Girls play Quake too
by Erica Smith
March 7, 1997, 4 p.m. PT
“Why is it so hard to believe that women can start up a computer and enjoy a good game?” So asks CrackWhore JoJo.
Among the many clans to be found lurking on the Quake servers on any given day are two that are unique only because of their gender. The CrackWhores and PMS (Psycho Men Slayers) have gained celebrity status primarily because, as far as anyone knows, they’re the only two Quake clans that are all-women. At last count, at least a thousand Quake clans were registered with id Software.
Are female Quake clans deserving of such attention? The common belief is that 97 percent of all gamers are men, and still more rare is the female action lover. But according to the CrackWhores’ site, as many as 10 percent of the Quake players they’ve encountered are women, and certainly both the CrackWhores and PMS love action enough to have had some very successful deathmatches.
Quake-playing women contradict the analysts’ take on the small numbers of women gamers, and confound the notion that the problem owes to the fact that there aren’t enough “girl-oriented” games, like Barbie Fashion Designer. PMS credit The Underramp Cybercafe in Victoria, British Columbia, with helping to form their clan. Meeting at a place where gamers from all over Canada come to play and hang out out with like-minded Quake addicts, several of the women began their own group. Now PMS are up to 11 members, the youngest being 14 years old, and recently they scored an ad banner for their Web site. The CrackWhores boast only six members, all in their twenties.
But what kind of game do they play? “I am woman, hear me roar” takes on a completely new meaning when heard on PMS’ Web site, for when it comes to kicking some butt, these women are serious. Rocket launchers are the weapon of choice for more than a few members. PMS have participated in several deathmatches with male clans and report a plethora of surprising reactions. Some guys start typing comments and forget about shooting, others want to know what they’re wearing. Many gamers still don’t believe they’re all women.
Both the CrackWhores, glamorous though they may portray themselves on their site, and PMS are serious about their game. PMS recently held online tryouts for new members–PMS want girls who can play, but also want to nurture the promising Quake slayers while they swell in number. PMS are further interested in doing Capture the Flag matches, and PMS_Anna says they’re ready and have the ability to get one together. The CrackWhores are also advertising for more women to join their ranks and expect new members soon.
By playing locally on a LAN, PMS keep their skills sharp and have a blast, literally, with the members who can get together at Underramp. “It’s beautiful to play sitting next to each other and say ‘Quad Advantage, get out of my way’ and be heard,” says PMS_Anna. However, now that PMS’ members range geographically from western Canada to the Eastern seaboard, Quaking isn’t so simple. “How can we guarantee that the women are really women? We can play with them, and we can talk on the phone, but who’s to say it’s really them?”
PMS_Anna shared favorite levels of Quake: “PMS_Aurora and I really like DM6, which is a very cool level but I also like DM4 if there isn’t too much lag.” She also revealed a strategy popular with the PMS clan: “Keeping frags from your opponents can be just as advantageous–if not more–than killing them.”
The CrackWhores’ site projects plenty of attitude, too, but they also play their femininity to the hilt. Expect a flashing neon, bikini-clad woman, as well a personal shots of the CrackWhores in bathing suits. Proclamations such as “Yes, there are women out there who play Quake! And yes–some of us are beautiful!” pepper the site.
When asked if there are plans for a deathmatch with the CrackWhores, PMS_Anna says, “We’re trying, but the CrackWhores are really hard to get a hold of. Rumor says they’re the big guys that play really well and it’s a spoof.”