Women in Games: an Iranian Perspective

Faranak Fotouhi-Ghazvini

Ms Faranak Fotouhi-Ghazvini, PhD student, Department of Electronic Imaging and Media Communications, School of Informatics, University of Bradford

My Thoughts

A rather frank discussion on what women gamers like in Iran and how they are getting on with programming degrees, what games are banned, and why possibly The Sims 2 should be altered in gameplay to be less consumerist – which is one reason the Iran government banned it, apart from the equality of women in the game. Apparently I got the wrong end of the stick here, Ms Faranak has kindly added a comment via. email she was happy to have posted:

Your thoughts are, unfortunately, placed out of context – such as the concept and importance of consumerism illustrated within the Sims 2 game per se – as well as being factually incorrect. Even worse, is how you equated the banning of the game with the inhibition of women’s rights. If there is one thing the talk aimed at presenting, it is the fact that in Iran, today, one observes a transparent social policy of gender equality in most, if not all, walks of life, especially in relation to sensitive areas such as education – demonstrated by the high female statistics at universities throughout the country.

The main motive behind my theory with respect to Sims was the substitution of capitalist values with those delineated in Aristotle’s virtue ethics. Such a substitution in no way desires to reduce the significance the game portrays on the subject of women – namely them being the focus of attention, living in an equal environment and so forth.


The Sims 2 is the most popular female game, but is banned in the country. The university male:female ratio has gone from 70:30 to 40:60 in favour of girls from 2000 to 2007.

Engineering is the only male dominated field in university studies. A programme of having female only classes for computer engineering in a university was used. Separate labs, proper software engineer project at bachelors level. No specific game programming courses in Iranian universities.

What games do the female students play? Mainly word and puzzle games, on mobile phones. Sims series of games are also popular. 8 million to 22 million in 2 years (2005-2007) means a booming market for mobile games.

Started Mobile Game Programming course in one university. Teaching with Java and other bits and pieces.

Game Industry in Iran is promoted if Islamic culture and values are followed (such as the history of Iran) and has the preservation of national security. Almost all games are promoted with government money, so they follow these values.

Iran games might cover the history of Iran, or are non-interactive ones based off the Qur’an or Prophets. DGEI banned a lot of games for violence reasons, but also Sims 2 – banned for undermining human values and promoting consumerism. Women equal to men, is probably more the problem. The problem is possibly the statement money and happiness are intertwined.

For The Sims 2, the addition of virtues to the moral system, which currently is only one aspect: social, which is the quantity of relationships for happiness. Change the bars to the attitude towards others perhaps, and the introduction of virtues, which are defined to be a mean between extremes. Add in better interactions too, not just hugging.

Final point; there will be a future pool of Iranian women programmers.

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