Hello, gentle viewers!
I am so excited today to announce that Searching for SuperWomen is live! The inaugural post is up — my story of why I decided to start this project. You can look forward to hearing from the other wonderful women on Wednesdays this month. Next up is Fran Roberts!
We’ll be back to normal scheduling around here Friday, but today, please pay the new site a visit and let us know what you’d like to see from us in the comments!
Thank you all for your awesome support Monday with the announcement — click the glowing blue orb to be transported to Searching for SuperWomen. 😉
- Secret Project Revealed! (emmiemears.com)
Secret Project Revealed!
Good morning, gentle viewers!
Oh, I’m so excited.
If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you’ll remember a series of posts about SuperWomen. Ever since I was a kid, I longed to see female superheroes, but as we all know, they’re rather thin on the ground. After my recent post about superhero clothing and the sexist attitudes toward women displayed by the creators, I got to thinking.
There’s been a lot of stuff in the media lately about women in geek culture, from Jim C. Hines posing like the women on fantasy covers (with John Scalzi, and for charity to boot!) to showcase how ridiculous the poses are to Tor.com posting about one particular pose. Then there’s the amazing Hawkeye Initiative and my new favorite Tumblr in which artist Alex Law uses the superhero costumes of little girls to show that their gender expectations haven’t been set in stone yet, and they are better at creating badass superhero costumes than the people who do it for a living.
And I thought, “This is all great stuff.”
But I wanted something more. So I’m making it, along with three other women.
We’re creating the Searching for SuperWomen blog. It’ll be a place for geek women (and the men who love us!) to come and love the things we love, from sci-fi to superheroes. It’ll be a place to celebrate the role of women in geekdom and show Hollywood that we ARE the audience they want us to be. A place where we make it clear that after eight Superman reboots and two Spiderman trilogies and eight Batman movies, it’s about goddamn time that they make Wonder Woman and make it well, without giving it the Elektra-deluxe treatment of shame.
Pretty soon, we’ll be looking for YOU. People who love geek culture and have something to offer. Art. Music. Cosplay. An essay on Xena. Whatever you love in geekdom. So come by, get to know us, and get ready to go on an expedition.
We’re Searching for SuperWomen. Follow the link and come see us!
The Searching for SuperWomen editors are:
Our first post will go up on Wednesday. For May and June, updates will be Wednesdays, but look out for more, because we’re on the prowl.
We can’t wait to see you there!
It’s been a while since we’ve busted out the SuperWomen hashtag, folks, but a discussion this morning with my agent and another writer on Twitter made me think it was time to raise the banner once more.
The spark for the discussion was this: Chris Perna, the art director of Epic Games (which created the popular Gears of War franchise) said that it was unlikely they’d ever have a female protagonist for their games.
Because “if you look at what sells, it’s tough to justify something like that.”¹
Excuse me while I turn my head and cough.
What I hate the most about that kind of statement is that it’s a bit of a straw man. If you look at the gaming industry, it certainly looks male dominated. Just like the comic book industry looks male dominated. But if you look a little closer, you’ll find that women make up a huge portion of gamers and readers and enjoyers of these media. (Though admittedly the creation aspect is still overwhelmingly skewed toward men.)
For instance, 47% of gamers are, in fact, women. And female gamers OVER the age of 18 are one of the fastest-growing demographics in video games.²
Perna’s argument is a straw man because honestly, most major video gaming companies simply haven’t MADE a game in a major franchise that has a female protagonist, so they have nothing to actually compare it to. And if you look at the success of the long-running Resident Evil series (Capcom) and Tomb Raider (Core Design/Crystal Dynamics), you see that games with female protagonists can absolutely be hugely profitable and popular with the male demographic. If both of those franchises had flopped horribly (or rather, blipped into the waters of gamerdom without so much as a ripple), maybe his statement would have a teensy bit of merit from a fiscal standpoint.
But after multiple films, huge numbers of titles, and years of devoted fans — he comes off as more than a little naive and condescending. Perhaps he didn’t mean to sound like he was patting women on the head for feeling empowered when they go to cons and cosplay as Anya or Samantha (two characters in the Gears franchise), but it sure sounded that way.
You can’t say games with a female protagonist won’t sell because most of the games out there have male protagonists. Naturally those will sell more copies, because more of them exist.
Until one of the hugely-successful, popular franchises goes for it and produces a title in their series with a female protagonist, they really have nothing to compare it to besides the success of Resident Evil and Tomb Raider and the franchises that were built around a female leader in the first place. If you can point to a blockbuster gaming franchise that tanked as soon as it introduced a female protagonist, do tell.
Comments like Pernas’ are like saying women clearly don’t want to see superhero movies with female leads because Catwoman flopped. Hello. Catwoman flopped because it was an awful film, not because Halle Berry was the lead instead of Christian Bale. The point is this: make an awesome, well-written, exciting game and gamers will flock to it regardless of whether the protagonist has a dingle or a hoo-hah. But don’t try to tell me people won’t buy games with female protagonists (or rather that men won’t). They will.
To their credit, Epic Games seems to have gotten the point that they needed to minimize Perna’s words, because they issued a statement saying they would never rule out having a female protagonist for the Gears of War series, but that doesn’t mean much to me until there is one.
There are plenty of franchises (like my beloved Dragon Age and the Elder Scrolls) that offer gamers a choice. I love that option, and I think that Bioware did a good thing by giving gamers the opportunity to control much of their character from the outset, including the character’s sex.
This Thursday (21 February), I would like to bring back the #SuperWomen live chat to discuss geek girl culture and female gamers.
What: SuperWomen live chat on Twitter!
Topic: SuperWomen in gamer culture. Female protagonists, the female gamer demographic, and more.
When: Thursday, 21 February from 7-8 PM EST. (Don’t worry, I’ll let you out before The Vampire Diaries.)
Come hang out and discuss what YOU want to see in the video gaming industry.
¹Yep, he really said that. Here’s a link.
²Entertainment Software Association. See link.