Girls and Gaming and Girls on GamingPosted 9:03 pm on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 by Alger Alama
Now before I begin, this article is about presenting the fact that there are a variety of girls that are into gaming now. Why is that? I was intrigued by this so I interviewed several girls who’s ages ranged from early 20s to their 40s who are actually into gaming itself. I wanted to poke into their brains and see what made them a gamer along with their thoughts on the industry.
The first 3 questions that I asked these ladies were: “How long have they been playing games, along with their first and favorites of these games.” Surprisingly, the majority of them answered the Mario Bros. series, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Duck Hunt, Chrono Trigger, and the Sonic the Hedgehog series. (If you don’t know who or what these games are, you probably didn’t have a fun childhood.) I was very glad that none of them said “Barbie’s Dream House”. Not that it’s a terrible game, I mean it appeals to certain girls, but I’m just glad they didn’t answer with that. That already makes these ladies unique in my opinion. In addition, one of the answers that I respected was from Bryn. She said:
“I’ve actually been playing video games regularly since 1981, when we got our Atari and our family purchased an arcade in ’82, so I’ve been exposed to both cabinets and consoles from the get-go.”
She’s been gaming before us and she’s still going even to this day. Another thing that made me smile from this group of answers is that ALL these ladies have been playing games since they were near 4-6 years old. I personally didn’t start gaming until I was 7 years old, so these women are already kicking my butt.
The next question I asked them was: “What do you think influenced you into gaming?” Not surprisingly, the majority of these girls stated that it was either their brothers or fathers that introduced them to video games. (The reason as I say that it’s not surprising is because most males are naturally attracted to video games like a moth to a flame.) One of two answers did stick out to me, the first was from Jessica. She said:
“I was such a loner odd ball growing up, so i spent a lot of time indoors reading, drawing or playing on the computer. Heck, AOL taught me how to just talk to people. Going into chat rooms and just striking up conversations with random people taught me how to have those conversations in real life. So when mmos came about, bringing my meager social skills together with my love of playing games. That’s when i was staying up til 2am or playing for days on end. That’s when i could really classify myself as a gamer.”
The second answer was from Amy:
“I played Mario Party with my brothers and I loved the competition. It’s a social thing, ya know?”
Social interaction can help to influence a person to get into gaming. If you think about it, Multiplayer games, MMOs and most online games are pretty much interactive chat rooms now. Humans are social creatures and wanting to socialize while doing a fun activity, like video games, at the same time will only heighten the experience. I think this was a positive experience in bringing these ladies into this sub-culture. At this point, I had to point out the elephant in the room and ask them my last two deep questions…
“Do you think that girls take a different approach than boys when it comes to playing games? Or do you feel it’s the same?” This was a fairly loaded question since I didn’t really specify further. That’s completely my fault. However I did get some very good responses from it. One of the responses was from Cindy. She stated:
“…I do think that there is a clear difference between genders in the way that multiplayer is played. When I’ve played over Xbox Live I’ve noticed that the people I play with are mostly male and that you either a) suck because you’re a “noob” or b) are a “faggot” because you’re better. After the first few online sessions of Halo 3, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time to deal with the people who were a part of that community. The same can be said for the rest of the Halo series, Call of Duty series, etc. It essentially turned me off to the idea of playing against other people online because it diminishes my enjoyment of playing.”
This is an interesting point. I’ve had discussions about this type of behavior with other people and unfortunately this is a byproduct of the male attempt at “peacocking” and an ugly mutated form of “protecting your male pride”. It’s a sad thing when anyone, not just girls in general, are turned off to certain games because of this negativity.
On the other hand there are girls like Amy who won’t let guys like that step on her in games like Call of Duty. She did say that she loved the competition and pretty much used that as motivation. Not only did she become better, she did make those guys say, “Holy crap this girl is damned good.”
The final question that I presented was this: “Why do you think there is a general influx of females into gaming and how do you feel about the industries portrayal of girl gamers? Or women and video games in general?” Here are a majority of their answers. All of them were very well said.
“I think the rise in the numbers of girl gamers goes hand in hand with feminism. In the past, girls were expected to look and act in a certain way. Boys were allowed to be wild while girls had to be pretty and proper (so she could “catch” herself a husband one day.) Thanks to feminism, gender roles have become less rigid and your gender should no longer dictate what activities are “normal” for you. Now a girl can be as nerdy and unkempt as she wants, because self-fulfillment is the goal, not a husband.
It’s funny, because I never cared about impressing boys in school, I think it actually made me more popular with them.
That said, I know that these days there are also girls who play video games just to gain points with guys. Recently a friend of mine, who is very pretty and an avid club hopper, announced she wanted to start playing video games so she could be “that cool girl who plays video games.” She wanted to be like her friend, who is “really hot and plays shooting games with all the boys at parties.” Similarly, I have seen more and more pretty gamer girls. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me sad to think that the shy, nerdy gamer girls are made to look “less than” the more flirtatious, fashionable gamer girls. This brings women right back to having to make themselves the “ultimate package.” Being your glorious nerdy self should be enough, you shouldn’t have to be both the nerd AND the cheerleader. There’s so much pressure coming at girls from all angles, they should at least be able to escape all that when they sit back to enjoy a game with their pals.”
“Obviously it’s related to sex…”
“Some cosplayers just look slutty. Sometimes I wonder if they are really into this or are they looking for attention? I sometimes find it insulting when they do this because this is a culture this is a lifestyle. Its something you breathe. …however more power to the girls who are models/cosplayers who are gamers. It just sucks for many of the other girls that don’t look like that…”
“I’m not really aware of the general female gamer stereotype. I know it’s difficult to find girl friends that like video games like I do, but I don’t see myself as any more different than my friends. I play in moderation, so I don’t consider myself hard core. I do believe that female characters can tend to be hypersexualized especially in games that cater to the male population….but I’m not typically going to let something like that prevent me from playing a game.”
“I get very frustrated. I attend conventions where I’m pointedly asked to try out Facebook games, where my husband might not (I, to date, have played only one FB game and that’s Marvel Avengers Alliance), I’m directed toward the Bejeweleds and such – which I’ve never played, when I want to try the newest Horror Survival game. It’s disappointing to say the least, but the absolute worst is the treatment I receive when I go into gaming stores. I’m no longer even seen as a girl gamer, now I’m seen as a mother and they direct me only to games that are appropriate for my boys, completely skipping over the fact that I might be shopping for myself. I could walk in there wearing a Blizzard t-shirt under a Bioware hoodie, and wearing an EA beanie and all they see is 40-year-old mom. I’ve stood in line waiting for help while they discuss the newest Gears of War game with the bro in line in front of me for half an hour and when I got to the front of the line to pick up my pre-ordered Mass of Effect game, they tell me it’s a little too old for my little guys, is this for your husband? I tell them, “No, it’s for me.” Then they asked me if I knew there were two other games before this one and it isn’t really stand alone, maybe I’d like to try Lego Indiana Jones? GG, Game Store Employee, GG.”
“Now this is a hot topic that matters to me. I’ve seen a number of articles speculating if someone is a “real nerd” or if they are just pretending. I think we as a gaming community should welcome anyone, nerdy or not, because video games are fucking awesome and totally worth sharing. So this trend of trying to weed out the pretenders is ridiculous.
But those articles and that attitude are the tip of a really ugly iceberg. How about how women are treated on a daily basis on xbox live? or in tournaments? or just at your local shop?
I don’t mean to sound angry… but i’m either dismissed entirely because i’m /obviously/ not a “real nerd” because i’m a girl. Or i’m treated as a sexual object, as if being a female gamer is some sort of fetish (bleh).
The fetishism of women in gaming is only encouraged by the industry and magazines like Maxim (sexy gamer contest). I think booth babes at E3 perpetuate the fetish, i think scandelous armor for female characters encourages the sexualization of women. And what we see, what is publicized is sexualized. Sex sells… but i don’t want that to be the persistent perception of women in gaming.”
I want to give a shout out to the great collection of stories on: Fat Ugly or Slutty
“The industry has definitely begun to understand that they aren’t only appealing to males outside of the actual games, specifically in marketing. Games aren’t a guy’s only kind of thing anymore, and I think they are starting to comprehend that. However, in games, the industry still appeals to the male audience and still projects this image of an unrealistic male ideal of what women should be. Most female characters are slender, large breasted, and scantly clad. You’d be hard pressed to think of a female character that didn’t fit that model. I think that in the future this model will remain consistent in the same way that male characters are generally portrayed as the hero of the story, with capabilities that actual men don’t have. The industry probably won’t change much in terms of the content of games that generate the most amount of revenue. We will probably see the most change in games that are considered to be for casual gamers.”
“Sex sells, so of course that’s the direction these companies are going to go in. Sometimes I am turned off when I see stuff like this, but other times, such as convention booth girls in costume portraying a character, I am REALLY impressed with the costume quality, and then I don’t mind. I personally don’t like to be grouped into the “girl gamer” label since I’ve been playing for most of my life and take it very seriously. I’ve traveled all of the country to see about 10 video game symphony concerts! And I am VERY lucky to say that I met 2 of my life idols and obsessions – Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy art) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy music). I was dressed up as Yoshitaka’s own version of Rydia from Final Fantasy IV and he called me beautiful with his broken English! Growing up, any extra money that I would come across, I would buy video game soundtracks online. Basically what I’m trying to say is video games are my lifeblood and I don’t want to be cheapened by so called “gamer girls”
In closing, I’d like to say this. Male or Female, I personally want our gaming community to grow. Whether you’re into Cosplaying, Modeling, First Person Shooters, RPGs, Platform Fighters, Console only, PC only, PS3 vs. 360, or just your average casual gamer…just know one thing. Video games make us all happy in one way or another. So it shouldn’t matter what gender you are. So instead of saying “Live, Laugh, Love”. Bust out the Dorritos and “Game, Game, Game”.
Special thanks to the ladies that put time out of their day to answer my questions. Also here’s a little about their backgrounds:
Bryn C: Mother of two; photographer, and still an avid gamer.
Amanda U: Wears lab coats; does kickboxing; loves happy hour
Cindy G: Support Analyst; loves to work on her car; painter; budgeteer
Jessica J: Full time artist; sews costumes for her fantasy masquerade shoots; photography and sculpting.
Amy T: Club services V.I.P.; Bartender; part-time model; adventurer extraordinaire; all-around goofball.
Highly sociable and having been entrenched in Nerd\Geekdom since he was a kid, Alger has seen it all. During his spare time he loves to go out clubbing, sing karaoke, and attend parties. This Nerd is no wallflower. He’ll always greet you with a warm smile and a drink in hand.