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.

Torrie Dorrell from Sony Entertainment visits with SheKnowsDorrell 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.

Games place

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.

Free Realms pets teaches lessons

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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Comments on "Mommy loves video games: Torrie Dorrell"

Rob September 02, 2009 | 2:15 AM

Hi, me again... turns out the customer support guys at SOE were right and I was wrong (well I didn't have the full story). They were actually very patient and understanding with me so sheepishly I am glad to say my faith has been restored... really I felt someone had taken the time for me.

Rob August 30, 2009 | 7:01 PM

I am an Everquest II gamer too (in the UK); been playing on and off for 5-6 years. We have 3 teenage kids who grew up with the game and we got other kids in our village excited about the game too. My son has been playing online with friends at our house and their houses; so it's been more social than it might seem. Sadly he got banned recently because a friend transfered him some in-game money from his acoount at our house; which caused them to pull the plug without any warning. He was gutted and I'm trying to get SOE to explain the ins and outs of this as we are great fans of the game and can really see no wrong in what happened at home. After literally 100s of hours and a heap of pocket money for in-game addons my son is devastated about losing all his characters. So far we have been met by a very sour faced big-brotheresque coporate response. Sorry to offer one of the downsides to an otherwise fantastic 5 years of gaming.

EOJ Collectors August 13, 2009 | 1:27 PM

Great article. I play Free Realms when I can, great place to hang out with virtual friends and have fun. I like the fact that its kid friendly any they have alot of checks and balances. Keep up the good work. Christopher.

Jennifer James/ Gamer Moms Club August 13, 2009 | 4:00 AM

My family is the same way. We don't let our daughters watch television, but we're a gaming family and play together. I love it! I also love seeing gamer moms.

AN August 12, 2009 | 5:25 PM

Totally agree! I used to not be a fan of letting my kids play video games, but after learning more about them and benefits they offer, I let them try. Now our whole family plays and it's way more fun than sitting around watching TV!

El August 12, 2009 | 3:15 PM

Free Realms is great and I am so happy SOE has created a virtual world where I can interact with others.

Jen August 12, 2009 | 3:15 PM

I loved this article! It was so eye opening. I am a busy mom with two active kids and we love playing video games as a family together, as well (Wii, etc). I actually just got my 10 year old niece into Free Realms (it is perfect for her age) and she is hooked! Thanks for your insight.

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