Lady Bits and the Female Perspective in Gaming
Lady Bits is a newly funded series from Canadian television personality and games analyst Liana Kerzner that looks to ask and answer tough questions about women in video games. With a focus on feminist games content, Lady Bits seeks to unify the community around a practical discussion of female gamer issues and the role of women in the games industry.
At times ‘women in games’ feels like a dangerously charged topic, thanks in part to the direction its taken in the media. Past discussions generally harken back to gamergate and seem to fuel a lot of negativity around females and feminism in games.
While FeministFrequency’s Tropes v Women tackled some of these issues, there is much left to explore; especially around the positive changes women are making in the industry, and how the gaming community is becoming more inclusive and aware. Liana Kerzner recognizes this trend and, continuing the work she began in her A Gamer’s Guide to Feminism series, now hopes to expand the conversation with Lady Bits.
Lady Bits recently ran a successful Kickstarter that will allow the series to expand and explore women in games, and now that Anita Sarkeesian and others have stepped away from a focus on games, it’s a great opportunity to shift the conversation. Taking a more pragmatic approach, Liana’s goal is to avoid (further) fracturing the gaming community into oppositional gender interests and instead, encourage more exploratory discussions:
What’s healthy sexuality in a video game and what’s sexually objectifying?
Is the Lara Croft reboot truly more feminist and How Do Games Benefit From Having Women On The Development Team?
How important is a female playable character?
Should Game Developers Care About Complaints of Sexism?
We were thrilled at the success of the Lady Bits Kickstarter, and reached out to Liana to ask what drove her to champion the hot bed discussion of female issues in games.
As both an advocate, pundit, and influencer in the community, how would you describe your role in games?
I’m a games analyst and YouTube content creator with a feminist specialty. Unofficially, I joke that I’m Li-3PO, human- geek relations. Everything about my job is what most people would consider weird.
Did you always want to work in games and content creation?
I grew up in a pretty low income, high crime neighbourhood, so future plans weren’t exactly clear. Part of the reason I do what I do is that I didn’t know that video game design was something someone like me could do. I didn’t know what steps to take to access it. If I’d known that game design was an option, I’d have gone into it, (but) I didn’t know until I was well out of school. So I want to make young men and women more aware of career options than I was, because I think video games are amazing.
I put more focus on the female aspect just because it seems like men are having greater success accessing the industry. I don’t believe that’s because of interest. I believe that’s because of systemic barriers.
Is Lady Bits your first project of this kind?
I did a 14 part YouTube series called A Gamer’s Guide To Feminism before this. It was pretty well received.
How did you break into the industry; was it a big challenge?
I used the late night TV show, Ed and Red’s Night Party, to create gaming content. I had to prove I knew what I was talking about because people assumed I was some sort of dumb bunny when it came to video games. This isn’t an assumption. I was flat out told this by people who eventually became colleagues.
There is this assumption that women don’t know about video games. No one intends to feel that way. Too many women get jobs in gaming because the service needs a woman, not because they’re qualified. The thing is, there’s plenty of qualified women out there. I’ve talked to them. So there’s a disconnect that we need to acknowledge to fix.
Is there any particular game that made an emotional impact on you?
There’s no single game. Games in general pack a greater emotional wallop for me than movies or TV shows because I can actively engage with the content instead of being a passive observer. God of War is an emotional series. Gears of War is an emotional series. The Last Guardian and Papo & Yo are deeply emotional games. These are, obviously, very different games.
What do you feel is the most critical message to share around the games industry today?
Games are awesome and gamers get too bad a rap. Gamers are good people.
Liana Kezner‘s Lady Bits series in now in production and you can catch it this Fall on YouTube. In the meantime, you can check out Liana’s other game analysis videos and updates here. We’re excited to see the early support for this series focused on women in games, and look forward to seeing how Lady Bits turns out!