Girl Gamers; Violet Berlin says ‘games aren’t macho’
Continuing my series on girl gamers, I recently had the privilege of interviewing Violet Berlin.
For those of you who don’t know Violet is something of an icon for girl gamers of my age. She was one of the first girls in the public eye to make gaming acceptable for females, and has made a career of presenting gaming television programmes such as GamePad.
[PS3A] What do you think has caused the number of girls playing games to increase?
[VB] Thatâ€™s a complex question â€“ itâ€™s due to a number of factors.
Games got more mainstream â€“ that all started with PlayStation marketing in the mid-90s. Sony aimed games beyond the traditional teenage boy audience and non-hardcore gamers were welcomed in, with girls among them. Another important factor, I think, is Nintendoâ€™s unique approach. Despite its name, their GameBoy was historically a much more girl-orientated console than any of the others, and Nintendo has continued this unisex tradition with consoles like the DS and Wii Fit.
Of course, thatâ€™s just a couple of reasons for the growing feminisation of the games market. It was always just a matter of time before girls got involved â€“ after all, thereâ€™s nothing intrinsically macho about computer games.
[PS3A] When did you get into gaming, and what made you try your first game?
[VB] I was always keen on computers, and when I got a job writing and presenting for a live weekend kids show, one of the strands I got given was the video game strand. It was my job to get the games, play them and then find kids to review them who I would in turn interview on the show. This was back in 1990, so probably was the first regular video game reviews show on TV. The consoles we looked at were NES, Master System, Atari and Amiga. I got sent loads of games, but the first game that had me utterly hooked was Consolevania on the NES. Â I completed it, and by that point I was so bewitched that I paid my own (and far too much) money for the sequel (a huge disappointment). After that, there was no going back.
[PS3A] Do you have any experiences online of being treated differently because you’re a girl, either good or bad?
[VB] Iâ€™d never let anyone know my gender online, which is probably quite telling. Mind you, I donâ€™t play that many online games… between my work as a writer, and bringing up two sons, I donâ€™t have much time for an online gaming life these days. I plan to alter that when theyâ€™re a bit older!
[PS3A] Â Would you like to see more female led games?
Yes Iâ€™d definitely like to see more female led games, and I think itâ€™s got to be only a matter of time before we do see more. Â Iâ€™ve noticed that the move towards a more female orientated video game industry has happened slowly, but it has happened and will continue to happen.
I get comments and emails these days from girls who grew up watching my TV shows, like â€˜Bad Influence!â€™, and who are now in games development â€“ so Iâ€™ve seen it happening. Iâ€™m expecting games to continue to diversify as they are doing already â€” creating new genres and niche areas â€“ just as music has done.
So, as well as new, more unisex genres, there will always be the games equivalent of Heavy Metal music – effectively male dominated. Whilst these areas will always have their â€˜rock chicksâ€™, they will continue to be male-dominated. Iâ€™m sure there will be feminine niches too. Iâ€™m looking forward to more diversity in games. Vive la difference!
Many thanks to Violet for the time she gave to this interview.
I want to know what you think about girl gamers. Is there anything you want to ask? Would you like to see a strong female lead in more games? What do you think has caused the number of girl gamers to increase? Let us know in the comments…