Matt Chat 49: Nancy Drew with Jessica Chiang of Her Interactive

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Matt Barton's picture

Here's this week's Matt Chat featuring Jessica Chiang of Her Interactive. I talk to her about the history of the company, Nancy Drew, and what kind of games appeal to women. Enjoy!

Hope you like the new bells and whistles. I felt motivated to up the quality after watching Sleepy Eyed Solutions' Rubix video.

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Van Noort (not verified)
Okej!

Nice interview, but a tad boring! Now we really want you to do what you do best! Reviews of retro games! Feels like you are sliding away from your roots :(

Rowdy Rob
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Enjoyed it as usual!

Matt, this was the usual quality, information, and entertainment I've come to expect from "Matt Chat." And as usual, it opens up a whole can of worms as for what we can talk about, from the implications brought up in the video. Perhaps someone else can take the ball and run with it in this thread... I'm trying not to "talk" so much.

I think most Matt Chat fans love the interviews! The only problem I have with the interviews is that they're too short. But that's probably a good thing; leave 'em wanting more! The interviews are extremely interesting, and if you can keep them coming, that would be excellent, not just for the show, but for the gaming community as a whole! Of course not every single week.... your game analyses are always welcome and entertaining.

"Matt Chat 44: Ralph Baer." Interviews are great, and they're historical monuments. End of story.

As for your "improvements," I hate to say it, but I didn't notice any dramatic change in the quality or cinematography of this episode. What did I miss? You've always had inserts, cutaways, commentary, game clips, and the closing comment. Then again, I'm not very visually perceptive; there are viewers who notice what games are on your shelves, but I notice the "bookcase," and that's about it. Matt Chat is a quality production, so I guess I've become so accustomed to it that anything other than a dramatic change (such as a new title sequence or different background) probably wouldn't get noticed by me.

I keep saying things that get misinterpreted recently (in real life as well as online), so don't interpret that as a criticism or a downer. It was a great episode, but that's what I've come to expect from "Matt Chat," and I haven't been disappointed yet.

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Well...

I think the most important thing here is the main topic that you covered with Jessica - the topic of Girls and Gaming. I know that there was an earlier thread that focused on female gamers and violence. It turned into a rather long thread that was written mostly by guys.

When Matt brought this topic up a few weeks ago, I started thinking about the games that the girls I know tend to play. I will list some of them here -

1: Puzzle games - Bejeweled, Tetris, Snood
2: Sim games - FarmVille (facebook)
3: RPGs - Final Fantasy, Persona (Shin Megami Tensei)
4: Adventure/Puzzle - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series

One honorable mention - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. My sister used to play this game with me back in the day, and she still likes it.
I have also seen various girls enjoy the Grand Theft Auto series of all things.

So let me say that I think females tend to like things that are constructive in nature. I think there is no denying this. Just as I was typing this post, my fiancee walked in and said that she used to play this game called Afterlife (Lucasarts) that was a simulation "god game" where you construct heaven and hell. This further backs up my working theory.

I also think that games that allow a lot of freedom can be appealing. Open world games. I would venture a guess that it is this sandbox aspect of Grand Theft Auto that the girls I know like. This as opposed to the violence. Then again, all people can get some guilty pleasure from running people off the road, running red lights, and running over pedestrians. They are all frustrations of everyday life, and they are presented as randomly generated people without personality. I won't dive into when death is okay or not okay for guys vs. girls in videogames, but I wanted to make a point that there are girls that like this game that is known for its violence.

I wouldn't mind seeing more commentary on this one. Commentary on this episode of Matt Chat is almost completely gone. Ironically, the next episode was Leisure Suit Larry of all things. I wonder how many girls play that one...

Someone follow up on this one. Let's discuss.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Commentary is hard to get

Commentary is hard to get done in these 10-minute Matt Chats. It just takes time to develop a discussion when on a topic like that. I think this summer I'll start some audio podcasts to accompany the videos where I can go into a lot more detail.

There's obvious problems with any discussion on this topic that have to get worked out beforehand. For instance, is there an essential difference between men and women? Do men and women just think differently; are their brains just incompatible? I think many feminists would say NO to these questions, since once you accept such a thing it gets easy to start claiming that certain jobs are better for men vs. women, etc. We like to think of men and women as being entirely equal. Whether it's true in some absolute sense or not seems less relevant than our desire to see people treated fairly. As I like to say, demand opportunity, not privilege.

From a strictly logical viewpoint, I see no reason why men and women shouldn't serve together in the military (including in combat) or why all professional sports shouldn't be integrated. You can't tell me there aren't some good women out there who could hold their own in the NFL. Again, from a strictly logical perspective, I'd go so far as to say that even having separate bathrooms for men and women is bad, since it just reinforces that difference (always wondered how transgendered people handled that). I prefer to see concepts of masculinity and femininity separated from male and female, since we all know that people can be either regardless of their "sex." I found the movie "Starship Troopers" quite effective in these regards; it seemed like a very plausible way of life to me.

Obviously, there are whole college courses dedicated to women's studies and such, and last time I checked some eight waves of feminism (many of which were incompatible with each other). Just the name "women's studies" is a sign of that; many women apparently want to avoid being called a "feminist."

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
The industry

Honestly, I don't think the industry is really tapping into what sort of games they can produce for women. I think they have easily found the right games for the male demographic as games have naturally developed over the years. I also think this has something to do with men dominating the software development industry. That is an assumption on my part, but I think it is a safe one.

I think companies could stand to do a study on the interests of women and apply the reasoning behind certain interests (psychological approach) to develop a game rather than take a typical woman's interest and just directly translate it to a game. (i.e. making a game where one "goes shopping" would be a stereotype & direct translation to a game)

With all due respect to those that believe that men and women think the same, I think that notion is rather silly. I definitely believe there are similarities that drive both genders (take for instance..companionship), however each of the two genders can take a completely different path and arrive at the same result for any given topic. So perhaps it comes down to what angle one takes when saying each gender is "the same."

This topic is quite relevant to me right now because I have all sorts of books, etc that are part of a set of premarital counseling sessions I am taking part in with my fiancee. Many - *many* - of the items in the book are so true (acknowledged by the both of us). While many are things we already know, reading about them helps bring how we handle each topic to the forefront. We find ourselves looking out for each other in certain areas and trying to acknowledge each other's needs. We also see things in there that do not apply to us at all but happen to fit some other married couple we know just perfectly.

Look at "equality" in a gender sense as this - Apples and oranges are both fruits, but they are still quite different. "Apples to oranges" is a simple idiom used to illustrate two things you can't really compare, and yet the very use of the idiom & reasoning behind it has even been brought into question. It is really ridiculous.

I can't speak for psychologist reasoning behind equality of the genders, however I think that the feminist take on equality of gender is an example of overemphasis of a particular group's feelings (in this case, on the subject of gender equality.) This same overemphasis or overcompensation is often used by organizations (intentionally or not) in attempt to slingshot someone from one extreme to the middle-ground by way of stating the opposing extreme's viewpoint. (i.e. "Do we emphasize that women can do the same jobs men can, or do we just say that both genders are completely equal in all ways?") I think the public finds that PETA will, on occasion, deploy tactics in similar fashion.

Returning to videogames, I think game sales by gender is a perfectly valid and obvious example of how men and women are different. If they are so much the same, then why don't the game sales split evenly across the two genders for all genres of games?

Do companies ignore discovering (and exploiting) what things would drive women to buy videogames because they don't think there is enough money in the cause? I think many developers focus almost exclusively on marketing their games toward males due to the sheer unevenness of the male:female ratio.

I challenge Her Interactive to continue to be innovative. I am sure there are many more types of games for females that just haven't been discovered yet.

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