Gender and its impact on writing and playing IF

18 views
Skip to first unread message

JSH...@aol.com

unread,
Apr 9, 2006, 12:51:04 PM4/9/06
to
I don't know exactly how to articulate this question, and no matter how
I articulate it, I'm sure that I'll wind up inadvertantly hurting or
angering someone. So, I'll apologize in advance!

I'm curious to know if there has been any research done on gender and
IF. Things like:

overall make-up of the community (% male / % female)

preferences in types of puzzles between male and female players (are
both equally apt to hate a certain kind of puzzle, like mazes, for
example?)

preferences in genre (does a given genre, say science fiction, seem to
appeal more to one gender than the other?)

and other similar questions that flit through my mind from time to
time, but that I have not yet written down and can't currently
recall...

Just interested! Thanks...

Sara :-)

José Manuel García-Patos

unread,
Apr 9, 2006, 3:26:34 PM4/9/06
to

> I don't know exactly how to articulate this question, and no matter how
> I articulate it, I'm sure that I'll wind up inadvertantly hurting or
> angering someone. So, I'll apologize in advance!

Why should your question hurt or anger anyone?

> I'm curious to know if there has been any research done on gender and
> IF. Things like:
>
> overall make-up of the community (% male / % female)

I don't have the slightest idea. But does it really matter?



> preferences in types of puzzles between male and female players (are
> both equally apt to hate a certain kind of puzzle, like mazes, for
> example?)

I don't understand the parenthetical remark. Is a kind of puzzle hateful
per se? I hate badly implemented puzzles and I like ingenious puzzles.
That's all. No matter the kind.



> preferences in genre (does a given genre, say science fiction, seem to
> appeal more to one gender than the other?)

Some people think of IF as a literary form. So, genre is really not
important. It's just a way of telling good stories. A tool. If the story
is crap, the game is crap; if the story's good, the game will be good.
Genre is not important. It's the story what appeals or not. To me, anyway.

Nick Montfort wrote very interesting things about this issue in his book
Twisty Little Passages. Things like: "It has been noted that masculinist
rationality underlies Zork and other interactive fiction." He also
dedicates a few pages (three to be exact) to the difference that it makes
in a game to have a male or female player character. I don't think the
above quote is true anymore -- or if it ever was true at all. For example,
there are several women authors, like Star Foster, Judith Pintar or Emily
Short. They're not a majority, but they're more relevant than their number
would suggest.

All The Best.
José Manuel García-Patos
Madrid

there...@yahoo.com

unread,
Apr 9, 2006, 8:32:31 PM4/9/06
to
Boy, Jose seems to be going out of his way to say gender DOESN'T
MATTER, COULDN'T POSSIBLY MATTER, HAS NO IMPACT ON ANYTHING WHATSOEVER.
AND WHY ARE YOU SO GODDAM CURIOUS ABOUT IT?!?

Whew!

I hardly see what's controversial about saying female IF players are
*even less* interested than males in hacking apart trolls and mapping
mazes.

JSH...@aol.com

unread,
Apr 9, 2006, 11:27:01 PM4/9/06
to
Well, as I fully intended this as a serious discussion and not a flame
war, I'll just mention to Jose that I had no doubts whatsoever about
the "relevance" (to use his word) of female authors, no matter what
their number. And, I'll also mention that their number is much higher
than the three he listed... too many for me to list or to even attempt
to list. I can think of many names and many of their influential
works, but rather than risk omitting someone, I won't list them here.

Respectfully,

Sara :)

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 2:18:19 AM4/10/06
to
<JSH...@aol.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:1144601464....@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

>I don't know exactly how to articulate this question, and no matter how
> I articulate it, I'm sure that I'll wind up inadvertantly hurting or
> angering someone. So, I'll apologize in advance!
>
> I'm curious to know if there has been any research done on gender and
> IF. Things like:
>
> overall make-up of the community (% male / % female)

No, there is no demographic research since there is no marketing, and there
is no marketing since there are no sales. We could have a web questionnaire,
I suppose, but those are bound to be biased, since women and old people are
more motivated to answer them.

Personally, I find cultural background more interesting a distinction than
gender. I'd really like to know, for instance, how membership in the
community is split between Europe and North America. Judging by the comp
success of superhero sequels, I'd say 80-90% of the *voters* are North
Americans.

> preferences in types of puzzles between male and female players (are
> both equally apt to hate a certain kind of puzzle, like mazes, for
> example?)
>
> preferences in genre (does a given genre, say science fiction, seem to
> appeal more to one gender than the other?)
>
> and other similar questions that flit through my mind from time to
> time, but that I have not yet written down and can't currently
> recall...

Emily Short has over the years posted several tirades on the hardships of
being a woman player. While undressing the female playing character in
_Heroine's Mantle_, Ms Short

"felt as though some of the passages were designed not to be played by a
woman or to replicate the actual experience of being a woman, but to be
played by a man who would be titillated in some degree by this fantasy of
being a woman. There was a quality to the description that made me feel as
though I the player were being invited to ogle the player character along
with all the other sexual scenery."

Note that it is not the nudity per se that makes Ms Short uncomfortable, but
the *possibility* that some guy out there might enjoy the fantasy of being a
woman. One might think there are more worthy causes in life than begrudging
men their sexual fantasies. I have no idea to what extent Ms Short is
representative of women players and their preferences. She may very well be
an anomaly, a one-woman crusade against sexual pleasure. Or she may be
symptomatic of a larger movement. Who can tell?

georgeo...@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 2:56:37 AM4/10/06
to
JSH...@aol.com wrote:
> overall make-up of the community (% male / % female)

Armed with the old adage, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned
lies, and statistics.":

The first three are about computer games in general:

http://www.theesa.com/facts/gamer_data.php

http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/software/article.php/2232941

http://www.srbi.com/gaming.html

This is about IF:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/browse_frm/thread/be6843ca680a8634/b99b60172bc9f62c?q=survey&rnum=8#b99b60172bc9f62c
[the full survey is at: http://www.xyzzynews.com/xyzzy.5f.html]

However the IF survey is from 1995, I'm curious how these numbers might
be different today.

These are general articles:

http://www.class.uidaho.edu/narrative/games/girl_gamers.htm

http://www.quandaryland.com/jsp/dispArticle.jsp?index=532

http://www.recordonline.com/archive/2006/02/06/news-kwgirlgamers-02-06.html

http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/gamegrrlz.html

from http://www.clickz.com/stats/sectors/hardware/article.php/536611:
"Men and women prefer different types of online and offline games.
Males prefer war and sports-themed games. Men are also three times as
likely as female gamers to participate in first-person shooter games
(38 percent vs. 12 percent), real-time/turn-based strategy games (33
percent vs. 11 percent), and sports games (30 percent vs. 10 percent).
In contrast, female gamers prefer board/card games (78 percent vs. 51
percent), gambling themes (36 percent vs. 26 percent), and
quiz/puzzle/trivia contests (55 percent vs. 25 percent)."

This is about reading in general:

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2005/section2/indicator15.asp

#

So, now I'm curious. Are you asking about gender and IF as a writer? Or
as a marketer? Perhaps like you, I'm interested in both sides. As a
writer gender is one of many embers in the fire, and as a marketer
(well, honestly I"m not one, but if I was), I would want to understand
intimately the population I was selling to.

Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted

Mark Thern

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 3:55:11 AM4/10/06
to

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 5:17:07 AM4/10/06
to
JSH...@aol.com wrote:
> I'm curious to know if there has been any research done on gender and
> IF.

This isn't directly about IF (nor does it qualify as research), but you
can make some inferences.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9378641/site/newsweek/

The next big thing in the gaming industry is NPC-AI ("Conversant
Characters"). This is partly because that's the logical direction for
software to develop, and partly because chicks will dig it.

IF is the most purely "conversant" of any genre, as far as the
linguistic element of conversation. However, visual data is very
important for characterization also, so the whole question is probably
only tangentially related. Something to think about though.

José Manuel García-Patos

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 6:00:31 AM4/10/06
to

> Well, as I fully intended this as a serious discussion and not a flame
> war, I'll just mention to Jose that I had no doubts whatsoever about
> the "relevance" (to use his word) of female authors, no matter what
> their number.

Where do you think I said that you had doubts about that? And why don't
you reply to me directly? Just curious.

José Manuel García-Patos

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 6:43:58 AM4/10/06
to

> Note that it is not the nudity per se that makes Ms Short uncomfortable, but
> the *possibility* that some guy out there might enjoy the fantasy of being a
> woman.

You don't have to get upset. Nobody's judging you. As long as you don't
hurt anybody, you can fantasize about being anybody you want. Who am I to
say that there might be a slight *possibility* of you being a pervert?

On a more serious note, I'm pretty sure that what she meant was that,
while confused teenagers might enjoy the experience of feeling like a
woman, she, being already one, felt uncomfortable by what was not a good
representation of a female character, but the expression of some male
clichés and fantasies. As always, I might be wrong.

> She may very well be an anomaly, a one-woman crusade against sexual
> pleasure.

You are an anomaly, Jacek, but you won't see me complaining about it.
That's what's called respect. You should practice it some time.

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 7:16:12 AM4/10/06
to
"José Manuel García-Patos" <jo...@cervantes.org> skrev i meddelandet
news:pan.2006.04.10....@cervantes.org...

> while confused teenagers might enjoy the experience of feeling like a
> woman,

Hmmm... Ever heard of transvestites, José? You know, had *I* said something
stupid and bigoted like that, a half a dozen people would be calling me
names now. Your lucky break is that no one takes you seriously. That's why
Sara didn't answer you directly. It's called flippancy and it's what you do
to people you don't particularly respect.

> All The Best.
> José Manuel García-Patos
> Madrid


Jacek Pudlo aka Baron d'IF
Castle Pudelstein, Gotland


steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 7:48:27 AM4/10/06
to
I wrote:
> The next big thing in the gaming industry is NPC-AI ("Conversant
> Characters").

On second thought, the word "conversant" has a lot of overtones that I
didn't intend, and it's rare to use the word to mean "capable of
conversation" (as I intended). So I should probably call them
"Conversable Characters" instead.

(A quick internet search indicates that both terms have in fact been
used, more or less to mean what I was talking about.)

José Manuel García-Patos

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 8:02:09 AM4/10/06
to

>> while confused teenagers might enjoy the experience of feeling like a
>> woman,
>
> Hmmm... Ever heard of transvestites, José? You know, had *I* said something
> stupid and bigoted like that, a half a dozen people would be calling me
> names now.

You know the difference between dressing like a woman and feeling like a
woman? You know the difference between feeling like a woman *inside*
(transexuals) and being curious about how it feels like and/or feeling
aroused by that sensation (confused teenagers, which is what I was
talking about)? You think Sean Connery wears kilts because he wants to
feel like a woman? Do women who wear trousers do it because they want to
feel like men? Don't confuse transvestism with transexuality. They're not
the same thing. But it would be too boring and off-topic to explain the
issue in detail.

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 9:34:52 AM4/10/06
to
"José Manuel García-Patos" <jo...@cervantes.org> skrev i meddelandet
news:pan.2006.04.10....@cervantes.org...
>
>>> while confused teenagers might enjoy the experience of feeling like a
>>> woman,
>>
>> Hmmm... Ever heard of transvestites, José? You know, had *I* said
>> something
>> stupid and bigoted like that, a half a dozen people would be calling me
>> names now.
>
> You know the difference between dressing like a woman and feeling like a
> woman? You know the difference between feeling like a woman *inside*
> (transexuals) and being curious about how it feels like and/or feeling
> aroused by that sensation (confused teenagers, which is what I was
> talking about)?

So what you're saying is that transvestites are "confused teenagers," but
transexuals are not, because transexuals feel like women on the *inside*?
Hmmm... [Jacek furrows his brow and scrubs his chin.] This is is certainly
some radical thinking, my friend. So, like, when you, José, put on a skirt
you're just being "confused," but when you stand naked before the mirror and
say, I'm a woman! you're not? Boggles the mind! Another thing that's really
exciting about all this new stuff you're teaching us, is how transexuals are
apparently a notch higher in the hierarchy than transvestites. I wonder, are
transvestites aware of this?

> You think Sean Connery wears kilts because he wants to
> feel like a woman?

And this is apropos what, exactly? Oh, I see! [Jacek smacks his forehead.]
Kilt equals skirt. Of course! Your mind's ability to "connect" the dots is
truly amazing, José. Allow me to apply your own reasoning to this conundrum.
Sean Connery wears kilts because he's a confused teenager, right?

> Do women who wear trousers do it because they want to
> feel like men?

You might as well tell us. Whatever you do, don't keep us in suspense, José!

> Don't confuse transvestism with transexuality. They're not
> the same thing.

You're the man with all the answers, José!

> But it would be too boring and off-topic to explain the
> issue in detail.

Is this how you've gone through life, José? Saying silly things and then
trying to cover up for them by saying even sillier things? No wonder you're
so tense.


Austin

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 10:25:13 AM4/10/06
to
Whoa whoa whoa. I have a feeling that José struck a chord here.
Please try to be courteous to the topic creator.
Just let it die. Don't let the war continue, be the more mature person.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how a person would get figures like the
topic creator suggests. The closest thing that occured to me was to
check the old Infocom newsletters. They may be practically irrelevant
as the only information they provide is the number of contest winners.
Still:
For issue 6.1, of the 25 contest winners
19 were male
5 were female
1 was of an ambiguous nature: Jamie. I don't know if he/she was a
man/woman

Now obviously, this data borders on irrelevant as I said: but maybe it
would interest you. As more computers got into more homes of more
people, it's pretty much certain that the ratios would change
significantly.
So basically what I'm telling you here is that the data I just provided
is pointless and a waste of your time and my time. ^_^

georgeo...@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 11:55:47 AM4/10/06
to

Thanks Mark, I remembered this thread but didn't remember what it was
called. My imprecise count (imprecise because most posters didn't
explicitly state their sex) tallied 30 men and 5 women responding to
the survey.


steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:
>This isn't directly about IF (nor does it qualify as research), but you
>can make some inferences.
>
>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9378641/site/newsweek/
>

>The next big thing in the gaming industry is NPC-AI ("Conversant

>Characters"). This is partly because that's the logical direction for
>software to develop, and partly because chicks will dig it.

It's interesting to me that the msnbc article pretty much ignored the
casual electronic games market (people like to say that women
'dominate' this category) and I think skewed the female gamer
population very low.

Conversable characters and AGI (artificial general intelligence) might
be -a- next big thing, but it seems likelier to me that AI-based,
procedurally and algorithmically generated games (like Will Wright's
new Spore) will be -the- next big thing. Incidentally, if women play
Spore like they do the Sims, which seems likely, you get much the same
result -- more women playing computer games.

José Manuel García-Patos

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 1:17:32 PM4/10/06
to

I only wanted to say that I have nothing to add to your post. It's stupid
enough by itself.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 2:24:59 PM4/10/06
to
In article <0at_f.52174$d5.2...@newsb.telia.net>,

Jacek Pudlo <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote:
>So what you're saying is that transvestites are "confused teenagers," but
>transexuals are not, because transexuals feel like women on the
*inside*?

http://www.brunching.com/geekhierarchy.html

Also, "inside a transsexual, it's too dark to see."

Adam

steve....@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 2:39:00 PM4/10/06
to
georgeolive writes:
> >http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9378641/site/newsweek/

>
> It's interesting to me that the msnbc article pretty much ignored the
> casual electronic games market (people like to say that women
> 'dominate' this category) and I think skewed the female gamer
> population very low.

Yeah, you got to take these kind of articles for what they're worth.
The quotes are interesting, I guess. What's "casual electronic games,"
by the way?

> Conversable characters and AGI (artificial general intelligence) might
> be -a- next big thing, but it seems likelier to me that AI-based,
> procedurally and algorithmically generated games (like Will Wright's
> new Spore) will be -the- next big thing.

This is a great reference, thanks! It's neat that this is partly about
pulling the player into the design aspect of things. If you talk to
Andrew Stern (Facade author), he'll tell you that a crucial interest he
has in AI is player agency, and I think he would say that co-opting the
player as a sort-of game designer is a great moment in player agency.

I have been thinking a lot recently about the distinction between
player and author, and the crossover. So this is an especially
interesting reference.

My thinking is more closely aligned with Michael Mateas (also Facade
author), whose main interest is in what he calls "expressive agents"
(emotionally convincing NPCs); for my money, that's the next astounding
development. But I'll bet you're probably right as far as what's going
to be the all-the-rage over the next few years.

there...@yahoo.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 8:01:34 PM4/10/06
to

Jacek Pudlo wrote:

[ . . . a pretty good answer, in my opinion.]

JSH...@aol.com

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 10:23:04 PM4/10/06
to
Your question made me chuckle! No, my interest stems purely from being
a newcomer to the IF community (as both a player and an author; well...
and actually as a beta-tester and reviewer now, too...) and has no
marketing emphasis behind it at all. My professional career is in a
vastly different field!

I have an academic interest in the "marketing" (for lack of a better
term!) aspect of IF, but no business interest whatsoever.

Mainly my question came as a subquestion of my larger question, "Who
comprises the IF community?" Thinking about that question led me to
some of the questions with which I started the thread.

Thanks for your helpful and informative reply!

Bert Byfield

unread,
Apr 10, 2006, 11:24:36 PM4/10/06
to
> Mainly my question came as a subquestion of my larger question,
> "Who comprises the IF community?" Thinking about that question
> led me to some of the questions with which I started the thread.

Oh, was that it... Well, this is an elite group of nerdy guys and super
babe chicks. The top 200 people of the world, you might say... That's
why you and I are here, after all. ;-)

Apage43

unread,
Apr 11, 2006, 8:53:14 PM4/11/06
to
While being a dude, most of the people I know that play IF are female.
Most guys I know are all 'Dude, I want graphics so I can see crap bleed
when I shoot it' :(

Bert Byfield

unread,
Apr 11, 2006, 10:06:46 PM4/11/06
to
"Apage43" <apa...@gmail.com> wrote in

> While being a dude, most of the people I know that play IF are
> female. Most guys I know are all 'Dude, I want graphics so I can
> see crap bleed when I shoot it' :(

From the movie *GI Jane*:
Shrink: Why do you put up with all the abuse? What is it you want
out of this? [SEAL Training]
Jane: Do you ask the guys that question?
Shrink: Sure. They all say the same thing: "You get to blow up
shit."

David Alex Lamb

unread,
Apr 13, 2006, 6:23:11 PM4/13/06
to
In article <1144679113.1...@t31g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,

Austin <capg...@gmail.com> wrote:
>Please try to be courteous to the topic creator.
>Just let it die. Don't let the war continue, be the more mature person.

I've been gone for a long time, but it seems like Jacek still likes to argue
and sees no particular reason to be polite. Respond to what he says, if you
like, or not, if you like, but there is little point in commenting about his
tone.
--
"Yo' ideas need to be thinked befo' they are say'd" - Ian Lamb, age 3.5
http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/ qucis->cs to reply (it's a long story...)

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages