The only panelist that I was familar with was Jane Pinckard and that's only through occasionally reading her articles. This session appealed to me because I have a 10yo daughter who's into gaming and I was interested in understanding her attraction to the games and hopefully help me pick appriopriate games in the future.
I'll just jump in and expand on what they talked about and tie it in with what I observe about my daughter.
RPGs are like paper dolls! Well, not exactly, but they provided a good argument that playing games like WOW are similar to playing with dolls. Most of your actions are directed at attaining stuff. Better armor, better accessories, better weapons. I really see this with the Wii. My daughter and son have spent countless hours designing Miis for all their friend.
Men learn by diving in and poking buttons. Women tend to watch for a while and won't jump in until they understand how the game is played. I've seen this already with my kids. Travis jumps into a game, bashes around a while and stomps off mad when he can't figure it out. Hannah will hand me the controller and watch until she's satisfied that she can play and then proceeds to enjoy the game.
More girls would enjoy FPS if the female avatars weren't nerfed, hypersexual or ugly. I've seen this before. The male characters get a choice of 5 or 6 burly avatars and the females get a large breasted amazon in chainmail. Simply spending some more time on artwork and building a few more female characters would open up a significant market.
They also talked about the number of women playing male avatars in a game and the number is so low it's not worth paying attention to. On the other hand a large percentage of men play female avatars, especially in games like WOW and Second Life.
Overall it was a good session and I learned a bit about what to expect as my daughter matures. Hopefully it will help me make good choices when picking games for her Christmas stocking.
Moderator: Fiona Cherbak Chair Dev Committee, Women in Games International
Fiona Cherbak Chair Dev Committee, Women in Games International
Sande Chen Lead Producer, Boonty
Gano Haine VP of Prod Dev, LimeLife Inc
Jane Pinckard Editor, GameGirlAdvance
Sheri Graner Ray Sr Designer, Sony Online Entertainment