Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Musing - Buzz Word: Female Gamer

Read before continuing -->Steph Louise K on the 5 Reasons It's Still Not Cool To Admit You're a Gamer - Girls Edition.

First, an applaud to the article for giving a better perspective of girls/women who play games. I think there are a lot of good points. Overall, it seems too...generalized. I believe that would be the appropriate word. I feel that Steph has been plagued by one too many bad experiences that it gives a depressing view on what life is like as a girl gamer.

Being a woman and having a gaming hobby, I understand where she's coming from. It's hard to not be harassed on Xbox Live or forums when you lead on that you're a chick that plays video games. Typically you get one extreme (zomg! it's a girl! WHALE ALERT!) or the other (r u hot?). But the male species (and I use that term loosely) has evolved since the early gaming days. They are more accepting of women in the gaming arena, albeit on a small scale. I've been watching more girls of all ages, races, sizes, and religions going into stores and buying "real" games (not the Imagine series of stereotype) and entering competitions, while guys are being more receptive and not jackasses. This isn't to say that we are on equal footing with men. We are a long way away from that, but it's slowly getting better.

What we need to have is a new classification of girl gamer, one that better suits the new generation of those growing up with games. It'll be a step in a positive direction. As Steph pointed out, the terminologies associated for girl gamers is degrading. They conjure up pre-conceived notions that further propel the idea that girls really don't know what the hell they're talking about when it comes to video games. Gender is a tough issue to crack. You can apply the same terms Steph listed for cars, computers, tech support, basically anything that is subjected to a male dominant field. As such, we need a new term to describe those girls and women who blend into the gaming field while breaking the stereotypes people have come to know. So here's my buzz word:

Female Gamer

Go ahead and Google it. You'll find a link to, which has nothing to do with my classification (which I will explain in a moment). Other then that, you're going to get a ton of links about Girl Gamers. So I call dibs on the term.

A female gamer is an individual of the female gender (of any age range) that enjoys playing video games. They speak about video games openly in a philosophical manner. They don't shout from the top of their lungs "I Play Video Games" nor do they hide in the shadows. The female gamer is one that acts as themselves, i.e. they don't allow games to be a resource for male attention, or allow games to become an obsession such as a Weeaboo. The female gamer explores all outlets/genres of video games and does not limit themselves to one area.

That's the best definition I can think of. I don't feel that I fit into any of Steph's classifications of a girl gamer, so I made my own. A girl gamer is childish, and a woman gamer is what Ubisoft tries to grab the attention of with their casual games. The female gamer is a combo of both, but not in their extreme forms. It's someone who enjoys all forms of video games, but has a life. Here's how to use it in a sentence:

I'm a female gamer that likes to play Grand Theft Auto and the color pink.

I feel like I'm writing a definition for Urban Dictionary.

Anyway. I feel Female Gamer would be a more appropriate term for individuals such as Steph and myself. We don't fit the stereotypical girl gamer image. We walk a line of Feminist and Weeaboos, but are not near teetering the edge to those avenues. It's a term of a balance of everything that allows us to transition into the male dominated field.

Instead of providing a rebuttal to and Steph's article (both bring up valid points on current trends in society, though paint a bleaker picture then how I view the world), I'm going to post my own list of Top 5 Ways to maintain your dignity as a Female Gamer:

5) Don't talk on Xbox Live/PSN. Xbox Live, in particular, is a thriving community of 12 year old boys who enjoy cursing and talking smack. I realize that I'm stereotyping, but honestly, has there ever been a moment on Xbox Live where you weren't speaking with a child as they were swearing and being jackasses? I enjoy playing online, but I learned through my brother, it's safer to keep the headset off. He was playing Halo 2 one day and a girl entered the lobby. The moment she spoke, she was immediately run over by all of the boys, left and right with trash talk. I use the rule "keep comments to yourself." If you are a female gamer, you don't need to throw insults at everyone online. Put "Female" in your profile and leave it at that. I'm all for saying hi in chat, but not Xbox Live. Pick your battles in more "adult" (not XXX rated) conversations such as legitimate gaming forums and Ventrillo/Team Speak.

4) Don't act like you know everything. Same rule applies to cars. If you act like you know everything and anything about games, you're going to slip up and get caught. Simple as that. Speak when you are passionate about a topic and have the facts to back it up. Be eloquent with your words. Don't use leet speak or horrible grammar. Be an adult about your speech.

3) Don't let men influence your games. This is more of the feminist side of me coming out, but it speaks well on this point. Play games that you want to play because you want to play them. Don't become the Attention Whore Steph describes in her article. By letting a boyfriend, husband, brother, father, etc. convince you to pick up a game, you're only proving to them and the world that females know squat about games. Don't play a game because your boyfriend tells you to. (Mine keeps trying to get me to play Warhammer Online. I'm not caving in for something I have no interest in.) Stand your ground and explain why you don't want to play it and/or why you want to try another game that they may not be interested in. If they talk back or keep pressuring you, then they're a shitty boyfriend/friend/etc. >.>

2) It's ok to maintain your feminine qualities. We live in a world where, no matter how far society has come, there are still gender roles pressured on boys and girls to fill a certain niche. That will never change no matter how hard we try. It's ok to like feminine things and still play video games. You don't need to make yourself out to be a man and change everything about yourself to conform to their image of a gamer. You can still be you with a video game hobby. Just like the last point, don't allow yourself to be influenced into thinking you have to fit a certain mold. You can like shoes and video games.

1) Immerse yourself in all game genres. This includes the Imagine series and Pogo. Why? So you are well rounded. Providing negative feedback to a game that you have never touched only propels you into a tunnel of bias. You need to try out all genres, even the ones you don't like. I do this with movies on a weekly basis. My goal is to watch 5 movies that I have never seen every week. There is no limit on the genre, length, country, or year. It includes everything from new releases to the origins of film. This allows me to better educate myself on the subject, and reinforces my love for movies. It also makes you a hell of a lot smarter when you can pull out random movies out of your ass. >.> While I dislike the Imagine series because of their pro-girl/house-wife roll restriction, I have attempted to play some of the games and can back up my opinion.

Overall, I think this new term would apply to a multitude of women who sit in the middle and are not defined by the stereotypes presented under Girl Gamer. We are moving into a realm when females are being accepted as a force in the gaming community. It's going to take a while before we get onto equal footing.

(Aside: Finding images that best represent this subject was a pain...apologies that it's more text heavy then picture friendly.)


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