Are alternate reality games one of the most women-oriented fields of gaming?
...women make ARGs. Mind Candy alone was around 40% female staff for a while. Outside the company, we have terrific women like Jane and Krystyn moving the art forward. Compare this to an IGDA report from 2004 stating that 17% of the games industry workforce is female. In some traditional development studios, the number of women employed is practically nil.
I think this difference from traditional console and PC gaming rises from an earlier, more noteworthy development: The ARG playerbase is historically very gender-balanced. Even during our Cloudmaker days, we noticed that our community was about as evenly gendered as was the Internet itself. This has appeared to remain true through today. There's a great photo of the crowd at ARGfest in NYC this year -- you'll notice that just a touch less than half of the attendees are, you've got it, female. And this is the self-selected hard-core playerbase!
I've got a ton of theory on what the magic is in ARGs that invited women to play, fodder for another post. I think it's pretty certain that inviting women to play is what's invited women to create. The electronic games industry as a whole is starting to cotton to the fact that HEY! Girls like fun, too! and haven't quite figure out yet how to cash in, but ARGs...
I agree with all of this. If we're right, this issue should enter into the discussions about gender and the gaming industry, popular culture depictions of games, game content, and teaching with games.
I wonder if anyone has studied the culture clash dynamics between ARGs and first-person shooters, when Halo players hit the ARGworld through ILoveBees.
Similarly, it might be interesting to compare ARG and casual games players, given that they might have overlapping demographics. Both have strong puzzle components, and casual games players are apparently mostly women.
Last question: is a platform division by gender coming up? ARGs are largely played on PCs, while in other games consoles predominate. Casual games are largely played on... PCs and mobile phones?
Back to the last session in New Haven -