It’s not usually in the purview of what we do here to review books, but when the good folks at Mad Norwegian Press sent me a galley copy of their new book, Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of Gaming by the Women Who Love It, it seemed like a good opportunity to do just that. Chicks Dig Gaming, part of the Mad Norwegian Press’ Chicks Dig series (including Chicks Dig Comics and Chicks Dig Time Lords), is an anthology of essays by women who game and interviews with women who are involved in the gaming industry. Editors Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith, and Lars Pearson have assembled a collection of essays and interviews which revolve around the central theme of what it’s like to be a woman working on games and growing up as a gamer, a hobby and an industry still largely dominated by men.
The greatest strength of Chicks Dig Gaming lies in the personal stories shared in the essays, stories of growing up both a girl and a gamer, a position that made many of these women outsiders in their own passion. For anyone paying even a shred of attention, some of the stories shouldn’t come at as a great shock: stories of exclusion, ridicule, and harassment are obviously going to be part of any discussion of women in gaming. What was nice to see, though, was the inclusion of stories of success in the industry, valuable proof that while there’s a long way to go, it is possible for progress to be made. I especially enjoyed reading the interview with Lisa Stevens, Editor and CEO of Paizo Publishing, makers of the Patfinder RPG, about her time with Wizards of the Coast during the early development of Magic the Gathering.
If Chicks Dig Gaming has a weakness, it’s that the message likely won’t make it to the people who need it the most. A person who might be likely to read a book called Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of Gaming by the Women Who Love It is probably also the type of person who is already aware that we still have a long way to go as a society when it comes to how we treat women. As the horrendous misogyny and vitriol leveled against women by the “Gamergate” / Men’s Rights Activism assholes has shown, we could stand to have a little more understanding when it comes to women in games.
Rating: Nothing out of Nothing. I don’t believe in numbers in reviews. I enjoyed the book, you should read it.
Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of Gaming by the Women Who Love it at Mad Norwegian Press
From Mad Norwegian Press:
In Chicks Dig Gaming, editors Jennifer Brozek (Apocalypse Ink Productions), Robert Smith? (Who is the Doctor?) and Lars Pearson(editor-in-chief, the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig series) bring together essays by nearly three dozen female writers to celebrate the gaming medium and its creators, and to examine the characters and series that they love.
Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland…,Indistinguishable from Magic) examines Super Mario Bros. through the lens of Samsara, the Wheel of Birth and Rebirth; Seanan McGuire (the October Daye series) details how gaming taught her math; G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen) revels in World of Warcraft; and Rosemary Jones (Forgotten Realms) celebrates world traveler Nellie Bly and the board game she inspired.
Other contributors include Emily Care Boss (Gaming as Women), Jen J. Dixon (The Walking Eye), Racheline Maltese (The Book of Harry Potter Triffles…), Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), L.M. Myles (Chicks Unravel Time), Jody Lynn Nye (the MythAdventures series), and E. Lily Yu(“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”). Also featured: exclusive interviews with Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens and Dragonlance author Margaret Weis.