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Girlz, guns and Beijing duck

Girlz, guns and Beijing duck

For a group of young women who spend their free time shooting opponents with guns and rocket launchers, the girlz 0f destruction are actually very nice

For a group of young women who spend their free time shooting opponents with guns and rocket launchers, the girlz 0f destruction are actually very nice.

Alana "Ms. X" Reid, Therese "trito" Andersson and Jiang "KarmA" Heng spent 30 minutes playing the first-person shooter game "Quake 4" at a press conference in Beijing to promote S3 Graphics Co. Ltd.'s new Chrome graphics chip.

They first "fragged" China's top professional gamer, Meng "Rocket Boy" Yang, into submission and then savaged a couple of Chinese journalists in a series of short, sharp firefights. The reporters, dazed and unsure of what just happened to them, never had a chance.

For all three girlz, this is the first chance they've had to play "Quake" in a couple of days. During that time, they've suffered from withdrawal, or maybe it's obsession: Jiang earlier snatched a laptop from the hands of Via Technologies Inc. marketing executive Tim Brown, hoping to squeeze in a few precious minutes of "Quake" play during a taxi ride.

But when Brown, who represents the team's main sponsor, asked the girlz to stop playing long enough for an interview, they graciously obliged.

Computer gaming is just beginning to gain acceptance as a professional sport, with the level of media attention and the value of the prize money growing fast. As in other sports, much of the attention that's been given to computer gaming has so far focused on men, in part because most gamers who compete at tournaments are men.

"There aren't so many women out there now," Andersson said, noting that a tournament may attract just one woman for every 2,000 men who show up to compete. But the lack of female players doesn't mean they're not as good as the men. "I think females can be as good as the males," she said.

The girlz 0f destruction was founded in 2001 by Reid, who sought out other women gamers while playing "Quake III." Now, the team has seven active players and two members who no longer play but contribute their time to help with administration. Team members come from many different countries: Reid is from Canada, Andersson is from Sweden and Jiang is from China, but the team also has members from the U.S., Russia, Spain and New Zealand.

Dedication and hard work has paid off for the girlz. In August, they won the top three spots in the Ms. QuakeCon Championship, taking home a total of US$30,000 in prize money and establishing themselves as the best female "Quake III" players in the world. Reid took second place in that competition, while Andersson came in third.

Later, I'm invited to have dinner with Reid, Andersson, Brown, and Keith Kowal, another Via marketing executive. All four of them arrive wearing shiny silver cowboy hats, a riff on the Chrome graphics chips that they've been flown in to promote. Reid and Andersson are wearing sunglasses, too.

Over roast duck and cheap Chinese beer, Reid said the success of the girlz 0f destruction at events like Ms. QuakeCon is helping to raise the profile of women in computer gaming and draw more of them into the sport. "I've heard some girls say, 'After what you did at QuakeCon, we're going to get in there, too,'" she said.

Apparently the fun is just getting started. --

IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)

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