To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Date Game
Date: Oct 2006

You've all heard of the "Date Movie". One that has a mix of action, romance, touching emotion, that couples can go to on their first date easy to talk about after, maybe reveal a little about who each other is. How about a "Date Game"? Think about it.

What do we do together now? Movies yes; dancing guys don't, women do; cards and board games, no - unless it's D&D; reading to each other, only on long drives and over Sunday coffee. But playing games together is a cross between movies, reading, and some competitive play on "I can do better than you can", only more compelling because they are interactive. So games have a great potential to be the social activity of our time.

There will always be the solitary player, but women miss the social interaction. Yes, there are online games and Second Life will do just that, but the social interaction, up and close, is a way to feel that an evening playing with a friend is more than a game.

Games for females are different from those for boys because they lead different lives. Six years ago, in a session at GDC on "What Women Want", an exasperated presenter said "Would you shoot anything? If not a person, an animal?" " Nooo", was the resounding reply and then one woman piped out, "A serial rapist". The room fell silent.

Some things have changed since then. Women are more likely to "kick butt" viz The Girlz of Destruction, Frag Girls, and the PMS Clan to name a few, and while girls will play boy games, boys don't want to play anything that smacks of "girl games". Something more to do with status and being called a sissy than the game itself. Girls on the other hand, have always been comfortable being a "tom".

Couples gaming can introduce different genres to the players. Women may first watch shooters before playing them, and the same with men and adventure games. I know a woman who wouldn't play Fatal Frame without her husband. Wander games, like Syberia or ones with lots of puzzles like Safecracker are great for taking turns or to kibitz.

So, if a game is to be considered a "Date Game" it will have to consider the likes of both men and women a little action; scratch constant shooting, it gets to be a bore, interesting enemies, maybe more options to negotiate. How about points given for avoiding conflict, good story line and puzzles, humor, characters that you can like, and if women are to fight they should be dressed for battle not for pole dancing?

And so, "Game over", "What did you like about the game?", "I didn't know you knew cryptography", "You know, we could have …" And so it goes.