Gamer. Mom. Guest Columnist
Torrie Dorrell shares her view of a gaming industry that is heavily influenced by moms. They are not simply exercising their power over what their children play, but are active gamers themselves.
Dorrell has given SheKnows an exclusive look into her life as a mom, gamer and video game industry executive.
Mommy loves video games
I am an executive for Sony Online Entertainment. I am a gamer. I am a mom.
For starters, I need to read the third issue of the Free Realms comic book script and give my feedback before I leave for a trade show. Free Realms is SOE's new free-to-play game for kids, the game I have been living and breathing for the last four years during its development here. I am the SVP of Global Sales and Marketing at Sony Online Entertainment, and it's my job to ensure this game is a success.
I should write down all of my daughter's activities on my white board calendar soon to avoid the inevitable gaff of driving her to Jr. Lifeguards when she should really be over at soccer practice. I am Sierra's mom, and I take this job more seriously than any other.
I write a sticky note to myself to pack for the trade show before I jump online tonight to raid with my EverQuest II guild (SOE's signature massively multiplayer game). I am Torrie, the gamer, and I have a responsibility to my other 23 raid members to show up on time and put forth 100-percent of my effort as we progress through the higher-end raid content.
Why do these dichotomous identities make sense to me, to my career and, most important, to my daughter?
A game changer
It is my job to "market and sell" Sony, to "market and sell" video games. Rarely do I market something that is personal and topical, but Free Realms has changed that, and I'd like to tell you how.
I was in the entertainment industry for 10 years before I moved into the world of video games, and my perception of gaming at that time was, "WASTE OF TIME… NEXT!" But after 10 years in this biz, this perception has performed a 180 wheelie.
Now, I clearly see the benefits of video games over, say, watching television. I see how Sierra imitates sassy, disrespectful behavior after watching certain television shows under respected, parent-approved banners like Disney. I also see how she works hard to solve puzzles, complete tasks and strategize with friends in games like Free Realms and Nancy Drew.
So my seven-year-old watches very little television – family movies that bring us together, and shows that teach her something, like Animal Planet – that's about it. We do let her game (everything in moderation) – where she practices reading, typing/writing, puzzle-based math, how to work as a team with others to accomplish a goal, how to solve problems.
I believe games have a place in children's lives. In my household, we are outdoors a lot, very active, always on the move. I think this is important, it keeps us healthy in body and soul; and it's the way both my husband and I were raised. I also believe in lots of reading – imagination can set you free. But if it's a choice between television and gaming, I will steer my daughter toward gaming almost every time, because I know she will be an active participant, using her mind, rather than planted on the couch in a zombie state.
We launched Free Realms about three months ago, and we are closing in on 5 million registered players. I am very proud of this game – it is vibrant, fun, funny, challenging, interactive, genre-breaking – and I can't think of a better Saturday morning than waking up with my daughter and running around on our characters together in Free Realms, solving puzzles, accomplishing quests, laughing, high-fiving…before we move on to other activities in our day…
I am an executive, a mom, a gamer; and I feel lucky to be able to wear these hats simultaneously. For all those moms (and dads) out there who don't play games, who don't understand games, who have the perception that games are baaaaad, talk to me.
Let's start a dialogue rooted in education and information, and of course experience. I have traveled from one end of the spectrum to the other, and I can say that the virtual world can be a wondrous place for our children. We can navigate it together.
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