I've been in a girl gaming forum community for a very long time now, and I'm seeing the rising "struggle," if you will, of this particular category of ... er, gamers. Many guys believe that girls don't game. Some guys do, but most don't. It's incredible how many of them are surprised when they find out I'm a gamer. I mean, I just shrug. It's a hobby, nothing special. Not like I'm a prodigy pianist or anything. So the girl gaming community was established to unite females from all over in one, virtual space, to discuss their experiences as girl gamers as well as the games they're playing.
I thought that was pretty cool, so I joined this community. I hardly post though; I used to post more, mostly game news, but the community got suddenly popular and every single girl, even if the only game she played was Tetris, would join.
And, if you can imagine, the topics got more and more tiresome. I actually lost patience with that community and decided to leave. I mean, nothing new, nothing progressive, and certainly nothing positive was coming out of this. And then I became increasingly aware of a growing dialectic trend of these gamers; they don't know what they want to be identified as, if at all.
For example, a topic that I see continuously being brought up by the members of said community is the struggle for the acceptance of the girl gamer community. What do I mean? The posts are always something like, "I was at EB and this guy totally freaked out," or "I beat this guy in Halo and he totally freaked out." But then when someone posts an interview that some game magazine puts up, featuring a *gasp* girl gamer who happens to be (sometimes, but not really) a bombshell, wearing some scantily clad outfit, the community gets riled up and shreds her apart. "She hates Nintendo, ew," or "She sounds like a ditz," or the ever popular one, "She's probably only doing this to get attention." There are also those instances when a girl will be playing Counter-Strike and be shredding some poor guy apart, and then when she speaks on the headset, the guy immediately removes any sort of credibility toward her, maybe because he's sexist, but mostly because he's embarrassed that she's headshot him 11 times.
Examining these trends, I figured out some generalizations about these gamers. On one hand, girls want to be accepted as girl gamers; that is, recognize us as a female population that happens to like gaming; you know, "I am woman, hear me roar, we're unstoppable" kinda thing. On the other hand, girls want to be accepted as gamers without the "girl" title. You know, be treated equally kinda thing. They hate it when guys give them a hard time for being a girl gamer, and they secretly delve in pride when a guy is impressed by them being a girl gamer. They hate it when girl gamers are represented as someone who only plays Tetris and Puzzle Fighter, but they also hate it when they are represented by someone wearing a bikini saying, "I love Halo." Of course, all these reasons are justified, to some degree.
It gets confusing, then it gets dramatic, then I give up. I think about how I fit into the figures, how I fit into the scene, and then I conclude, "Forget it. It doesn't matter." I have guy friends who are all gamers, hardcore ones, and I'll admit it, I pale in comparison to their level of skill. I question my "gaming" identity in the likes of them, and then I forget about it for simplicity's sake; I mean, guys are pretty freakin' simple. But we aren't. We're so complicated in so many ways.
Being a girl gamer is not as black-and-white as it seems. There's all sorts of inner-conflicts that occur. You know it's not right to hate on a pretty girl who happens to like gaming, but you do anyway because maybe you wish you could be that girl. Or maybe you hate on her because you don't want to be identified as a sex toy, and she's being exactly that. You don't want to use the lure that you're into gaming in order to spark a guy's interest, but you might just throw it in there, you know, for fun (even though you KNOW it's a hook). You don't want a guy to go easy on you because you think you can beat them, but then you kinda secretly wish they would in case you have to put your mouth where your money is. You take pride in being a girl gamer, but then you feel like you're making a BFD out of it.
Whatever the conflicts, what it comes down to is that girls just want to feel comfortable with their status. They want to be able to go into a Gamestop and feel like they can purchase a game without being questioned if it were for her or her brother/boyfriend/male cousin/other male counterpart. She wants to be able to put her quarter up without having guys stare at her, as if she were kidding herself. Sometimes, really, they just want to be "one of the guys," without the special treatment. And I think that's what we really want. Sure, we might reap the benefits of being a (cute) girl gamer, but 'til we get that level of universal comfort, we're just gonna be as confusing as ever.