Why Can't Women Be Just "Gamers"?

Meta: The contest is over, the winner has been contacted and the comics will be up on Wednesday. Also, I’m now on Formspring, feel free to ask me questions.

To make something very clear before I start: If you walk (er, click) away from this piece thinking that I have a grudge against female gamers, then you fail the assignment and have to retake the course.

The manipulation of male gamers with women is a widely established trend. Whether it’s the booth babes or GameCrush (a horrible, insulting trend if I’ve seen one), the media and game developers use the lovely ladies to line their pockets.

Many people on the internet claim that women are almost entirely absent from the online population. It’s in the Rules of the Internet after all, “There are no girls on the internet”. It’s clearly shocking when a player is exposed as female, especially when playing an FPS like MW or Halo. After all, these are manly games! Plus, MMORPGs are pretty much the realm of lonely virgin males of the world.

Of course, this is all utter crap. According to “studies”, women make up 35-40% of gamers. Now, you might say “Oh sure, The Sims and Barbie Horse Adventures technically counts as a game, hurr”, but here’s something to kick you in your misogynistic ass. A staggering 64% of the online gaming population is composed of women. That’s more than men, for you less than mathematically inclined.

You may wonder why this comes as a surprise to you, so here’s the kicker: Many women hide their identity by playing as male characters, pretending to be male when speaking about themselves, or simply refrain from using voice-chat functions. This is, of course, to avoid the “TITS OR GTFO” or “There’s no girls on the interwebz!” bull that they are likely to get put through. I think it goes without saying that a community where someone has to pretend to be another gender in order to escape ridicule is a very diseased community, but that’s beyond the scope of this piece.

However, there’s a kind of woman that does exactly the opposite. Toting the name “gamer girl”, they proudly announce that they are women, and soak up all the admiration and abuse that gets showered upon them. Because they are special, because they are shifting the zeitgeist, those brilliant pioneers.They’re breaking into a man’s world in style.

Well, if you recall from before, sixty-four percent of online gamers are women! These ladies are definitely not leaders in a trend. And yet they soak up the admiration…

My problem isn’t that “gamer girls” are egotisitcal, some many male gamers are like that. After all, the entire basis of online gaming is to be better than the person below you on the scoreboard. My issue is that these women are defining themselves as gamers on the basis of their gender, not their gaming skill. A lady can be horrid at a game, but it’s all right in her mind because she’s a lady. Does that make sense?

My respect for gamers comes from their skill at the game, male or female. Women receive nothing additional simply for the merit of being female.

This is an unfortunate trend that is starting to annoy me. As a webcomic critic, I’ve read a LOT of gaming comics, I’ve  even reviewed some, and this comes up quite a bit. Look at NPC, Ctrl+alt+del‘s requisite “nerd girlfriend”, and perhaps No Pink Ponies for the comic counterpart for this. This is horrid! Your writing should be based around humor or creativity, not “imma pioneer” or “hurr boobs”.

The solution to this is two-fold. First, men, stop abusing women on the internet. They’re either (A) not wanting it or (B) complete attention-seeking idiots. Either situation will not be helped by your annoying comments. Secondly, women, you’re not special. Please, judge your quality as a gamer by your ability to down raid bosses or headshot noobs, not by your choice in genitalia.

4 thoughts on “Why Can't Women Be Just "Gamers"?

  1. I would have to say, the majority of people I know online are women gamers. Through networked comics, through my personal interactions, my guilds on several servers…

    The ones you never hear about, the ones that stay quiet and just play the game they enjoy, the ones who interact like every other normal person out there; those are the decent ones.

    I share your frustration with the men and women that perpetuate the “girl gamer fantasy” with the “TITS OR GTFO” or “PICS NAO” comments, as well as those who play into that infantile madness.

    I happen to live with two girl gamers, and my RPG group has more women in it than men. We are teaching the daughter of one of my close lady friends to roleplay at the table, and she shows interest in online gaming as well. Truth be, the first thing I did was caution her about the people she would meet online, and suggested she play an ugly, male character in games to avoid it.

    When did we get to this point? Further, how do we fix it without general euthanasia?

    • General euthanasia would be rather entertaining, but it does tend to lead to decimation of populations.

      Unfortunately, much like the swearing ten-year-old in voice chat or generalized racism, this isn’t something that you can get rid of by active means. The only real way to fix this is to inform people of the problem (hence the post) and do your best to minimize the proliferation of the stereotype and simply not give into it. There will always be holdouts, but usually if you call someone out on their jackassery then they will cease, at least until their next game. Baby steps and all.

  2. Pingback: Girls Don’t Play Games | Archive Crawl

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