“It shows the gaming industry that female gamers truly do exist … that we are out there in full force,” says Anna “NabeO,” who organized the event with the support of her clan, 666. “With the success of this tournament, female gamers will hopefully be recognized as an untapped source of revenue.”
The small female Quake community has been slowly but gradually coalescing in the past year. Although, when playing online, many women still hide behind neutral logins in order to avoid sexual harassment, two all-female clans, PMS and the CrackWhores, have formed to celebrate their roles as women.
Despite the fact that it’s still rare to come across more than one or two women in a match, the women who are out there regularly congregate on IRC and the Quake Women’s Forum to swap tips and chit chat. And a good number of those women are becoming hot-shit players – such as Stevie Case (“Killcreek”), who beat Quake creator John Romero and grabbed a sponsorship from SpaceTec earlier this year.
As the first of its kind, the tournament is getting significant recognition from the Quake community. Although it usually turns down requests to sponsor tournaments (id CEO Todd Hollenshead estimates that there are as many as two dozen tournaments a week worldwide), id Software is heavily involved in the girls-only tournament, donating prizes and advice. In return, the vocal women of the community have helped convinced id to include a female player character in the upcoming Quake 2.
Hollenshead explains: “To us, the tournament is something that gives women players a little recognition that we think is due to them…. It can only broaden the audience of women interested in gaming.”
Mia Hilsenteger of PMS, is participating in the tournament along with a number of her 17 clan sisters. “The all-female tourney is kind of like a big girls’ night out,” says Hilsenteger. “We are gonna put on our pajamas, eat ice cream, and talk about boys – as well as the best way to beat them at Quake – while we have a few frags among ourselves.”
Eighty-six women (the number is rising rapidly) so far have signed up for the tournament, from which eight finalists will be flown out to LA in August for the finals. Winners will receive prize packages that include computers, software, and beta-testing privileges for Quake 2 – not to mention cosmetics and garter belts autographed by programmer John Carmack.
Although some participants are worried that male gamers might sneak in to the tournament under female logins, others are worried that the notion of an all-female tournament might be construed as sexist or exclusive. Most agree, however, that the tournament a necessary step for women to achieve recognition within the gaming community.
Writes participant Tankgirl, creator of the Quake Women’s Web Ring: “I hope that one day there will be so many girls playing Quake that holding an all-female quake tourney would be an outrage.”