Women showed their emerging presence in the video game world at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week.
The three-day event at the Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, is home to the world’s premier trade show for computer, video and mobile gaming. The conference is attended by software developers, programmers, distributors, entertainment industry representatives, venture capitalists, and video game consumers. Big name companies in attendance include Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
And this year, whether it be programmers or fans, women were in high attendance at the traditionally male-dominated expo.
Video game console, Xbox (owned by Microsoft) had a plethora of their gaming presentations operated by female leaders and executives, according to NBC News Los Angeles.
“Sometimes, girls feel as if video games aren’t meant for them,” said Erica Hampson, a game developer for Virgini to NBC News. “Games used to be very sexualized but it’s been getting a lot better.”
With a strong increase in female attendance at the conference, more female characters were displayed in new game releases.
Emily Kaldwin, the assassin in Bethesda Softworks’ “Dishonoured 2,” Rae, a blind female character in Microsoft’s “Beyond Eyes,” and a female hunter in Sony’s “Horizon: Zero Dawn,” were some of the new heroines presented, according to the Associated Press. These characters all joined established female lead characters like Lara Croft of “Tomb Raider” series.
Meanwhile, Bethesda’s “Fallout 4,” EA’s “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate,” gave players the option to play as female characters. In addition, “FIFA ’16” is introducing women teams, as the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is currently underway.
A small all-female gaming development group from South Carolina called 3 Queens also made an appearance at E3, to introduce their new game “Creeping with the Crudashians,” a mobile game parody of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” according to MTV News.
Before “Creeping with the Crudashians,” Cara Florence, Nicole Young, and Maureen Coffey-Edri created an mobile platform application called WeConsent2, which established affirmative consent for women who are at risk of being sexually assaulted.
The positive vibes at the expo served as a counterpoint to the prevailing image of the gaming industry as sexist, and even potentially dangerous, for women. Just last year, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist critic who has written extensively about misogyny rampant in video games had to cancel a planned lecture at Utah State University after mass murder threats were made.
“I think that women and young girls have a different perception of gaming or even anything in technology or software-related. I think the perception is off, and if they could see more and be exposed to these types of events or opportunities and even see other women, like us, who are actually being successful at these types of opportunities, that would really inspire them. I wish that they could see that more,” Cara Florence, a co-founder of 3 Queens, told MTV News.
“Just do it, and be open to collaboration with other women too,” her fellow co-founder Nicole Young added. “Don’t be intimidated by the male dominance of this industry.”