After 10+ Years Ubisoft’s All Female Gamer Team the “Frag Dolls” Disband


fragdolls-logoUbisoft’s all female professional gaming team, the Frag Dolls, is no more. On May 29th the group announced it was disbanding after close to 11 years in the industry.

The Frag Dolls brand was founded in 2004 with seven members, Brookelyn, Eekers, Jinx, Katscratch, Rhoulette, Seppuku, and Valkyrie. Teams were later also established in the UK and France.

They posted a fond farewell to their fans, community and to their sponsor Ubisoft on their site.

The Frag Dolls team – after almost 11 years, 22 team members, and who-knows-how-many games played together – is finally being retired.

When the team was created back in 2004, we weren’t really sure what the Frag Dolls should be, and certainly never imagined what it would become. But we knew that it hinged upon the common misconception that video games were boys’ toys. The essential appeal of the Frag Dolls emerged from those delightful moments of surprise when people discovered that women like us not only loved video games, we were REALLY GOOD at them.

This wasn’t a surprise to the people we played games with before joining the Frag Dolls team, either, our friends and family who “lovingly” served as cannon fodder for our regular target practice. One of the more persistent complaints from outsiders about the mere concept of the team, in fact, was that it wasn’t news that girls play video games, that this was a false novelty. It feels odd when you can agree with your critics about something like that. We’d reply “we know! Isn’t it weird that this is a thing?!” But there it was! It was a thing! And we witnessed this thing of ours elicit expressions of surprise time and again, enough to prove that there were plenty of people out there who could still benefit from a lesson or two in game-based ass-whooping by a group of girls. We were happy to oblige.

Being a Frag Doll was fun in all the obvious ways that playing games for a living should be fun. We played so many thrilling, silly, heart-stopping, adrenaline pumping, overly-chatty, laughing-hysterically, wonderful matches in so many different games. We traveled around the country to play games and geek out with people who loved the same stuff we did. We saw behind the scenes of our favorite games and interviewed developers about how they did what they did.

And it was undeniably fun to witness awe and surprise among those playing against us. We thrived on the delight of challenging people’s assumptions. We have countless memories of the reactions from people who had simply taken for granted that only teenage boys ever played games competitively. We discovered a deep wellspring of satisfaction in breaking that stereotype, and sometimes seeing perspectives shift, even just slightly.

But the most precious moments – the ones most likely to earn ugly crying tears of gratitude at our desks at work – were when our simple existence as a team of professional gamers gave other female gamers reason to question assumptions they’d made about themselves. Those assumptions about what kind of things that they, as women, should love, how they should spent their time, the careers they should dream about. Through 11 years and an ever-changing roster, we were united and spurred on by those messages from other women thanking us for inspiring them to try something new, to start their own team, to play in a tournament, or to pursue a job in the industry.

One of our proudest accomplishments was the creation of the Cadette program, through which we provided mentorship and industry work experience to more than 80 other female gamers. Many of those women were able to leverage their experience with the Cadettes to start careers in the game industry. Including both Frag Doll and Cadette alumni, our girls have gone on to work at companies like EA, 2K, Wargaming, Blizzard, Nintendo, Obsidian, Riot, Bungie, Twitch, Microsoft, Oculus Rift, BioWare, Machinima, Astro, and, of course, Ubisoft.

The friendships we forged among our team and community were of a unique metal. Through the Frag Dolls, we found a community in which we, as women who chattered non-stop about games, were the rule, not the exception. Many of us had never experienced having close female gaming friends before joining the team. I remember marveling at our easy conversational transitions, shifting from talking about Rainbow Six map strategies to our favorite makeup brands back to what fish were in season in Animal Crossing. The juxtaposition was easy and natural, and yet oddly new. This meeting of kindred spirits fostered a sense of deep belonging. We didn’t have to pretend or posture or defend our love of games. It was simply understood. In that team and that community, we found ourselves a sisterhood.

Now, more than a decade later, the sisterhood lives on, but the world of video games has evolved. We can count it as progress that “girls playing games” is no longer the source of surprise that it once was. We’ve said many times over the years that we hoped to one day see true gender equity across gaming communities, rendering an all-girl gaming team unremarkable. I won’t claim that we’ve reached gender equity, by any means; we still have a long way to go. But there has been progress enough that we’ve reached the clear beginning of a new era. Many have heard the statistic that 44% of game players are women, and while this percentage is still lower than we’d like among the most popular AAA games, we’re encouraged by the steady growth that number represents. We’ve always believed that the video game is a powerful medium that anyone from anywhere could learn to love, and it’s heartening to see that truth being recognized more broadly. We are proud to think that we might have played a small part in moving the needle on that dial.

Sad as it is to see something we have loved so much, for so long, reach its final days, there is a sweetness in this simple closure. As the wide community of gamers grows up, we are beginning to learn how to incorporate this burgeoning diversity into our cultural identity. There are growing pains, like with any cultural sea change. But as we say goodbye to the Frag Dolls, we welcome the emerging world in which it will be taken for granted that women do, of course, play and love games, because video games truly are for everyone.

Ubisoft deserves our deep gratitude for their 10+ years of support for the team. They could have shut us down after the first year or two as a fun marketing experiment. But instead, they continued to say “OK’ to our ideas and give us the resources we needed when we needed them most.  Special thanks to the handful of managers and administrators who understood the team’s value beyond just promoting games, and advocated for us even though we were always a strange, stubborn outlier in the company’s system. Nate, Jasmine, Beadle, Josh, Melanie, Adam, Jeff, Paul, Ellen, Kristina, Jill, and Tony.

We must thank our friends and family for their everlasting tolerance and love through our obnoxiously loud gaming sessions, frantic video editing sprees, and long trips away from home.

To the community that has entertained, trolled, and defended us through the years: you’re the very best. We feel lucky to count some of you as friends for life, and hope you know that we will still be around in game to hand your asses to you whenever you need.

And to the Frag Dolls, my 21 sisters through our extraordinary adventure, thank you for your hard work, and for being your courageous, wonderful selves in the public eye. YOU are what made this special.

Amy Brady – Valkyrie FD (2004-2013)

Brooke Hattabaugh – Brookelyn FD (2004-2011)

Ashley Jenkins – Jinx FD (2004-2008)

Kat Hunter – Katscratch FD (2004-2006)

Theresa Pudenz – Eekers FD (2004-2005)

Emily Ong – Seppuku FD (2004-2009)

Alyson Bridge – Calyber FD (2006-2008)

Renelly Morel – Psyche FD (2006-2011)

Alexis Hebert – Mischief FD (2007-2008)

Marcella Luke-Fernandez – Pyra FD (2007-2009)

Faith Harrison – Phoenix FD (2008-2012)

Anne-Marie Wilson – Spectra FD (2009-2014)

Lanai Gara – Fidget FD (2009-2012)

Krystal Herring – SiREN FD (2010-2015)

Sarah Ruth – Glitch FD (2010-2012)

Kimberly Weigend – Sabre FD (2011-2015)

Edelita Valdez – Pixxel FD (2011-2014)

Melonie Mac – Cryptik FD (2012-2012)

Michelle Roberson – Esper FD (2012-2015)

Nicole Cullop – Daze FD (2012-2015)

Rachel Quirico – Seltzer FD (2013-2015)

With love and frag grenades,

Morgan Romine – Rhoulette FD (2004-2011)

Thanks for playing!

When I first heard about the Frag Dolls existence back in 2005, I was in awe of the all female team of gamers who went out there and showed society and the industry that video games weren’t just for males. I remember the countless stories I’ve heard from friends, co-workers, and acquaintances about the times they met or played against these wonderful ladies. I recall the comments about them being at the Gamestop Manager’s Conference and how some of my old managers got to meet and talk with them.

To all the wonderful members from the beginning to the end, I commend you! You helped being a female gamer, AWESOME! You helped me realize that I had nothing to be ashamed about, and that being a female that was more knowledgable about video games (then most of the men she knew) wasn’t a bad thing. You also helped me realize one of my dreams of becoming a journalist in this industry. Its been a pleasure watching your videos, and podcasts these past 10 years! Godspeed to you all and may life bring you all the happiness you deserve in whatever you are doing or dreaming of doing in the future!

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