Los Angeles Times: Women Warriors, Let the Internet Games Begin

Women Warriors, Let the Internet Games Begin

August 01, 1999|RENEE TAWA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It’s frag time, and Ivy Girl’s grandparents were just in town. Of course Ivy Girl–24-year-old Deanna Barberino–was happy to hang out with them in San Diego, but her fingers were itching for the rocket launchers of her favorite video game.

Two weeks ago, Female Frag Fest ’99–the first large-scale, all-female Internet gaming event of its kind–got underway, and Barberino was busy with schoolwork and family. Which meant she had no time to practice for the big event with her online team, clan PMS (that’s Psycho Men Slayers–a group known for its fierce, all-female players in the high-speed 3-D game, “Quake II.”)

“Some of the guys don’t understand how many females there are out there, and how many are hidden,” Barberino said of the reasoning behind PMS. “It makes us stronger as a force.”

That same ideology applies to Fem Frag, said the tournament’s co-organizer, Stephanie Bergman, 25, who is a producer at The All Games Network, which sponsors daily Internet TV shows on computer and video games, including her own “Lilith & Eve,” an online TV show about women and computer games.

In March, Bergman and her “Lilith & Eve” cohost, Vangie Beal, sent a survey to female players. Would women play in an all-female tournament? Did they want the chance to rise to the ranks of the pros, most of whom are male?

The women said yes, and 70 players from the U.S. and Canada, ages 18 to 65, signed up for the free tournament under log-ons including Bitchgoddess, ACiDbaby and Hellchick.

Players were required to send in copies of their driver’s licenses as proof of gender and their real names in order to claim prizes that include an all-expenses paid trip to New York City. In early September, six finalists will meet face to face there in a play-off match and win a free trip to a spa and a Broadway show.

According to Bergman, the tone for Female Frag Fest ’99 was set in the pregame chat rooms, when women talked about how to play the game with long fingernails and what to do with their kids when playing video games.

“It’s a lot of fun. You start chitchatting beforehand,” said Barberino, who lost her first individual match in the tournament. But she didn’t care.

“As much as I love playing with the guys,” she said, “it’s so much different when you’re playing against a female. During one match, we were just laughing [in online chat]. After a kill, we were like, ‘Are you OK over there?’ ”

The online tournament matches are notopen to public viewing. But tournament information is available online at http://www.femalefrag.com. Other game sites include http://www.heat.net and http://www.cyberathlete.com.

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/aug/01/news/cl-61721

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