FemCity: December 2003, Vienna/ A

a multiuser computer game about careers, lifestyle, dreams and realities of young women.
"FemCity" is a simulation of a complex social and economic environment, which young women find themselves in, when designing their future.

LevelDesign, Art, Models, Sound, Programming
Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger
Concept, Idea, Management
Hardy Hanappi
Economical Aspects
Christopher Beckford

commissioned by
the Office of Women's Affairs, Vienna/ A

"FemCity is a simulation of a complex social and economic environment, which young women find themselves in, when designing their future. The game tries to encourage the gamers to consciously select between alternative life-styles, career plans and personal dreams. At the starting point of the game, the players are set up in an urban environment, where buildings suggestive of different careers will invite them to enter: A steady job, higher education, a trip to a Caribbean island, a dreamscape, fast and easy money without any guaranteed continuity of income, a relation etc. During the course of the game the players will be presented with where their decisions might lead to. A macroeconomic model computes savings and accounts for "happyness", "success", "social commitment". The game does not want to suggest that any of the decisions made need neccessarily lead to happiness or frustration, but it encourages the players to try out things with their own (or rather their avatar's) life. Chance and good luck as well as social interaction can always lead to unexpected results. In the end however a few facts about economic processes, statistical data and about alternative lifestyles should be learned. Maybe as important as that is to have been involved in a joyfull learning experience and to have had an aesthetically pleasing joyride to a para-realistic, proto-realistic or maybe Unreal world." fuchs-eckermann

"There is fear that young Austrian women are no longer interested in feminism as they have not experienced discrimination in the first place," said Ms Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, who heads a research group on 'Gender and diversity in organisations' at her university, and who is also a trained computer engineer.

The idea is to develop a computer game for teaching, of all the things, feminism. The game targets girls in the age group 14 -17. "This need was felt because last year we had organised a conference in Vienna on information technology, where the major theme was 'Does information technology hold out opportunities for women?'. We found at this conference, that one of the best opportunities to reach young people is via computer games."

But when the content of computer games and the patronage they get from younger people was analysed, "we found that the themes and content of most computer games are very, very gender-specific and male-dominated. And boys play about 90 per cent of these games because they have a lot to do with competition.

"We know that co-operation, rather than competition interests girls. And that is why we find more boys than girls patronising these games. Girls tend to say it's stupid to spend so much time before the computer playing these games. We'd rather go out and hang around with our friends doing more interesting things, rather than play games which are mostly devoted to war and violence, or which make `gods' out of ordinary people by giving them the power to create cities and big organisations."

So the new game her group is in the process of creating will be called "FemCity", and will be set in the backdrop of a new, modern city where each building will represent a real-life model such as a school, library, hospital, and the like. In this city there will be people with different qualifications and skills, different cultures and lifestyles and where family and relationships will play a major role.

(excerpt from an interview with Edeltraud Egger-Hanappi by Rasheeda Bhagat, Shanghai Nov. 2002)