“Prove It”: Women In EvE

Welcome to another special installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read!

I am one of those who believes that, though the game should not be changed to specifically go after that part of the gaming population, EVE Online would greatly benefit if somehow the balance the 2 genders roaming New Eden would lean towards an equilibrium. So I ask…

What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

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Talk about a perfect subject to get into for my first Eve Blog Banter! As one of those rare, mythic, and fabled “real female EvE players”, hopefully I can shed a little light on this one.

One of the big questions I’ve been asked over and over in EvE is how did I, a woman, get into this game? The answer is pretty standard actually: “the same way you did”. I didn’t stand up one day at the girls club (you know, that place where all of us woman-folk meet up once a week to discuss our lives, and hold votes on things like nagging breaking-points and which celebrities we’re going to love this month and which ones we’re going to shit on) and declare that I was going to be different and *gasp!* play video games.

I’m probably playing EvE for the same reasons you are. While I wouldn’t label myself “hardcore” at all, I do love playing video games, and I do love me some sci-fi (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly). I grew up in a house with a working mom, and a stay-at-home dad, with two older brothers whom I spent a nice chunk of my formative years playing side-scrolling Nintendo games with. Aside from some very dull times watching a couple of friends of mine play WoW (I have since expanded my social calender a bit), EvE is the first MMO I’ve ever really tried out. A year and change later, here I am.

Yes, I’m really a girl. Yes, we play internet spaceship games now. Referring to point #1, no, I won’t “prove it”, but nice try.

A lot of the talk I’ve seen so far in reading this particular blog banter revolves around the topic of Incarna, and how that will be a boon to the female player community in EvE. While I too am one of those eager geeks that can’t wait to get Sophia into some bad-ass space-boots and walking around station, I regretfully have to cast a little doubt to the thought that this will increase the number of female subscribers in any meaningful way. To this point, I refer to the “hot female heroine” games of the late 90’s.

Lets take the obvious example of Tomb Raider. Be honest; do you REALLY suppose the decision to make the main character a sexy little minx with a pair of daisy-dukes and the most flattering and gravity-defying sport bra in history was based on the desire to attract a female player-base to the game? Exactly.

I get it though! Female gamers are definitely on the rise today, but when Tomb Raider came out I doubt we were much of a spec on the “target market consumer group” powerpoint presentation. Games were a guys world, so why not have the main character essentially be a porn-star with guns? Don’t look for any signs of a feminist “male objectification” rant here either, you aren’t going to find one. I have two brothers and I live in the real world; I get it, and I’m not going to get on your “OMG BOOBS” male case about. And just for the record, I did play Tomb Raider, but it was for the fact that I was already a gaming geek who was done with Diablo, and because TR was cool as hell to play; it was not due to some repressed sapphic fantasy (sorry guys).

So I have to doubt that Incarna will have any noticeable effect on female subscribers, though I wager the probability of “loads of female avatars walking around station wearing as little as possible” is pretty high.

The other talk I’ve seen tossed around on this subject is that women aren’t attracted to EvE due to its aggressive and cut-throat nature; that PvP is sometimes non-consentual and that the hardships of space make their presence known every time you log in. There’s talk that we female gamers prefer a tamer, less hostile, and more casual gaming experience.

Let me just go ahead and de-rail that train right here and now. Boys, I work as a Jr. Editor for a major news magazine that you have probably read. The publishing world is a HUGELY male-dominated field even today, with no punches pulled, and I have worked some seriously shit jobs and put up with some serious bullshit to get myself into the position I’m in today. And you know what? I’ve enjoyed (or at least embraced and learned from) every single step on that climb. So please don’t tell me I’m not up to a challenge or would prefer an “easier” game. Believe me, that’s not the reason more women don’t play EvE.

I won’t deny that there is still a certain amount of social non-conformity surrounding female gamers. But as any of the male EvE players out their can I’m sure attest to, being a gamer does not exclude you from having a social life if you learn how to balance things. I know plenty of male Eve players who have girlfriends, play in bands, have families, and run small businesses in addition to playing EvE. Why should being a woman in EvE be any different? Its not; I work full time, I have a boyfriend, I distance-run daily (well, almost ;) ), and I have a fun circle of friends whom I socialize and hang out with frequently. Do I get teased sometimes for playing video games and talking about internet space ships over drinks? Of course, but if you’re taking this game seriously enough that some good-natured ribbing from friends on the subject gets you heated, YOU might be the one who needs to think about playing something “easier”.

As just sheer numbers would attest to however, I’m sort of an exception to the rule, as are the other women out there playing this game. Plain and simple, there aren’t a lot of women playing Eve, even if there are a rising number of female “gamers” out there as the word loses a bit of its stigma. And so this brings me (I know, finally) to the actual question posed by CK: What can CCP do to increase the gals in EvE?

Well for starters, market to us! By this I don’t mean “put sexy space chicks on your banner ads”, and refer to that steaming pile of lame “Evony Online”. Why on earth are there dripping wet surfer-girls in bikinis, or huge boobs in tight t-shirts advertising for a sim-city type game set in medieval times? Take a wild guess (I’ll give you a hint, they aren’t chasing a female market-share).

I’d hate to say it, but take a page from Blizzard with their marketing push for WoW and build on it. William Shatner, Ozzy Osbourne, Mr. T, and Jean-Claude Van Damme wax funny and talk about their Warcraft characters? Brilliant!  Those commercials are smart, funny, and I think they made some great headway into breaking WoW out of the “MMOs are for geeky dorks” mold and into the mainstream (even though as EvE die-hards, we all know that WoW IS for geeky dorks, amirite? :p )

Now, take that idea and run with it, CCP. I don’t mean to suggest that you rip-off the Blizzard commercials, but putting a perceivably cool celebrity face on what is often stigmatized and shunned as “nerdy” (particularly to women) is boundary-breaking. Blizzard used all male celebrities, so expound upon that and one-up them with some strong female celebrities as well. Don’t chintzy or cutsie it up at all, because thats the last thing EvE needs to do to grow a larger female subscriber-base. Don’t change it, show-off how amazing it is.

Picture this as a commercial: A dark screen with subtle space-sounds and EvE music in the background; a single light comes on from far left to illuminate the close-up face of Angelina Jolie, EvE character-portrait style. A smirk on her face, a glint in her eye, she coolly talks about crushing her enemies, the pirate-corp she’s a part of, how she favors autocannons and fast frigates, and how she’s waiting for your puny transport ship on the other side of the next gate. “I’m Angelina Jolie, and I’m a Minmatar pirate. See you in low sec”.  A wink, a flash of her in-game character portrait, and the screen goes dark.

You totally got goosebumps didn’t you? Hell, I did just writing that! Lets try another angle. This one’s more lighthearted, to appeal to the budding industrialist. Warmer music and mood, and softer lighting; the face of Tina Fey comes up with the sound of a mining laser in the background. She gives one of her token full-smile grins with a shrug and cheerily talks about her mining operation, her masses of riches from building “things that go boom”, how she’s the queen of her own one-woman corp, resides in her own high-sec research POS, and how she can’t wait to get planet-side in the upcoming expansion. “I’m Tina Fey, and I, am a carebear.” With an cheesy smile and another shrug, she’s off.

Now tell me that wouldn’t work. Strong, empowered women talking openly about playing an online video game about spaceships. You could even mirror it with ads in women’s magazines. Cosmo, Vogue, W; believe me, even if we’re embarrassed to admit it sometimes, we read that shit, and we look at every. single. ad. CCP, contact me about where to mail my check.

So the big thing here is not to actually change anything about this game just to bring in more real women. Put it into the mainstream, de-stigmatize even further the notion of “female gamers”, and show them how much fun they could be having in this fantastic virtual world.

Trust me, women are all about projecting and fantasizing. I have more girlfriends than I care to mention that do enough projecting onto petty crap like “The Hills” or People Magazine to rival any of you guys out there RPing your way through Caldari faction warfare. Give them a change of direction, show them they won’t be shunned by their friends, and give them a taste, and I guarantee you’ll be seeing more real women in New Eden in no time at all.

And go ahead, ask them to “prove it” and see what happens :p.

-Sophia

List of participants:

  1. The Ladies of New Eden
  2. Is EVE a man’s world?
  3. Sorry, No Pink Spaceships Here Please
  4. EVE Blog Banter: Chicks ‘N Ships
  5. Eve Blog Banter: The Girls Who Fly Spaceships
  6. It’s not about fluffy bloody Kittens people!
  7. Space Boobies Are Bad, m’kay?
  8. Special Blog Banter: I Like Girls
  9. Special Edition or making Eve More Casual
  10. I wish my wife played EVE
  11. Is there something special about women?
  12. CK’s Blog Banter
  13. The Female of the Species
  14. EVE Online Can Appeal to Women By Adding Casual Content
  15. Blog Banter: The Ladies
  16. Women Who Want EVE
  17. Tech 2 stilettos
  18. New Eden doesn’t need to change for Eve – Adam needs to get over himself
  19. EVE Online and… women (sorta)
  20. Think Outside the Spaceship
  21. EVE’s monthly banter – Women, women, women
  22. Girls Just Wanna Have… Guns!
  23. Draco Horizons (Blog)
  24. Don’t change Eve for me!
  25. Where Are Teh Laydeez of EVE?
  26. Where Are All The Wenches?
  27. EVEquality: The Rise of the Female Gamer
  28. Women? In MY SPACESHIP? Is she from Mars as well?
  29. Blog Banter: Captain Kirk Hates Eve
  30. The Female of the Species
  31. The Ladies of New Eden
  32. EVE and the X by X Genetic Succession Unit
  33. Sociability V
  34. Girl on Girls in Space
  35. What women want (in Eve)
  36. Time Is On Our Side
  37. Roc Appeal
  38. Women in EVE
  39. Getting In Touch With Our Feminine Side
  40. It’s a woman’s world (they just don’t know it yet!)
  41. Women in EVE – Can it be done?
  42. You’d Rather Be Playing The Sims, Right?
  43. Blog Banter #17 – Women in Eve
  44. How To Get The Betty’s
  45. EVE: WTB girls?
  46. All about EVE
  47. Ladies to the gunfight
  48. Hell hath no fury
  49. The Ladies of New Eden (An Analysis on How Men are not from Mars, and Women are not from Venus)
  50. EVE Blog Banter 17: The Ladies of New Eden
  51. The Ladies of New Eden
  52. Getting ladies to play Eve Online
  53. Why Don’t More Women Play EVE??
  54. Getting Girls to Play EVE
  55. “Prove it”: Women In EvE
  56. More to come…

Update!:

I’ve been a little out of the blog-game due to a heaping of RL work stuff, but I just wanted to say a big thanks to Crazy Kinux and CCP for the 2nd place honor in the “Women of Eve” contest! 100mil isk and $50 in Eve Online store shwag, how cool is that? CK, my in-game name is Sophia Jackson and I can be reached at sophiajackson83@yahoo.com . Thanks again!

21 thoughts on ““Prove It”: Women In EvE

  1. Pingback: » It’s Hip To Be Square: Taking Videogames Out of the Basement Finders & Keepers

  2. Pingback: Blog Banter 17 - The Female of the Species | I Am Keith Neilson

  3. Brilliant post on the very topic I have been avoiding posting on because, well let’s face it, I’m a guy, what do I know about getting women interested in Eve!

    I have long thought that Eve needed good commercials like the WoW ones, but your spin on it made more sense than anything I had ever thought of! Perhaps Mynxee in real life in Angie Jolie ;)

    I definitely added you to my google reader! I look forward to reading more.

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  9. Slight necro here, but I’m *so* with you on the “I’m Angelina Jolie, and I’m a Minmatar pirate” ad idea. But who would we cast as the Caldari arbitrage trader?

    I imagine the Tina Fey character as being “I’m Tina Fey, and I’m a Caldari Industrialist.” Walking around her manufacturing facilities, “we’re walking this way,” tour guide style, getting all giddy about a wall full of spreadsheets and charts tracking how much profit she’s making from manufacturing.

    As for the Vogue/Cosmopolitan style ads, perhaps two screenshots side by side of priests from WoW (wearing Black Mageweave of course) and Rifters from EVE labelled “Male”, “Female”, with the caption, “You’re not eye candy in EVE Online”?

    It’s too easy to depict Angelina Jolie as the gun-toting attitude (with boobs) character. Perhaps we could portray Angelina as the Caldari capitalist (arbitrage trader with spreadsheets and charts galore), with Tina Fey as the Gallente pirate flying an Ishkur?

    Thanks for a good read!

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  12. Hi Sophia, I’m (finally) getting the prizes to all the winners. And in trying to get it to the right person, I would need you to edit this post with your character name, and an email address that CCP can use to send you the Store Credits. Please email me once you’ve done this at CrazyKinux@gmail.com.

    Thanks for your patience.

  13. Pingback: Ladies of New Eden | Nitpickins

  14. Pingback: The Winners of the Women of EVE Contest are finally in! | Nitpickins

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