E3 2014: My Experience As A Female Reporter At A Male-Oriented Gaming Event

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Opening day of E3 in Los Angeles, CA.

Thursday marked the last day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, and I had an incredibly amazing and educational week. Yes, I’m exhausted and even still a little jetlagged from my shift between time zones, but the past week has been so awesome and positive for me, I wanted to share my experience as a female journalist reporting from E3.

There was a lot of talk about women in the gaming industry during this week’s conference, or more specifically, the lack thereof. From Tuesday to Thursday, there were only five female presenters or speakers, and indie game company Vlambeer's Chief Executive Business Development Officer Rami Ismail tweeted : “PlayStation continues the more ‘severed heads’ than female speakers trend. #E3.”

There was also the issue of Ubisoft’s lack of female leads in upcoming “Assassin’s Creed Unity.” Then, the French developer said creating a female character in upcoming first-person shooter “Far Cry 4” would add too much of a workload to the game. A number of people responded negatively to these comments, and I can understand why, though it’s easy to forget any type of substantial progress takes time.

I agree that it’s nice to see diversity in video games. It’s nice to see women represented, it’s nice to see different races and cultures represented, and it’s nice to see female developers, designers and even journalists working in the realm of video games. I was lucky enough to see a lot of demos this week for games like “H1Z1,” “Planetside 2” and “Black Gold Online,” and one of the first questions I usually asked was, “will there be playable female characters?” And in every instance, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

e3 One of my favorite moments from E3 this year was meeting Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario from the Nintendo's "Mario" games.

As a female video game journalist, I’m used to being one of the only women in the room during any industry gathering, but I also see this slowly changing. I saw many women at this year’s event. Though males still largely outnumbered females by a wide margin, I spoke to several women who were just as passionate about video games as their male counterparts.

I know there’s still progress to be made, but we should also look at where we were just a few short decades ago, when video games were largely considered a male hobby. Gamers were viewed as introverted, socially awkward, mostly male pariahs who lived in their parents’ basements and sat around playing Super Nintendo 18 hours a day. Now, we have professional gaming tournaments where smart, capable female players compete against men and often win. We have video games with admirable female characters like “The Last of Us” and “Heavenly Sword.” Could we have more games that feature a strong female lead? Yes, absolutely. And I hope there will be. As the industry becomes more diverse, I believe we’ll see that in the near future.

My E3 experience was extremely positive, and I was treated with respect by male and female attendees, developers, designers and executives at the show. I have no complaints. People often give male gamers a bad rap, but I didn’t see any of the stereotypical attitudes of the hardcore video game fan during my three days at the convention. Men were very polite and helpful -- and eager to express and share their passions for gaming. It really made my experience all the more special.

Sadly, a lot of press surrounding the event didn’t make E3 seem as positive as it was, and that’s unfortunate. I had a great week. And I can’t wait to go next year.

Did you attend E3? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below or tweet me.

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