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Video: Gender in game storytelling - writing the unsung experiences

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]
January 21, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

January 21, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
More: Social/Online, Design, Production, Video

Courtesy of the GDC Vault is another free session video from GDC Online 2012.

In this lecture, notable industry critics Mattie Brice (San Francisco State University), Jenn Frank (Infinite Lives), and Leigh Alexander (Gamasutra) address gender in games. The subtopics include gender assumptions, alienating game experiences, minorities in games, and how games handle love interests.

Session Name: Writing The Unsung Experiences: Gender In Game Storytelling

Speaker(s): Mattie Brice, Jenn Frank, Leigh Alexander

Company Name(s): San Francisco State University, Infinite Lives, Gamasutra

Track / Format: Game Narrative Summit

Overview: The knell for broader representations of gender in games grows ever louder and more insistent, but games are slow to embrace new voices on gender and sexuality. This is in part because of a lack of diversity on dev teams and the challenge of speaking from experiences outside your own. What are the factors in this challenge, and how can thoughtful interactive storytellers move forward? In this discussion-oriented session, three outspoken women in game criticism share views, experiences and ideas.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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James Coote
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Interesting, how it kinda drifts off to into the debate the idea that you either have a blank slate, or you make a really specific character, but not half-half.

Ultimately it just comes back to writing characters that are real

Also this whole thing about being "afraid" of getting it wrong when writing about diverse characters is bs. Novel writers have to do it all the time. They just get someone to beta-read their story and if the beta readers say it's not realistic (and why), the writer can change it

Lewis Wakeford
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I don't agree really. Novels have already reached a level of diversity where people aren't going to scrutinize every detail of your non-white, non-male characters. Whereas I'm sure almost every major female game character in history has at least one article analysing her and what she means for "females in gaming".

Gaming has dug itself into this hole to the point where every female character is taken as either cheap sex appeal or a personified socio-political statement. It's very hard to just write a character that happens to be female and have people accept that.

Daneel Filimonov
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Perhaps there is too much emphasis or focus on the character (ie. a female protagonist) rather than the world around her or the world in general. In this case the only games that manage to pull off such story are MMOs; where everyone and no one is special.

Luis Guimaraes
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The best games are usually about the world.