I’ve written about being a gamer and nerd from a female perspective before, but ever since #GamerGate, I’ve been a little afraid to approach the subject. As luck would have it, I wrote down the idea to write on the mythology of female games in my planner before the fiasco of #GamerGate and that planner rules my life. So, here I am, a lone female gamer on the internet. Can life get any more terrifying?
Let’s stomp that myth out right now. Maybe, sometime before I was born, video games were a guy thing. Girls have got more involved and, today, women make up 48% of the gaming public. I’ve known this for years because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that women don’t play video games. My entrance into the world was around 1998 (give or take a couple of years). I treasured my GameBoy Color and collected all Pokemon games I could. I still have every game I ever bought for that little handheld. In 2000, I was given the first PlayStation, introduced to the Final Fantasy series and my life was forever changed.
This isn’t a blog about how video games have effected my life. I’ll summarize by saying I take video games seriously, they have opened my mind to new ideas, broadened my interest and my love for them is so great that I now plan to attend a video game or anime convention every year (I know anime is not the same thing as video games, but there are a lot of video game topics at anime conventions). I am a gamer. I am a female gamer. I love my games. I am not a mythical creature.
Throughout my life I have met both male and female gamers. Never once have I met a man who claimed I couldn’t be a gamer because of my gender. Never have I been accused of lying and never have I been threatened with rape or death because I dared to critique a video game.
The worst comment I have ever gotten directed at my interests in video games is, “I’ve never met a girl who played Final Fantasy.” It’s always that series. It is my favorite, so maybe I bring that comment on myself. Still, when I think about the stories involved in the games, the romance, the heroism, I find myself why it’s such a surprise. There are a lot of stereotypically nerdy things about Final Fantasy, but nothing that stereotypically masculine.
Still, this myth persist. Girls don’t play video games. I will have you know that my demographic – women over the age of 18 – significantly outnumber the stereotype of the teenage, male gamer. Of the gaming public, 17% are boys under the age of 18 and 36% are women over the age of 18. We are here and we’re not invisible!
Perhaps the myth persist because gamers tend to be more reclusive. Maybe women don’t play a lot of games where they are speaking to other games. Myself, I prefer to play games alone. My boyfriend likes multiplayer games were he actively works with and talks to other gamers. It is rare for him to hear a woman’s voice as he plays.
There’s also the possibility that it’s easier for guys to play games more often than women. If laundry needs to be done, groceries bought or a child needs feeding, which gender is still most likely to take care of that chore? Could that affect our perception of female gamers?
My last explanation is a bit out there, but maybe most female gamers are feminists. Given the violent speak of #GamerGate, this would be a definite turn off to many male gamers. Do gamers ignore women who desire equality and not regard them as women? It seems to me that most women, whether they approve of the feminist label or not, do believe in gender equality. Is that threatening? Is it so threatening that men ignore their existence or is the existence of female gamers a myth because women avoid male gamers for fear of what might happen.
Before attending my first convention this summer, I was seriously afraid. What would people say? When I dressed up and walked around, would people see a girl who loves video games so much she desires to dress up as a character or would I be an object? While the convention did pass uneventfully, it was a great experience. In fact, I want to attend a convention every year from here on out.
That’s why events like #GamerGate really get to me. I have never met a man, even a man who objectified me, who has claimed women don’t play video games or that women shouldn’t play video games. Men are not mean to me even though I am a nerd. No one targets my gender as a reason why I can’t hold my gamer label. This leads me to believe #GamerGate represents a minority of gamers.
Women are here, we’ve been here, we’re staying here and we’re gaming here. Deal with it.
Do you know of any female gamers? Why are people surprised when they meet a female gamer? Why do people get angry when video games are critiqued? What causes a person who disagrees with a critique to make threats of violence instead of engaging in debate?