Girl Gamers: Are We Cool Now?

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I recently made a video about the evolution in the argument against “girl gamers.” And, while a large part of it is done in jest, there is a serious undercurrent. Over the years, women have really had to struggle…just to play a game.

Really, I feel like I’m the last person who should be commenting on such a feminist topic and the first person to talk about breast physics…but, when even a boob (pun intended) like me notices, it’s worth talking about.

Originally, it was…
“Girls don’t play video games.”
“I can’t believe there are girl gamers out there.”
“Get out of here, you’re a girl.”

Now, the argument has evolved. Women in gaming is becoming more and more commonplace and the push-back has advanced from “you don’t exist” or “your gender renders you unable to game,” to “the games you play must be, somehow, ‘stupid.'”

When I was younger, the game was Final Fantasy and girl gamers were characterized as “fluffy” gamers only interested in customizing sprites across an expansive fantasy world. The gaming equivalent of petting a unicorn. And, while I’ll admit the dress-spheres in FFX-2 does nothing to help us rage against that argument, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a long list of current and classic RPGs like Breath of Fire 4, SW: KotOR, or Legend of Zelda which rendered that argument obsolete.

So, it seems the  “game” of derision has changed. As I explain in my video the comment now asserts, “I bet you only play Call of Duty.” That’s right, the number one selling series in the world and a massively testosterone-driven look at realistic warfare. It’s a dramatic shift from the spritely world of RPG’s.

Many of my viewers explained to me this argument is centered around an elitist viewpoint in which "girls only play popular titles to get attention." Which I find particularly interesting…

Living in San Francisco, I hear this argument amongst Hipsters in the Mission talking about musicians. It’s a, “I liked them before they were cool,” mentality that I don’t really understand. Modern Warfare is still one of the top-selling franchises, but it doesn’t diminish the quality or replay-ability of the game. And, when MW2 hit numbers in the billions, it didn’t stop hardcore male gamers from running out and buying 3 (even though it seemed to incorporate all of the mistakes of Black Ops). So, it stands to reason that female gamers would run out and buy it too.

More importantly, purchasing and playing a major series title doesn’t stop me from knowing about or linking more obscure games like Bastion, Bio Force Ape, Odin Sphere, and Kingdom of Loathing.

Let’s look at this hypothetically: let’s say you only had money for one game…which would you buy: the game that’s gone platinum and sold out everywhere or the obscure title which may or may not be good? And, if you’re looking for online play…which title is going to offer a larger pool of players to game with?

With all of that in mind, is it really so bad to play the major title? The simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is, “HELL NO.”

At the end of the day, the fact that anyone–regardless of gender–plays any game is worth inclusion in the “gamer group.” When someone says, “I game,”  the response should be, “oh, what titles,” not, “I bet you only play [insert Barbie Horse Adventures joke here].”

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