Editor’s Note: This editorial was written by Omaha Sternberg, Editor-in-Chief here at iGame Radio. She attends Casual Connect every year, since its inception, and is a gamer of all kinds of games, including traditional “core games”.
UPDATE: Jessica Tams, Managing Director for Casual Connect, responded to this article, stating that the separation was about “denoting demographics when creating & marketing content.” She said, “Statistically, girls play some types of games more frequently and boys play some games more frequently. If a game designer does not keep this in mind, their product will suffer.”
She also felt that the term was about promoting a demographic that is not focused on much at Casual Connect. “…we spend so much time talking about mature female gamers at our conferences and in our magazine that when we do talk about games that have a younger male (boys) demographic – we call this out so people will not be confused.”
In my reply I stated that though I understood those issues, the problem I had was that this term was one of only two that actually specified a focus on gaming and games specifically (as opposed to how games are created, published, distributed, or marketed)…the other term being iPhone/Mobile. So separating this phrase out in this way really can only come across in a very limited fashion…that Games for Gamers are games for boys, and girls are left out. And that offends me.
About a week ago, I received an email from one of my favorite gaming conventions, Casual Connect, reminding me to register. I’ve been attending Casual Connect every year since it started in 2006 and was called Casuality, a name few could pronounce correctly. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed not just attending the events, interviewing developers and publishers, and going to the parties, but also watching this great convention of casual games grow over time into something that really understands the game industry as a whole, and the casual game connection within it.
So I was pretty surprised during the registration process to see amongst the choices for “Primary Business” was: Games for Gamers (Boy Games).
Games for Gamers are only games for boys? That didn’t seem right. I knew I had to be interpreting that wrong. The other choices were Development, Destination (retail & portals), Publishing, Tools & Services, Social & Community, and iPhone/Mobile. All pretty generic, with no indication that you had to be a specific gender to participate in that segment.
I contacted Casual Connect about this, asking why “Boy Games” was listed next to “Games for Gamers”, and this is the response I received from Tennille Forsberg, Content Manager of Casual Connect:
“Games for Gamers is the term we’ve always used for casual games that incorporate game mechanics found in core games–games boys play. ;) So, it’s just a clarifier [sic].”
Core games are games boys play. Not girls. This is a paradigm that I and many in the industry have been trying to dispel for a long time, and yet here it has once again raised it’s ugly head…in the casual gaming industry. There are so many paradigms that this statement generates it’s hard to keep track.
Core Games – games boys play: This paradigm states outright that core games, the traditional, triple AAA titles, are a men’s only club. No women allowed. Or if women do come in, expect to be singled out, stared at, even ridiculed. These games are not for you, and you shouldn’t expect anyone here to want to play with you, talk to you about the games, or sell them to you. And we expect that you aren’t interested in playing them. Whether you are or not is irrelevant.
Casual games that incorporate game mechanics found in games boys play: This men’s-only club is now extending to casual games. Once again, these casual games are for boys only…no girls allowed.
Games for Gamers is the term we’ve always used for games boys play: Apparently Casual Connect, and by extension the Casual Gaming industry, has always considered that any games for gamers are only for boys. If you’re a gamer, you’re a boy. If you’re a girl, you’re not a gamer.
So, let’s revisit this in it’s entirety. Games for Gamers are games for boys. Girls are not gamers. They don’t play these games. The casual games that incorporate mechanics from these games, only for gamers, also will be for boys. Because girls aren’t casual gamers either.
And the folks at Casual Connect are happy to cater to and continue this paradigm.