The Average Gamer
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Gamer Cliques: I’m Categorically a “Female Gamer”

Once upon a time, back when we were younger and LaserDiscs were the next big thing… I was a “gamer”. Theoretically, I still am a gamer but over the years a hobby that was once so niche it didn’t require any further sub classifications is now massive.  It has seemingly become necessary to identify ourselves and each other, within this hobby, by using labels. This division and potential separation of gamers in to different categories helps the industry by allowing targeting of easy to understand demographics whilst at the same time feeding a facet of the human psyche, a need to belong.

Portal 2 BotsPerhaps the most obvious example of this is the frustration that some “hardcore” gamers feel when “casual” gamers are termed simply as “gamers”. Surely this is accurate though? Angry Birds is a video game, Portal 2 is a video game, Battlefield 3 is a video game and Garbage Truck Simulator… is a video game. Why the angst at being lumped together with those that enjoy a spot of Farmville on their tea-break? I imagine it’s an “us” and “them” kind of deal. Like so many in life, if you’re in the “hardcore” bunch you can band together to look down on the “casual” camp for their love of running restaurants and if you’re in the “casual” camp you can look down on the “hardcore” bunch because they’re never going to have sex.

It gets worse though and by “worse” I mean increasingly complicated and by “increasingly complicated” I mean there’s going to be more quotation marks. Once it’s decided who’s to be sneered at, there comes the tricky issue of which platform to do it from. Generally speaking this is between the PC and the consoles but increasingly division is seen between the “console gamers”. I suspect this is mostly Nintendo’s doing as by moving towards the more family friendly market via the Game Cube and Wii they’ve managed to re-align a console to the “casual” gamers’ market. Interestingly, I can’t recall noticing any such division between “PC gamers”, possibly because so much time is spent trying to get the games to actually play.

Settled on a platform? Now what about the genre of video game you like to play? There’s all manner of differences and cliques to be found here, with the universally disliked one seemingly the “FPS twitch kiddy”… probably because he consistently kicks everyone’s arse. Sneering rights work in all directions and further afield, with the current GAME news floating around, there’s been a lot of discussion around “mainstream” titles and “indie” titles. So “mainstream” titles seem to be looked down on for being the supposed “death of creativity” as developers push out tried and tested franchises while “indie” titles suffering the accusation that their creativity and innovation comes at a cost to the industry’s bottom line.

How is anyone supposed to know whose “gang” they belong to or who they’re going to be jovially disparaging towards on any given day? What about if you’re given a label by the industry (or the community) which you dislike or don’t really feel encompasses everything about gaming you love? Take heart dear friend. At least you’re not a “female gamer”.

There’s a lot of women who game. I don’t know how many but I think “lots” is a description that works. Should you believe the industry and/or the community, we’re either busy farming ponies and playing dress-up or we’re competing with the “male gamer” but in an oddly slutty way. (Mostly it’s ponies and Sim Anything). So that’s it. As a female gamer, developers or designers or the people that like trying to make money have decided that an entire gender can be categorised in their gaming wants as “likes ponies and playing at houses”. Cue incandescent rage at their presumptuousness and assumptions that we’re all the same, how dare they!

Problem is, I’m in two minds. I’m peeved because I feel patronised but at the same time… I really like playing pony games. There’s one on Steam and everything! (“Secret of the Magic Crystal” if you’re interested, just saying). It really shouldn’t matter – if we’re happy doing what we’re doing why give a damn about what the next person thinks? It must worry us though … well, it worries me. On one side I want to stand up and chain myself to something so people have to take notice and allow “female gamers” to demographically enjoy something other than being women and on the other side I want to express my delight to the world (and let’s be honest, Twitter) at the fact I managed to breed a “Nightmare Unicorn” without bringing my gender in to disrepute. I’m not for one second saying that I only enjoy ponies and sparkles but that I want to enjoy them alongside zombie slaying, gun fights and racing cars, something which just isn’t expressed by the term “female gamer”.

Sadly, with this notion of “disrepute” lays the problem. The public expression of liking something which is held in low esteem by the majority is difficult for people and is made increasingly so if you feel you’d be letting your own category down. By being disparaging of seemingly more “casual” games or taking the piss out of a title because it’s “girly” you’re perpetuating the disrepute of minority “categories”. That’s not to say “don’t have an opinion or feel free to express it”. Do, that’s how things get better. Just be mindful that what you say changes people’s perceptions and not always for the better.

Remember that feeling, back when you first started playing video games? It didn’t matter what game you played or what platform you played it on, just that you were discovering a whole new entertainment and it was awesome! I doubt you concerned yourself for one second with whether it was “casual” or “hardcore”, only whether you were having fun and where you were going to get more of that from. It was like an addiction, a feeling of escaping the world but sadly, as time and novelty passed, our bodies and minds became tolerant and the fun became less. Our own search to re-kindle that feeling is what should be important to each of us, not the decrying of other people’s choices in the search for theirs.

As for “female gamers”, we’re fine, I don’t think any of us expect or ask for special treatment (though presents are always nice). We’ll go on being one of the gaming minorities and enjoy ourselves by having a good moan about it now and again. It gives us something to do when we’re not making you sandwiches.

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11 Comments

  1. Tom

    19th Mar, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    We male gamers Love ponys as well, Seeing As how Many Of Us That are Teenagers And up Watch The series “My Little Pony”

  2. Kitt

    21st Mar, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I love this article and I love that you admitted to liking pony games – you are a stronger woman than I.

    I generally find that most guys are sort of pleased by my interest in video games, so as much as I agree with your point, I’m not sure how much of a problem it really is. What concerns me more is talking to other women about videogames without them looking at me like I’m 1. Crazy or 2. Batshit Crazy. I think when it stops being a big deal that girls play video games in any form, then the term “female gamer” won’t be such a big deal either.

  3. Pippa Hall

    21st Mar, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Oh I’m a fully paid up lover of all the little beauty shop / cafe / fashion world time management games as well, I know no shame (mostly).

    I suspect, as in most things, it’s maybe less to do with gender and more to do with idiots .. male or female, if someone is going to be an arse though, I guess it’s easier to pick on the minority. Before being active on Twitter I didn’t know any other female gamers and still get very odd looks from colleagues at work so I do know the feeling.

    You’re right though, as soon as we’re “run of the mill” and video games continue their march to mainstream entertainment I imagine there’ll be less of a fuss.

  4. CaysiLou

    11th Apr, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I wouldn’t say that “female gamer” is even that big of a thing nowadays. Even as one I don’t consider myself any different to the our male counterparts – I mean everyone’s a guy on the internet until proven otherwise, right?

    Unfortunately us “girl gamers” will always receive slightly different treatment because, whether we want to believe it or not, guys(whether they’re gamers or not) will shower us(and by us I mean all girls) in gifts if they think that it’ll increase their chances of being with us (if that is what they want). It just so happens that it’s easier to do that in games. I’ve been in guilds that have refused to contest against me when loot has dropped but I’ve also been in ones with perfectly platonic friendships and been treated like a regular guildy.

    I think the main problem with gaming classification is the “casual”/”hardcore” thing that’s been going on for years so much so that now we have sub-categories of those so labels like “casual hardcore but not as hardcore as the hardcore casuals” are becoming almost commonplace.

  5. ReinaHW

    18th Apr, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Nothing wrong with enjoying non-violent games, I love playing Harvest Moon when I’m not slamming opponents into the ground in an RPG.
    Anything non-violent tends to be looked down on by the the industry and many male gamers because they think video games should only be about killing. Due to that mindset the industry is running out of ideas, after all there is only so much ‘kill this, kill that’ you can do before it becomes stale and offers nothing new.

    I would frankly prefer to see a Harvest Moon appearing on the 360 than yet another bland male lead only military FPS, or yet another male lead only ‘KILL THEM ALL!’ borefest.

  6. Pippa Hall

    18th Apr, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Violence is an odd one for me, sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than shooting people’s heads off and I can get quite bloodthirsty about it all. I dislike the stress of it though, I guess it’s more difficult for my brain to process run & gun stuff.

  7. ReinaHW

    18th Apr, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I can process violence well enough, but I get bored of it if it’s all I do.
    With so many games focused on killing then it’s been hard to want to game in the past few weeks.

  8. rosedragon

    26th Apr, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I am a female gamer but contradict to you and most female gamers, I’m aligned more toward hardcore games than casual games. I play and enjoy both, hardcore when I know something is good to play, casual when I just want to relax.

    My favourite games span from minecraft, dwarf fortress (uber hardcore they say..), mass effect, serious sam, DotA, diablo 2, divinity 2, space rangers 2, motherload to sims 3, the sim social, gardenscapes, point and click adventures, etc.

    Maybe I should categorize myself to game monster, cause I tend to nom every games I met.

  9. Ckrauser

    27th Apr, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I (a male gamer) thoroughly enjoy playing games with anyone, despite their sex. Granted, due to the stereotype, most of my friends are male gamers and the few that are female are, unfortunately, ashamed to openly declare their passion/hobby.

    What aggravates me the most are the female gamers who expect to be treated specially because of their gender. Sure, as a guy we tend to like that sort of thing; but is it really necessary? I would be much more happy to play with someone who is gaming for the experience rather than having another medium to flirt with people.

    And as a response to what was first mentioned: I absolutely hate the cookie-cutter method of singling out a type of gamer based on titles they might enjoy. I love Gears 3 because it is, for me, the funnest and most solid co-op game most of my friends have and like to play. Does that mean I wouldn’t enjoy, for modern examples, Journey, Dear Esther, or To the Moon? Heck no! I love all those games! I also love Animal Crossing so does that make me a wuss?

    In closing, I’m just as sick and tired of this as you are. From here-on-out, I refuse to be categorized into any one ‘group’ of gamers. I play for the fun, not the drama that has become the name calling/gender associating/homophobic (the list goes on) B.S. If you feel the same way I do, hit me up on the 360; Gamertag: Ckrauser.

  10. Beth W

    5th Jun, 2012 at 6:31 am

    To me a gamer is a gamer. I should not get special treatment/etc as a woman, nor do I expect it. In the instances where someone is trying to be all ‘you can have it, hon’ (say for example, in WOW) – I shut that kind of thing down and I shut it down hard.

    I play everything from WOW to Yoshi’s Island to the Metroid Series to Diablo3 to Dead Island to Skyrim to Alien versus Predator. If I think something looks fun, I give it a chance. Whether its cute and fluffy like Kirby, or bloody and gore-filled like Mortal Kombat – fun game is fun.

    And for the record, I actually hate the Sim games. :p

  11. Octave

    1st Oct, 2012 at 5:34 am

    tits or gtfo