I’m the sort of woman who hates stereotyping when it comes to most things, so gaming is not an exception. Being a gamer most of my life I am proud to have this passion that has stuck by me through the good times and the bad. During the past decade or so, gaming has broadened its horizons and is now widely used by pretty much everyone and it’s becoming more and more common to see a hardcore female gamer. However, there still seems to be underlying tones of chauvinism in online games especially, where a female gamer is treated differently in more ways than one.
It’s not just ignorant men who are causing this but some women are just to blame as well – I’m sick of seeing girls posting pictures of themselves wearing nothing but an Xbox pad with a flirty caption. It angers me that females out there are trying to use something that has become such a big part of my life in such a trashy way that could just easily fuel the fact that women can’t and shouldn’t play games.
Due to these annoying skanks who are preying on the current trend of being a geek or a nerd or whatever, I’ll often get tarnished with the same brush when someone finds out I love to play games. Not so long ago I found myself at a friend’s house-party where I overheard some guys discussing what their favourite Call of Duty was. I’m not a huge fan of CoD, yet I’ve played them, and I still will if I’m seeking some aimless FPS fun so I took it upon myself to join in and mention that mine was World at War, mainly because I’m a bit of a history geek and I enjoyed having a much more interactive experience of the second World War. I couldn’t tell if the guys feared me or loved me and where I would’ve preferred a conversation with a group of people about games and their opinions I was greeted with “wtf, a girl who plays games?” and so had to return to a dull conversation with my friends about which 1D member they’d most likely bang. The worst thing is, there is a huge demographic of female gamers out there and like masturbation, most people refuse to believe that ladies do it and it’s too taboo to talk about.
World of Warcraft seems to be one of those games with a high female gamership, yet I still felt inclined to keep my gender hidden until I had to chat on TeamSpeak or apply for raiding guilds. Quite a few female players will use their gender to their advantage and this is again giving the rest of us a bad rep. “Leave me alone, I’m a girl!” exclaimed one paladin who was being shouted at in a battleground, and most times this shocking form of puppy dog’s eyes will win them over pity and friend requests. For me, it doesn’t matter who you are within WoW, we’re all in a big community from different backgrounds, different countries and different ages and we choose who we want to be. These girls don’t realise the harm they’re causing the rest of us who want to get out there are start playing the game without being discriminated upon.
Thankfully, I joined a friendly, high-up raiding guild who didn’t care about the gender of the players yet I was shocked to hear of how some other officers in other guilds will not accept known female players or even invite them to their groups because of the negative judgements surrounding us – that a woman will either want to flirt with you to gain free items and attention, or will merely just suck at the game.
An Industry Developed by Men, for Men
Like within any form of modern day media, there’s an unfair attitude towards the female body with unrealistic ideas of perfection. The cultural hegemony that surrounds women from an early age is spotted frequently in the video game world. It is rare a game will have a female protagonist and when they do they’re normally quite badass role models for young-lady geeks like I was, such as Samus Aran, Lara Croft and the chicks from Resident Evil. However, it’s disheartening to know that these kick-ass women were mainly placed in the game with tiny waists, unnaturally large boobs and tight-fitting clothes to give men something to desire and wish to play, rather than a heroine for young girls. And probably because it makes cosplay a whole lot more exciting for you geeky dudes out there.
This is where a few men will kick off during my argument and state something along the lines of “You don’t like them because they’re hotter than you are.” This isn’t the case; I’m not a jealous, insecure girl who cries in the mirror because I don’t have perfectly triangular boobs like my hero, Lara. It angers me because when there is a female main-character in a game she’s either an awesome hottie with an unrealistic body that young men will grow to think is the norm and the only acceptance of attractiveness, or she’s a damsel in distress who keeps getting abducted and held somewhere grim until she’s saved by a man. Unfortunately, I’ve had to accept the fact that gaming is an industry manufactured for men, so it’s never going to change.
Along with Princess Zelda who aids an unknowing Link on his journeys from time to time in the disguises of Shiek or Tetra the pirate, there are a number of positive role female role models in games who have that sassy attitude about them, such as strong and independent Alyx Vance from Half Life 2, and the practically armoured Hildegard von Krone from Soul Calibur IV.
Games Directed at Women
Playing on Just Dance or Wii Fit from time to time doesn’t make you a gamer; it makes you someone who wants to lose weight which is pretty much the opposite. Nintendo in particular are cashing in on the surge of females willing to give gaming a go and enjoy creating hundreds of titles directed towards girls who love pink and hair and whatever. Which is why we’re blessed with pink Nintendo DS’s, games about dancing, taking care of dogs, and ladies who think they’re god’s gift to men for owning all of them. I’m not against the fact there are tons of games directed at different people; everyone should be entitled to play a game they love and enjoy and I know that gore and violence is not for most people, but when it’s considered wrong for someone to overstep their gaming gender boundary, it pisses me off. My nine year old sister knows this well thankfully and whereas one day she’ll enjoy exploring the planet of Pandora in Borderlands and killing bad guys with huge guns, the next day she’ll be enjoying the classic quirky colourfulness of Super Mario and Kirby.
Don’t Be That Guy!
In a recent study, 35% of female gamers stated they felt discriminated against because of their gender, stating that men will often exclude them or kick them from online servers because they assume they’re just terrible at the game whereas a lot of women, like myself, are actually more competent with a controller or mouse that most men. Whether it’s your team mate, your enemy, a friend or a stranger everyone should be granted some common decency and we’re all entitled to escape into the magical wonderment that is video gaming. If a girl’s messing up badly or annoying you on a game, tell them. Don’t feel sorry for them because they have emotions and boobs. If she’s doing well, acknowledge it like you would anyone else. Chances are, she’s already got a boyfriend – girls like that don’t last long on the market and she probably won’t want to take any of your cringey Final Fantasy chat-up lines. Women get enough already from having oversized hips and boobs, being heckled by aggressive builders and the social convention of having to look nice and pretty every day; we don’t need your shit as well.