"I’m a girl gamer!" Gaming is gendered, and the gender isn’t mine.
I often read on different forums about how people (who own a penis) are tired of hearing the phrase "I’m a girl gamer" or “I’m a girl and I know how to play videogames.” Usually, their words don’t get under my skin. It’s a simple complaint that I will hear over and over again. Kind of like how I am sick of hearing the phrase “I’ve prestige blah blah blah times” I know that just because I’m sick of hearing it, it won’t go away. No matter what I do, some Joe-shmoe will still come into my place of employment spouting his stats at me like I care.
Someone made a post about girl gamers that just got under my skin. Shoving his stupid (and clearly sexist) post aside and getting to the bear bones of his post which is “I’m sick of hearing you (women) say I CAN PLAY VIDEOGAMES!”
Listen here internet. Gaming is gendered and the gender isn’t mine. It took me a holiday season at my work to truly understand that no matter how much I play; no matter what I know; people will not take full stock in what I say about games, consoles, or accessories. Regardless of the fact I have been working at my store for almost a year, and I am on the management team. Regardless of the fact I have been gaming for most of my life. I could have a full sales conversation with a customer, about games, what console I own, how much I loved a particular title and get asked at the end of the transaction “Oh so you’re really a gamer?” with a tone of surprise! Typically I meet them with a humorous remark. But sometimes it gets under my skin. Particularly when a customer won’t listen to me (or gives me the remark of “I’ll think about it.”) when I talk to them about a game because they assume my knowledge is sub-par because I’m a female. Want to know how I know they think I’m sub-par? When a co-worker (all my co-workers are male.) comes up behind me and agrees with what I am saying and then all of a sudden my customer believes what I’ve been telling them, and buys the game I’ve been gushing about for 10 minutes..
They wait for a man to come behind me and validate my words. Because my words aren’t good enough. This happens over, and over and over again.
I don’t think it’s intentional either. At least for most of my customers. In general America’s society holds the idea of “Gaming is for men” (caveman grunt!) at least gaming beyond the Wii System and fitness games. Is that such a far fetched idea though? When was the last time a huge FPS was released with a female lead? Not the ability to choose a female character, but advertised as a game with a female lead and marketed specifically to women? When will COD ever have the option for me to have a female character? How about a game like Uncharted, or Infamous, or Crysis or Halo? When will I get to be the bad-ass genetically altered super hero that gets to save all of the world from the aliens without a mans help? Sure games like Final Fantasy, or Mass Effect have the ability to be female. They are RPG’s, developers aren’t studpid they know they have to offer some option for their female audience. Portal 2 you were a female. You can pick a female in all fighting games. But when am I going to be a kick-ass female lead who still gets to keep her clothes on and stars in a game all her own? I know these games exists (who doesn’t love classics like Tomb Raider!) but when have they ever received the development, marketing, and sales success of other similar games with male leads?
I have to constantly, constantly validate my place in the world of gaming. I can’t even use a headset on multiplayer because of the nastiness I receive for being a “girl gamer”. Do you know how often I hear "You don’t look like you should work at a videogame store!" ? How about how often I’m met with a tone of surprise when I talk about how I think the kill confirmed mode on MW3 is pretty neat?
If you want me to stop shoving it into your face that I am a girl, and I have the ability to play games, maybe stop shoving it in my face that you think I don’t belong here. Maybe you don’t say out loud “I don’t think women really play games”. (Because there is the perception that women only play as a way to build our appeal to men. Not because we legitimately enjoy gaming for whatever reasons.) But every time someone reacts surprised to me talking about gaming, or playing online, or even working at a game store, it is being shoved in my face that gaming isn’t meant for my gender.