was three years ago. Since
        then, a new genre of multiplayer
        Internet game has been born, one
        that is drawing female players in
        surprising numbers to a pastime
        that had been dominated by men.
        The games are set in medieval
        towns with a knights-in- armor
        flavor, but characters are not
        limited to fighting, as in more
        traditional computer games. They
        can also chat, buy and sell items
        like food and weapons, run
        businesses or make friends and go

        "What women are finding so
        interesting about these games is
        that they provide a sense of
        community and social structure
        that you don't see in other games,"
        said Patricia Pizer, a lead designer
        at Turbine Entertainment Software,
        which developed and regularly
        updates the Microsoft game
        Asheron's Call.

        In real life Heather Crouch is a
        30-year- old stay-at-home mother
        of two in Austin, Tex. In Ultima
        Online, she is the leader of a merchants' association in which
about 100
        other players participate. "I've never been into hack and
slash," she said.
        "It's the relationships that've kept me in."

        Officials at the companies that make the three most popular
games -
        Ultima Online, from Origin Systems; Asheron's Call; and
        from Sony - said they did not design the games with women in
        and have been surprised at the response. The game companies do
        officially monitor sex ratios, and since male players can create
        characters and vice versa, there is no accurate way to judge how
        women and girls are playing. But based on the number of women
        participate at fan sites, volunteer to become official guides
within the
        games and attend real-life player gatherings, officials at the
three game
        companies informally estimate that at least 20 to 30 percent of
        are women.

        A survey conducted last month by PC Data Online showed that
        more women than men play online games and that women tend to
        less violent games like gambling, card games and puzzles. Sean
Wargo, a
        senior analyst at PC Data, said that 20 percent of the players
        shoot-'em-up games are women, while 23 percent of the players of
        role-playing games are women. But Mr. Wargo said that the survey
        categories were broad and that he believed that the number of
        playing the subset of role-playing games that includes Ultima
        EverQuest and Asheron's Call may be larger.

        Among the signs is a blossoming of women's fan sites. And in
        to requests from female players, Asheron's Call endowed its
        with two new abilities: curtsying and wearing dresses, according
to Dave
        Namerow, the online community manager at Turbine Entertainment.
        Female players enjoy hunting and fighting in the games, though
many say
        they tire of those activities faster than men do. "There's only
so many
        times you can kill the beast," remarked Kim Gonzalez, 30, an
        Call player from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

        Although the games are booming, with more than 600,000 people
        worldwide paying $10 a month to play, their appeal to women may
        the most important aspect of their success. Computer gaming is a
        billion annual business, but industry leaders have been keenly
aware that
        half their potential market - women and girls - has been only
        tapped. "The gateway for getting women into gaming is going to
        through these role-playing games," said Gordon Wrinn of Sony
        Entertainment, which produces EverQuest.

        The games are alternate realities, available 24 hours a day, and
        average player is logging on for at least 20 hours a week.
Players each
        create a screen character, choosing its sex and profession and
giving it a
        name, and they experience the game through those alter egos,
which they
        control from their keyboards. Their characters can communicate
with one
        another through typed messages.

        While the characters in traditional computer games tend to be
        here players choose from a variety of professions - tailor,
        blacksmith, carpenter - and then devote hours to building their
        and strengths. Characters can steal from and even kill one
another, but
        they can also be law-abiding artisans or shop owners.

        The rulebooks are sketchy, so experienced players often act as
        to newcomers. "You're not competing necessarily against other
        said Carly Staehlin of Origin Systems. "You're all engaged in an
        experience together."

        That sense of community can extend beyond the game into real
life (in
        gamer lingo, RL). Romances and friendships born in the game
        cross over to the real world, and the formation of other
        relationships is common. Nancy Boone, 51, an EverQuest player
        Corsicana, Tex., said she knew a lonely 13-year-old Canadian
girl in the
        game who received long-distance help with her homework from
        players. And when an experienced EverQuest player recently died,
        memorial service held within the game was "attended" by hundreds
        people. "It takes your breath away," said Sharon Morris, 31, an
        EverQuest player from Bedford, England. "It really is a real

        Women and men both hold leadership roles in the games, heading
        governments, military alliances and other groups. What most
        women players, game developers say, is that they use their
        to push the limits of the games, pioneering ingenious new kinds
of player
        contacts. "There have been emergent behaviors from women that
        really kind of fascinating," said Ms. Pizer, at Turbine. "Women
are seeing
        openings for social interactions that the game designers didn't
        plan on."

        Some characters played by women band together as informal
        police," taunting characters who are badly dressed. Other women
        up to help new players by handing out gold pieces, weapons and

        Women have also started innovative businesses. Laurence Valette,
35, of
        Versailles, France, operates an interior design firm within
Ultima Online.
        Like any real-life decorator, Ms. Valette's character tries to
        accommodate her clients' wishes, however odd they may be. When
        evil character told her he wanted his tower to be "frightening,
though not
        vulgar," she adopted a black-and-red palette and made judicious
use of
        skulls as decorative elements.

        Another female player founded a theater company in Ultima Online
        has staged several full-length performances, including "A
        Carol" and "The Wizard of Oz," that are acted out by players'
        aliases. To move the performances along briskly, players don't
type their
        lines in real time but rather paste them in advance into text
        Costumes and props are improvised from the limited items
available in
        the game; Scrooge's tombstone, for example, was a stack of
ingots. The
        plays have been successful, with up to 50 players logging on to
        "It's virtual, but at the same time it's the real thing," said
the director,
        Jeanni Hall, 32, of Odenton, Md. "The energy I commit to this is
equal or
        more than I would commit to a real play."

        Douglas Rushkoff, the author of several books on Internet
culture, said
        that because women tend to be excluded from positions of power
in real
        life, they are drawn to cybercommunities where they can make an
        impact. "These are games where women can be included and can
        that the world itself is conforming to their vision of it," he

        It's a two-way equation. Not only do women alter the games; the
        experience of playing can change women's lives. Erinn Duce, 20,
        Sacramento, Calif., works for a small nonprofit agency that
        disabled homeless people, but in EverQuest she plays the
        Mistress Ezra, who is prone to looting and killing. Ms. Duce
said she is
        shy by nature but that the freedom she feels in the game has
changed her.
        "I've become more vocal, more outgoing," she said. "There's less
stress in
        my life."

        For Val Massey, the transformation was even more pronounced. Not
        long ago, Ms. Massey, who is 36 and lives in Austin, Tex., was
in an
        abusive marriage and had no job, few skills and an ailing
grandmother to
        care for. But, in Ultima Online, Ms. Massey played a successful
        businesswoman, a character she named Martha Stewart, who got
        selling box dinners and catering parties. Other players knew her
        reputation and respected her. "It gave me a sense of
self-worth," she
        said, "and the confidence to try to better my situation." Ms.
        befriended a male player, first in the game, then in real life,
and ultimately
        left her husband to marry him.

        Experiences like those come as no surprise to Mark Pesce,
creator of
        the Virtual Reality Modeling Language, or VRML, and author of
        Playful World." "We call them games," he said, "but it's
actually a
        rehearsal for reality."

FACES - women in new media
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