Popchix Interview

Popchix Interview

Written by Charles Husemann on 10/9/2009 for PS3   360   DS   PC   PSP   Wii   GBA   GC   PS2   Xbox  

The wonderful ladies behind the GamerchiX have recently launched Popchix,  new website and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to get an interview with one of the founders of the group about the new site.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role with PopChix? How did you get into gaming?
Intros are always so awkward - "Who is your daddy and what does he do?" Anyway, my name is Sara Nicholson aka DirtyDiva and I'm a PopChiX founder along with Christa Charter (TriXie360), Chloe Brown (PMS Kitty) and Andrea Avellan (Ichigo Sage). I'm also the designer/coder/general mistress of PopChiX.com. I've been gaming since I was seven years old when my step dad let me use his Sinclair ZX-81 to program a cheesy PONG clone. I've gamed on Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Sega Mastersystem, Sega Genesis, Sega Gamegear, Super Nintendo, Gameboy, N64, PS2, Xbox and now Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. I was also previously a Community Manager for Xbox, too. So yeah, kind of a gaming ho. I <3 games.

Before we get started can you give us an update on how GamerChix is doing? What's the history behind the group and what are you trying to accomplish with it?
GamerchiX is doing amazingly well. We now have over 10,000 members - for just having 3 forums on Xbox.com, I think it's pretty incredible. It was all started because Christa Charter, Chloe Brown and I all felt like Xbox LIVE was turning into an intimidating place to game. I realize it's not just that way for women but I am a woman and I know how I feel when it happens. It's best to try and deal with what you know, right? So, the three of us started a group for girls to join where they could find others to game with and have a good time on the service because it truly is a great thing aside from the few jerks. What it has turned into is a group where the girls not only find others to game with but they now share everything from shopping tips, to advice on relationships and have started their own clubs like the book club, the movie club, etc.

What was the inspiration behind Pop Chix? Is this an offshoot of the Gamerchix or something completely new? How long did it take to get the site up?
PopChiX is a natural progression from GamerchiX as it gives the girls a place to not only express themselves with each other privately on forums but to exercise their writing skills for a larger audience. It is associated with GamerchiX in that it was created for the girls in the group but it will stand on it's own to a certain extent. We will support everything GamerchiX, of course.

We've been thinking about the site for a while but we weren't entirely sure what it should be or how much interaction we wanted it to have with GamerchiX. We also went through about 4 designs before this last one. It's like when you find that perfect wedding dress. The one you put on and everyone ends up crying because it's just perfect (Yeah, I realize you probably don't get that but trust me on this). When this design was done, I shed a tear haha. After that, it took a couple of months to go live. I'm used to the pressure of launching sites but it's so different when it's your own. You just want everything to be perfect. Of course, we will still grow and adapt to the changing needs and wants of the members but for now, I at least, am pretty damn proud!

What kind of content can we expect to see on the site? Is it all gaming related or are you going to be covering other things? How often are you planning on updating the site?
There will be a mixture of content on the site. From watching the forums for 3 years, we've picked those things that we saw the girls chatting about the most. Obviously gaming is probably going to be the busiest section but we also offer up articles on fashion, lifestyle, music, tv and movies, books and comics and general community stuff. The site will be updated as much as we possibly can. Nothing worse than a stale, boring site, right? H. The more ChiX that submit work, the more content will be served up! :: Nudge nudge, wink, wink, ladies ::
How is Popchix going to be different than the other sites out there? Are you going to be doing community events in the future?
We are different because it's all run and written by women. We love our guys, don't get me wrong, but there's just no geeky-gaming-pop-culture site that we could find that was entirely run and written by females but there seem to be lots that are owned and operated by guys. This is for ALL of our girls to contribute to, as well. While there are sites that allow female guest writers from the general audience, their posts always appeared so few and far between. We really want to hear what girls say regularly and to give them a way to get possible careers off the ground.

We always do meet ups at gaming events that we attend. We've done dinner stuff, Dave and Busters gaming nights, even bowling - or what would loosely resemble attempting to throw a heavy ball in the general vicinity of pins. We are considering other meet ups like movie nights for the future. Again, it's about seeing what the girls are looking for.

What's the most important thing you want people to know about the site?
The site's highest priority is to get an audience for female writers. There are so many talented ladies out there who either can't get published or are too shy. We want to show them that they can do whatever they strive for and will help them on their way!

Is the content specifically aimed at women or are there things that dudes will get something out of? (Some guys need makeup tips too)
HAHA! I would recommend MAC eye liner for the rocker in everyone. We DEFINITELY want guys to come check out the writing. In no way is it being written just for women. By women? Yes, but for women? No. Of course it offers the female point of view on things but while one dude is thinking of doing inappropriate things to Harley Quinn in Arkham Asylum, wouldn't you be curious to see what a girl thinks about her new style? (Maybe she's offended or maybe she wants to do inappropriate things, too? haha) I would hope that we attract every reader from every background and every gender. Jerks need not apply, though - kthx.

Do you think it's getting easier for women to play games online without being harassed? Are some games better than others? What's the one thing guys should know about playing games with women online?
I don't think it's getting that much easier in the broad sense but I do hope that groups like GamerchiX are at least giving an alternative to having to deal with the crap dealt out. There are no games that are better than others for finding that Shangri-la. And besides, we're all human, some of us may appreciate Hello Kitty while some love Call of Duty. It would suck if there were only a few games that we could play without feeling ridiculed or harrassed in. Anything guys should know... Well, the majority of us just want to game. We don't want dates, we don't want to see wangs, we love that you have abs but we can go the beach for that and mostly, we don't need to be "looked after" unless it's a real strategy for the given game. Also, smack talk is fine but draw a line. Don't get personal and don't ask people how big their boobs/man-teats are. But again, that goes for anyone - male or female.

What kind of games do you like? What do you think of games that are aimed specifically at the female audience? What advice would you give game designers who are trying to make their games "female friendly"?
I like shooters and shooterrpg type games thanks to Bethesda. I used to be hardcore shooter nut (Original Ghost Recon and GR:IT) but I've mellowed somewhat and also enjoy online casual games from gamehouse.com. Pure Hidden being one of them. I think there's the obvious games like Pretty Princess and the Pink Pony (ok, I made that up) that are directed at girls and you know what? I used to be angry about this but if it's for a little girl who loves ponies and princesses then let her have it! I will still roll my eyes if a friend demands to play it but it's a game and it's in a girl's hand so good for them.

I personally really like when developers just take us into consideration. Like when Bungie added a female Spartan and Saint's Row 2 allowed you to have a female character. I think with a lot of women, it's about choice - Letting us choose who we want to be is a big step. I don't expect to play a female character in a story that is centered around a man but if you have multiplayer for that game, let us be a chick! Mirror's Edge rocked, too, since she was a tough, yet beautiful girl. She wasn't half naked running around in a pit of zombies, you know? Because that would happen... I don't think you have to go over the edge to cater to women. We obviously love the games as they are but if you want to attract more of us, show us you're interested in having us play. And for God's sake, don't be condescending to women either by the choice of character or to how they're portrayed in the story.

Who's your early favorite for Project Runway this season? I'm thinking Althea at this point but that's just me. Do you have a favorite designer from the show? What do you think of the change from Bravo to Lifetime?
HAHA Unfortunately, I haven't been able to keep up this season. I don't know if it's because it moved to Lifetime or what. It's sad, too, because I really appreciate the talent these guys and girls have. I still have high hopes for Chris Straub but I think it's because he reminds me so much of Jeffrey Sebelia - the third season winner.

Anything we missed that people should know about the site?
Nope! Just come visit and let us know what you think!

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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