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(Soundbite of music)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Forty percent of the people who play video games in the U.S. are female. That's according to the Entertainment Software Association, an industry group. But as 17-year-old Jessica Cernadas sees it, video games are designed to appeal to guys. And she tells us that is very frustrating.

(Soundbite of video game controller)

Ms. JESSICA CERNADAS: Oh my god, the pink dude is right there. Just learn to die. Yes.

I love video games.

Unidentified Woman #1: You're crazy. You talk to the game. You scream at the game.

Ms. CERNADAS: I blame my mom.

Unidentified Woman #1: Well, you never liked dolls.

Ms. CERNADAS: I chopped off all their hair.

Unidentified Woman #1: And I didn't get it.

Ms. CERNADAS: I used to play only with my friends. But now I play hardcore games online, where most of the other gamers are guys. And they're just really rude.

OOZIE: Whoever I've seen that's a girl sucks at it.

(Soundbite of video game)

Unidentified Man: (As Announcer) Finish him.

Ms. CERNADAS: Finish him. That's Oozie, one of my friends from school.

OOZIE: Every time there's a girl talking on a mic, I try to flirt with her.

Ms. CERNADAS: Ugh. It doesn't surprise me.

Do you think you're better than most guys?

STEPHANIE: Hell, yes.

Ms. CERNADAS: Stephanie is one of the best gamers I know.

STEPHANIE: I have beaten most of the guys in my school. So, yes.

Ms. CERNADAS: So let's say you've been playing against a guy, right? And you told them that you were a girl, would they...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CERNADAS: Would they not believe you, or have they not believed you?

STEPHANIE: Well, I told this one dude and he didn't believe me 'cause I beat him by one point. And he goes, OK, if you were a girl, then show me some -beep. I was, like, no.

Ms. CERNADAS: It's hard to get any confidence when you're constantly mocked. And the way women are portrayed in these games doesn't help either.

STEPHANIE: In real life, if a girl ever fights, they usually have, like, sneakers and, like, little shirts. But in, like, games, they have (makes noise).

Ms. CERNADAS: I have about 21 Playstation games and only two have a female as a protagonist. Characters like Bayonetta do kick serious butt. It's just that her freaking final move, all her clothing comes off and transforms into a freaking dragon.

(Soundbite of video game)

Unidentified Woman #2: Bayonetta.

Ms. CERNADAS: The men in these games...

OOZIE: Guys will be strong...

Ms. CERNADAS: ...are made to be beautiful, muscular...

OOZIE: ...muscular...

Ms. CERNADAS: ...tall...

OOZIE: ...cool.

Ms. CERNADAS: ...and just plain awesome.

OOZIE: Oh, yeah, yeah. And, like, usually you have to save the girl in the game, most games. Heroic. Yeah.

(Soundbite of giggling)

Ms. CERNADAS: The person giggling is Caryn Law, the only female employee at Uber Entertainment, a small game developing company in Washington.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. CERNADAS: She's testing their new game with John Comes, the creative director.

(Soundbite of office)

Ms. CERNADAS: Caryn Law plays online as Hell Chick.

Ms. CARYN LAW (Designer, Uber Entertainment): I guess looking back on it, people ask me, why did you pick a name that was Hell Chick - that's obviously a woman? I'd say, well, I didn't really do it deliberately, but I'm also not going to change it just because I don't feel like I should have to hide behind my gender.

Mr. JOHN COMES (Creative Director, Uber Entertainment): Just a couple months ago, Caryn and I were playing "Modern Warfare" online and as soon as she said something, lo and behold, somebody's, like, whoa, Hell Chick, you're a chick. You sound hot. Are you hot?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COMES: And it just, like, unraveled from there. And Caryn's, like, I'm muting. Hold on a second, I got to mute all these guys. And it's just - that's when I was embarrassed for my gender, actually.

Ms. LAW: Yeah.

Ms. CERNADAS: I can't help you out there, Mr. Comes. You're the creative director. You should have some say in what goes on. We want strong women who can punch and kick and (unintelligible) punch without taking off their itty bitty strips of cloth.

Ms. LAW: I think that it's possible to make female characters be not hyper-sexualized.

Ms. CERNADAS: Caryn Law actually told me she's working on a game with a girl character who's completely covered and she's a ninja.

Ms. LAW: But a bit of a catch-22 in that in order to make more games that would appeal to more women, you really need to have more women helping to make them. But in order to get more women to help make them, you have to have more games that appeal to them in the first place.

Ms. CERNADAS: I need to play to get my juices flowing, so I can create my own super awesome sci-fi adventure strategy game where women rule and men are dressed in Speedos. Ew.

BLOCK: That's 17-year-old Jessica Cernadas. Her story comes to us from Radio Rookies at member station WNYC in New York City.

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