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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 08:46 GMT
Why girls and games are a good mix
Anna Larke works for games developer Argonaut and has worked on titles like Croc, Buck Bumble for N64 and the Harry Potter games.

Here she tells BBC News Online where video game makers are going wrong in their attempts to appeal to women.

Screenshot from Silent Hill 2, Konami
The grim thrills of Silent Hill appeal to some women
Many people, not just women, may be put off by the common "geek" stereotype gamers have.

But it does not bother me, because playing a huge variety of games is something I enjoy doing and no "geeky gamer" image is going to put me off.

That is not the only stereotype that persists in this business.

Some people believe that women only like role playing games, puzzles or adventure games.

Others suggest that women do not like playing computer games at all and that games are just for boys.

In reality, it is down to personal preference, just like a person's taste in films, the books they like to read or TV programmes they enjoy.

Genre juggling

In my work as a games developer, I do not think about what would be fun for women to play when I am working on a design.

Instead, I try and think about what is fun for everyone to play, regardless of their gender.

What makes a great game and what appeals to women are very subjective matters.

Anna Larke, games developer
Most video game ads... only reinforce the stereotype that only males play games and that it is not something in which a female would be interested
Anna Larke, Argonaut games developer
For example, I love playing games that range from the cute to the gory, spanning every genre, from puzzle games to first person shooters.

Depending on what mood I am in, I will play anything from Half Life, The Legend of Zelda, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy VII, The Sims or Goldeneye.

In my job as a games designer I have worked on titles like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and the soon to be released I-Ninja.

In my experience, these are games that appeal to everyone.

I do not think developers need to concentrate on what kind of games appeal to women because that kind of thinking only serves to reinforce gender stereotypes.

It insults the majority of women gamers, especially if the games released are as being made "for girls".

Broad reach

What the games industry is about is making good games for everyone, and there is a huge variety of excellent games out there begging to be played.

Perhaps the increasing popularity of mobile phone games will introduce more people who have not played games to the gaming world.

Their appeal is that you can have a quick game whilst on the tube, or on the bus or when you want to kill a few minutes.

But the real challenge lies in telling people about them, and one of the main problems is the way a lot of games are marketed.

Generally, games advertising is not targeted at anyone other than males.

Screenshot from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, EA
Ms Larke has worked on Harry Potter's adventures
Most video game adverts appear in gaming magazines, and many of the adverts that do appear depict gamers as male.

This only serves to reinforce the stereotype that only males play games and that they are something that a female would not be interested in.

Admittedly, if you like games, you are might already be buying games magazines or looking them up on the internet.

But I do think video game adverts in a girl's/woman's magazine might attract even more interest than currently exists.

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