The Problem With Being a Girl Gamer
I’m proud to be a girl gamer. I’ve loved games for my entire life, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever known a gamer quite as eclectic and passionate as my Dad. If there’s a new indie game out he will have tried it before I’ve even heard about it, if we don’t know what to get him for Christmas or his birthday he just asks for PSN vouchers. He is twice my age and more up to date with the latest music, films, tech, and games than I think I will ever be! But he inspired my love of games, films, and music that I pride myself on today.
A Long Long Time Ago, In A Childhood Far Away…
I grew up watching my Dad play all of the classics!
- Tomb Raider
- Soul Reaver
- Metal Gear Solid
- Abe’s Odysee
- Final Fantasy
- Legend of Zelda
Though I never saw him play Resident Evil or Silent Hill, I know he played them after I went to bed!
Well, my self and my husband are the owners of a duel gaming setup that I am rather fond of, though I’m still waiting on my PS5! (Thanks scalpers….).
Unfortunately, as I have been getting older (starting from when I was as young as 10) I have been the lucky child that inherited my mum’s motion sickness/simulation sickness! So as you can imagine, I have not been able to be nearly as adventurous with my gameplay as I would have liked, because about 70% of the games I play make me feel sick after half an hour… Even my favourites can hit me if I’m not feeling right when I start, and to add to that, I can’t even play Tomb Raider some days because the camera movement can mess me up– but I digress.
I have tried every trick in the book to help with my simulation sickness short of using anti-nausea tablets, which instead of making me feel sick just make me fall asleep (not much better really). So I have had to settle with watching people play games and looking away when the camera motions get too much for me, or generally sticking with the games I know and love unless I’m feeling particularly brave and fancy trying something new.
And with this setup, I’m able to play all of the old games I love going back to PS2 including Guitar Hero! (We got ourselves the guitars for Christmas) I have the key PS1 games downloaded on my PS3 and a few physical copies on my game shelf. But right now you will mostly find me playing Destiny.
You see, my gaming downfall is that I don’t like moving on to another game until I feel like I’ve completed the one I’m on, I’m the same with books: I can’t read them two at a time. So when my friend introduced me to Destiny almost 2 years ago, I had a lot to learn and a LOT to do, and thanks to the ever-changing content and new DLCs every year, I never feel finished!! This is great, but it also means I haven’t tried anything else since because I’m too wrapped up in clearing my quest log.
But before Destiny took over my gaming life, I had a lot of others I loved and go back to when the fancy takes me:
- Tomb Raider
- Call of Duty
- The Last of Us
- Beat Saber
- Rec Room
- Kula World
- Destiny 1
In fact, in my transition from PS2 to PS3, like many others, the Uncharted series was my first real PS3 love. The most genius adaptation of the Tomb Raider setup!
I may be limited by my simulation sickness, but I am no less a gamer than anyone else, and I have a strange talent for talking about games as if I’ve played them myself because I’ve watched so many others play! Lucky for me, Destiny doesn’t really trigger me, and neither does Borderlands 2 (though BL3 is a different ball game).
I got a VR the year it was released and spent about 5 hours on Christmas Day playing Rec Room. VR is both a blessing and a curse. I love the immersive gameplay, but once again, my simulation sickness can be triggered out of the blue if the game glitches once or twice.
I also have a wide range of games I would love to play! But with starting university soon and having a family, starting new games is going to have to take a back seat for the time being.
Being A Girl Gamer
So here’s where we get into what it’s like to be a girl gamer today, in a rather male-dominated world. I know plenty of girl gamers (because I am one, so we tend to stick together), but I can’t say it’s a particularly easy world to fit in to. And even when you think you’re starting to fit in, if guys notice that you’re a girl you better believe you’re getting 5 friend requests and a party invite.
I know this isn’t true of every guy since I generally have more male friends than female, but this unfortunately creepy behaviour does make me more cautious of male gamers in general if they’re not already my friend. And I’m not the only female gamer to think that way.
Getting Started With Twitch
I started my Twitch and Instagram only a few months ago because I thought it would be nice for people to see just a normal girl sharing her passion for games like anyone else. But I fast learned that people aren’t interested in seeing girls that game without seeing their faces. There are many great and massively successful male gamers out there including Joltzdude139 and mynameisByf who have built a name for themselves based on gaming and their voices alone, but if a girl doesn’t show her face, she may as well forget any chance of being recognised as a successful gamer.
How do I know this? Because on average a screenshot from my last gaming session, a reference to another game that I like, or photographs of anything game-related will get around 7-12 likes, however, if I post up a selfie it will get 20+ likes and several new followers. So I end up throwing the odd selfie in to try and boost my follower count, which I shouldn’t have to do.
The problem I have is that looking around Instagram at other girl gamer account that have accumulated a lot of followers, I find that any remotely successful channel is built up of 98% selfies taken from various angles wearing pale pink or cat ear headsets, and 2% shots of the actual game. I commend those girls for knowing what works, but that also doesn’t help the girl gamer image one bit. In fact, it generally adds to the misconception of girls being vapid and vain, rather than helping us to be taken seriously.
Girls are All Over The Industry
The gaming industry has women in every corner (not forgetting female voice actors who literally bring games to life), so why aren’t they better recognised?
Not only do you get female programmers, editors, designers, animators, and artists, but female written game reviews and analysis help to widen the gaming industry’s market as well.
Fortunately, the revival of Tomb Raider and release of Horizon Zero Dawn has started to draw women back into the scene, and the hope is that by continuing to produce strong female characters, the industry can help encourage young girls to want to seek a career in game development and lessen the stereotype.
What Does a Girl Have to Do to be Taken Seriously Around Here?
Before Destiny, I hadn’t really played online games since Runescape (don’t even get me started there… #asl), not even Call of Duty (I love that game for the story, not the PvP). Because most online games are only online for PvP reasons, which I hate with a deep and fiery passion, so I never bothered to go online unless it was to play Borderlands co-op with my friends.
But unfortunately, Destiny is the same as many other online platforms in many ways and I found that I was followed around the Tower relentlessly by random dudes that were trying to friend me, I would get messages from guys who have watched my stream (and heard me talking about my son and husband), telling me they think I have a sexy accent and find me very enjoyable to watch, and would get heckled for being a girl gamer (which obviously means I can’t possibly play as well as a guy).
Even my guy friends that have female avatars have mentioned the difference in behaviour towards them when they’re not playing as a dude. It’s a bloody good job people can’t talk to you in there, at least I can laugh at someone emoting at me.
I’ll tell you one thing for sure, most girl gamers can play just as well as any guy, if not better from what I’ve seen, so this assumption that girls aren’t as good as guys just because there are more guys doing it needs to stop.
Will The Perception of the ‘Girl Gamer’ Ever Change?
I certainly hope so. And with comic con conventions and gaming conventions becoming more and more commercialized, the female part of that community is growing with it. More and more women are joining the gaming crowd and starting to get noticed as more than just vapid pretty faces holding a controller, clueless morons, or limited “gamer gurlz”, but it’s just such a shame that we have to work so hard to rid ourselves of this kind of image: