Documentary Asks Why Girls Are Gamers

Video: A new documentary series by one-time Kotaku contributor Latoya Peterson asks women who call themselves “gamers” why they do so. Girl Gamers explores the way that female gamers and game-makers deal with how to describe themselves and the perceptions of others.


  • oh my god who cares who are gamers i mean really. ofcourse girls game, everybody does just about.
    the only reason its being a big deal is because people keep drawing attention to it.

    • – Because sometimes people are astonished that girls play games.
      – Because sometimes girls can’t play a game without being harrassed.
      – Because sometimes guys can’t play a game with a girl who doesn’t utilize #VaginaMentality.

      But I totally agree with you, this girl gamer thing is getting old for some of us.

      I can’t wait to find out what games the Kardashians play, Kotaku.

  • Interesting idea to focus on self-identification in an industry that has promoted factionalism, more often on the consumer side than not, over the past two decades.

    The first episode felt quite short with such a broad resolution. I’m hoping subsequent episodes delve deeper, as I’m sure they’re intended to. Could be a thoughtful series to keep up with.

  • I am angry. Not because women play games or because people are talking about games in a larger social context; but because game is not a verb. I am not a book-er, not a movie-er and not a game-er. I am a reader, a movie-goer and a player. I’m not a gamer and no-one else is either.

    Beyond semantics defining yourself by a particular form of media is pretty dumb. I love to read, watch movies and TV, listen to music and play games. To describe myself as a movie buff tends to imply that I enjoy movies over other media forms, but in reality every form I’ve just mentioned does things the others cannot; books (usually) require and stimulate imagination, games (usually) require skill, music (often) inspires emotion for me in ways other forms do not and movies and tv shows (pretty much always) offer a passive, yet engaging, experience that other forms cannot. So can we just please get over the labels? Pretty much everyone engages in at least 2 of these activities; why restrict yourself to just one?

    Besides, the labels just lead to the worst kind of snobbery; “movie buffs have to be interested in arthouse/foreign/serious cinema” “real gamers play more than browser/mobile games” “music fans need to listen to stuff outside of the top 40” etc. (I do all of these things in the respective media forms, but someone who loves exclusively rom-coms is no less a fan of movies than me who has a thing for french and arthouse cinema).

    Edit: I actually forgot to mention that I quite liked the video, even if I think “gamer” isn’t even a term.

        • All I herd was whinge whinge bitch bitch, the term gamer was used primarily because it wasn’t mainstream , every one read books every one watched TV and movies but not everyone “gamed”, thus the start of people identifying easily that they played and was involved heavily with video games just an easier way to identify what they do with majority of there time.

          • As Gooky mentioned game has been used in place of cheat or in place of gambling for much longer than as a term referring to specifically video games so I still disagree with its use, but you’re taking this a bit too seriously, my original comment was meant to be somewhat light hearted, but tone doesn’t convey itself very well over the internet. Regardless that it wasn’t mainstream when it started out, it certainly is now and the label feels gimmicky, cheap and deliberately separates itself from other media in a way other labels usually don’t.

            That’s obviously just my personal opinion, but for me labels like “gamer” tend to divide audiences that probably all like the medium itself into further categorization like the “serious” and “casual” gamers; categorizations that I believe are harmful to the medium in the larger context of media narratives across all forms. Labels and exclusive groups such as “gamers” for me seem desperate to retain a sort of individuality of the medium; “Ah, you may play games but I’m serious about playing games, you’re not a real gamer” while more established media can get away with greater artistic liberties for their wide acceptance some “gamers” seem to want to retain their status as an underground/nerdy/cult activity which I at least partially believe is responsible for continued suspicion of the form in other media outlets (i.e. news media mongering fear over the violence games supposedly inspire). It’s a tribalism in the most basic form; “Gamer” creates in turn the “casual” or non-gamer and the label as it stands often leads to minor conflicts between these perceived groups when we could all just be playing and enjoying games instead of arguing about them.

          • Hypothetical here – what if the world suddenly changed so that nobody used the term “gamer” any more. It ceased to exist. But in its place, people started to say “I am a gaming enthusiast” in its place, and identifying themselves as that. How would you feel about that?

          • Bloody brilliant. I would then subsequently propose that this lengthy sentence becomes shortened to something more manageable. Like Gamer.( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

            In all seriousness though, while I do prefer that it still creates the other amongst those that play games; at which point does one become a gaming enthusiast and what does it take? Number of games, genres, platforms etc all end up being potential tools to ostracise those that may not meet an others criteria, I’m just not a fan of labels in general; even though I do understand why they are useful. For example I didn’t read much for about a year after starting high school so was I still an avid reader as I might have called myself beforehand or did I fall from that distinction when the last book I had read was over 6 months ago?

            Gamer to me is equally inflexible; for example if the only game I ever played was DOTA2 but I had 2000 hours in it would I still be considered a gamer? If so would the distinction change if the only game I played was Donkey Kong on an old handheld; but I was one of the highest ranked players in Australia? And doesn’t the term shift uncomfortably when other conditions change; such as playing many “serious” handheld games but only while waiting for the bus or if someone loves to play games but only at other people’s houses/ with friends for the social element, surely their enjoyment of the medium is going to be considered differently for a variety of reasons?

            Of course there is no answer, labels are useful but also potentially harmful; a useful short cut that sometimes cuts out other groups/views/opinions. I don’t have an answer and it’s not even a particularly important question, but hey it’s fun to get annoyed over stupid things that don’t really matter.

          • I think the answer is still “yes”. I mean you have all these people who specialise in a singular sport, yet it’s perfectly acceptable to call them a sportsman just like you would someone who plays dozens of them, why not the same for games? But then I guess you can have the distinction of calling someone an athlete, which I guess implies some level of physical prowess that you might not associate with say a golfer, or a darts champion, or similar.

            I can wholly get behind being annoyed over inconsequential little things though. That’s the whole point of the Internet in the first place, right? 😛

          • @mrtaco That’s the whole point of the Internet in the first place, right? 😛 Damn right indeed.

    • English is an evolving language, beyond that Game and Gamer have been in use in the current sense for over 30 years, not to mention history of it being used as a verb and pronoun as early as the 1500’s to refer to someone who gambles. I think it’s time to let it go.

      No one here is saying that being a Gamer limits yourself to the one label. I’d consider myself a gamer but I’m also a musician and a car nerd. We label ourselves to feel part of something, not to exclude it from all else.

      • The problem for me is that labels almost always leads to snobbery. Fair enough if everyone else doesn’t think that a label tends to eschew other groupings; that’s probably just a personal quirk; but labels like film buff, gamer etc. tend to create an unclear distinction as to what that entails and people get weirdly protective of their label if someone else claims to be a (for example) gamer and this new person doesn’t meet the first’s criteria; which in my experience almost always leads to self-righteous snobbery at best and outright hostility at worst.

        For me labels are just as much for declaring participation as they are for ‘othering’ those outside of the group, not something I personally think people do deliberately, but something of a natural tribalistic response to the self-created ‘other’. That’s kinda veering into media theory talk there so I won’t go further, but this sort of thing is the stuff I’m studying at uni at the moment, so it’s kinda fun to go drawing links between basic anthropology and media critique. Fair point on the language thing, it’s just one of those words that grates in my mind when I hear it, much like versing incorrect usage of your/you’re or even yore (actually seen that last one, it was horrifying).

    • Also in regards to the rest of it, I don’t see what the problem is. Or why labelling yourself with one thing means you’re restricting yourself to just that one. I am a gamer, games interest me and I like to play them, collect them and find out as much as I can about them. That doesn’t mean I can’t also identify as a musician, or a programmer, or a costume maker. I’ll go see a movie occasionally, but I wouldn’t say I have any particular interest in them as a whole. Similarly I don’t have that much interest in music or books, so probably wouldn’t have a lot in common to talk with someone who was heavily into any of those things and not games.

      People always seem to get so fired up about this label thing like it’s some way of pigeon-holing people into strictly defined definitions… but all it is is a method of describing things. And there’s nothing wrong with describing things in general terms. You might organise a box full of assorted items by colours, put all the red ones together, then the yellows, the blues… but that doesn’t mean everything in each section won’t also come in varying shades that can describe them in further detail if necessary for the situation.

  • Please don’t be white women with coloured hair and piercings. Please don’t be white women with coloured hair and piercings. Please don’t be white women with coloured hair and piercings.

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