"Girl things" in games

Granted, I really don’t have time to focus on blogging at the moment, so excuse me if I’ve misunderstood this completely! I just….I just couldn’t let this pass by without adding some comments. I’m confused, terrified and well…just a tad insulted, to be honest.

Edward Castronova’s latest Terra Nova post examines one of the ‘theories’ introduced at Ludium 1. Uhm…from what I can gather The Koithuo team proposed a way of looking at ‘the evolutionary theory of human gender differences’ and implementing this as a test into games, using Steen’s ‘girl game modes’ which say “that women will be interested in a) games about rating men’s prowess (The Yenta Game”), choosing men to connect with (“The Marriage Game”), and getting men to stay committed to them (“The Newlywed Game”).”

Now…it seems the crew at A Tale in the Desert have implemented a game in their world to test these theories. Which I completely concur with Castronova when he writes that:

“Regardless of whether you agree with Steen’s theories or not, the exciting thing here is that we get to see them tested, at the level of an entire society. It’s not just a theoretical/political debate any more. We’re getting some information.”

But I don’t understand how! This all, apparently, is a test of some sort on evolutionary psychology which predicts what “girl things’ would be in games. I mean, first off…how many girls are going to be playing and how many men? How the hell are you going to get people to play this? I for one, am not tempted one bit!! I have enough problems (or lack of) with the ‘love’ game in real life – that I frankly don’t even want to think about when I’m in the magic circle of playing! And I sometimes wonder if I’m some sort of freak of nature for not adhering to what all these theorists are predicting is my kind of play! Who is it that really wants to play something called “The Marriage Game”, “The Yenta Game” and “The Newlywed Game”? If it truely is a ‘girls’ thing…how are you going to lure male players? And further more, what’s the deal here? Am I supposed to enter this game and practice my chat-up lines? Is that what this is about? And then seeing if I know how to ‘play’ being married by keeping a man?

“The Marriage Game” is now known as The Test of Marriage. One change from the way it was presented at Ludium I is that your score is the sum of your progress and your mate’s progress *or* the number of marriages that you (“Casanova”) have been in. This made it a lot more palatable to our players, without changing the optimal play strategy. It will be interesting to see the distribution of “Casanovas” vs. “good spouses”, and to see if there is some correlation with player gender.

Don’t get me wrong…I do applaud the effort of implementing some of these theories into games and testing them out, I really do! So I’m not…you know…against it exactly, and I suppose a lot has to be said for daring to explore such controversy. And I really am an admirer of A Tale in the Desert – they’ve explored soooooo much! I’m also a believer that we can learn a great deal from synthetic worlds.

I suppose I just don’t get it, do I?! What else is new?! But I think this spells out one crucial thing “WE NEED MORE FEMALE VOICES!”

(Please note that I’m currently banging my head against the table and gasping for air after looking at Francis Steen’s CV! Must calm down and see if he’s in my mountain of messy notes somewhere! But NORWAY and THE SIMS ONLINE?!!! Argh!! The urge to toss my stuff out the window is tremendous right now! I feel absolutely ridiculous, stupid and blind! Although, saying that, if these theories have evolved after analysing The Sims Online, well…no wonder he came to such bizarre gender conclusions. He just HAS to be in my notes somewhere – yet another downside to waiting way too long to start writing this bloody thing – I’ve forgotten half of what I’ve read!)


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