Given that my fiancée and I are both gamers and look at things a lot alike, I decided for this post to have her take as well. It would only be fair to look at it from both sides.

Over the last few years, I have seen the term “girl gamer” evolve and take on a new definition that is both good and bad in my eyes. Now before the ladies get bent out of shape about that statement, let me assure you that I appreciate all the accomplishments you have all collectively given the gaming industry – but I do feel that gender has divided the gaming culture. I am sure that this trend wasn’t as prevalent in the earlier days of gaming as it is today. It is my opinion that there is only one set of ”gamers” and one set of “geeks” and see no need to separate genders.

I am not sure why gaming has become so divided, yet we are at the point where some ladies actually speak against the “girl gamer” culture. They feel it does nothing but objectify them further and drive a bigger wedge between the sexes. I want to reference a site that I feel is friends with MTR, that site being GirlGamer – which coincidently is not just “girl” gamers but a pretty tight-knit community. When I mentioned the site the first time to my listeners, I heard a large amount of split feedback, mainly because the girls chose to be separate from the guys and create their own community. After having Angel from GirlGamer on the show and visiting their site, I realized that while it was more female-friendly than most, it had a pretty good amount of male gamers as well. They all seemed to look beyond a name and met on the common ground of gaming which was surprising; given my (obviously incorrect) preconceived notion of that time.

Now don’t get me wrong when I say that ladies that like the same shit guys do are incredibly appealing and (to some) a must-have. However, I do think that some female gamers use their “charms” for their own agendas and do nothing to bring the genders closer and unify them under a common interest. I guess what I am trying to get at is that we are all gamers period and should not be categorized by gender, race, sexual preference or nationality.

While reading Twitter today, I saw some tweets from Trina who runs Gaming Angels which, while geared towards women, makes it perfectly clear that they do not promote gender separation in gaming and that was one of the things that sparked this post. One tweet that jumped out at me was this one:

When the industry gets it that the genders are equal that's when gender -focused sites won't be needed.

I think that besides being true, this statement holds a lot of weight simply because a lot of times I speak to women who play some of the most violent and awesome games on the market, yet get shit on the web for being women and automatically become the “forbidden fruit” on whatever site, chat or online game they are playing. So, in some aspect I do see the need sometimes for a safer environment for female gamers, but they should be forthright like Gaming Angels in promoting unity under common interests. I really hope that publishers and even fellow gamers take a moment to realize that our money is green and our interests are common and stop fanning the flames of gender separation. I am now going to turn it over to Andrea so we can get her take on the matter.

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Let me start off by saying if you knew my likes, you cannot possibly call me a feminist. Yes, I believe in “Girl Power” and whatnot, but that’s solely based on the fact that I have boobs and it’s a catchy thing to say. Our friends say that I am the female Rich. I will get a mani/pedi at 3pm and be screaming manically at a UFC fight at 10pm. That’s the kind of girl I am.

Gender equality is a big thing to me – in all forms. There is no reason why a man should get paid more than me for the same job, no reason why a man is less manly for getting a manicure, nor should a “guy gamer” be treated differently than a “girl gamer”. It just shouldn’t be. I can beat your ass in Mario Kart, UFC Undisputed, Virtua Fighter, and Dance, Dance Revolution (okay, maybe not that last one). I can do it all – as can millions of women. So the fact that so many people, including the media and gaming industry, divide us down the line of what’s in our pants disgusts me.

You want to know why I am a gamer? Ask me and I will show you by teaming up with you in Gears of War. Don’t expect me to produce a fucking dance video while scantily clad. Don’t expect my gamertag to be hottchickxxx or some dumbness like it. I will tell you to fuck off and shove a Rock band drumstick up your ass.

All of these websites, photos, viral videos, etc. where “girl gamers” use their various lady parts to further a “stereotype” (even though they don’t think it is- but it IS) is bullshit. I have no need for that. I am a gamer, therefore, I play games. You want T & A? Go to Playboy or something. As a woman, it’s nauseating to see fellow women act this way. Plus, it only makes men think that women are inferior gamers.

Now, I ask, is that true? Of course not. Gaming is not about gender, it’s about gaming. There are plenty of girl-centric gaming websites like Rich mentioned who don’t make themselves the “forbidden fruit”. I am not against having a community where you get together with girls to talk gaming – nor am I against the other way around. If you really want to separate, it’s fine – as long as you don’t make yourself look foolish. As Rich said, the need for separation (let me reiterate, by some folks, not all) is setting the revolution back a few decades – and unfortunately, it is being televised.

My bottom line here – let’s just make it GAMER. Period. No connotations. No symbolism. No Katy Perry-esque dance videos.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Well put, Andrea. If you wanna know why and how a girl gamer plays, team up with me and see how it’s done. If you wanna see scantily clad girls holding controllers, go somewhere else. I didn’t name our site but honestly I can’t think of a better title. Trina’s right about niche.

    Case in point about dividing the industry? They divide themselves. We actually had a PR rep tell one of our colleagues that he didn’t want to waste his time with us because “we weren’t their demographic.” Mind you, the game was a FPS, and a big one at that. I’m playing it right now, ahemm. It happens. A lot. (Mind you, our owner gave that PR company hell and I hope he was thoroughly embarrassed. I know the developer didn’t share his sentiment.)

    And no, women gamers for the most part are not treated equally on forums or online. Some girls just take it too far and I can’t stand that, in fact it’s a pet peeve. I’m a tom boy, not a feminist but I clean up good when I want to, ha ha. I don’t dress in a bikini to find gamer friends. My self-esteem is better than that, thank you. I was so happy to find GirlGamer.com because it WASN’T aimed at guys, despite the name. (i.e. sexy girls writing random gaming stuff, followed by a dozen hero-worshiping comments by men)

    I, too, hope that someday there will be no need to divide the industry. That’s why we welcome men on our site, too. If you like games, you’re a gamer and you’re welcome. Likewise, we don’t allow girls to post scantily clad pictures of themselves, as it sends the wrong impression about what we represent.

    Walking around on the E3 floor, I was welcomed by the industry, for the most part. Reps were actually excited to reach out to the female demographic. It’s not everyone. “The industry” is a very broad term, but let’s face it. When it comes to marketing, people go for what has traditionally worked in the past, and that’s the young male demographic. They’re learning, albeit a bit slow. 😉

    Great article!

  2. I believe that we are all gamers. But currently, multiplayer play is so hostile, I only play with friends (both from GA or online). GA provides a place for women to explore their hobby without having to deal with that.

    On GamingAngels we specifically state that we are never about what we look like. In fact we have very few pictures of ourselves on the site.

    On GA, we have a bigger hope/goal. We hope to encourage teen girls to go into tech and gaming as a career. I’ve been to many high school events where I am the only female that has an IT background. With more people of different genders/backgrounds going into the game industry the industry benefits from a variety of new ideas.

    Last, it’s all business. Every site needs a niche or a reason for existing. This is ours. I feel that as long as old media and marketing companies feel that women don’t play games or aren’t worth paying attention to, we need a site where it can quickly emphasize numbers/hits. Companies speak in numbers because that equals dollars.

    In the end, many will have different opinions, but I feel that GamingAngels is doing it’s best at giving back to the community at the same time as being part of a community.

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