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Is being a Girl Gamer that uncommon?

April 28, 2010

Before I got into online gaming communities, I didn’t really think I was really that ‘rare’ or ‘special’ (not that I think that now). Actually, when I think back to some of my gaming memories, the majority of interaction with games have been with females. Not because I have segregated myself away from gaming men. Not at all! It’s just that maybe female gamers are not as rare as we all assume.

You see, the first time I laid my eyes on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was at my best friend Anna’s house. We sat up stairs, cross legged on the floor, and I watched her play. I was in awe, jealously looking at her controller wishing it was my turn. We were still in our infant school uniforms, horrible grey knee length pleated skirts, our hair tied out in messy pony tails and not a care in the world. All of our concentration was fixed onto the game. I never had a SNES at home and my only chance to play was at Anna’s or when Charlotte used to pop over with hers and play Super Mario World. We beat the hell out of that game!

When Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey came out, a friend and her sister invited me over to check out their PS1 games. It was awesome! We sat around working out how to get through, fart and say “Hello” over and over. They also had Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped and we all took turns trying to get the crystals to unlock new areas. Most of the time we played CoCo’s Jet Ski level, it was awesome!

My sister’s best friend used to bring over her Sega Mega Drive so we could play Sonic 2 and Ecco the Dolphin together. Sometimes she’d leave it over and I’d get to sit in bed and watch Ecco jump in and out of the water for hours on end. Sonic 2 was near completion before it was taken back again, that was a sad day. Then, my brothers ex-girlfriend lent us her SNES and we had Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat to argue over. I’m not allowed to play Sonia anymore….

I remember answering calls from a friend when she was stuck in Final Fantasy VIII, only a few years later I was sitting around her house playing Final Fantasy X and talking tactics for fighting SIN. She was the girl who first showed me Leisure Suit Larry, which we played on this giant, thick laptop in bed. We giggled very innocently at the jokes as we were only 13 at the time. There are so many experiences to speak about and these are only a few examples of game time with female friends.

I googled Girl Gamer a few minutes ago to get an image for this post. Can you guess what I found? Lots of scantily clad girls with controllers covering their breasts. I knew that there were a lot of attention whores online but I didn’t realise that this was the definition of a girl gamer. I didn’t realise that this is what people expect when they google the term. I’m a little horrified to the extent of which this image reflects what people think. Why men don’t believe girls actually sit and play games and believe we all just say we do so we can jump into bed with them! This isn’t the case by the way, you have to totally be rich and good looking before we jump into bed with you. Okay just rich? I jest.

While I sit back and watch as ‘girl gamer this’ and ‘female gamer that’ pop up over the web, I only wonder why these ladies are trying to segregate themselves. Why are they desperate for communities with a female only following? Surely the best way to combat annoying men making kitchen comments is by exposing said men with sheer female numbers?

Actually, with the sheer amount of girl gaming websites, why are men not accepting it as the norm now? Why is it still such a “shock” and “unexpected” for a girl to say she loves the vidya!

I’ll end this with: STFUAJPG.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 11:40 am

    “I jest.”

    Sure.

  2. April 28, 2010 11:41 am

    • April 28, 2010 11:58 am

      All could think when I saw that pic was that she’ll damage the UMD reader if she keeps doing that…

    • April 28, 2010 12:19 pm

      Oh for fucking hell’s sake, Chobot.

  3. April 28, 2010 11:49 am

    Hear, hear! I totally agree with/relate to many of your anecdotes. My younger sisters and I grew up playing games together (with our mum too, sometimes). In fact, on a recent ‘girls night in’ some friends and I watched movies, followed by playing GoldenEye 64 projected on to a wall.

    Anyway, no, it’s not uncommon at all for girls to play video games. However, labelling oneself as a ‘gamer’ (and there are women who play games for many, many hours a week who, for some reason, do not call themselves a ‘gamer’) and identifying with/engaging in ‘games culture’ is what is less common — I’m not sure if there is any satisfactory reason for this.

  4. April 28, 2010 11:54 am

    The idea of girl gamers, to me, has never been truly unusual. As I play WoW and am an officer in a guild that is a haven to people with lives outside of the game, we get a lot of female players of varying ages. Some married to a guy who also plays WoW with them, some single, some in a relationship with a guy who’s never heard of mana or thinks a tank is a military vehicle. Perhaps it’s these men who we ought to be considering the strange ones rather than the women who are ‘ z0mg out of the kitchen!!!!11111’

  5. April 28, 2010 11:54 am

    Oh the memories!! Remember that time you were playing Haunting Ground in the dark and we’d get freaked out when Daniella’s music would start? Or the endless hours of DDR we’d play with Mike. Or that time Katamari stole my soul? Or when you almost flunked college due to Ragnarok?

    Hmm… can’t seem to ever remember strapping controllers to our tits or getting a photo of us half naked with game merch. We need to try harder at being pro gurl gaymars.

    • April 28, 2010 11:57 am

      Oh Ragnarok and Myth of Soma. My MMO Staples!

      Korina, you are not a girl! So I have not mentioned you.

      YOU ARE WOMAN!

      Also the King of the Cosmos called, he’s giving your soul back!

      • April 28, 2010 12:01 pm

        FINALLY! I’ve rolled so many sodding Katamari. Last time he wanted me to roll up all the fat people at PAX. Took forever!

  6. born2beslicker permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:13 pm

    If you are questioning why girls seem to segregate themselves in the gaming community. Then isn’t it a contradiction that Viera.nu points out that you’re also a girl?

    Apart from that though, I agree with the rest. Most girls I know game, some about as much as I do too. It always bugs me when people highlight what “they are” when talking about a specific thing, such as gaming.

    • April 28, 2010 12:17 pm

      I’m not complaining about people being girls. My blog title for this has girl in and my URL is Laurenwainwright.com, a female name. I have no issue with pointing out if we are girls, I don’t get websites just FOR girl gamers and then for the same girls to complain about segregation and hassle from men.

      • April 28, 2010 12:21 pm

        Oppressed minorities naturally segregate into their own community. Discrimination breeds pride of difference. Happens across all walks of society.

      • April 28, 2010 12:57 pm

        Correct 😀

  7. April 28, 2010 12:38 pm

    My mom got me into gaming. She used to pull up the overstuffed recliner and sit down right in front of the TV and play SNES after my sister and I were done with our school work and dinner was made. I remember just sitting next to her, either in my beanbag or plastic yellow chair, and watching her game until it was time for my bath. In fact, the first date my dad and her ever went on was to a video game arcade. She wanted to kick his ass at Ms. Pacman.

    My best best friend, all through middle school and high school, was also a gamer. We would stay up until 7AM during the summer, just playing games. I remember specifically playing Suikoden II with her. We were desperate to recruit every possible character before beating the game. We even went as far as to create “popsicle forms” of our favorite video game characters after school one day. (1. 2. 3.)

    My point is… GOD I UNDERSTAND YOU SO WELL RIGHT NOW YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I usually just steer clear of any articles based around girls and gaming because I just don’t connect with the author that much, but this is the first time I ever felt like I could talk about my experiences without seeming like I’m just trying to be a special snowflake. I never thought that it was a big deal that I liked games, so I never tried to hide the fact that I’m a girl, nor did I ever tried to get special attention because of it! I never understood the mindset at first, but after being constantly exposed to “girl gamers,” I’ve just become a bitter old hag. I’m not comfortable talking about my femininity in the same sentence I mention video games. It’s like my vagina has become taboo.

    Thanks for this. 🙂 I actually read your blog pretty regularly and I think you’re one of the best representations for females out there in the gaming industry. I just want the ideal that girl gamers are the sort to wrap their tongues around greasy Wiimotes if you give them a little bit of attention to go away forever. Oh, and I apologize for the novel of a comment!

  8. Leanne permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:55 pm

    Having worked in video game retail for however long you should know that even though “girl gamers” are not rare the general consensus is that we are, or at least girls who play with “boys toys” are. I get looked at like I’m some kind of freak of nature because my games catalogue is not just Nintendogs and Wii Fit the fact that I have played games since Dizzy Egg is unheard of (I was 6, and it was all inspired by my mom!), and I do actually get customers say to me – and I quote; “you actually play these games?”, “so what, your like one of these girl gamers?”, “don’t worry luv I won’t trouble you for your advise, you’ve probably never played these games anyway!”and my recent favorite; “is there a bloke around here? I want to know whats better CODMW2 or BFBC2?” the defense rests. Girls playing games is not unusual or unheard of, I think it’s just that because games always have and most likely always will be aimed at 16-24 year old guys it’s always going to come as a shock to men that we have taken an interest in their toys! They never have belonged solely to men so why is it we are made to feel like we’re trespassing?

  9. April 28, 2010 2:12 pm

    Well it’s now 2010, and I have yet to even discover one in the wild. So as far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist, and you’re merely a government conspiracy to deliver me with false hope, so I will continue to be a productive citizen.

  10. April 28, 2010 2:22 pm

    I think it’s just leftover garbage from back in the 70s and earlier, when gaming and computers were new and generally seen as a boys only club. Ahh… good old sexism. I’m certain plenty of girls my age were into gaming growing up, but they just didn’t get into the gaming/internet culture because of that attitude. Just wasn’t worth it for them to be told to get back into the kitchen. So over the years nobody really knew about their interests, and when a girl tried to get into that social circle it’s always a surprise.

    So of course seeing an opportunity to use tits for hits, some men and women decided to exploit that fully, perpetuating stereotypes for attention/profit.

    Good times. While it gives good joke material, I’m getting pretty sick of all these stereotypes, both for men and women.

  11. April 28, 2010 3:24 pm

    See, until the internet came along I didn’t know one single girl that avidly played games besides me!
    I’d try to get my friends into games but they just didn’t have any interest so it was always male friends that I’d play games with as I grew up.

    Actually thinking about it excluding internet people, even now I can’t think of one female gamer in my circle of friends :s

    Much like you I don’t like the segregation or attention whores on the internet. I know why it happens on a sociological level but I still don’t like it.

  12. April 28, 2010 4:35 pm

    I think it is a common assumption from us men in general that female gamers are uncommon. The way games have been marketed in the past have been to a largely male audience. For instance where was the Leisure Suit Lauren game? 🙂

    The assumption always comes from the rolling eyes of the females that just don’t get games. “Oh yeah my boyfriend/husband is on that playbox, xstation thing again”

    You make a good point that some go out to find the female gamer, and others like them. Separating themselves from the whole gaming world. Many still seem to feel that a female would be intimidated unless a website was all pink and fluffy! Nintendo are very guilty of this… make everything for a girl gamer all pink and fluffy which I think is a bit condescending.

    I personally would love to meet a few more females that understood the gamer frame of mind. There seems to be lots about, it is just finding them that is the problem!

  13. Muns permalink
    April 28, 2010 7:16 pm

    As a guy I’m so used to ex-girlfriends not being into games and having to find cunning ways to get away with playing or selecting the right type of game to encourage her to want to play and understand the love!

    Just started reading your blog, Lauren, and loving it – followed your plug on the Gamespot UK podcast. Good work – pls keep it up…..ahem…..”I jest.” lol

  14. July 11, 2010 1:42 pm

    When I was 14 my boyfriend bought a Mega Drive and for the first year I hated games, all he did was play it and I was sat feeling bored and left out..Then I borrowed it and became a “gamer” which has never left me (Xbox 360 is my choice now, not the mega drive lol). I found that most of my girlfriends didn’t understand why I played and all the boys loved that I did. This meant the boys became my best friends and the girls didn’t really like that at all. I think men have respect for girl gamers although they do get pissed when beaten by them haha..ah Mario Kart, those were the days 😀

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