Monday Musings: “Girl Gamers”

Monday Musings: “Girl Gamers”

It’s a funny term that. “Girl gamers.” What images come to mind when you hear it?

Do you think of teen girls playing pet simulations on their DSes? Or do you think of “soccer moms” working out to Wii Fit?

Do you think of “frag dolls” who’d kick your arse at Counter-Strike? Or goth chicks addicted to World of Warcraft?

Chances are, especially if you’re a male reading this, you’ve considered all these stereotypes and more. The fact that a term such as “girl gamer” seems so familiar only confirms that girls are marginalised in the gaming community. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about “guy gamers”?

Why are girls marginalised? Games commentator and humourist, Daniel Floyd explores this topic in his latest animated lecture, co-written by Gamasutra editor, Kotaku columnist and games blogger, Leigh Alexander.

They look at the sexualisation of female game characters. They look at the boy’s own adventure fantasies of many gaming settings. They look at the under-representation of females in game development. They look at cynical marketing practices.

Among many valid points, I’d take issue with Leigh and Daniel’s concept of casual games as some sort of gateway drug. The idea that girls can be introduced to gaming via simple puzzle games and Imagine Fashion Model before graduating to online deathmatches and the MMO grind strikes me as kinda bizarre.

Implicit is the notion that these “hardcore” games are superior and that gamers who play them are not only operating at a higher level but that it is worth aspiring to such a level. Hey girls, enjoy your make-up and cooking games, but really you’ve only made it as a gamer when you’ve learned to headshot and become one of the boys.

Why does it need to be this way? How is your mum’s Peggle addiction any less legitimate a gaming experience as your Call of Duty 4 addiction? Aren’t we just talking about different gaming experiences?

Check out the clip below. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Women Audiences, Women Characters [Sexy Videogame Land]


  • My girlfriend is one of those WoW goths. And she also loves CoD4, Dead Space, Bioshock, etc etc. She could probably kick my ass at a few things. You just have to love gaming like she does to be considered hadcore I reckon. Her sister is the same. I can’t stand WoW. Let the flaming begin.

  • I think casual games are great. Yesterday I arrived home after my football match to find my non gamer misses showing her girl friend how cool Peggle was. Then I noticed my World Tour set had be set up and used. This may not be blasting down locusts or nazi zombies but it’s a welcomed start.

  • I don’t think the issue is with games not appealing to women. I truly believe that if you make a good game, then it will have the ability to appeal to anyone, provided it is marketed well. Sure, many girls play The Sims, but so do a lot of guys and that’s because it’s a genuinely good game. Just as many women enjoy the Super Mario series as men do, heaps of women love Guitar Hero, and none of these are ‘girly’ games — they’re just good games.

    I think women are turned off by the gaming community. They associate gamers with the nerdy hecklers over Live who, upon discovering that the person they’re playing against is a woman, either start trash-talking or attempt to pick up. I’m not saying that all gamers are rude, obnoxious dweebs that lack social skills, but there’s no denying that there is a stereotype that exists and there are some very vocal gamers who perpetrate that stereotype.

    So why would a female gamer — or anyone for that matter — want to get involved? Why would a girl want to play Halo or get into more ‘hardcore’ gaming if they feel that that’s the sort of shit they’re going to expose themselves to?

    Heck, a girl can go read a book, watch a movie, view a play, or consume any other form of media and be left alone. A girl can go play a sport and she might experience some healthy, competitive bantering, but as soon as anyone on field or court makes a nasty, sexist remark, they’ll get called out and reprimanded for it. In gaming, if you go into a game and someone makes a sexist remark, there’s not much that can be done and there’s no one keeping track of private messages to ensure that that sort of thing isn’t happening.

    Gamers can be awfully rude, immature, objectifying, sexist, and really intolerant. Of course, not all gamers are, but there are far too many out there who give the rest of us a bad name, and that bad name is what sticks in the mind of many girls.

    • Hear, hear!

      I’d add that it’s not just girls who find the more obnoxious elements of the online gaming community objectionable.

    • EButton, Dave and others. I hope when you came across some juvenile twat giving hell to a female player (or any other for that matter) that you voice your opinion of them to them, and all their fellow gamers. I know it’s often head vs. brick wall material but I enjoy giving a demeaning serve to these knobs when they step out of line. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling them to “grow up” in front of everyone that can take them down a peg. I like to get more creative but if you generally talk down to them at least it shows the target of their behaviour that there are those of out there who game and don’t act like complete wankers and who will defend them.

  • I’m a so-called gamer girl and I’m offended by the silly stereotypes that have been placed on us. I honestly think it’s just the males feeling intimidated that’s why.

    I play L4D regularly with my partner and his mates, and I kick their arses playing Supreme Commander, COD 4 and COD WAW (nazi zombies – love anything zombie related). I own a PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, PS2 but NO Wii.

    And no, I’m not fat, lonely and sex-deprived either.

  • Last christmas during a quiet period in our day long family lunch I got my mum to sit down and have a turn at Bioshock. to my great surprise she just couldn’t get her head around a concept that we take for total granted, right stick for look, left stick for more. The basic FPS controls confounded her.

    When I came back ten minutes later my ten year old daughter was giving her a crash course in strafe circling.

    • I think that ‘dual sticks’ as a control scheme is actually really daunting for beginners. Not just for “gaming beginners” like your cool uncle who just wants to join in, but doesn’t understand how it works. I think it’s also a big barrier of entry for existing Hardcore PC gamers to make the leap from Keyboard and Mouse to the land of milk and honey that is console gaming at the moment.

      I also think getting rid of this unnecessary hurdle is one of the reasons why Wii/DS/iPhone gaming are “more popular” around “casual gamers”.

      Apologies for the excessive air-quotes 🙂

      and I thought people got over the no gurls on the interbutt thing when games started making more money then hollywood?

  • I’m a gamer girl and I used to be a lot more hardcore than I am now. My friends in primary school were all boys, so when they started playing Quake, I sure as heck wasn’t gonna miss out.

    Now a days I do play Sims and gentler games, but I still love my FPS, just need to get back in to playing it on PC.

    PS. Ayrton Coll … call me!

  • I would consider myself a hardcore gamer, and I am frequently a player of tf2. When I first began playing tf2 using the mic, i would either be totally ignored, or they would mistake me for a young boy. I would rather be flamed than totally ignored.

    Upon playing a match involving another girl who used the mic, who every two seconds would SQUEEL and SQUEE into the mike, I decided my mike using days were over. I now silently play tf2 and in my profile use the male version of my name, Eric. It is much easier to be judged on my playing ability, then to be accused of doing badly because I am a girl, not because I’m having a shit gaming day, or if I’m playing medic and doing well, being accused of playing the soft character.

    However I tend to think of myself more as one of the boys in my circle of friends (don’t mistake this as being butch, I am very feminine) and often refer to myself as just one of the guys. Perhaps this is because even I am prejudiced to think that the traditional girl just isn’t into a good fps/gory game.

    I play a range of other games and found this article quite interesting, something to think about!

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