I am a woman and I like games. Sometimes I like to play Pokemon and sometimes I like to dabble in a bit of MMORPG, not that you can really dabble there – you sort of have to commit, well, entire days at a time. (That’s Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, for those playing along.)
Anyway, there’s nothing interesting or special about being a girl who finds this form of entertainment engaging, fun and even social. It’s another facet for escapism, one more way to switch off for a few hours and enter another world. In fact, I would even say it’s healthier than zoning out and streaming TV series, because it usually requires you to logically solve problems and actively use your brain.
Games have almost always been considered as a “boy” activity, mostly because of production and marketing being targeted at males. While this has changed over the years, the gaming world is still very much a male dominated one. The rise of Twitch (where gamers stream themselves playing live) has also confirmed this, with mostly males dominating the platform while females are berated for using the platform for attention, money or male approval.
I’ve personally come face-to-face with the odd, often accidental sexism that surrounds females who like gaming and gaming culture, even in cases where the subject matter is the the more female-accepted Nintendo facet.
Recently, I was talking to some people about the new Pokemon Let’s Go Evolvi game, and someone in the group called a Pokemon by the incorrect name (lol). When I corrected them, tongue in cheek, a boy in the group said: “oh, so you’re one of those girls who’s not like other girls right? You love gaming and find shopping boring?”
I’m convinced he didn’t understand the brevity of sexism in what he was saying, but that alone is also deeply concerning. It’s not just the belittling of female independent thought here that’s the problem, it’s the stigmatisation. The idea that girls engage in this culture only for the purpose of attaining a certain image, or impressing a particular group of people, is inherently problematic. It is possible for women or girls to do things for a purpose other than seeking the approval of someone else, namely the men they are accused of attempting to attain it from.
Similarly, this social construct, labelling and at times blatant misogyny can also be seen in the music industry, where girls or women are accused of being “posers” or even “groupies” for liking a certain genre of music or a particular performer.
Men rarely receive the same kind of criticism based on their interests, likes or the aspects of culture in which they choose to engage in.
If girls like games, let it be that simple. If boys like games, that’s cool too. We’re all free to be interested in whatever we like, regardless of the gendering that may surround the subject matter.
What’s even more important is to question our own views and ideas of why people do things. We all do things to impress others from time to time, but the entire female population doesn’t base their interests off what they think men might like.
Oh, and the “you’re not like other girls” thing is a problem too – “other girls” are also fine just the way they are.