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Nov 27, 2006

What's Wrong with the Female Gaming Community

Okay, I’m a gamer and a woman; we all know that. I’ve been gaming since I was 6 when my Dad introduced me to computer games on his Commodore 64 and from there on I loved gaming. During that time, the video game industry did not market to women or girls and yet I still chose to play video games. I didn’t care if they marketed the games to me, because I wanted to play just the same. I didn’t care if they were made for women or not. Even now I don’t care if the industry markets to women gamers, because I don’t choose my games based on whether they are female or male type games. I play something because it’s got good graphics, good game play and a story line that interests me. Nowadays with so many female gamers playing and demanding to be recognized by the industry, the gaming companies are trying to include women in their marketing. Funny thing is that when the companies fail to market the right way to us, the female community is suddenly up in arms like the gaming companies don’t get us, but truthfully the problem is that they can’t market to us, because they don’t know what we want, because we don’t know what we want.

Female gamers demand equality in the industry, and yet we are the ones destroying any chance of being taken seriously by flip flopping on how we want to be treated. As a female in the gaming community, I’ve realized through trial and error that we as a group make things worse for ourselves sometimes without even realizing it, because we as group can’t decide how we want to be treated as a group. If you look at all the women gamers out there, you will see there are generally three types of gaming females, and two of those types are the ones killing gaming for the other group.

First you have the pretty girl gamer that post pictures of her on websites and always refers to herself as a girl gamer. I admit I started out as one of these because I didn’t realize how much I was hurting myself and my image in the long run. When it comes to gaming, guy gamers don’t care what you look or what sex you are, because they just want you to play games. The moment you post a picture of yourself or start with the whole I’m a girl gamer thing, you lose all creditability as a gamer and will have to start down the road of proving to the whole world that you actually game. Now I’m not blaming these types of girls saying it their fault for posting the pictures, but I’m just warning those female gamers out there that there are consequences to outing yourself, especially if you aren’t bad to look at. Ladies, by posting these pictures no one takes us seriously and in the end we just make ourselves look like attention whores they keep labeling us as. Plus consider this for one second, there are three women that frequent Destructoid.com that I know of and I know what each of these women look like, yet I couldn’t tell you what half of the writers look like on Destructoid. Also out of these three female gamers, two of them posed half naked for our site or another gaming site and out of the hundreds of male gamers I know; only three of them posed half naked for Destructoid and all of them were doing it as a joke. I know what I’m saying sounds wrong, like I’m saying that we are responsible for the evil remarks people make about us, but I’m not trying to say that. I trying to show that unless someone decides to post a forum topic that asks for the readers to post pictures, male gamers are less likely to post avatars or pictures of themselves on gaming sites, and yet female gamers feel the need to include pictures and then whine about the consequences of doing so. What can’t we just use a Gears of War logo as an avatar like everyone else? I hate to say it, but I know why we post the pictures, because we do want the attention and we have no one but ourselves to blame when the gaming community treats us badly for it or fails to take us seriously. We especially can’t whine about how people treat us when we pose in our underwear. If someone wants to see your pictures or it related to a story or something, then it’s okay to post your pictures, but otherwise a picture will just be the start of something bad.

Pretty gamers are usually the types to come on a site and scream, “I’m a girl gamer and I’m a hot too” as if to say they are special, but this really only kills our image for the female gamers that just play and don’t need to the world to know they occasionally wear a skirt. All these websites for female gamers, female gaming clans and everything else specifically for women gamers just shows the gaming community that we are special and that we want to be treated different from them, but guess what… we aren’t special any more. The ESA site says that 38% of game players are women and that we spend only 6 minutes less a day than men who play video games. Those numbers continue to grow everyday which shows that female gamers are just as normal as male gamers now. We don’t need to have special sites to cater to our needs as females because we’re not mythical beasts only spoke of in legend anymore. We can hold our heads up high and log into a normal gaming site like Destructoid.com and not feel out of place. We don’t have to hide anymore, but still we choose to make these specialty sites for ourselves so we can continue being singled out. We “girl gamers”, whine about how the male gaming community tends to question our gaming abilities and mock us at every turn, but how are they suppose to treat us when you show up with pictures of yourself half naked, declaring “I’m a hot girl gamer and a member of the Girlie Vixens Clan”. You set yourself up to be singled out because you are singling yourself by declaring these things. Being a “grrl gamer” isn’t a thing to be shouting to the world about anymore because we’re not alone in the gaming world anymore. It would be like wearing a badge that says “Women can vote” about 50 years after women got the right to vote. Everybody knows women play games, and if they do treat you like a unicorn for being a female gamer, then that’s they’re fault for elevating you to a higher level, but if you do it, then you only have yourself to blame for what happens after that.

The second type of female gamer that is ruining it for the rest of the community is the uber woman gamer; the woman that spends every waking moment complaining about how the gaming industry doesn’t cater to them and will take offence to every little thing that is said about female gamers that doesn’t feel politically correct. If you want a good example of these types of gamers, then check out Official Shrub.com and read just one of their articles on gaming. Gamers like these hate gamers like me. I represent everything that is wrong with girl gamers. Heck, the very fact that I’m using terms like girl gamers or female gamer is probably annoying the heck out of them right now.

These types of feminism gamers take the role of hardcore female too far by constantly declaring the multiple reasons of why the gaming industry is sexist to women. From the clothes video game female characters wear to the term fanboy, anything and everything could be looked at as sexist and/or non-exclusive for women. Now I agree that sometimes the industry can insult the female gaming community with their poor attempts to market to us, but if you pick on every little thing that you consider sexist, then you’re going to end up with female characters that look like real women, and truthfully I don’t want to play as an Oprah look a like or as any other normal looking woman. Video games are about fantasy and about playing as something you want to be, which why game designers create male characters with big muscles, or a James Bond look and female characters with big boobs and a tiny waist. I can be fat in real life, but I can’t have a 28 inch waist and a DD bra size. Game designers don’t create characters to be sexist, they create them because they understand that gamers want fantasy characters to play with, so they can be for a few hours something they may not be in real life.

Feminist gamers also tend to freak out about games not catering to their needs by not allowing female characters to be as strong as male ones, or by not having a choice to play a female character. I too like the choice to play as a female and I also want to see female characters have equal stats with the male characters, but I know these things all depend on the game itself. If you have a game that is going for some realism, the truth is women tend to be physically weaker than men, unless they are built the same as the guy is. I don’t like it, but it is true. I mean they could provide an Amazon woman type character to allow for equal strength, but even I admit I would still choose the petite female character over the Amazon, despite the lack in stats. As for the lack of gender choices, I would like to see more games with gender choices, but if the story was written for a male character then it’s for a male character. You don’t see male gamers getting upset because they have to play a female character in Tomb Raider, do you?

In the long run, the more you complain about the little things, the less the industry will want to cater to you or worst try to cater to you, but fail miserably and tick you off even more. If you stopped complaining for one second and realized that gaming has never been about gender from the beginning, then you wouldn’t care if Halo 2 was marketed towards you. You would just play it because you liked to play it. Be happy that at least game design companies are trying to please gamers from all walks of life with gender choices and sexual choices and stop complaining when they refer to you as a lady instead of woman. They’re just trying to be polite.

The type of female gamer all we should all strive to be is the type of woman that just plays games. They don’t complain about every little thing wrong with video games that they think is sexist, they don’t pose all pretty in their favorite Mario tank top and then post the picture on their favorite gaming site, and they don’t spend all their time on women gaming sites or join all women clans. They just play games. This is the type of gamer I should be and am trying to be because this was the type of gamer I started out as. I didn’t make a big deal about my gamer status because I didn’t care. I just played games. These are the types of female gamers the market should be focusing on, because they are marketed to the same way that men are marketed to; show us the game and how great it is and don't try to relate it to our sex. So to sum up all my ranting, the truth is this: We female gamers tend to make things worse on ourselves either by flaunting our girl gamer status, or by demanding the industry cater to us and in the long run, all we need to do as my one of my fellow writers would say, is shut the froag up and just play games.

Note: I just wanted to make sure my readers understand that though my blog is named "The Girl Gamer", I didn't know better in the beginning and can't change it now.


Trina said...

Interesting blog, but I think what you wrote conflicts with your actions. If you didn't care about looks and pagentry of female gamers, then you wouldn't have entered the Miss Video Game contest.

I have had personal experience with a male Magazine Editor tell me that Girls don't game. This was not five years ago, it was last year. Until Marketing and Gaming Magazines change their approach, I believe there is a reason to be pro-female gamer. There is a reason to have female oriented gaming sites. Because otherwise they are overlooked. Are you suggesting that women just "deal" with the fact that the industry totally ignores that 38% of game players are female?

As women gamers, all kinds of women gamers, we need to bond together, have a single voice that says, that we like to game, we spend our hard earned dollars just like males and we deserved to be marketed to.

In the ideal world, gaming sites would be non-gender specific and so would gaming magazines. But some women feel very uncomfortable on gaming sites that are specifically geared to men (in their mission statement), and they should have a place to go discuss games.

eclipse115 said...

I think you've nailed the main types of female gamers out there. But . . .

As a female gamer and editor of Girls' Gaming Guide, I struggle with the fine line of enjoying games but demanding equal treatment. Mainly I campaign for options. I probably fall into the last category of gamer you describe, but am not quite that hardcore.

There really are differences between the games that men and women like to play. That's not to say a woman won't like G.R.A.W. because it's all about shooting or that they will only like game with pink hearts and fluffy rainbows, but for a long time I was consistently reading reviews that were way off base with my opinions. I lost a lot of time missing some great titles because all the guy gamers thought it was shit.

As far as wanting female characters, that's 100% true. The first thing I look for is whether I can be a girl in a game. I’ve done that my entire gaming life before I realized consciously that I was a “girl gamer”. I don't expect them to be stronger but mainly pick them for their speed. My reflexes are slow and their quickness usually counteracts my clumsy ways. It’s when they whine that annoys me most. Usually when we say a character is weak we’re describing character rather than physical prowess. Not to mention I don’t have the patience for a lumbering bear of a guy to get through a level.

Another thing I struggle to articulate is my opinion on sexuality in games. I personally don't think sexuality is necessarily wrong in games or anti-female but how it is portrayed plays a big role. There is usually a fine line between art and pr0n. Lesbians in games can be a great display of feminine equality but most of the time they look more like a mud wrestling event. For instance, I didn’t take offense to your semi-nude picture with but the Jessica Chobot’s shameful tonguing of an innocent PSP was not my idea of art. It’s a strange line and a matter of taste (literally) o.O

I also believe the main problem is that most people tend to make this issue black and white. Publishers give us Barbie who is obviously female and when we scream at it they think we're fickle. It's called studying your demographic. They studied it and are going for the 8 year olds. Very few publishers are going for the 17-25 or even 25-40 female demographic. Designing for a demographic takes research and listening skills. Nintendo has done a wonderful job whereas Sony doesn't seem to be trying. Microsoft tends to be in the middle and offers a little of everything. I know what I want, most of the time they aren’t listening. They’ve spent a couple decades finding out how to market to men, now it’s time to put a little research into us. Studying why Final Finatasy is such a popular hit with women can tell them a lot.

I want things marketed toward me because then I will enjoy them. Every other product in the Capitalist world has learned how to market to women but video games are lagging behind. I don’t read Maxim because it wasn’t designed for me. I prefer to read BUST (a wonderful independent female magazine) which hits home on many levels. I see nothing wrong with targeting female gamers, it just take a little learning.

Incidentally my favorite game is DOAX, a game thought to be marketed directly to males. I’d love to hear why analysts think I love it so much. Sorry for the long comment, I must be in a chatty mood tonight

Anonymous said...

You were spot on with that.

I would like to add that some of the neo-nazi feminists do indeed post pictures of themselves on their blogs, so you get a mixture of both species. It's pretty funny really, it knocks their whole point on it's arse. Don't worry about your picture - the picture you are using is clever (hiding behind something geeky and yet obviously still a woman without throwing it in our faces).

Anonymous said...

First off - I am a male. I like reading articles such as this because I believe everyone deserves equal opportunity (and treatment) - in all things. Sort of what 'the fight for freedom' is (and always has been) about.

I play a certain amount online, and my experience playing with females has been FAR better than with males, overall. So far males have exposed me to just HOW much a person can swear, be a jerk, complain, be irritable, blow someone off (just quit, say nothing) and overall - act like rude children. Females tend to be (at least, so far) a bit more thoughtful & careful in approach.

This is not to say it is always this way - by and large I have met very few females compared to many males, so, I suppose that mere odds *might* promote the idea of "x# of male jerks" per 100 of people encountered or something like that.

In any case - good for you.

I have experienced a number of fun play events with women (example) like one of my male friends getting his butt handed to him by a 14yr. old girl, which caused his pride a real re-think. I could only laugh. He assumed wayyyyy too much.

I laugh at one of my own - another friend of mine - his wife beat the living crap out of me in DOA (360) and she was sooooo drunk - could barely talk. Eh - maybe I just suck at that game. I guess she wasn't so drunk as to sucker me into a real beating. ha ha ha.

Great blog.

Anna said...

Dear faith, my name is Anna and I came across your blog today about the female gaming industry, about females out and "representing" females so to speak make a weak role model for us females by wanting special treatment. I would like to discuss this with you. I love your blog, but you link to one of the industies biggest downfall of female representation. You are right, when we were younger, there wasnt a barrier that seperated us from men that is in place now. The Pms clan has claimed that they represent all female gamers, yet the only ones that go around representing us are the ones that behave like utter harlets (trust me, I know). Trixie, she created gamerchix and there is even more segregation now between men and females, and everyone know that fragdolls are a marketing tool, neither pms nor fragdolls are yet to win a competition. (and no, 8 place doesnt count as victory).

Either way, if you like to talk about this further, you can email me at annacde@gmail.com !

Anonymous said...

You know, the stereotypes really aren't helping anything. Are women supposed to just lie down and take it when we're ignored and misrepresented? If we did that, then nothing would ever change. I don't like attention whoring girl gamers either, but until we as women first make ourselves heard and even the score, we can't resume normal gaming life as equals to men. That means we have to demand better representation of women in video games, as well as carrying ourselves with self respect (which picture whores don't do. I can think of one on a certain pixel art forum that drives me insane...) I can't stand the girls that make a point of their gender and appearance to get attention, as it smacks of one-uppmanship and attention whoring, but like I said...stereotypes help nothing. You're not superior because you don't place emphasis on your gender. You're just not. Some of us that do, do so because there's a greater good to consider.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Trina is 100% right.

Anonymous said...

PS....posting your picture on this blog, after bitchin' about those who do, is extremely hypocritical.

Faith said...

First off, posting pictures off myself on my blog is fine. Christ, I'm in my sweat pants. I'm not trying to impress anyone.

Secondly I dropped out of the Miss Video Game Pageant when I realized it wasn't about gaming and it was really about a bunch of stuck up girls cheating their way to the top.

Finally, if all you want to do is post Anonymous comments calling other people whores and hypocrites then obviously you really don't care about the female gaming community. You just came here to bash people.

I've erased some of your more nasty comments and personally don't appreciate you coming on my blog and calling other members of the gaming community whores.

Also I happen to be a member of a Pixel Art forum, so I hope you aren't one of our members, because I don't appreciate you coming over and posting this crap in my home.

I value other people's opinions but don't bash me and my friends in my home.

GGG Team said...


My name is Tim, i am part of the GGG Team,
you have a great blog here, i didnt even know women gamers existed. I have subscribed to your RSS Feed.

Come pay us a visit at http://GamersGetGirls.com sometime!


GGG Team