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Being a Female Gamer (Gamer Girl) in a Male Dominant Community

Have you ever imagined what it is like to be a gamer girl? This article takes the perspective from a female gamer herself. Let’s begin.

Lightning has her problems, but thanks to Square Enix, sometimes genders are not discriminated. 

Remember when it was just you and your N64 (or whatever console that launched your fantastical trek into gaming) and then the world got involved, bringing much conflict? Let’s go back to the peace and contentment you felt way back then.

 

For the Love of Video Games

This beautiful gem is available on etsy. Congrats…you have achieved victory over the dungeon’s boss. 

Okay, so being a gamer should have nothing to do with gender, age, race, or anything other than our mutual love for the game we are playing. This said, even well into the 21st century we are still dealing with stereotypes, prejudice, and chauvinism.  Although all of these are a problem, the only one that seems to be acceptable by other gamers, and even an occasional admin, is the judgment and harassment of women. Use racial slurs or call someone gay in a demeaning way and it’s an instant ban, be an aggressive and offensive jerk and you might get a slight warning. The hold that this discrimination has on us will be our topic for today.

 

Game Developers Started It

Shout out to the beloved Samus Aran for keeping it real 

Did you know that only about 20% of all main characters in video games are female? It’s true. In real life, of course, the population is about 50% women. Plus, when women are in video games, their main and often sole purpose is to be an attraction for the men. Women are usually an object for uncalled for attention, whether it is to be a romantic interest for the main protagonist or a scantily clad woman to boost sales. This automatically puts women lower on the totem pole.

But in actuality about 50% of gamers, give or take, are women. Thus, gamer girls aren’t actually a minority. So, how is it possible that one could name every female in professional eSports? Because the number is astoundingly low! Why? Because being in eSports as a girl instantly makes you a subject. You are known as one of the ‘female gamers’ in the profession. Not just a pro-player. Can you imagine the difference the world’s view would be of Faker (the best LoL player in the world) if he was a girl? His fame would be for different reasons. The focus becomes less on skill, and more on gender.

For instance, let’s say a new player is added to one of the most popular team’s roster. Happens, yeah. Well, this time, instead of another average twenty year old boy with mad skillz, we have a beautiful, or even average twenty year old woman. When a new player is added, there is always a little talk, but it focuses solely on gameplay for unknown faces. But of it were a woman, we all know the talk that would spread. Women would be saying ‘good for her’ or ‘whatever, she isn’t all that’ if she happened to be uncannily pretty. Men would not be so mild. There would be much dissing and admiring for all the wrong reasons.

You may say, ‘Go for it, who cares what people do and think and say?’ But, what about men in ‘female’ professions? Less than 10% of men are nurses. This is why men don’t like to pursue careers as nurses. They are treated differently (and often mistreated) by doctors, patients, and especially other nurses. In general, minorities are either looked down upon or put on a pedestal in fear of offending someone. Sad, but true. So…

 

What’s the difference?

One of the first female gaming icons, Ms. Pacman. 

Why do so many people believe that girls cannot be skilled at video games? Why are you called out simply for being female? Why do guys pay special attention to anyone that could possibly be a woman? Why are we so often treated like aliens, instead of friends…or enemies?

We are all gamers; we play because we like to play. We are fans, otaku, nerds, geeks, or just enjoy a round or two…or fifty of competitive gaming. Sure, a girl can play Wii, or even Pokémon. But when she shows up in a ranked /competitive game, things are bound to go down eventually.  Men generally see women differently…

 

She Must Be a Princess

Thanks Peach for needing to be saved…by a plumber. 

The majority of male gamers will treat female gamers differently than their male friends. I have to say that many men will treat women with more respect than they will their guy friends, but this often leads to evasion and alienation of the women in the gaming world. Although their intentions are not bad, the outcome leaves girls feeling different and segregated.

Another type of guy is the one that pays special attention to girls in a way that seems faultless. They will gift you in-game, make it a point to clean up their talk, and praise you no matter how awful you happen to do. This feels awkward, patronizing, and again separates us. Especially when you know how they would treat your male friends in the same position, and this disrespect is cause for anger. Every friend request we have to question whether they add us because they actually thought we were skilled or even friendly, or simply because we are female.

Get Back in the Kitchen, Woman

Cooking Mama…yay… 

Unfortunately the most common encounter that disrespects women is the openly offensive guy. I’m sure any of you who have spent long in the gaming world have seen someone who has made comments such as “You’re a girl, support me.” Or “Go make a sandwich.” These are the “nice” comments. I won’t discuss the severely inappropriate messages or ban-worthy conversations they try to have.  Sure, it seems harmless and all in good fun, but it really does nothing but continue to broaden the gap between us.

 

Honorable…or Female?

Honor awards for League of Legends 

So, I am very into League of Legends, and there is an honor system on there where after a game, you can honor your teammates or opponents for friendliness, helpfulness, or teamwork. Well, I got a badge for consistently getting enough honors. On more than one occasion I have had people tell me that the only reason I got this badge was because I was a girl. You see, I don’t know if it bothers me more the judgement from those haters, or the fact that they could possibly be right. I could be a complete flamer and rager, and I would still have a better chance at getting honor than my teammates. But on the flipside, I could have a wonderful game, and be reported for something irrelevant simply because someone doesn’t want me in the game.

 

Disclaimer: Men are Not All the Same

Shh…you can’t fault the master. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know that male chauvinism is not the only judgment out there, but that is my focus for today, and honestly most games on League my gender is ignored, and everyone treats me the same as our other teammates and opponents.  But some are different. MMOs for example are ridiculous. It is hard to go a day without someone asking me if I am a girl, as if it is relevant. Anyway, I could be a 50 year old man posing as a 20 year old girl for all they know. My word means nothing. Who knows…maybe I am a 50 year old man…you still don’t know…

 

For Those Needing an Excuse: Shame on Girls

Who is that? I didn’t recognize her almost properly dressed. 

Don’t worry; I’m not letting the girls off the hook either. I mean, I know girls are partially responsible for this stereotype and annoyance drawn from guys. Many girls do use their gender to get what they want, which is usually attention. But, I do understand why many of you judge us. Girls very often use words like nerd or gamer girl to attract attention from males. They will post risqué pictures online with controllers or memorabilia and try to join conversations about gaming. There is a reason they feel they need this, and I am not here to judge, just to say this is not your standard girl you meet in a game. Those girls often, though not always, keep in offline, or on social media.

You may think that the point in this post is to try to get attention, that I am one of those “gamer girls.” But that is the exact opposite of my intention. As hard as it is to believe, I am trying to draw the attention away from the gender differences in gaming.  I learned long ago, that is better if I rarely bring it to attention and ignore the comments when I can. Simply focus on the game, teamwork, and winning. The others will usually follow, even the most offensive ones. After all, it is insane to repeat the same process again and again expecting different results (thank you Mr. Einstein). The majority of us really do just want to play. If men only knew the way to girl who plays video games, not a “gamer girl’s”, heart is to just play like she is a teammate, a fellow gamer, not something special.

Perhaps you are considering the idea to live stream? How to live stream video games is a great read for those thinking about jumping into the online world of video game live streaming.

An End Note:

So please, if you do nothing else today…just play. Be yourself, and stop acting like a noob. Doesn’t matter if you are a girl, a guy, or prefer not to say. Just get out there and enjoy the game. That is the intent of the creation.

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Emily Medlock

Emily Medlock is an avid gamer whose passions not only include video games of all kinds, but anime, music, movies, and reading.

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8 thoughts on “Being a Female Gamer (Gamer Girl) in a Male Dominant Community”

  1. “Why do so many people believe that girls cannot be skilled at video games? Why are you called out simply for being female? Why do guys pay special attention to anyone that could possibly be a woman? Why are we so often treated like aliens, instead of friends…or enemies?”

    Likely because, as a collective, the human race is stupid beyond belief and has barely left the “cave-man” age. Don’t expect things to change anytime soon, no matter how many articles are written. If racism is still alive and well, you can bet sexism is about 100 years behind it.

    1. Unfortunately, I agree with you 100%. At the end, the way I see it, you have to do what you like, and screw society and culture. Also, whoever can’t understand you, and won’t love you the way you are, well, screw them too.

    2. I’m a female gamer and even I’ve trolled ppl about no women on the internet. Welcome to the internet. It’s a horrible place for people with no sense of humor.

  2. All good and valid points. However all I’m reading is minor complaints. They really just don’t matter. What your saying is true but who cares. If it changes then great, if it doesn’t then thats fine too. Wont change very much.

  3. Everything you say here is true and those are all common complains we hear about female gamers all the time… the only problem I have with that is when they throw the word privilege (which you did not use, good for you)

    I know I’m guilty of objectifying women and I understand how that’s uncomfortable and undesirable to women and I try to challenge myself to change my behavior… but it really bothers me when people accuse the behavior of coming from a place of privilege they are wrong…

    Growing up I was excluded and bullied and never had the opportunity to be invited to parties or any other kind of social gatherings where I could interact with women as persons…. my interaction with women growing up was limited to admiring them from afar… the ones I were not attracted to could as well not exist to me while the ones I was attracted to were objects of worship and fantasizing… wrong yes… but it’s hard to feel different if you never had real opportunity to see then as persons and I would think it would not be so different for an unnatractive or socially anxious girl who grew up without much contact with men.. she’ll probably end up objectifying men as well…

    Even as an adult I’ve never had much in term of real social interaction with women, and I think that’s not going to change ever… I try not not objectify but it’s hard when you had a history like mine… the main problem is that the golden rule “do onto others” that usually helps guide those of us without innate social skills to know what’s the right thing to do in most situations does not work here….

    Would I want hundreds girl to comment on how sexy I’m after I post a pic on instagram …. yes… that would be heaven to me… If I post a video on youtube would I want women to comment on the actual content or on how they find me attractive and want to do sexual things with me.. I’ll prefer the later… I understand rationally why it may be scary and umcomfortable for people that get it all the time but it’s hard to fight your first instincts… Literally 3 times in my life I’ve had women call me attractive or compliment me on my looks, all 3 times over the internet and, I treasure each of those times as they each mean the world to me at the time and really help my self esteem, it’s hard to understand how saying the exact same things has a totally opposite effect over an attractive woman that hears it all the time…

    So I understand where you coming from but I guess it would be useful for attractive female gamers who complain about undesired attention on their looks that getting to complain about that is also a form of privilege

  4. I’m glad you brought up every end of the spectrum. It’s not always nasty comments and “Go make me a sandwich”. I feel uncomfortable when people give me special treatment too. It’s hard to understand and enjoy a game if people just start handing you end-game equipment and weapons. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve been choosing gender-neutral or even male names just so I can be a regular player and not have to deal with being treated different. Good article!

  5. Interesting article, especially since it is from a gamer girl herself. As a male gamer, I do believe it is vastly different and even though it isn’t true, gaming is considered a male oriented activity. Though, this is statistically incorrect, as women play games as much as men. Still, the stigma is still there. I do believe this is changing. But, this article is also referring to the characters in games. Interesting read.

  6. Late to the story, but I found the article to be well-written and it avoided many of the buzzwords that draw the nasty crowd. The only part I found in question is your 50% of all gamers are women. I realize that gaming is a very subjective term and when I game, I tend to view the experiences I enjoy as gaming. So I have nothing but derision for mobile gaming and never would add the casual stuff to the discussion. I wish there was some more responsive definition of gaming or being called a gamer that could satisfy everybody.

    I think as time goes on it will get better. I think in Dragon Age and Mass Effect, I often found my party to be made up of the women characters based on them being either better-written or at least more compelling to play with.

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