I went longer than I meant to before writing another post. Shocker, I know. Anyway, I spotted a special installment of EVE Blog Banter that got the neurons firing, so I thought I’d participate (even though I never have before—no time like the present!). The topic? How to get more women playing EVE Online. Since I’m a woman who plays EVE, I thought surely I could come up with something to say on the matter.
What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?
First of all, here’s what not to do: Don’t add pink. Don’t add sparkles. Don’t add unicorns and rainbows and relationship drama. For some reason lots of companies and people seem to think that this is all girls and women want in a game. That’s what one group of women and girls wants, and let’s face it, EVE isn’t trying to appeal to them. If it were, it would be Barbie in Space, not EVE. So don’t go there—the kind of women you want to attract would just be insulted.
I don’t pretend to speak for all women, obviously. But what kept me from starting up the game for a long time was the singular focus of all the advertising material I saw. From what I could tell, the game was just about ship combat, nothing else. There are women who enjoy that, absolutely, but a wider variety of gameplay options appeals to a wider variety of people. It was only when my husband pointed out the industrial, trade, and mission aspects of the game that I agreed to take a look. Find ways to advertise those more openly. Also, widely link to creative things like Future Proof, which is so gorgeous it rendered me speechless—if you want to convert a woman in your life to playing the game, show her something absorbing & inspiring like that.
I think there are a lot more women who’d game if they found ways to do it in short installments, without needing to put in hours and hours at a time. That way they could work it in around kids, making dinner, work, classes, etc. Part of this requires having a bit more structure and help in place when starting out. The advisory tutorials are an excellent start, but they aren’t enough. My advisory agents tried to send me through .4 space right after the initial tutorials—if this had been my first character, I might have gone along with that, gotten pod-killed, and decided I hated the game. The harder you make it to figure out how to survive the game, the more solid time the players have to put in right from the start, and the less likely someone with limited spare time is to stick around.
Right now the game moves fairly abruptly from safe to pod-killing—hanging around jumpgates from .5 space to .4 in order to gank folks coming through seems rather popular. On top of that, there are plenty of missions while you’re hanging out in high-sec space that send you into low-sec, forcing you to pass through these gauntlets. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, you can end up hitting these spots fairly early on and losing your shirt. Again, frustrating, and folks who value their scarce free time might bounce.
Finally, just treat us like regular gamers when you run across us in-game. Nothing squicks most women faster than having a bunch of random guys online fawning all over them or treating them like aliens. Last time someone invited me into their corp they said it would be great to “have a mother figure to keep [them] in line,” and I couldn’t cross that corp off my list of possibles fast enough.
So, my suggestions boil down to this: Advertise the greater variety of gameplay options beyond just combat so you’ll hook a wider variety of people. Transition a little more gradually from high-sec safety to low-sec danger. Include more automatic help to steer new players toward good starting areas with the facilities, agents, and resources they’ll need. (Those last two suggestions are part of making it possible for players to play for short periods of time more easily, which could easily be a topic in its own right, as the third link in the list at the end of this article shows.) And stop treating us like some sort of monolithic alien race that simultaneously attracts and horrifies you. Most of this reads more like a list of suggestions meant to widen the appeal of EVE across both genders, but there’s a reason for that—male and female gamers aren’t as different as you think.
Oh yeah, and family or couples’ rates for accounts wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Here are a few links to other blog posts in the banter: