Recent studies have shown a change in who is playing games, woman are now challenging the typical gender stereotypes in regards to gaming, whilst taking on the typical male gamer. Females now make up 46% of the gaming market and many have suggested by the year 2012 the percentage will be equal for both genders. Girls have begun showing off their skills in the gaming world.
Gaming is perceived as a 'geeky' community but it is not, that is a huge misconception! Gaming is not a 'boys club' nor is it a 'geeky club'. Groups of girls and guys get together in a room and actually have fun! Nothing 'geeky' about it!
With the introduction of Wii and other interactive group computer games such as Singstar and Buzz, gaming has taken over social events and parties.
Xbox's online site manager, Ashley Jenkins proves that there is no typical gamer, she is an expert in gaming as well as a 'professional gamer' and a member of a gaming team, Frag Dolls. Ashley has also began managing and creating fan-sites for gaming titles such as American Mc Gee's Alice, Black and White and Shadowbane.
Frag Dolls are a gaming team that travel as professional gamers, Ashley has also appeared on the cover of PCXL magazine for a feature on Frag Dolls.
We spoke to Ashley about the gamer market and what is new for girls in the gaming world:
Why do you love gaming? Ashley Jenkins
: I started playing games when I was little and there is something fun about them, it is like watching the TV or watching movies or reading books- it just takes you out for a little while and you can do something different, like pretend your someone different and have great adventures. What I like about it specifically is that unlike TV and movies, it's not a passive experience, you have to think about your decisions and your actions. They really come into play, it is a much more interactive experience, my brain has to stay there with me.
Due to the introduction of group games, gaming has become more of a social experience? Ashley Jenkins
: Yes, I think gaming has been a social experience for a long time. When I grew up I would play with my brother and sister, we would have to share controllers or take it in turns, I always remember Mario Kart on the Nintendo, where you are racing against friends. I do think that with technology it has gotten a lot easier, and something that is good with me is that you can play with people that are not necessarily in the same room. I moved to Australia a couple of months ago and yet I am still able to play games with my friends from the U.S, even though I am thousands of miles away. It has definitely got more social that way, it has really enabled people to connect and keep in touch. I know people that have met and falling in love and married or made friends all over the world, it provides opportunities through social gaming.
What is Frag Dolls and what do you do in the team? Ashley Jenkins
: Frag Dolls is a professional all gaming female team, I joined almost four and a half years ago now, when the team first started up. Part of the reason I did that was that growing up I was a bit of a tom boy, I didn't realise straight out that girls didn't really play games past grade school, I was still playing. I never really wondered why all my friends didn't, but then I found out that this team had been put together. I wondered what it would be like to have girlfriends that had the same interests that I had and so I went in for it, I met other amazing girls that liked games. Together we traveled the country and competed in events and had the best time.
First of all we would meet people and let them know that girls do actually play and if they didn't believe us then we would show them. We would teach people about games and we would go to video game studios, where they were being made, we would interview the developers, which was a lot of fun and get to see games before they even came out. It was really really fun.
How long have you been into gaming and how recently have girls really increased in the gaming world? Ashley Jenkins
: I think there are plenty of well adjusted normal girls who play games like they might take up salsa dancing or take up swimming. It is not something that is only there for guys, it's not like muscle cars. It is something that anyone can do, it is a place where girls can play against guys, we are not restricted. I would never play footy against a guy unless I wanted to get squashed. (giggles)
It is an even playing field. I have a lot of fun and there is no physical advantage it is all in strategy and individual skill, I love being able to bring that and show that we can do just as well.
Are you surprised that by 2012 they suggest that the gaming world will be equally split in regards to genders? Ashley Jenkins
: That is really not surprising at all. Woman are by far a growing demographic in regards to video games, it's not just the kind of person who plays shooting games such as Halo, even if you are on your computer playing Solitare, which I do, (ssshh don't tell my boss!) or playing Bejeweled or anything, it is all the same thing, it is all games and interactive entertainment; even though, these people won't necessary classify themselves as gamers.
Do you think Facebook games have encouraged interactive entertainment? Ashley Jenkins
: Yes, I think that having games available and as interactive as a tool in an environment like that is definitely a huge help, it is an easy way for people to keep in touch and interact with each other. Gaming in an environment like Facebook takes away that stigma, if there is any left, it breaks down those perceptions, then people may play in gaming arcades, and there you go!
What is new in gaming for girls? Ashley Jenkins
: For one, I think that starting with things that are more familiar is a lot easier. There is a game called, Scene It for example. Scene It is a video games now, you put it in the Xbox and everyone has a special controller and you play movies and then you have to buzz in and answer the questions. There are all different modes and questions. Movies from the 60's, which I remember I was really into at one stage and then there is new movies, action movies and romantic movies. All these different things.
It's great, there is less pieces and you can't loose them! I am always missing pieces in Monopoly.
Games like Scene It are really fun. There are also alternatives like karaoke games on Xbox called Lips.
What is your favourite game? Ashley Jenkins
: My favourite game actually came out on the original Xbox, but I was able to download it on the 360 Xbox aswell. It's a game called Psychoanauts. You are an eight-year-old boy who goes to Psychic camp, and then throughout the game you are going into peoples heads and helping them to be, I guess, not crazy. There are just lots of different worlds. There is one lady who is an actress, and inside her head is a Shakespearean stage, and another head you going side is a city and your like Godzilla and there are little fish. It is colourful and really fun. It was almost like watching cartoons or when you are little every time you see something you say 'WOW'! It was amazing, it was by far one of my favourite gaming experiences ever. I spend days until I finished it.
We would like to know what are your favourite games & platforms? www.girl.com.au/blog/