Female Friendly?

14 01 2009


Aleks talks about Eidos getting lower than expected sales on Tomb Raider: Underworld, and as a result saying they’ll possibly make Lara Croft more “female friendly”. What on earth does that even mean? Do Eidos have a clue why North American sales were so low compared to expectations? Have they tied that to American women not buying it?

I don’t know, but it’s a sore point for may gamers and developers, with the industry and especially publishers hung between what a rare piece of good reporting in the Daily Mail (really, of all places) calls the “Pink Plague“, and shallow appeals to heterosexual men.

Commenters on the Guardian Gamesblog piece point out that Lara always was a female friendly character to them:

It’s funny because the original tomb raider on PS1 did appeal to women. For many women (and older people) I know Tomb Raider was Playstation, it was a family game. She was an intellectual young woman travelling the world solving puzzles.

There really is a lot of potential to make Lara into a female role model rather than a sex object, but every chance most game companies will still screw it up. Other comments are tragically piercing and hilarious:

Going by previous games industry efforts, the next instalment will be Little Pet Shop Raider: Pony Sanctuary.

-Instead of killing tigers you have to dress them up in beany hats and necklaces. If they dig your style they wont attack. If you style enough animals correctly you unlock a fashion show.

– Sometimes Lara will refuse to unlock doors or lift items because she is having emotional issues with her bf. To prevent this Lara can use her in game mobile to chat inanely to her girlfriends raising her stats.
Medipacks are replaced by heat magazines and hot chocolate.

– Lara’s quest involves hunting a rare bangle that Grazia named their hot pick of spring 2009.

– Lara will refuse to walk anywhere, instead she can ring her ingame bf to pick her up and drive her through the temples.

– Extreme humidity will result in Lara’s hair going frizzy. If players cannot find hair straightners within a set time limit, Lara will throw a hissy fit and refuse to continue the mission

(CC image by Orin Optiglot)

Develop: Games Up

7 08 2008

There was a panel at the Develop Conference about the Games Up campaign, which rather predictably went into tax breaks and stayed there. There were a number of good points I found in it, both for and against tax breaks, none of which I’d heard being made before.

On the panel were Richard Wilson from TIGA, Sarah Chudley from Bizarre Creations, Ian Livingstone from Eidos, and David Braben of Frontier Developments.

Cutting off any comparisons to any industries such as coal mining, Ian Livingstone pointed out that subsidising dying industries is futile, but as a growth industry games would likely be reinforced and enhanced by tax breaks. There was a quick audience vote in which a great deal of those present seemed unsure about the idea, with a few even putting their hands up against.

The reasons soon became apparent, with the session quickly turning into a debate. IGDA Director Jason Della Rocca offering some particularly challenging comments. Over all, his argument was that the problems faced in developing games at the moment are so complex that a tax break would probably make little or no difference to the UK industry.

Furthermore, he said, there are many other areas which are within reach of studios, such as tool standards and talent retention. He’s right; while game development is not quite in the management wasteland of the early 00’s, there’s still a great deal of development to be done on businesses and staff.

In line with the comments at this session, Paul Wedgwood gave this quote to GI.biz this morning:

I can tell you as the owner of a studio that, at least has the perception of being successful, if I paid less tax we wouldn’t make better games

As with any debate like this, all camps tend to be a bit naive in their own favour, but it’s interesting to note such industry figures decrying tax breaks as too simple and too unlikely a target. Of course, if the government offers the industry money it would be foolish not to take it, but there’s far more to pushing the industry forward, and I can’t help but feel that through this Richard Wilson has stepped into a tricky cultural problem in terms of game development: It’s fairly straightforward for studios to unite yet act out of self interest as far as calling on the government is concerned, but other areas where studios can make improvements call for a lot more selfless effort.

(CC window tax image by akira_kev)

Cavanagh picks up OBE in New Year’s Honours list

2 01 2007

Cavanagh picks up OBE in New Year’s Honours list
Jane Cavanagh, CEO of SCi Entertainment, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the development of the UK games industry.

Cavanagh founded SCi in 1988 and the company had its first number one hit nine years later with Carmageddon. In 1999 SCi was listed on the London Stock Exchange, and went on to enjoy worldwide success with the Conflict series of videogames.

In May 2005, SCi aquired Eidos Interactive and with it licenses such as Tomb Raider. Following the acquisition Cavanagh stepped down from her role as chairwoman but remained as CEO of the company.

Cavanagh is not the first SCi exec to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list – last year it was the turn of product acquisition director Ian Livingstone, who also received an OBE for services to the games industry.