Video Games! Millions of people play some form of them - from Farmville on Facebook to more complex games on consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation, and the most popular, Wii. Industry experts say forty percent of all game players are female, players of hardcore games like Grand Theft Auto are mostly male. That means the games are designed with boys and men in mind -- and 17-year-old Radio Rookie Jessica Cernadas finds that very frustrating.
HOST INTRODUCTION: Video Games! Millions of people play some form of them - from Farmville on Facebook to more complex games on consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation, and the most popular, Wii. Industry experts say forty percent of all game players are female, players of hardcore games like Grand Theft Auto are mostly male. That means the games are designed with boys and men in mind -- and 17-year-old Radio Rookie Jessica Cernadas finds that very frustrating.
JESSICA: Aww the big dude is right there. Argh just learn to die!!!
NARRATION: I loooooooooooove video games!
MOM: You're crazy. Yeah you talk to the game. You scream at the game.
JESSICA: UGH God UGH!
NARRATION: Unfortunately, my older sister Priscilla and I share a room.
SISTER: Oh my god jess I just got home from work.
NARRATION: She suffers a lot.
SISTER: We're gonna have to work out a deal 'cause I can't watch you play this game for 5 hours.
NARRATION: I blame my mom!
MOM: Well, You never liked dolls.
NARRATION: I chopped off all their hair.
MOM: And I didn't care!
JESSICA: So now I'm just home alone, and I want to let go of all these anger inside of me but the thing is what game should I play?
NARRATION: I usually want to play a button mashing game. It makes my anger dissipitate! I, I, mean I mean dissipate.
JESSICA: MUHAHAHAH You Mortal Fools.
NARRATION: But recently, it hasn't been helping. I used to play only with my friends, but now I play hardcore games online mainly where most of the other gamers are guys and they're just really rude!
UZI: Whoever is a girl who plays sucks at it.
NARRATION: "FINISH HIM..." That's Uzi one of my "Friends" from school. And this is his besty's opinion.
REASAT: There is no girl gamers!
NARRATION: Whoa Reasat. I'm not a unicorn! "FINISH FINISH." Finish them.
UZI: Every time there's a girl talking on the mic I try to flirt with her.
NARRATION: Ugh! It doesn't surprise me.
JESSICA: do you think you are better than most guys?
STEPHANIE: Hell yes!
NARRATION: Stephanie is one of the best gamers I know!
STEPHANIE: I mean, I have beaten most guys in my school. So yes. He e e e e.
JESSICA: Okay, let's say you were playing against a guy, and you told them you were a girl, would they not believe you or have they not believed you?
STEPHANIE: Well, I have told this one dude and he didn't believe me 'cause I beat him by one point. And he goes, "oh ok, if you are a girl then, show me some."
STEPHANIE: I was like "ah, no!"
NARRATION: I just want to grab my scythe of doom and slash everyone I meet! Like this 13 year old kid that I met at Game Stop.
ADRIAN: 'Cause they're girls they should be worrying about make up and stuff.
JESSICA: Other stuff like what?
ADRIAN: Chores or something.
NARRATION: A 13 yr old is stuck in the 50s?
NARRATION: It's hard to get any confidence when you are constantly mocked. And the way women are portrayed in these games doesn't help either.
STEPHANIE: In real life, if a girl ever fights, they usually have like sneakers and like loose shirts. But in games they have vvvvv.
NARRATION: I have about 21 Play Station games and only 2 have a female as a protagonist.
STEPHANIE: For like a guys appeal not a girl's appeal. So the guys go bing.
NARRATION: Characters like Bayonetta do kick serious butt, it's just that her freaking final move is where all her clothing comes off and transforms into a freaking dragon. Rolling my eyes!
CLOUD: I'm looking for someone...
NARRATION: The men in these games...
UZI: Guys will be strong,
NARRATION: are made to be beautiful,
NARRATION: Muscular tall
NARRATION: And just plain awesome,
REASAT: And oh yeah yeah yeah, and like usually you have to save the girls in the game most games. Heroic yeah.
NARRATION: And some guy characters even seem like real people, like Niko from Grand Theft Auto 4. He's just an average immigrant who gets dealt some bad cards in life.
GTA4: Ahhh. The Land of Opportunity RRAH! I've made it.
NARRATION: The person giggling is Caryn Law, the only female employee at Uber Entertainment, a small game developing company in Washington.
She's testing their new game with John Combs, the creative director.
Caryn Law plays online as Hell Chick.
CARYN: I guess looking back on it people have asked me why did you pick a name that is Hell Chick with is obviously a woman, well I didn't do it deliberately but I'm also not going to change it just because I don't feel like I should have to hide behind my gender.
JOHN: Just a couple of months ago Caryn and I were playing Modern Warfare online as soon as she said something lo and behold someone's like, "Whoa hell chick you're a chick you sound hot, are you hot?!" and it just unraveled from there and Caryn's like mute, I'm muting, hold on a sec I got to mute all these guys. That's when I was embarrassed for my gender actually.
NARRATION: I can't help you out there Mr. Combs, you're the creative director you should have some say in what goes on.
John: It's really about the audience and that's what we do what we do. The only thing that we have to do is make great entertainment. Just like movie people do, just like writers for books and novels do, just like musicians do.
NARRATION: Man, it seems like it's gonna take more than one girl saying 'life is unfair!' before female characters become more realistic.
JESSICA: Ringing of the doorbell
HEATHER: Come on in.
NARRATION: Heather Chaplin and I visit each other like every other day.
JESSICA: Oooh I see a lot of books.
NARRATION: Ha ha, ok no, seriously, she's a journalist who wrote the book Smart Bomb about the history of the gaming industry.
JESSICA: I'm loving your house.
NARRATION: Anyway...Heather is Mad.
HEATHER: It's almost 40 years that video games have been around they're still churning out in the main stream material that is essentially, no offense.
NARRATION: No problem.
HEATHER: Aimed at teenage boys. They say "hey hey, it's just entertainment, it's just entertainment," and I want to say, "it's not just entertainment you're creating culture, and culture is what shapes a society." So like what you're creating is actually really important, and what's wrong with you that you take yourself seriously enough to take what you do seriously?
NARRATION: Yeah! We want strong women, who can punch and kick and falcon punch! (sound bite) without taking off their itty bitty strips of cloth.
CARYN: I think it's possible to make female characters be not hyper sexualized.
NARRATION: Caryn Law -- aka Hell Chick -- actually told me she's working on a game with a girl character who's completely covered. And she is a ninja! Maybe a step in a new direction.
CARYN: But a bit of a Catch 22 in that in order to make more games that would appeal to more women you really need to have more women helping to make them but in order to get more women to help make them you have to have more games to appeal to them in the first place.
NARRATION: I'll break the cycle, kiya!
JESSICA: Can I play my game?
NARRATION: Ehh, that is if I ever get a chance to play uninterrupted! Priscilla, uh hm hm hm.
JESSICA: You're not watching TV
PRISCILLA: Yes I'm.
JESSICA: How are you watching the TV you're looking at the computer.
PRISCILLA: I stop then I look and then I stop
JESSICA: Mom I want that game. Can I get it? Can I get it?
MOM: Do you have money? Do you have money?
NARRATION: Invitation to anyone who hears this story: buy me games!
JESSICA: Mom! can you?
MOM: Doooo yoooou have money.
NARRATION: I need to play to get my juices flowing. So I can create my own super awesome sci-fi adventure strategy game, where women rule and men are dressed in speedos. Eww!
FOR WNYC I'm Rookie Reporter Jessica Cernadas, want to fight me?