Fandom Friday: Girls in Gaming

Woman Who GamesLet’s start by getting two things clear:
1. You might be offended by some of the content below. #SorryNotSorry
2. I am not a fan of the term “gamer girl.” Once you are in a NSFW appropriate place, go to Google and image search “gamer girl.” Then do the same with “gamer boy.” Note the difference in content, recognize the connotations tied to that term, and improve your terminology appropriately. “Gamer girl” isn’t a compliment.

“It’s because they’re a lot of chicks and they only care if the character is hot.”

Last week’s feature was on a certain Knight-Captain from BioWare’s epic Dragon Age series. I enjoyed the heck out of the research I did…for the most part. Investigation sometimes leads us to the dark recesses of the internet where jerks grow like ragweed and feel the right to be just as invasive. I’ve never been blind to the fact that “gamer girls” face so much discrimination, I was just appalled to see such a blatant reminder.

Obviously they don’t take any of it seriously. Leave the gaming to the men, ladies!”

Now I won’t say that I’m the most serious console gamer ever. In comparison to my husband’s four shelves worth of games, my collection is pretty meager, yet oft-played. I’ve always been a bigger tabletop gamer than anything else so yeah, my box of player handbooks and guides out-weighs his Elder Scrolls collection any day. But the sexism in gaming isn’t limited to the chauvinistic pigs who are tethered to their 360’s. We see it among the dice and HeroClix, too – albeit more directly, as the shroud of internet anonymity isn’t there.

“There’s no such thing as the single gaming girl. She wouldn’t be gaming if not for her boyfriend.”

I moved to the sprawling metropolis of Amarillo back when I was 19. Being the new girl in a new city meant I was starting all over again without a friend to my name. One of the local comic book stores had a Wanted board in their game room, where fellow tabletoppers recruited fresh meat for old games. At that time, my favorite was Dragonlance. I was thrilled to see a posting for that exact campaign. I had been shrouded before, I suppose, as my first table was four girls and one guy who-big shocker-was not calling the shots. It took me about ten minutes of sitting around with hormonal college boys (and not a fellow female in sight) to learn a new concept.

“All a guy needs in a gamer girl are big boobs, at least some brains, and some favors under the table.”

What really got me to thinking about all of this was a tweet by BioWare lead editor Karin Weekes. (The following link is NOT SAFE FOR WORK.)

This “magazine” is purportedly marketed towards women, but pretty much features trashy soft-core porn. I suspect that the publication may actually be guerrilla warfare-type advertising meant to allure to mouth-breathing pigs who need to fulfill some sick fantasy, but I digress. I took more offense to some of the comments on that page than anything else.

“That just sets a false expectation of what gamer girls look like. We all know they aren’t all hot.”

I think we owe it to ourselves as women to not only be loud and offended every single time we see this sexist crap, but to stop egging it on. If I had a penny for every time I saw a serious gamer post up a suggestive picture of herself in panties, I’d have enough money to buy a gigantic bitch-slap robot to knock some sense into anyone who actually does that. I’m sure that the root of the problem isn’t some silly girl with a game controller strapped to her crotch and pasties made out d10’s. And pointing a finger at the females who portray this image is akin to victim shaming. But we owe it to ourselves to not only loudly defend ourselves when we are discriminated, but become the solution instead of another half-dressed part of the problem.

And in the interim, while we fix our part and try to figure out why we’ve put up with this crap for so long, let’s go ahead and challenge the men to stop thinking of us as pansy casual players. While you’re out there stereotyping the competition, there’s a damn good chance that the character you’re playing was written, designed, and completed by a female gamer. On behalf of them, I say “You’re welcome.”

*drops the mic*

xo – Meli


8 thoughts on “Fandom Friday: Girls in Gaming

  1. As the author of the original post you’ve linked I can say that there is no way this is a guerrilla marketing campaign. We have no affiliation with @Ray36O, Cred magazine or the mentioned garbage publication.

      • No harm, no foul! It sucks that we had to actually ‘publicize’ the garbage in order for us to write the article but the fact remains that if we didn’t a lot of people wouldn’t know about it and be able to say their piece. I’m not deluding myself into thinking that a few internet complainers are going to stop this guy from doing what he’s going to do either… and that’s a shame.

        For the record, the article is absolutely dripping sarcasm and its intent is to be just as ridiculous as the publication it’s calling out!

        • I know what you mean. I’m sure that complaints won’t do much, and he might have gotten a few new subscribers out of this, but it opens up dialogue about the sexism in gaming. It’s really disturbing that this stereotype has become such a “thing” lately. Even more disturbing that it results in this kind of rubbish.

          I loved reading your take, by the way. :)

  2. Total agreeance here. While there is a group of gamers out there that do fir the stereotype, my encounter has been significantly different. Some if the single most intense tabletop games I have ever played were with women. Not because of a sexual charged atmosphere, though they were attractive, but because of the level of game they brought to the table. I am all for gender equality and not boxing in women in the gamer community. Ladies I love you, game on!

    • Thanks, man. :) I’ve played at tables with quite a few extremely strong female players. In fact, I think the last three I was at had females who were more knowledgeable and effective than the male counterparts.

      And out of the want to not make myself sound like one of them, allow me to clarify that I certainly am NOT an intense tabletop gamer. I’m the one who plays the bard. And it’s normally a kender bard.

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