The first game reviewer I followed was Scorpia, back in the days of GEnie and CompuServe. She was great, her walkthroughs were wonderful, and she was female.
I recently caught up with Scorpia and asked her a few questions about being a pioneer in the world of Computer Gaming Reviews.
Lisa: What were some of the first computer games you played?
Scorpia: Ah, the good old days. Wizard & The Princess (Sierra), Zork (Infocom), Adventure (Microsoft; ever hear of them? ;), and Pyramid of Doom (Scott Adams). Pyramid was the very first game I played on my Apple ][+. It was on tape. Really. I had to have *something* to play while I waited for my disk drive. In those days, you didn't buy systems, you bought parts of systems.
Lisa: When did you first start writing about computer gaming?
Scorpia: Back when the original GameSIG started up on CompuServe (SIG = Special Interest Group). I wrote walkthrus for games and some reviews. Russ Sipe, then owner/publisher of Computer Gaming World, was a member of the SIG. He saw my stuff, asked me to write for his mag, and I became a professional - just like in the movies! ;)
Lisa: What were the challenges of being a woman in a mostly-male gaming environment?
Scorpia: If there were any challenges related to gender, I never noticed them. The only time I did have concerns was when we sent in the proposal for GameSIG. Pretty much all the SIGS on CIS were run by men, and I wondered if they would give it to three women. Otherwise, I can't really come up with any instance where being female made any difference, one way or another.
Lisa: Nielsen says 51.7% of internet users are female. With women using computers so actively, why do you think there are relatively few women playing computer games?
Scorpia: Probably because most computer games - which are aimed at the young male demographic - have little appeal for women generally. The average woman has "better things" to do with her time than run around shooting down critters or blowing up space ships. Computer gaming is essentially a child's activity. If you don't keep a little bit of childhood with you as you grow up, games are likely to be uninteresting.
Lisa: What have some of your favorite games over the years been?
Scorpia: Of course, there's Ultima IV, my all-time, number one, favorite RPG. Also Fallout (the original), the Zorks & Enchanter series from Infocom, Diablo, Daggerfall, the Wizardries, and Might & Magic (some, not all). However, the closest to perfect of anything I ever played has to be Fool's Errand, a puzzle game that came out some years ago.
Lisa: What projects are you working on now?
Scorpia: None. I pretty much left the "professional" world when I suspended my web site.
Lisa: Do you think the computer gaming industry will ever see equal representation of women in it?
Scorpia: Probably not. There may be more women gamers and game designers in time, but computer gaming on the whole is likely to remain more male-oriented than not.
Lisa: What would you say to the young women out there who are eyeing computer games on the shelves but hesitating?
Scorpia: If you see a game that interests you, go for it! As Shakespeare wrote: "If gaming be the food of life, play on!". Okay, maybe he didn't say it *quite* like that, but you get the idea ;) Buy what you want, play what you like, and have yourself a good time!
Scorpia has even kindly provided links for you to download her favorite game for free!! You can play:
Fool's Errand on the PC
Fool's Errand on the Mac