There is No Gamer Girl: Breaking Down Gender in Gaming

girlgamer_headerDo you know any females into gaming? You know, the girls who play videogames?  The human beings that happen to have a uterus and they also enjoy tearing it up with a controller or mouse and keyboard in hand? I bet you know them, right? Who doesn’t?

I’m getting tired of being lauded for my ability to own a set of boobs and “still” enjoy video games, technology and comic books. “You love Star Wars? Marry me!” and my eyes widen to the point of tension and pain. It doesn’t matter how many years you hear it, it doesn’t matter how many conventions you go to. Sometimes men lean over and you smile and they take pictures just to say they need to capture a “real, true gamer girl” on camera with a smile like mine.

You learn, over time, that it’s not that big of a deal and you can’t really get pissy over every single guy who thinks you’re God’s gift because of your like-minded hobbies. Hobbies that, to me, are a pleasure. To have a guy who I can speak with about games and gush endlessly about the ones that have meant something to me is a joy. I dig that. I want you to want to be my friend and game with me without thinking every single time I mention something you’re into — you should unzip your fly. This may sound like a massive and broad generalization, but it’s what I’ve encountered. Men have, in handfuls, doted attention on me for merely my hobbies and the fact I’m reasonably cute. (Author’s Note: Before we continue, please note, this is not an attack on all man and mankind. I love you boys. Seriously. You’re my bros. Moving on.)

Is Getting Attention for Being a Girl So Bad?

It is when you want to be looked at as a peer and not someone who knows how to wear lipgloss and destroy worlds in video games, who knows how to take point and can teach almost anyone how to play a video game so long as they have Skype, some patience and want to hear the whole backstory and be walked through with the guidance of a first-grade teacher. I love gaming to the “By Any Means” level. This is a genderless institution and it will never be seen as such. As long as men have seen a woman into something they also love — they will gravitate there. There’s no problem with liking someone with your own hobbies.

But be realistic.

Knowing my hobbies and having like-minded interests doesn’t give you carte blanche to come at me. When I say “You,” I mean the imaginationless masses that like to clog my feeds, my email and my comment sections of past websites (this has never once happened at LockerGnome, thank God; you’re all a dream audience to me) with overly-sexualized commentary. What I write, who I write for and what my content is — it doesn’t matter. You see my face, you see my interest in gaming and the fact I have confidence and blinders get put on these men and women.  I’ve learned to shake it off and roll my eyes, chuckle and not dwell because my life would be a damn mess if I let every single gender indignation get at me. Boys are boys and men are men and I’ve learned those distinctions through my several years around the block here.

So What is the Problem?

What I’ve come into is the fact that you cannot even remotely be likable, friendly, attractive or even reasonably human without a percentage of your audience turning you into an object. They think you’re possibly not a “Real Gamer” — the very definition of which I find to be ridiculous, anyhow. If I’m going to adopt any sort of title it’s going to be “Hardcore Gamer,” but with the sub-heading of “With Realistic Perceptions and Expectations” beneath it. I’m a grown up and I have a job, a kid, and a livelihood that sometimes means I can’t freaking dance for everyone who wants to see a girl play games.

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A small smattering of what you can find on Twitter about girls, gaming and whether or not they really exist.

That’s another thing: I, and many others like me, don’t do this for the audience. When none of them existed, I was still surrounded in consoles, PC parts, and maps on my walls to help me get through Morrowind with pin flags and highlighted positions. Before all of this, I was still heavily entrenched in my favorite hobby and that — and only that — is how I got this job. Having a grasp of writing because I’ve always — always — been a writer and my passion for gaming is what got me here. It had nothing to do with popping a tongue against a handheld device. I didn’t wear low-cut shirts and pigtails on the floor of E3 because I was making appointments. I was talking to devs and fistbumping my fellow journalists because that’s what it was about.

I am seeing a lot of hatred and vitriol for “Fake Nerd Girls” and “Fake Gamer Girls” on the Internet and it’s absolutely disturbing. In my experience, I have never, ever been accused of being a fake gamer girl or even a fake persona — but I do see a lot of girls getting the terminology. This comes from a few places. Listen up closely, because we’re going to skate to one song and one song only:

1. Sometimes, Some Girls and Boys (Not All) Do Things to Get Attention: Yes, some girls want the attention of young boys. This is a youth thing. This has been going on since the beginning of time. “You mean, you like hunting game pheasant!? So do I! Hand me that bow and arrow!” or like how I got into Hockey when I was a kid. I loved violence and my first boy crush was a hockey player. I accidentally became a hockey fan because I just wanted to get closer to what that boy was into to understand him better.

2. It Looks Good on a Resume: I’m not saying I’ve ever done this, but there is a decently sized community of female gamers who only took up the cause when they saw it got a lot of attention for their reels, their photography portfolios and those commercial callbacks. I won’t call anyone out by name, because I’m responsible, but they know who they are. Earlier in my career, I used to get in the faces of these girls via my cause and tell them to stop promoting their agendas unless they wanted to uncover them for what they truly were. Fame. Fame. Start it and get it any way you can — and profit off the backs of our loving, wide-eyed and heart-sleeved nerds whilst you do so. Shame on you.

3. If You’re Attractive and a Gamer Girl, You Don’t Exist: Not all of us are cave trolls and the stereotype that you can’t be attractive and a serious gamer is a seriously damaging stereotype. Even if the lot of us can brush off your bullshit with a smile, there are some of us that just don’t understand the reasons for this. I wear thick-rimmed glasses, have wide green anime eyes and wear nerd shirts and I get treated like a marketing tool when that’s just my own personal style. Men think I do this on purpose to “torture” them or to “lure” them in. I’ve had boyfriends state that I do it on “purpose” for attention. It’s wrong and horridly misogynistic to assume that everything I do is to garner the favor of my preferred gender attraction.

4. This Industry is Hard on Us, Journalists or Not: We don’t do this for the attention, we do our jobs because we love the Industry. I know a decent number of gorgeous women gamers that work both as journalists, public relations and developers and they’re always, always fending off advances or attention for it. If it was one or the other, that’d be one thing, but it’s not. The double-standards exist (I’ve long stopped caring about them and I say what I want now.) where you have to be careful to not say anything that someone could take sexually on the Internet — because you become a target. Men don’t become targets on Twitter when they mention their dicks en masse, but if I even remotely mention my business, I get favorites, retweets, and creepy questions.

How Do We Evoke Change?

Look, I’m not bitching about this from a feminism standpoint because we all know that I’m not down that rabbit hole in the least. What I’m saying is I want to start seeing us treated like genderless human beings when it comes to our hobbies. I’m tired of seeing people act a fool and treat me like a prize, a trophy or even art to put on your wall simply because we share the same interests. I’m a human being with a backstory, a life and a future goal just like you are — get to know me and be attracted for that reason. Stop judging girls and what kind of gamers they are based on the games they play because if you play ANY game — you’re a gamer. Promote intelligent usage of the terminologies and start leaving out the pronouns. Someone calls you a “Girl Gamer”? Say — “No, homey. I’m a gamer. Just a gamer.” and be done with it. Someone tells you that you’re sexy for a gamer? I give you free reign to act as violently as possible.

Maddy Myers, @SamusClone on Twitter, approaches this subject often and always breaks it down honestly.

Maddy Myers, @SamusClone on Twitter, approaches this subject often and always breaks it down honestly.

For the fellas who retweet images of naked girls with controllers all over their bodies or who hang up images of naked girls and Rock Band guitars — be real. For those men who respect us women as gaming enthusiasts and don’t sexualize our existence but instead will applaud us for having to sort through the chaff knowing we can still make a gorgeous headshot from a mile away — you’re loved, appreciated and you will be standing there next to us when we finish this mission out.

Believe that.

Images from Author’s copy, Atlus, and Twitter from the author’s feeds

Article Written by

Mouthy with a broad vocabulary and a large imagination, I come in from a rather lengthy (7+ years) stay in video game journalism. While tech, gamer and geek culture has always been my strength, I tend to be right at home with whatever topic is thrown my way. I'm a mother, a multi-tasker and a maverick. ♥