Gamer girl stereotypes and realities
By Brittney MacDonald, Contributor
Recently, a friend of mine was playing Left 4 Dead and came across an enemy player who, let’s just say was less than skilled. So as any good, upstanding player would do, my friend proceeded to rip the enemy a digital new one to gain kill points for their team. In response, the opposing player said “HEY immmma a girl stop it btich!” (word for word, typo and all).
Admittedly, picking on a weak player may not have been the gentlemanly thing to do—but then again, my friend doesn’t have to be a gentleman: my friend is a tiny girl who works at a tea house and likes to wear lace dresses.
I’ve been playing games since Sega Genesis, and I wasn’t always fantastic at them. Honestly, I pretty much sucked until the PS2 rolled around, but at no time did I blame my vagina for holding me back. Strangely enough, though, female gamers have a pretty bad reputation. “Gamer girls,” as they’re called, have taken over the Internet, and not in a good way. They’re the ones on your computer screen who pose suggestively with a console controller. They might have played a game of Super Smash Bros or been cannon fodder in a game of Halo, and now they’re “like, OMG, such a nerd!”—but their main goal is attention.
These are the types of girls who had me playing as a male avatar in my World of Warcraft heyday. In fact, I played in a guild for two years before they even found out I wasn’t a guy. Sadly, even though we had gamed together for so long, their opinion of me changed and I eventually left to seek bigger and better things; things where I didn’t have to have a penis to be part of the cool kids’ club.
Nowadays, I don’t bother to hide the fact I’m a girl. I play as whatever I feel like, be it as a cat-girl in Final Fantasy XIV or as a lady champion in League of Legends. I take full advantage of the fact I’m still underestimated on occasion—mostly with headshots. But that doesn’t change the stereotype, and that won’t stop guys from approaching me at conventions and accusing me of being a fraud. Now, I could challenge each and every one of them to a game of Injustice and see who comes out on top—and I have on occasion—but that seems really tedious.
So I’ve decided on a different route: welcome, “gamer girls”! Pretty revolutionary, right? I don’t care about your motivations for trying a game, or if you’re kind of stupid and assume your gender somehow gives you a pass. Eventually, everyone smartens up. They either learn to play or they tire of being humiliated and toddle off back to their makeup and Tetris. My point is that even the best gamers start somewhere, and that’s true for both men and women.
All these “gamer girls” posting pictures on their Instagram could one day be the future pros you see winning the big money at tournaments. The truth is that if anything is going to change the stereotype of the female gamer, it’s more females getting into games. Eventually there will be so many of us the menfolk will have to run for the hills—or at least bob and weave to avoid our crosshairs.