Angela (fiendishlycute) wrote in wolf_et_chicks,

Girl Gamers

Gaming, in lots of ways, is one of those great equalizers. What makes a good gamer isn't age or race. It's talent - the ability to think on your feet, to move your thumbs at super speeds. True, there are some other issues involved: time, money, aptitude. But for the most part, with dedication and practice, anyone could earn gaming respect.

Because, really, who cares if you have some important, high-powered job if you can't even hold your own in Melee? Master party games, and you are a god among men.

Unless, of course, you're a woman.

Girls, I've been told countless times, just don't play videogames. They have no interest, no enthusiasm. Their not willing to enter the gaming mentality. Besides, there's something fundamentally off about girl/guy perception. Where guys see wicked fighter combos (Do you know how many buttons I had to press to make that happen?), girls see mindless violence. Where guys see well-animated characters partaking in a wholesome pass-time, girls see buxomly, half-naked women playing beach volleyball. Guys try and defend their tastes. Think of all the physics involved in that serve. But girls, supposedly, just don't get it.

Or, as some guys claim, girls just "can't play."

Let's get something straight: that's ridiculous.

But I can understand, to a certain extent, where some of these guys are coming from. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they've actually tried combining girls and gaming - as opposed to relying on the old accepted stereotype. Maybe they've had girlfriends in the past who turned up their noses when handed a controller. Maybe it was even a girl who told them that girls don't play videogames.

Girls like that certainly do exist.

And they don't just act that way around guys - so dainty and helpless they can't even find their character on the screen (Though, I admit, that does occasionally happen to the best of us). After overhearing a conversation about the wonders of Grand Theft Auto, one of my female friends expressed her horror that the game allows you to sleep with and then kill prostitutes. I tried to explain to her that's the best part, that baby, why lose that money when you go and take it back? She stared at me in horror.

True, she might have had some sort of moral issue, but any gamer would understand the overriding fun-factor involved.

And I have personally gotten disapproving looks from other girls for my gaming paraphernalia. The female receptionist at my doctor's office once pointed to the Mario pin on my jacket and asked why I was wearing my boyfriend's coat.

Girls, in short, can be silly.

But that's not all kinds of girls.

First off, there are a lot of girl gamers out there. We're talking straight-up, out-of-the-closet, don't-tell-me-to-go-away-and-play-a-quiet-round-of-The-Sim's dedicated gamers. Perhaps not enough to fill a small country, but at least a sizable province of some kind. We exist. Really. That's important to keep in mind.

Also, the world is full of potential girl gamers. I don't mean girly converts, but the more chill members of the female persuasion who just haven't yet stumbled into the light. Just like boys, some girls are more likely to enjoy videogames than others. For every disapproving female sigh, there's a woman somewhere just waiting to rock at gaming. Look around you. That girl in the back of biology class with the goody-two-shoes cardigan. I bet she would kick your butt at Dance Dance Revolution.

Even the girls who say they don't play videogames sometimes come around. The girlfriends who think gaming is one of the tolerable bad habits left over from your childhood - these too may someday pick up the controller. But you can't force it on them. Leave them alone in a room with two days worth of food and an action-adventure game. Let them figure things out on their own. Then they'll be ready and willing to play you for real.

And the really girly girls? The ones who think that by gaming they'll chip a spiritual nail?

Well, it's worth considering (so you have something intelligent to say when they try using your X-Box as an over-sized doorstop) just what makes something girl-acceptable? And who wants to be girly anyways?

But, beyond that, even these girls aren't the real obstacle in earning back respect for girl gamers. Afterall, girly girls might be playing to the stereotype, but they didn't create it.

Really, girls aren't raised with the option to like videogames. They have to fight upstream to make it to girl gamer-hood.

In our society, videogames are toys for boys. The media and the industry discourage girls from gaming by not including them in the big picture. No Christmas special tells the story of how little Susie got her very first first-person shooter. Girl gamers are tomboys, and always considered inferior to their male counterparts. For a lot of girls, the only way they've come in contact with gaming at all is merely by association - a male member of their family has a system and they've started playing when no one else is around.

The point is this: It may seem, at first glance, that girls just don't play videogames. But the truth is, it's a lot harder to be a girl gamer than you might think. And every girl, I mean every girl, is a potential gamer, and potentially a better gamer than you.

So when a girl shows up at the party and wants to jump in the game, don't roll your eyes. Maybe she's not as good as you, but that's probably because no one's really given her a chance yet. Let her play. Soon enough she'll be a gamer, like the rest of you. And then you won't judge her by whether she's a boy or a girl. Only by whether she's good.

-- Bonnie Ruberg
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