Just Call Me a Gamer

Let’s get this out of the way first, shall we? I am a female. I play video games. Am I a girl gamer? No. I am a gamer, plain and simple. Video games have been around for quite some time now and both males and females have been playing them, some from the very get go. Yes, it was awkward to find a female who enjoys playing video games back then and even today. It’s the way our society has been for decades and perhaps written deep within our own hardwire. Men are more physical and like the “manly” things in life while the woman should stay at home and cook.

Then we enter the 21st century. When a woman admits that she likes football, do we call her a female football fan? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. She is simply a fan, just like any other football fan out there. Why should enjoying video games be any different?

Time changes things and I believe that we are now in a time where we can drop this silly façade. The media, perhaps, didn’t want to market a young girl playing on a Gameboy because society wasn’t ready for it. It is the twenty-first century and everyone is aware that girls do play video games. Big deal.

I would talk to my male co-workers and I would be shocked that they play video games. What? Not all males play video games and not all females enjoy going shoe shopping. We are all our own person and if we enjoy doing something, then so be it. What I don’t agree with is that we have to shout out to the world that we are females who game. Congrats, Now while you were informing your party members of your sex, I just stuck a grenade to your armor.

Of course the media and marketing firms for video game companies are trying to target the majority of those who play their type of game in order to sell it. We know that a game directed to cheerleading wouldn’t be for someone in the 24-30 age range, unless, they’re a coach or actually interesting in the sport, but you get my point. No, I’m not mad at the ads that target men. It makes sense. What I am against are those ads that show a mindless woman in an ad for a game, like I’ve seen some for games on the Playstation 3. If you’re going to do an ad on how a woman feels neglected because her male partner plays too much, why not have another ad that shows the opposite. I don’t understand why there can’t be positive ads about woman who play games, aside from games for the Nintendo DS and Wii, and even some of those are terrible. I don’t want to be overrun with ads, but a nice change and balance would be nice.

Part of me is just sick and tired of seeing as these ads with women in them and they are always playing a DS or a Wii. I know men who only play only those two systems, granted, but not everyone only play Nintendo products and not all woman who game play on a pink DS.

With mother’s day coming up, I am seeing more and more ads and articles about suggesting games for mom. Majority of which are from Nintendo. If I see one ad that is directed towards a mother for mother’s day that is from a game other than a Ninetndo product, I will be happy.

I am happy for those websites that are out there and that are run by females who play video games. Some are directed just to women and some are just tasteless. We could use more positive female gaming sites but could that just make things work? Isn’t everything about a balance and equality? Some of these websites give me the feeling that if I was a guy, I shouldn’t be here, like it’s a girls only club.

Some of these websites have a slogan, for example, “women do play games”. Congratulations, you’ve just learned something that most gamers already know. There is no need to state that woman play games. In fact, I’m sick of seeing it. I feel like it’s the equivalent of saying cheese tastes good in a sandwich. Wow, did not know that.

Could marketing and the media be the ones to blame for the shock value men get when they find a female who plays? For some, that shock fades away and they treat the female who plays like any other person. For others, both sexes feel they need to make a big deal of it. There just isn’t a need for this.

For example, my work held an employee appreciation celebration last month. They had a tent set up and inside were arcade cabinets of classic games, a DDR machine, Wii games, Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I went in one day and played some DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). One of my co-workers, who knows that I play, walked by and said something. I don‘t remember exactly what he said but it was a casual remark. Didn’t make a big deal and he moved on.

I glanced behind me and saw a few people were playing Rock Band. From my point of view, it was two woman and two men. After awhile, three left and one guy was there playing on the drums. I decided to walk over and asked if I could play. He said sure and I sat down and grabbed the guitar. He picked the song and went to expert on drums and I did the same for lead guitar. He asked me if I was sure about that and I laughed and nodded. We played the song and did very well as a team. His shock that I was a female playing left quickly and I was an equal and told me that I was now entered in a competition with him. I was taken aback, I know I can play, but on a competition level? I shrugged and went for it. At least it would be fun, right? Long story short we went into the tournament and killed the competition. I played as I usually do and I had fun. No one pointed and was shocked that girl was good at the guitar but instead saw that I was good as a gamer and as a team we won.

This just goes to show that you cannot judge a gamer by how they look, their age or sex. I’ve met people that I was shocked to learn that they play and then that feeling left. Yes, people will still be taken aback to learn that someone not of the token gamer look plays but it is that simple to then shrug if off and just play.

Then we have the attention seekers. Those “girl gamers” who do it for the attention of a boy and some sort of popularity reward. Grow up, you are giving everyone a bad name. This goes for everyone. Young kids who think they are awesome because they can play expert on drums at the age of twelve. That’s impressive whatever the age or sex. You don’t need to say, “I’m twelve and I play” or “I’m a girl that plays video games”. We get it. If you didn’t play video games, why would a controller be in your hand? Unless you’re here to just impress and you don’t know the difference between the trigger and bumper buttons.

We also have those gamers who are shy to mention that they play, hardcore even, to family and friend in fear that they would be looked at in a different way or ridiculed. Those not of the gaming generation have a hard time understanding that we enjoy playing. In turn, personally, I find it hard to understand that people can sit in front of the TV for hours, just watching it. Why should playing video games for the same amount of hours that one will watch TV at night be any different? I enjoy the interaction that I get from games. The ability to lose myself in a character and the story that it needs to share. This is not because I am female but because I play video games because I want to, regardless of what sex, race or age.

Of course this doesn’t start with those in the media and those who are not into playing these games. This change starts with us as gamers. We need to start respecting each other no matter who we are. Some people are just rude in general and nothing will change that but the majority of us need to start respecting each other and stop with the cut downs. I understand trash talking (I play Halo) but at the end of the match, a simple “good game” is always a good idea. You don’t have to like the individual, but at least show some sort of respect. So you got beat by a girl, so what. I get beat by girls and boys all the time online and I take it with a grain of salt. Respect for each can go a long way and as more gamers notice this, they will come out of their shell and realize: I can game without be hassled because of who I am and it doesn’t matter that I have a Y or X chromosome. If we can’t relate and get along with each other as gamers then the world will see this and will continue to stereotype us. Stating that woman who play games are disrespected and should stay in the kitchen and men will dominate with an iron fist. Even if we can’t change the world’s outlook, it will make the gaming community that much better and those who don’t understand will miss out on all of our fun.

Male, female, gay, straight, shy, hardcore: we all having something in common. We are gamers and proud of it. With this common interest we should respect each other while delivering headshots.

As I stated before, I am female and I am a gamer. I am not a female gamer but a gamer who enjoys what she plays. I didn’t just start playing either, I started back in 1984 when I was four years old. I played a lot as a kid and I went outside as well. As I got older, I started to play more and more and I started to notice all the commotion about how it is such a big deal that a female plays video games. Its like someone just discovered that the Earth isn’t flat. I have never nor ever will exploit this “new discovery” and instead I will just keep on playing. Men, next time you play a game with a female, don’t make a big deal of it and hopefully she won’t either. Just play the game for what it is and for who we are: gamers.