What's the best way for a guy to trick you into playing video games? That's the question raised today by the MSNBC article "How To Get Your Girlfriend Into Gaming," about a panel that took place in front of a room of male gamers at the Penny Arcade Expo gaming convention in Seattle this past weekend. While the question of how to draw more women to the video game industry could have made for great discussion, it appears that the five female gamers heading up the panel offered men a stereotype-laden plot to lure their girlfriends into tolerating their behavior... using children's games and a pink, bedazzled Nintendo DS as bait. In the process, they pretty much summed up why more women aren't interested in gaming.The article suggests that the reason there aren't more female gamers is twofold: Men are uncommunicative jerks while playing video games, and women are intimidated by complex, violent games like Halo and operating a machine with so many confusing buttons. Specifically, the women on the panel explained that when guys are so immersed in a game that they throw the controllers, curse at the screen, and ignore company, women can feel put off, and, according to Xbox Live community manager and panel member Christa Phillips,"the game becomes the enemy, like sports." The panel's recommendation? Let women participate in the game by playing in two player mode. And if that's too "intimidating," women can always sit with their boyfriends and watch them play. "Ask her to help you spot snipers," said Phillips. "Chicks like flattery. If she feels like she's helping, then you're making it a positive experience." Ugh. Another recommendation: men shouldn't impose their favorite video games on their girlfriends, since women may be turned off by all the violence and explosions. (One man in attendance at the panel mentioned that his girlfriend played Halo for five minutes and got dizzy.) The best way to make games appealing to women, they claim, is to play those recognizable characters like Harry Potter and Spiderman. Pink, apparently, doesn't hurt either: the article's author, Kristin Kalning, points out that "Heck, Carrie Underwood has a pink [Nintendo] DS, right? And the Wii made being a gamer as easy as operating a TV remote." Still: Thirty-eight percent of American video game players are women. That number probably could be higher if the industry weren't so sexist. Maybe developers (and frustrated boyfriends) should check out WomenGamers.com to get a clue: The site reviews games of all genres, features articles from women who work in the gaming industry, and scholarships and resources for women pursuing careers in video game design. A note to ladies: The site doesn't have a girly, pink color scheme, so it may be a little, well, confusing at first, but if you can handle an intelligent female perspective on the gaming industry, it may make you want to pick up a controller and start blowing shit up. How To Get Your Girlfriend Into Gaming [MSNBC] Related: WomenGamers.com
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