Last night me and my boys (Daniel and Chris, The murder of my sweet) went to see our friends in Smash into Pieces and Skillet at Debaser Strand, Stockholm. It was great spending time together outside of the studio and both bands delivered, as expected! I tried a Brazilian cider of witch I can’t remember the name but it had lime and menhta flavor *tasty*! Got to look it up ’till next summer!
Some pics from the show
Never go to a live show without ear plugs. These ones I got when we played at Wacken Open Air. Gotta love the case!
Hanging out at the bar waiting for the show
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Me and Per
Adam and me
Benjamin Jennebo and Per Berquist after the show
The two men in my life, Daniel Flores and Christopher Vetter
2013 was all about the release of Sony’s and Microsoft’s next generation consoles. We were all dazzled about the new features and the possibility to share your gaming experience in social media.
But “next gen” is beginning to mean something else too. How about a step closer to gender equality? As the gap between the number of male and female gamers slowly thins, so does gender disparity in games media. Women are joining the game (pun intended) and the female stereotype is changing. But there is still a long way to go.
Of the developers taking this stuff seriously, Bioware is taking leadership. And even then it took them three Mass Effects before Commander Shepard started to be used in the marketing material. They also made the effort to use both male and female protagonists in different trailers at E3 this year. BioWare is well regarded as a gender-friendly company both for offering strong, confident women, like Commander Shepard, as playable characters and for depicting romantic relationships beyond the heterosexual norm as in Dragon Age: Origins. But BioWare’s reputation for their progressive stances on these issues would not loom so large if these sorts of depictions were commonplace in video games.
A study from ESA (Entertainment Software Association) show that nearly half of all gamers are women (45%). Adult male gamers have an average of 17 years of experience playing video games, adult female gamers an average of 13 years. It also shows that women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%).
There clearly is a big group of women playing video games so why aren’t there more female lead characters? It’s not that they are completely missing but let’s face it, there aren’t that many and statistically I bet the number is daunting. I don’t believe mainstream developers have a problem with including women, or racial minorities, in their games but that there’s a deep-seated assumption that the core audience for these sorts of games is mainly white men and boys who won’t accept anything else when it comes to who’s presented as the public face of big franchises. I also believe that many developers at big studios want to start changing that assumption, but don’t really know how to and that they are afraid of the perceived risk.
At GDC (Game Developers Conference) in Mars this year BioWare Montreal designer Manveer Heir gave a speech about stereotypes in gaming. Some say this was the most important moment of the conference. “I want us as an industry to stop being so scared… Let’s create a game that changes the core experience for the player… let’s find a way to challenge the majority and the minority perception of how we deal with race, gender, sexual orientation and all other sources of social injustices we have in our world” said Heir.
Ubisoft is also on to something but they’re struggling to get there. Last year, Assassin’s Creed IV’s ‘Cry Freedom’ DLC cast you as Adéwalé, a freed slave whose story line centered around the brutalities of slavery. But while 12 Years A Slave was winning Oscars, here the same themes were only touched on in the main game and then hived off as downloadable content.
I believe empathy with the protagonist should come from emotional back stories and shared experiences within the game, not from what sex or ethnicity the characters are.
At PAX Prime this year a panel was dedicated to “women surviving and thriving in the gaming industry”. For one hour several women currently working in games journalism talked about their struggles and successes within the industry. Mary Kish [Producer, GameSpot], Neha Tiwari [Executive Producer, GameSpot], Megan Farokhmanesh [Editor, Polygon], Naomi Kyle [Host, IGN], Jessica Chobot [Host, Nerdist], Tara Long [Rev3Games] all shared their experiences and thoughts on stereotypes and a change of the video game culture.
So maybe, just maybe, “Next Gen” will come to mean something more than the consoles. Maybe it’ll mean a more open minded community…
To end this rant I’ll leave you with some great games (in no particular order) with female protagonists:
Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream featuring Ellen Page)
Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. Storytelling is increasingly used in advertising today in order to build customer loyalty. This marketing trend echoes the deeply rooted need of all humans to be entertained. Stories are illustrative, easily memorable, and allow any firm to create stronger emotional bonds with the customers.
This week in school we were given the task to identify and analyze storytelling in a campaign, free of choice, and present it in class next week. I have already chosen mine and perhaps I’ll share my analysis with you when it’s done 😉 In the meantime, here is a small example that I came across in today’s paper (in Swedish):
You should also check out my friend Louise’s blog. She has listed an excellent example of storytelling from Chanel (videos)
PIXAR is kind enough to share with the world their 22 rules of storytelling. This is mainly considered for making animated movies but can apply to anything really. I can relate to a lot of the rules both in marketing campaigns and when writing a song or a new album. For our upcoming album we definitely worked with the concept of storytelling. Especially #7 in the list “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle” We basically wrote the album backwards!
Today I came across this story by a musician being sued by Lady Gaga for $1.4 million dollars for in the the first place having sued Gaga and her team for allegedly plagiarizing her song “Juda”. I haven’t heard the original song and can’t argue for either of their cases but the story she told was both scary and disheartening. The very thought of us “small time” musicians and song writers risking, that if we stand up to a corporation, bankruptcy. They’ll slam us with a $1.4 million dollar bill if we cry foul. You can, and you should, check out her post here!
And then there’s the story about illegal downloading… Well where should I start? How about an example of my experiences?
A couple of years ago a “fan” contacted me and asked me to check out his Facebook page where he was “promoting” my band. Happy about his invitation I visited the page and found a BitTorrent file for our recently released album. I approached him with the information that not only is it illegal but also highly unethical if you claim to be a fan. Unfortunately he didn’t agree with me.
I believe that if his intentions were to support our band he could just as easily have linked to a site the sold the album, like Amazon or any other. And why not link to the album on Spotify?
You might think you are doing the band a service by “spreading the word” but you’re in fact keeping them from things like going on tour or even recording another album. Because lets face it, if you can’t show for any sold units no one is gonna be willing to give you a budget for a new one, nor can they afford to send you on tour and let me tell you people, that’s expensive!
And that’s why we have the saying “Don’t quit your day job”, not because your not good enough to be a full time musician, but because you won’t be able to pay rent and food and bills with illegal downloads.