October 20th, 2020

Comics, video games have bridged the gender gap, SACPA told

By Mabell, Dave on November 1, 2019.

Dylan Purcell, wearing Monty Python gear and holding the Òevil eye,Ó speaks on gaming culture during a Halloween session of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs on Thursday. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


Today’s comic books and video games are attracting young women as well as men, a Lethbridge entrepreneur says. They’re also becoming more gender inclusive and less misogynist.

Dylan Purcell, manager of a specialty store focusing on comics and board games, told how a shared interest in a particular game brings together some southern Alberta people despite widely divergent backgrounds.

“Their passion trumps all the differences.”

Speaking Thursday at a session of the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs, he said that’s one result of large companies like Disney and Hasbro buying so many of the smaller companies in the industry.

In an attempt to broaden their audience, Purcell said, the industry leaders have also introduced female hero figures in some of their releases. They’ve taken a stand against homophobia.

And while violence is still a part of many games, he reported about one-third of them now involve co-operation with other players. In fact, Purcell said that requirement to work together goes back to the days when Dungeons and Dragons was the rage.

Not all of today’s games come from the U.S., he pointed out, and not all are designed by men.

Women are becoming an important part of the industry. Girls and young women who may not be interested in pursuits like sports are finding friends who, like them, enjoy video or board games that may have brought only males to the store in earlier times.

“Young girls are finding a voice, by participating.”

If forms of violence persist in many games, Purcell suggested it’s human nature to look for the dark side as well as a more positive outcome.

Even when children see violent situations on the screen, “They’re amazing at separating fantasy from reality.”

A self-described nerd, Purcell interspersed his talk with costume changes depicting some well-known comic-book heroes.

He asserted people develop an interest, even passion about a subject as a way of escaping some of the negative aspects of daily life, rather than becoming miserable.

“There’s enough sad and miserable in politics now,” he said.

These fantasy games, Purcell said, “are about celebration, about enjoying life.”

But while sports fans are a long-respected part of Canadian culture, people who prefer fantasy games and videos are just now gaining some of that recognition.

Along with people who enjoy knitting, tinkering with a car in their garage or any other hobby, Purcell reminded his audience that others find enjoyment in these newer pursuits.

“This is what brings them happiness, this is what fills a void in their life.”

Whatever your choice, “Don’t ever be ashamed.”

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