Friday, March 1, 2013

Inspiring Women Game Devs

I haven't participated in Critical Distance's monthly Blogs of the Round Table blog prompts for a while, but this month is about ladies in videogames we admire. And um... there are a lot of women in games I admire. I'll start with developers.

Christine Love: When I played Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story back in 2011, I was first impressed with the mechanics/story of the game. Then I realized that Christine wrote all the code and story herself (it's also where I found out about Ren'py). Which is awesome. And after that I kept finding more women who were making games that I liked a lot more than the puzzle-platformers I keep seeing (they're fun sometimes, I just like a little variety in my indie games). 

Deirda Kiai's Life Flashes By was another game I played happily (remember when Brainy Gamer was like "you've probably never heard of it" thereby solidifying his position as indie game hipster?). I was impressed with how the story inspired reflection on my own life choices. And after I played it, I found out it was designed/written by a woman. The quality was a little amateurish at times, and I realized that at some point a game can still be really good, even if it doesn't always look/sound like a professionally-made game. I mean "amateurish" in the best way possible.

Lively Ivy is another woman who keeps making games, and has been making games for a while. After I played a little bit of Spooks I felt like maybe I could try to do some pixel art sometime. It's inspiring to see how these artists started out doing smaller projects which eventually get put on Steam and stuff.

I don't actually know Bentosmile's gender, but their small games have inspired me too. I love how cute the games are as well as how they say things about the world. Things like "the attitude you have affects how you see others." I really like Zoe Quinn's games too. Even the small ones.

Speaking of niche genres, I was so happy when I found Hanako Games. I felt like there were other people who liked simulation games and games with lots of story. I just found out that Georgina Bensley pretty much runs Hanako Games and... that's awesome. I loved Long Live the Queen and the demos of the other games. I'm so glad these genres aren't dying out.

Around the time I started going on Twitter last year, I read Anna Anthropy's book about how anyone can make a videogame. It inspired me to make a simple and stupid game in Stencyl, and then another game in Twine. It helped me feel like even if I couldn't make a really professional game, making a game is still worthwhile. It's kind of like how I cook all the time even though I'm not a professional chef. You don't need a food license to cook for yourself, and you don't need a degree in computer science to make a fun or stupid game. 

My older sister Andrea is also an inspiration to me. She made a math game on her graphing calculator for me when I was a kid, which was basically Data from Star Wars: TNG asking me math facts. She helps me feel like programming is something I can do if I sit down and think about it. You know, the logic of "well my sibling did it so I should be able to do it too." She also made a choose-your-own hypertext adventure game about a spaceship that I can't find anymore (maybe it was someone else?). She has written her own murder-mystery parties, and she and her husband made a mod for Neverwinter Nights. Oh, and she and I are making a videogame together about newlyweds colonizing a planet (I just help a little with writing). 

It's not just one woman making games who has inspired me. It's how multiple women have successfully made games that I really like, and how they keep doing it, even though their games have kind of a niche audience. So... thank you, women making games! You inspire me.