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?
There are no girls on the internet!
If you haven't heard this joke before, you've either been hiding in a cave or are so new to the internet that your computer still has that "new car" smell. No, don't believe the rumors. There are a few rare ladies that not only surf the weeb and send e-mails, but who actively play video games, online games and MMOs. A very little percentage play what I would call "boy games", with fast action movement, exploding stuff, and blood & guts. The girls that do so tend to be extremely good too; they take a lot of pride in telling some young testosterone-filled player "how does it feel to lose to a girl?".
The advent of MMOs brought something that appealed right away to most girls: socialization. Add pretty graphics and less hardcore elements and suddenly a bit more ladies play. But don't pile all women into the same stack because there will always the hardcore grrlz who not only thrive in a high competition environment but get recognition as A Player. I've seen it happen in Quake III's golden hour where some girls started competing with guys as equals. Cybersports are awesome for that!
But as it applies to EVE Online, it's a bit different. It can't be described as a Cybersport (unless we talk about the Alliance Tourney) but it is definitely hardcore. Too hardcore? Well, the lack of instant gratification sure doesn't help; one has to see the Big Picture in order to keep interest in EVE. One also has to get involved with other like-minded players to achieve certain goals, and this goes to everything that can be done in EVE from industrialism to piracy to sovereignty warfare. If someone wants to get into EVE for the social aspect but just do his/her own little thing... things are going to get boring pretty quick and that player will quit. Let's take my girlfriend for example (the real life Cassy Winds for those who know my trade alt character). She would openly admit it, she is a WoW player. I know, blasphemy. But in reality this game is perfect for her because she just wants to do her little thing, with just a bit of socialization on the side especially after picking up some sweet loot. But she watches me play EVE and though she knows almost nothing of the game in general, she knows about the unsharded universe, the sandbox, the butterfly effect, all that jazz. She would be terrified to do her thing, say missions, with the knowledge that some ninja joker could come in and mess with her and her stuff.
Will Incarna attract more girls to EVE? It all depends what you can and cannot do in your incarnated out-of-pod avatar. If there are some missions or "quests" you can do while in stations then maybe some girls may be interested to give EVE a try. There has to be that element for Incarna to work anyway because people will just stay in their ships if all you can do when out and about is to go to a make-believe bar to shoot the shit with the stations guests.
All in all, Girls either in EVE or in any other game will always be the minority, and no amount of content will suddenly transform WoW/DDO/Rappelz girl gamers into sci-fi loving capsuleers. But I will go so far as admitting that making better forms of PvE, with or without Incarna, would at least make the girls who try the game out think about maybe sticking around longer. As for the hardcore grrlz? Don't worry about 'em... or worry about 'em when they have a point up your ass and are turning your ship into a slab of swiss cheese!
PS: I take this opportunity to salute all the gamer girls I've played with, fragged and gotten fragged by: Jenesaispas & Zola (Red Planet), Honi, Trinity, DeathAngel & Dovey (Quake III), Arancia, Jel, Mynxee, Shae, Missemopants, DJ Sam (EVE)... I'm sure I'm forgetting some!