As a female gamer, I am acutely aware of the lack of interest gaming companies show in what interests and attracts me. Certainly I find games that I enjoy, but historically women have not been the target audience nor the participants of most game development. If we were, there would be more female characters with more role playing options and we would have the sensible option to don yoga pants and running shoes in fight mode. Fortunately, there is a new girl in town: 3 Turn Productions.
A new game development company focusing on women and gaming, 3 Turn seeks to produce games that extend the female imagination and play preferences. How the company came about is just as interesting as its founder. Judy Tyrer, mother and English Literature major, had always been a gamer. When she found programming, however, she found her calling. Rather than listen to statistics, she launched herself into a game development career at the age of 50. Being over the age of 30 and a female in the game development world is unique in itself, but Judy committed to her new life and learned everything she could. By six months in, she was pitching games to the company she worked for, gathering experience and information as she went. Eventually, her belief in doing what you love turned into a belief in creating what you love and she decided to embark on a new adventure.
“Games are an extension of our imagination,” Judy explains, but if 99% of games are focused on the male imagination, women are marginalized as an afterthought. Her love of virtual worlds and role playing, combined with her fascination around what inspired women and how women choose to obtain power, led her to form 3 Turn Productions and begin prototyping their first offering: Ever, Jane.
Ever, Jane is a virtual RPG based on the collected works of Jane Austen. A life long fan of Austen’s work, Tyrer knew it was the world she wanted to begin with. The basis of many women’s fantasies, the world of Austen is intriguing and proper, seductive and clever. Players can create their avatars based on the personal and physical traits of beloved characters from the books. The objective is to improve one’s station, solicit invites, and ruin your enemies by getting noticed, either through gossip or actions, but not too noticed. Blatant misbehavior will backfire, and so just as in Austen’s society, propriety is a delicate dance.
A prototype quality version is already out and available to download and play. According to Tyrer, this initial phase is all about forming community. So far, people are loving what is available, with many individuals spending time in the game to help newer players assimilate and build relationships. She tells the story of a player who jumped in and immediately began using inappropriate language and more. Instead of feeding the troll, the other players began questioning, treating him as a foreigner, asking what land he came from and pretending to look up translations. Eventually, he left. That seemed like a very Austen (and hilarious) way to handle the situation to me.
3 Turn Productions has recently launched a Kickstarter to raise development funds. You can access the game from there to try it for yourself, and become a backer for game perks once it is released. I asked Tyrer what characters she has developed herself and she said she had created an Emma-type character to be a liaison to new people in the game. This kind of character would be well acquainted with the village and rich enough to not have to participate in the quest for marriage. She also created a Mr. Collins type character so that she could be awkward and appropriately inappropriate. She is attracted to the weird characters, and I can’t blame her. I myself would jump at the chance to play someone who exemplifies the ridiculous or oblivious like Mr. Collins or Mrs. Jennings. It is, after all, these characters that reveal some of the best traits in our heroes and heroines.
But the most important question, the one I was sure my dear readers would be most interested in hearing, is whether or not we will be able to virtually watch Mr. Darcy emerge from a lake, soaked and deep in thought. It may not be in the books, but has certainly become part of the fantasy. Tyrer laughed and assured me it was possible, but this idea, like much of the Ever, Jane world, relies on getting enough funding to support the beautiful graphics they want to cultivate. If you are a gamer (or not) and a fan of Austen, I encourage you to check it out. I’ll see you in there, with a character based on the naughty Crawfords.