Hello! Have any of you been following the Twitter explosion of #1reasonwhy? This was brought to my attention via an article from Kotaku. If you do decide to click on that link, prepare to be disgusted by some of the comments left on the blog. It is surprising that in this day and age that women are still fighting for equality in the gaming industry when it has been proven time and time again that we are a growing demographic. Sadly many people still see us as either the iOS gamer, cutesy gamer, Facebook gamer, or that we like Tetris. While all of this may be true, one thing is still the same. WE ARE ALL GAMERS. By breaking down what kind of games we enjoy into micro-niches, it creates unnecessary dissension between gamers as a whole.
Luckily in my life I have been surrounded by many people who have supported my love of gaming. Most notably were my Mom and aunt. My aunt and cousin were living with my parents and I for a brief time and that was when they discovered their undying love for the original Legend of Zelda. Many nights were spent watching my Mom and aunt play though various dungeons, create hand drawn maps including every secret passage, location of every time, and lists of what it took to defeat each dungeon boss. This may or may be the defining moment in why the original Legend of Zelda is one of my favorite games of all time (and have permanently inked onto my body). The neighboring kids all had NES systems and it was pretty common place to find us at each others homes playing each others various collections. Not once did I ever experience any backlash from boys about my love of gaming.
As I grew older, different consoles started emerging and as they evolved, it felt like the culture behind them evolved with them. I started getting resistance from my male counterparts when it came to talking about video games. I was run through the gauntlet testing my knowledge to prove that I was indeed passionate enough to be accepted as one of the guys. My nerdom exceeded more than just video games, I played Magic the Gathering (the only girl at my school to), I was into collecting and playing Pogs, baseball cards, tabletop gaming such as Dungeons & Dragons, rock music, and everything else that one would think would help me identify as an ally with my male friends. This mostly only applied to people who knew me as an acquaintance and not as a true friend. I have had many male friends in my lifetime and only a handful have ever questioned my credibility in the gaming realm, to find themselves quickly shot down by either myself or other friends in my defense.
But even to this day, I am still occasionally viewed as just a pretty face. I am placated by game store employees and by people I meet either in real life or online with the mentality of “Oh you game? That’s cute. What’s your favorite game? Super Mario?” Its degrading and frankly rude to assume that just because of my genetic make up that I am inferior in my game choices. So what if I love Super Mario? (by the way Super Mario Bros. 3isone of my favorite games) Does that make me any less of a gamer? I also love the Halo series, the Final Fantasy series, Katamari, fighting games, first person shooters, and RTS games – do I qualify for my nerd badge yet? It is disgusting the comments I receive on XBox live, ranging from sexually crude advances, cracking on my game playing ability because of my gender, assuming that if I am somewhat decent at a game that I must be fat and ugly, because surely that is theONLYreason why I would be good.
I personally will try not to patronize game store establishments that do not have females working. As sexist as that sounds, in my experience, I often find that I am not judged as much by either the women or men working. It seems to never fail that if wander into a game store and its all males working that the second I pick up a fighting game or first person shooter that the first question out of their mouths is “Is this for your boyfriend?” While they may be genuinely asking if it is, not assuming that I am not interested in the title I am holding, give me the opportunity to say so. Instead of leading with that question, ask me what I am most excited about playing in that game, or why I chose it – and if it is indeed for boyfriend, I can respond saying so.
Another thing I find degrading are the various incarnations of this meme going around. At best its a backhanded compliment. By assuming that the only class we can play is a healer because of our maternal instincts is sad. I honestly hate being a healer, and would much rather tank. Quit treating us with kid-gloves y’all! So from one girl gamer to another, do not accept this type of treatment because its always been a “boys club” and that’s “how it is”. To all the guys that don’t treat girls like this, you are amazing. And to all the guys that do, maybe rethink your actions or words before spilling them out, you could be really missing out on an incredible person.