AGE OF WARRIORS – Create a game series based around historical female characters that fuse compelling and entertaining gameplay with empowering narratives of influential women (including women of color), and weave historical, cultural
and scientific content seamlessly into the story and gameplay.
Queens, Warriors and Pirates
A series of narrative games around the stories of female leaders and warriors. Moving beyond the “damsel in distress” model purveyed by
many hardcore video games,19 our games will portray women as active agents in history. Examples include: Queen Elizabeth I—who reigned
over unprecedented prosperity and vanquished the Spanish invasion of England; Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh; Turkish seafaring queen
Artemisia of Caria; Chiyome, leader of the “Kunoichi” or “Deadly Flowers,” a band of female ninja assassins in 15th Century Japan; Viking princess-turned-pirate Alvilda; notorious pirate duo Anne Bonny
and Mary Reade, as well as swashbuckling privateer and Irish revolutionary Grace O’Malley, and others.
This series can feature stories of independent women innovators, inventors, scientists, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. These women serve as examples and role models of women who have made a
difference through their contribution to technology, the arts, and culture. Examples include: globe-trotting Victorian journalist Nellie Bly, entertainer, spy, and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, and
Madame C.J. Walker, an African American beauty-industry entrepreneur and the first woman in America to become a self-made millionaire.
Increasingly diversified game audiences are starving for more sophisticated content than is currently provided in the casual game space
or the mainstream video game industry. Entertaining historical content has widespread multi-generational appeal.
What player of any age or gender would not want to take on the role of one of these amazing real-world female characters, who are both heroines and role models? (Her Interactive succeeded with this strategy with the Nancy Drew game series which fused historical and cultural facts into the narrative. Those games also taught critical thinking skills and inductive and deductive reasoning skills. Fans were inspired to pursue STEAM careers as a result of the games.)
The film industry has already capitalized on the widespread generational appeal of historical characters through commercially successful films,
such as Lincoln, Schindler’s List, and also films featuring female protagonists, such as Mrs. Brown and The Iron Lady. Steven Spielberg and
Merchant Ivory Productions are among the film producers that have leveraged the audience for culturally-meaningful, historical content.
The fact that Downton Abbey became the most popular television program in America is testimony to the widespread appeal of strong female characters in a historical setting.
Although there are few female protagonists in video games, males have become accustomed to playing heroic female characters, including less sexualized characters such as Faith from Mirror’s Edge, or ‘Chell from the woman-designed blockbuster Portal. Video games in historical settings, such as Battlefield 1942 and the Assassin’s Creed series, demonstrate an emerging market for historically themed games.
In the US, there is growing concern over the decline of female participation in IT fields, with female participation in the video game industry even lower than the national average for IT fields. While the audience for games has expanded in all directions, adult women continue to be the fastest growing demographic for game consumption, comprising 47% of players.
These new audiences have driven the success of games like Farmville and Angry Birds, yet women remain underserved and underrepresented in the larger video game landscape. A recent study showed that only 15% of playable video game characters are female.
Female game characters continue to show dramatically more skin than their male counterparts, and feature extremely tiny waists, and other
hyper-sexualized body characteristics. This hyper-sexualization and objectification of female characters can lead to unrealistic body ideals. It can also reinforce and cement negative body images and perceptions during the formative years.
However, this is beginning to change. Over the past year, the video game industry has echoed with outcries for inclusiveness. Both women and
men have been speaking out about the egregious representation of women as hyper-sexualized victims that pervades the mainstream “hardcore” game industry.
At the same time, casual games convey disrespect for their audience, promoting a “dumbed down” vision of female players, through simplistic, easy gameplay, and by exploiting players through profit-centered
monetization that adds no value to the player experience.
Research shows that Baby Boomer Gamers, both men and women, are a grossly underserved market that are hungry for high-quality, sophisticated, narrative-based adventure games.
Furthermore, there is an opportunity to create more edifying games that maintain a high degree of entertainment quality that appeal across age and
gender to engage players with positive and empowering images of women.