Tuesday, October 2, 2007

GUEST POST: Gaming — Where the Girls Are, and Aren't

For those not in the know, Halo 3, which launched in the U.S. on September 25th, is the latest in an extremely popular series of "first-person shooter" video games which are the cornerstone of Microsoft's XBox 360 empire. Microsoft has declared Halo 3 to be "the biggest entertainment launch in history." And just who exactly plunked down the bucks? Well, I haven't yet found hard numbers, but there seem to be no surprises on the gender front — at least according to the amusing video below from online pop magazine JetSet, wherein an intrepid (and exasperated) girl reporter goes on the hunt for gamergrrls at a Halo launch event.

It's quite likely you are sitting there thinking "Well, thank God there aren't more young women wasting their days and brain cells on such violent, proto-jingoistic tripe." Ah, BUT... as reported just a couple of weeks ago by The Economist and then by Jezebel, a study conducted by the University of Toronto demonstrated how women's spatial acuity (i.e. spotting "unusual objects ... in [one's] field of vision," etc.) is dramatically and permanently improved after playing ten hours of Medal of Honour: Pacific Assault. "Join us or DIE!" seems to be the subliminal message to women here; but doesn't the market support other types of games, with all the benefits and none of the (virtual) bloodshed? After all, there may actually be more women gamers in the U.S. than men: according to an online survey conducted early last month by the J. Walter Thompson ad agency (JWT), out of over 1000 respondents 44% of women said they owned a gaming console vs. 39% of men. These include owners of Wii, a platform known for broadening the gaming market across genders and generations.

There are definitely popular alternatives to the first-person shooters: you can improve your physical dexterity with say, "Dance Dance Revolution" or "Guitar Hero." And for those who still prefer a good fight there is the intriguing strategy game A Force More Powerful. An interactive teaching tool developed by The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, it "simulates nonviolent struggles ... against dictators, occupiers, colonizers, and corrupt regimes, as well as campaigns for political and human rights for minorities and women." Now that frankly sounds kick-ass enough for most men and women I know.

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Re. the pic at the top of the post: in a bid to corner the homebound nerd market, SuicideGirls reveals Halo hunk Master Chief to be... the lovely "Alaina." (Thanks to BoingBoing Gadgets).

No comments: