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Wanted: Female gamer, must take no prisoners

July 18, 2008 |  4:30 pm
Frag Dolls

Seeking female gamer fluent in first-person shooters, role-playing and combat adventure games. Must be graceful under pressure, deadly with a controller and have hair-trigger reflex. Knowledge of DOT spells a plus. Pay ranges from $15,000 to $30,000 a year. Part-time job comes with lots of perks, including free games, travel to major U.S. cities and invites to killer LAN parties.

Sound like a dream job? That's the life of Alex Hebert and Morgan Romine, who jet-set around the country playing games and kicking butt. The two are members of the Frag Dolls, a team of 9 competitive female gamers sponsored by Ubisoft Entertainment, the French video game company.

Hebert is among the world's best players of Halo 3. For fun, she plays World of Warcraft. Romine also plays World of Warcraft and Rainbow Six Vegas 2. At competitions, they're often the only female players out of hundreds of contestants.

We caught up with the dynamic duo this week in Los Angeles at E3, a video game industry convention that ended Thursday. Read more after the jump to see what they have to say about their jobs ....

Q: How did you get into this profession?

Romine: It was the social aspect that pushed me into games. When I started playing EverQuest, it blew my mind and changed my life. Then I started playing this online game called Shadowbane, made by Ubisoft. I was guild leader that had more than 200 people. I saw a Ubisoft posting for a job as a community manager to help players. I applied and got the job. That was when I found out that you could get jobs in this industry.

Q:  How much do you guys get paid?

Romine: We get $300 a day for events like E3. Some days are really long. Today, we'll be working 18 hours. After we spend the day at the convention, we go to the Ubisoft party to talk about the games they have and encourage people to play with us.

Hebert: Yeah, from July 7 to August 3, I'm on the road the entire time except for two nights. 

Q: Why are there so few women playing first-person shooters?

Hebert: People think if you just make a game that's pretty and pink, girls will want to play them. That's not it at all. Personally, what I like to see are more female characters that you can play. In a lot of these games, you can only play male characters. If there's a female character, she's either in trouble or she needs your help.

Q: What's it like to compete?

Hebert: It's tough, because we're not very young.

Q: You're kidding? How old are you?

Romine: I'm 27.

Hebert: I'm 25. But the kids who show up literally have to go home Sunday night so they can go to school Monday morning. We're definitely an older demographic. Most of the competitors are in high school.

Q: What's your advice to women and girls wanting to get into the business?

Hebert: Do it. Because the industry needs more women. We need more diversity.

Romine: So many games are made by boys for boys. By having more women, we can come up with more game genres. I just feel we're stuck in a genre rut. If you have different types of people making games, there's a better chance that we can come up with newer genres.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: From left, Alex Hebert and Morgan Romine. Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times