Girls in Gaming Girls Take On Boys

Louise Thomsen (code name: AurorA)NEW YORK -
At first glance, Les Seules might look like an all girl rock band, complete with sassy attitudes and fawning male groupies, but the Swedish septuplet doesn't play instruments. They play competitive video games.

"We want to show the rest of the world that guys and girls can play on the same level," team member Louise Thomsen (code name: AurorA) told The Associated Press amid the geeky flurry on the floor of DigitalLife, a four-day technology and entertainment convention.

In French, their name means The Outsiders. But in the world of competitive "Counterstrike," a first-person shooter PC game, Les Seules have moved to the forefront, thanks to their virtual machine gun and grenade wielding techniques and, well, their good looks.

"It's expected," said Thomsen of their admirers. "It's a male-dominated field. You get used to blocking it out and concentrating on why you're there. But any attention we can bring to e-sports, male or female, is a bonus."

Earlier this year, Les Seules played in the female division of the 2004 Electronic Sports World Cup in Paris. They placed fourth and pummeled the Brazil and U.S. teams. Now they're ready to move beyond playing against girls. They want to make their mark in non-gender classified, male-dominated competitions.

"We want to show the world girls can play," Sofi Bystrom told the AP on Thursday.

Les Seules, whose ages range from 16 to 25, are also known as the Swedish Girls of Gaming, a moniker christened by Sync magazine. They're featured in a glittery 1980s-style pinup spread in the November issue.

"It was like Halloween," Bystrom said of the experience.

The magazine paid the team's way to New York to attend the convention at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which ends Sunday, to promote the issue and compete against average gamers. It's the first time they have visited the Big Apple.

"It really is big," exclaimed Malin Ohman.

The conglomeration of young women began forming through multiplayer online "Counterstrike" sessions three years ago. Although the majority of Les Seules hail from the land of the midnight sun (two are Dutch), they're geographically divided.

"We all knew each other online," said Bystrom. "There was a big competition coming up. We were kind of the leftovers. So we just sort of came together."

Hence the name The Outsiders.

The girls take their gaming very seriously. The squad has a professional coach, manager and an Olympian-like training schedule. They practice online for five hours a day, six days a week outside of their regular studies and work. On the eve of competitions, they physically come together to cram during all-night "Counterstrike" killing sessions.

"It's so different playing with girls because you can talk about everything," said Sofie Sandager (code name: Zelena). "You can have a really good relationship outside the game. Everybody understands you. It's like having sisters."

The members of Les Seules are: Thomsen, 24, the unofficial leader; Thelma Lundin, 20, the competitive player; Bystrom, 20, the sassy sprite; Sandager, 18, the party girl; Ohman, 16, the serious athlete; Anna Nordlander, 17, the wild child; and Emily Clewett, 25, the quiet one.
By DERRIK J. LANG, Associated Press Writer Sat Oct 16, 8:20 PM
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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