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Women in Games 2005 Conference

University of Abertay Dundee

Keynote Speakers

Ernest Adams
Independent games designer, teacher, founder of IGDA, author, UK

Developing Games Backwards and in High Heels

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels." Women game developers must also work backwards and in high heels -- backwards because they are usually developing games for a male market; in high heels because they are often impeded by a masculine development culture. In this wide-ranging lecture, Ernest Adams looks at the past and future of women in gaming: what they contributed to the early development of the medium and how they will change it in the 21st century. He examines several different aspects of the question, including the way women are portrayed in games; women as designers and developers; and the wants and needs of the female player. But his talk is more than a compendium of well-known platitudes. Rather, he offers a view of women's progress from a man's perspective, and ends with some suggestions for women looking to make a career in the game industry.

Melissa Federoff

Microsoft Games Usability Engineer, US

Researching your Target Audience: How to Give the Player the Experience you Intend
Melissa Federoff, a User Research Engineer at Microsoft Game Studios, will share methods that are utilized to increase player satisfaction with games. Through the application of psychological research methods during the game development process, problems can be found, features can be improved, and the game can ultimately be more satisfying to more users. Learn about these methods and watch videos from actual tests that have helped game designers to give the player the experience they intended.

Constance A. Steinkuehler

MMORPG researcher and game columnist, Wisonsin-Madison, US

Gamer Chicks: How a Generation of Young Women Inhabit Virtual Worlds Online

In this presentation, I briefly review various claims made about what women "want" from videogames, our purported play styles, and a selected subset of projects that game designers have initiated in order to create game that might engage a broader audience than adolescent and adult boys. I then narrow my focus to massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) and, using interviews and in-game observations from Lineage I & II, Star Wars Galaxies, and World Of Warcraft, highlight the diversity with which "gamer chicks" inhabit such virtual worlds and the "economies of pleasure" that underwrite them. The problem of unequal gender representation in gaming is rooted in broader cultural issues that are not easily solved by technical solutions alone - including issues such as women's relationships with technology, with play, and with the (at times, hyper-masculine) discourses that surround both. Such a conclusion, however, is not all grim. Taking this new generation of young women (and men) seriously means, in part, coming to understanding the shifting, sundry, unstable gendered identities at play in a global community that is increasingly socially networked, logged in, connected up, and diversified.

Aphra Kerr

Game researcher, Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

Gamework:Gameplay - a chilly place for women?

This keynote will draw upon the findings of a number of academic and industrial research surveys and projects to establish what we know about conditions and barriers to women working in the games industry and to women playing games. It will relate the situation to wider processes of inclusion/exclusion in the media and ICT industries and society more generally and debates in both media and sociology about gender construction and inequality. It will also outline potential strategies which could be adapted to help address the situation.

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