Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Rise of the Girl Gamer

She’s got sass, pizzazz, and can kick your ass. Some say she’s part urban legend, part hallucination. Kind of like Batman, but if you bring that up with her, she’d call you on it and challenge you to beat her trophies in Batman: Arkham City. She’s the ever elusive party member you want on your side in any multiplayer scenario, and men in every Internet cafe clamor for a chance to team up with her. She’s the Girl Gamer, and her awesomeness is going to take over the world.

No Girls Allowed

Man’s land—that’s what the gaming world is like. It’s not easy being an avid lady gamer in a predominantly male industry. You can blame it on the lack of proper female representation in the medium, or simply on the idea that gaming is a guy thing. Here are the most common misconceptions that make female gamers want to chuck their controllers at men who think of them this way:

  • ·         Her boyfriend/husband/brother put her up to this.
  • ·         She doesn’t “look” like a gamer.
  • ·         She’s just into casual gaming.
  • ·         She can’t hold her own when it comes to hardcore games.
  • ·         She’s just doing it for attention to be “one of the guys”.
  • ·         All she does are guy stuff and she doesn’t act like a girl at all.
  • ·         She is hideously unattractive and has no social life.
  • ·         She just does not exist.

We’re glad that the whole #GamerGate scandal back in 2014 is now over, where women in the video game industry were subjected to misogynistic attacks which stemmed from harassment and threats made on game developer Zoe Quinn. While everyone is all about female empowerment in this day and age, the gaming industry is still a little behind. There is also this whole thing about legit ladies who actually play the video games with a fiery passion, and the girls who merely pretend to know how to play just so they can seduce and provoke men and sexualize themselves. Men call out the latter as fakers, while the former isn’t doing so well with the industry acceptance either. Sadly, when people find out that a girl plays video games, their initial reaction is disbelief. Why should anyone be surprised that a woman plays video games—and hardcore games at that? Sure, they might cook a mean meal in Cooking Mama, but that doesn’t mean all they like to play are Barbie dress-ups and dance-offs. Care to go for a round in World of Warcraft?

Stereotype, Shmereotype

Playing video games has long been male territory, but more and more women all over the world are breaking through those choke points, taking down enemy bases, and claiming those lands as their own. Gone are the days when men like to send their women to the kitchen. And no matter what happens, you cannot ever go easy on a girl gamer and claim that you “let her win”—she will destroy you, and you will never win again no matter how much you want to. Steam communities on female gamers are rising, with numerous groups, forums, and discussion threads on Reddit and various websites as well.

Superdata Research, a data analyst firm in the United States, released surveys and studies that indicated that females play more games on the PC than males do. According to senior analyst Stephanie Llamas, “It is true that 58 percent of mobile gamers in the US are women. But it is also true that just over 50 percent of American PC gamers are women. In fact, women are the largest gaming demographic for PC role-playing games (54 percent) and they represent almost 40 percent of MMO and digital console gamers. So to say that women are just casual gamers is empirically false."
There are even a number of professional female video gamers who are paid a hefty sum to do what they love to do. From Quake III to Counter-Strike, these women know what it’s like to show ‘em how it’s done. Marjorie 'Kasumi Chan' Bartell bagged $50,000 as a Dead or Alive 4 champ, while Sasha 'Scarlett' Hostyn garnered a total of $81,282.44 from all her 30 tournaments playing StarCraft II. A whopping $122,000 is something that Katherine 'Mystik' Gunn can be proud of with her various tourneys and her accomplishments in playing Halo: Reach, proving that breaking down stereotypes and gender barriers has never been this good.

Time to Press Start

In Lilian Chen’s account on What’s It Like to be a Woman in Competitive Gaming?, she recounts her struggles with gender discrimination. “I started adopting some of these boys’ attitudes toward women, thinking, ‘Why is that girl wearing a skirt to a tournament’ ‘Why does she have to be so girly?’ ‘Why is she giggling?’ ‘Ew, is she even a real gamer?’”

But after empowering her fellow female gamers with what she does, she becomes bolder herself. “I made it clear to everyone that the panel wasn’t meant to shame male gamers; as someone who used to harbor misogynistic qualities, I realized there was a very real possibility that these male gamers weren’t aware that they were perpetuating sexist behaviors. Trying to empathize with them seemed a more productive approach than just calling them sexist neckbeards.” Despite the terrible sexisms and Internet memes about expectations versus reality, women are standing up for themselves and their gaming rights—all while fostering good relationships with male gamers. After all, they just want to play and have fun and not attack the men, right? “Because when you’re given a voice, you need to use it, and you need to use it responsibly,” Chen continues.

So the next time you pop into a DataBlitz or a local video game store and see an awesome lady browsing through the shelves, show some respect. She may not “look” like a gamer, but she will whip out her copy of the latest Resident Evil installment and invite you to go on some intense zombie-killing adventures with her. Because she doesn’t care about stereotypes. Because she just wants to play.

Because she’s the Girl Gamer, and it’s all about the love of the game.

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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