Females can play just as hard, be just as competitive, and love video games just as much as any guy can right?! That is easy to understand and accept in retrospect but in reality it is not that simple, not by a LONG shot.
This article is aiming to cover the reasons why these things occur to try and shed some light on why being a “Female Gamer” is not as gratifying as it may sound and in most cases, harder than it looks.
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06. In Conclusion.
From my time spent as a gamer, I can truly say I have had a radical change-of-heart when it comes to the female populace. You see, I was among many of the individuals who completely underestimated a woman who played video games simply because I believed women to be lesser in skill than men. Why? Well, men are the majority and women are the minority when it comes to video games, because of that I always thought a woman would not be as good as the average man and become completed dominated when faced with a skilled male competitor. However, as years begin to pass and I began to meet more-and-more girls who enjoy gaming, it is very apparent that this assumption was completely off base and was about as wrong as anyone could get.
I have come to find that being a female does not say anything about them as a gamer, the very same fact that someone’s gender does not dictate who they are and what they are capable of doing. Casual, hardcore, competitive, professional, women have achieved all of these positions in the realm of gaming just like men have; there is no difference in the limit of their abilities. The sole purpose of this article is to open up the minds of those that have not yet grown to accept this fact and may still think lesser of the female populace simply because boys who game outnumber girls.
My personal wake-up call came from a variety of different sources. The most significant of all of them was meeting a woman known as “DynaDASH”. I met her through a website for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, though I had already heard of her from her combo video “Femme Fatale” for Super Smash Bros.Melee, and that she was often regarded as the “Best Female Smasher” in regards to her ability in SSBM as Samus Aran. Before playing her I was the most aggressive player I knew of, I always took charge and my ferocity and no fear in any fighting game I was in often pushed gamers to block the majority of the time, but this was just the opposite with her. Often times Dyna was more aggressive than I was and forced me to block, even when we moved onto other games like Super Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 I often was taking a more defensive stance. She could beat the vast majority of my friends at fighting games and she often made clutch victories even when we played shooters like Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, so she was an all around gamer (Not to mention enjoying games like the Mass Effect series and the Portal series). This taught me that you cannot think someone is inferior simply because they are female and if anything, it could be a grave miscalculation that makes you end up looking like an idiot when you are outdone worse than you have been by a male gamer.
We all know that a good number of male gamers judge female gamers immediately because they are women. What I really want to do in this section is talk about the main bias that is associated with a gamer simply because they are female. I believe that the top things that women are going to have to deal with are: The underestimation of their knowledge and abilities and the reason why she is playing the game to begin with.
The very first one I would like to elaborate on is “The underestimation of their knowledge and abilities”. You see, most people believe that since women are the minority that they must have lesser knowledge than even a common male gamer; often times you will find guys talking stupid to women and even “dumbing down” their gaming terms in order to try and “help her understand”. One such instance is when I went to A-Kon (Anime convention held here in Dallas every year) and saw a girl completely dominated at Super Smash Bros. Brawl with her Pit, she was the best one in the room by far and seemed to be taking on all comers fairly easily. A month or so later I saw her at a Smashfest (A type of social event where everyone meets up and plays Super Smash Bros.) and she was there playing Pit again and better than a lot of the people there. Shawn, a.k.a. “Melee1”, was currently one of the top players in Super Smash Bros. Melee and his Ice Climbers/Metaknight were the top in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Often he would take delight in destroying person after person without giving so much as a tip on how they could improve their game, even if they knew the character. However, for this particular female player he was giving her common knowledge she already knew and then tried to go into advance knowledge to give a more “hands on” approach, all because she was a female. In fact, she did better against him than a lot of the male gamers did and it shocked him when she knew about a few of the advanced techniques Pit had, including arrow-looping. It was a pretty sad thing that he either was attempting to get closer to her because she was a girl, or he felt she had the completely inability to do anything for herself because she was a female. Not only that, but others were attempting to give her tips and she was clearly better than all those that did (Except for Melee1), it is just sad to say.
However, I think the most well-known has to be during the Evolution 2010 “Women’s Invitational” for Super Street Fighter IV. They held a separate tournament where only women were allowed to enter in order to promote and acknowledge them throughout the fighting game community, however, Dyna said, “I did not know having a vagina made me handicapped”. I got what they were trying to do, but thinking that you need to separate women in a gaming tournament is a very poor choice. I can understand separating women and men in something sports related as our different physical builds has a limit on what we can do, and men are made to be more physical and rugged than women are; but when it comes to the realm of gaming we do not need that type of segregation. Even worse than this was the fact that not even the winner of the 2010 Invitational, “Kayane” Marie-Laurie, placed in the Top 8 for the Super Street Fighter IV tournament that included everyone, only cementing in some machismo male minds that women cannot stand evenly with men.
The reason I say this is because a few of my female gamer friends have stated that some guys refuse to play with them because they are a female (When the guy’s only goal is winning). Even stating that on multiple occasions that guys have quit the game in order to find a new team if there are two or more women present because they feel as though they have already lost, assuming that they will automatically be a noob and that women are all trash.
Beyond this is the reason that a woman is gaming in the first place. You will not believe how many people honestly believe that girls are picking up gaming specifically to gain attention. Some claim that women are doing so in order to better fit in with guys and to seem more appealing to the male populace. Knowing that there are not an even number of men and women, it is quite true that most guys will flock to a female gamer because we are attracted to women and would love one who happens to have gaming as an interest; but to think that all females game specifically for this purpose would be ludicrous. I find that women possess just as many reasons to play games as men do, they find them exciting, thrilling, and are able to relieve stress and bring a unique experience that TV will not offer. Often times if a woman is playing a video game it is because she enjoys the game and the feelings it brings her, just like any of us.
While girls have to deal with a slew of misconceptions about them simply because they are playing the game, they also have to deal with a lot of hatred and ill-will because they are a woman in addition to those wrongful assumptions. You will not believe the type of things are said to girls because of their gender in online gaming, nor the treatment they are sometimes given at tournaments. I find that women are ridiculed even more for minor things than guys are, that is because I have noticed that society in general has a different standard that differentiates between guys and girls altogether. The reason I say that sometimes misogyny and sexism can be worse than racism is actually quite simple. While races (Black, White, Asian, etc.) may go against each other simply because of their ethnic background, you will be surprise how sometimes they will drop their differences just to team up on the lone female in the room. Allow me to go over the most common I often notice.
First off is simply the very appearance of a woman, and it is talked about and judged regardless if it is an online gaming session or an offline tournament or get together. If a girl is a bit overweight or maybe not even that “cute” by most people standards, then she will be talked about and abused to no end behind it. A lot of guys, including myself, are overweight and happen to game without much being said about it because gamers already have a negative stereotype towards being basement dwellers, however, when a female happens to do the same thing it is about 1,000 fold worse in most people’s eyes.
A good example of what I am talking about is in that same 2010 Women’s Invitational for Super Street Fighter IV I was talking about earlier. Kayane, by most standards, is a very beautiful woman and is especially skilled at the game, so no one really says anything to her because she is good looking as well as talented. However, her opponent was someone known as “BurnYourBra” someone who some of my gamer friends who are women described as “Ugly” and a lot of talk about how she got as good as she did resulted around her not being able to go outside or having boyfriends simply because of the way she looked; but she lost to Kayane who was more skilled and no one said anything like that, in fact, it was more of “I want a girlfriend like her” or “I would bang her if I had the chance”. See how things quickly changed when just the appearance was switched up? I find that people are often more willing to watch, teach, and give uprising comments to women gamers that are considered more “pretty”, while often people respect male gamers regardless of how they look because they only judge by “skill” (Most of the time anyway). This just goes to show people judge very harshly on appearances, especially women. But not even online female gamers are safe.
I have found when playing a game with females and they happen to be doing well, a lot of the times gamers on the other side, male or female, will immediately call the girl “Fat bitch”, “Ugly bitch”, etc. Saying that if a girl happens to be good and talented then she must be fat, ugly, or unsociable in any respect because someone who has nice attributes and are a female obviously cannot be a good gamer. This is pretty ridiculous seeing as I have known several female who game online, including my own sister, who meet nothing of the stereotypical gamer criteria most would hold them to. In fact, often times when these girls are found they receive multiple online friend request and messages for no other reason other than being a woman; and if it is rejected it is often followed by hate-mail addressing those same subjects we talked about earlier: her weight and her physical attractiveness. Even beyond this I have heard many accounts of guys saying, “Oh? That’s a girl? Tell her to get back in the kitchen.” or “Why is a girl playing Xbox? If she’s playing Xbox then who’s making my sandwich?”.
The aggression often seen in online gaming is a lot of the reason a lot of women end up quitting it. The stares and chatter between the male players when a woman attends a gaming event is another reason it is hard for girls to feel comfortable and go to them in the first place. A lot of these misogynists attitudes and actions are a leading reason why women find themselves dropping gaming as a form of entertainment, even when they find them very enjoyable; I have already had a couple of friends who have told me they stopped gaming online because they grew tired of dealing with all of the hate and trash talk simply because they are women. A lot of this talk does have to do with the anonymous nature that online gaming has given, which is why zero tolerance policies for sexism should be implemented to where someone is banned for a month for each proven offense, and finally at three strikes are banned permanently, and this is something that should work both ways (Ladies, you are not off the hook!).
I think from all of this we can determine that women are more harshly judged than men based on appearances (I mean, think of this video game example. Who is wearing more clothes? Cammy White or Urien? Guess which one they will say is a slut and which one is the fine-crafted warrior) and are talked about whether they are good or bad even more fiercely than boys. It would make for a better experience for everyone if we were to just ignore gender altogether.
Some ladies, as well as other organizations and persons, may intentionally and unintentionally further the stereotypes surrounding women and gaming. How so? There are a few different ways this comes about, but most of them happen to unintentionally think of males as superior, running female only events, and the blatant sexualization of women gamers (As soon above in this picture). By continuing to embrace these negative stereotypes we are only giving the general populace fuel to continue to misinterpret what it means to be a girl who enjoys video games, and our goal is for them to just be thought of as “Gamers”.
First off, there are women who give negative stereotypes that men are superior without even thinking about it, in fact, sometimes they think they are doing the opposite when they are not. What do I mean by this? Well, I remember one time a woman sent me a message after my team lost in Gears of War 2 when it was done to her against me. She managed to down me and take the win for my time, where as the other team was gloating and saying, “You got beat by a girl” which happened to be the exact message she sent me. Wait, how is this embracing that men are superior? I’ll tell you.
By her saying to me, “Haha, you got beat by a girl” she is attempting to say I should be embarrassed that I lost to a female gamer. I simply replied, “Why are you gloating? The fact you are a girl does not change the fact you’re a good gamer or not, you were better. Or should I be ashamed I lost to a girl because you’re not suppose to be as good as men?” to which she replied “…GG”. By saying things like, “You got beat by a girl’ you are only telling me I should be embarrassed I lost to an inferior gender. If you want to gloat, simply say you are the better player and I never stood a chance, but this “insult” to which I should feel bad for is actually just demeaning to yourself and every other woman out there. This also doubles for anything else that applies to gender, such as saying “Well, I’m a girl” when explaining something in gaming is difficult for you to learn, do not blame your gender as that makes it seem like all females have a hard time comprehending, which they do not.
|Tracy Miley’s view on the term “Girl Gamer”.|
Another huge no no that nearly all women I have come across are guilty of is the term “Girl Gamer”. You are simply a “Gamer” nothing girl about it. You are to only refer to yourself as a “Gamer” there is no “Girl” needed as an adjective to describe what type of gamer you are, there is only a single type. Women are unintentionally placing themselves into a separate category because they grow use to the terms from our everyday lives: “Women’s Basketball”, “Women’s Tennis”, etc. With just the names “Basketball” and “Tennis” being attributed to Men and adding “Woman” or “Girl” means its their version of the sport, why would you not add “Girl” or “Women” in front of “Gamer”? It is these types of things that are holding us back and shows where we are as a society when it comes to accepting women as equals.
Something else I was talking to you about is organizations unintentionally and intentionally undermining the image of female gamers and also exploiting it for commercial gain. While we already talked about the Evolution 2010 Super Street Fighter IV Women’s Invitational, I would like to point out something else. Another very good example is “GameCrush.com“, though they try to cover it up now by offering a variety of other things, they basically exploit lonely male gamers by offering them the ability to player with female gamers…for a fee.
GameCrush originally started out as an organization specifically for profiting off of female gamers. What they would do is have girls charge guys to play games with them, how much they would pay depended on how long of a session they were trying to have… and the girls charged their own rates (They played the game with the guy and was on a webcam with them the entire time). GameCrush would essentially send girls checks for how much they have made once they reached a certain amount and would take a percentage of that for themselves, profiting off of it. The profile of these girls were very sketch, most of them seeming as though they did not really game at all and were more-or-less playing in order to earn money. I say this because a lot of times girls only seemed to play mainstream First Person Shooter games they know guys liked, did not have a history of gaming before GameCrush opened, and a few times girls had even borrowed their friends gaming systems in order to play! A lot of the “Playdates” even had their rate in their profile pages and even a few times offered to cosplay in “Sexy” lingerie for the guy or even do some XXX rated stuff for a bit of extra cash, not cool.
|Playdate Cupcake13’s Gallery Pic|
Well, overtime they began to catch flack for their practice and exploitation of gamers both male and female. People like Kotaku have written about GameCrush before and documented results that were pretty typical of a site such as this. In order to better combat the negativity they were receiving in hopes of keeping profits high and not having to shutdown from being boycotted by upset gamers, they began to clean up their website by allowing men to join as “Playdates” as well, knowing this would not do much. They began more and more to market it as a social networking site where gamers, male and female, can come together in order to enjoy an online experience. However, they did open up StripGamer.com at one point, which is basically what they wanted GameCrush to be before it began to take all of the slack (However, most people saw through this and quickly called them out on what they were doing, so the website was shut down). Even to this day they are still doing the same thing, offering “Power Player” membership where they can see exclusive pictures (That people have set to power player) and have other perks for a fee. Even in the modern day they appear to make it seem like GameCrush is nothing more than an innocent social network made up for guys and girls to get together, play video games, and find friendships and romance in a fun environment. However, we all know their plan by this point and that is to exploit the girls of the video game community in order to make a pretty penny while leaving none the wiser, and unfortunately for some lonely gamer guys who dream of a girl who will game side-by-side with them, this is the alternative they seek and happily feed this sexist machine without any thought of the consequences nor messages they are sending about female gamers.
Something else that is unfortunately to blame for the sexualization of women is the gaming industry themselves. How many times have we turned on a game to see “realistic” breast physics (Dead or Alive)? Or scantily clad women as an objective for completing the game to unlock something perverted (BMX XXX)? Was the real purpose of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball to show girls having fun and relaxing? Or was it to appeal to the gutter-mind male gamer?
I think it is quite clear from what I have shown you that many women unintentionally further the stereotypes surrounding them, as well as people attempting to exploit what a female gamer truly is, but not only that, they attempt also attempt to profit and mislead on misinterpreted images that they themselves cultivate. In order to combat this you have to not fall into the mold set by the day dreams of what others think girl gamers are, what the main media attempt to exploit for their own personal gain, and stop negatively referring to yourself and making yourself appear inferior. Be who you are. Be a “Gamer”.
|All female gaming clan, PMS (Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers).|
Something that has helped the increase of women who have found an interest in gaming, and also keep them sticking around despite the sometimes harsh community, are those groups and individuals that became a shining beacon of hope to follow while conveying the true image of gender equalization. Nothing says, “I can do it” or “be proud of who you are” like an example of what you would like to become actually being viable; be that a well-known female clan, professional girl gamer, or simply a well respected woman in the actual gaming community. You will not believe how many guys and girls cannot name even a few known female gamers in any particular community, but can quickly come up with a male gamer’s name off of the tip of their tongue. Even more than this are the active roles women take in the creation of video games, to leading roles taken in video games by strong female characters; they all have to be considered when thinking about how an average girl would look at the gaming industry. In this post I just want to highlight a few examples of positive female impact and presence within the gaming world.
First off I want to talk about all female clans/groups. You could always argue this two ways (Such as saying this is reverse segregation) but I can give slack to all female clans and groups for the simple reason they are incredibly scarce, especially on a pro level and often faces problems in terms of longevity. Two of the most popular (And successful) all female gaming clans include Clan PMS (Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers) and the Frag Dolls.
Clan PMS I first ran across when playing Gears of War 2 with my friends, we went up against a group of players with really girly gamertags and PMS in the very beginning of every name which signaled they were a clan. Originally, since we had not heard of this clan at the time, we assumed they were guys trying to be funny (You will not believe the amount of girlish gamertags that belong to guys), so of course my teammates and I talked quite a bit of shit only to lose by a horrible margin (It was Execution on Blood Drive and we lost 5 games to 1, but I broke even in Kills and Deaths at least). The girls never said anything, the game simply ended and we went back to matchmaking; upon looking at their profiles and doing some research I found out it was a true all girl clan and we had lost to a team of nothing but women, needless to say that we were quite surprised their skill level was enough to beat ours (While my friends were not as good as me, I was just shocked we had lost); this only proved my thinking of “inferiority” at that time.
Also, the PMS clan understood that by segregating women that they were no different than men who did not allow women to play with them, this spawned the “H2O”or “Hard 2 Own” clan for their male counterparts. Something else people did not understand was the fact that PMS originally stood for “Psychotic Men Slayers” and that H20 were the “Water boys” for the PMS clan girls. So this showed how even a strong female clan must convert for the sake of creating peace and setting a good example that we need harmony and not a gender war.
The Frag Dolls is an all female pro clan that has competed in various professional competitions, most noticeably those for Counter Strike and Rainbow Six. In their time being majorly active they have acquired 1st place a total of 3 times, the most for any all-female team on a pro circuit. These girls are probably the ace of all female gaming teams and show that you do not have to be a boy to know what you are doing when it comes to first person shooters. They have teamed up with organizers to host an array of gaming events as well, showing their support and love for the gaming community by more than just showing up to compete.
“Kayane” Marie-Laurie is one example of a professional female of competitive gaming. She is a fighting game expert who is considered one of the top and most well known players of the Soul Calibur community. She also is the winner of the Evolution 2010 Super Street Fighter IV Women’s Invitational (I was talking about this earlier). She is sponsored by eLive.pro and has placed very high in multiple competitive tournaments at the world class level.
Also, speaking with Kayane, she said her name is a mixture of the Dead or Alive characters “Kasumi” and “Ayane” which makes up her name. So you can tell she is a gamer through and through and is a prime example of how women can achieve to great heights in this male dominated industry. Not only that, she was ranked 4th in the world in a Soul Calibur tournament in France in 2004; and even beat Fetz, the American SC champion in a 10-3 set when she was only 10 years old. I also got a chance to interview Kayane, unfortunately I never got a chance to post that interview.
“Tipper Queen” Kelly Law-Yone is a professional gamer who played Guitar Hero. She was a part of Team Pandemic and was known as “The Queen of Fake Rock”. She competed in many tournaments, including in the World Series of Video Games in Dallas, Texas. She has also appeared in a Guitar Hero Commercial that aired during a review of the WSVG on television. It appears for now she has retired but she represented quite well for female gamers when she was around and was the first professional female competitive gamer I ever saw/met.
What most people do not know about “Tipper Queen” is that her name derives from the Super Smash Bros. series and it was a reference to her main character, Marth. She told me this herself as I played her in the semi-finals for the McDonald’s Midnight Gaming Championship when it appeared with the Cyberathelete Competitive League to host a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. I placed 2nd and she placed 3rd.
As far as gaming itself, there have been a lot of great female lead roles that have produced a huge following because of their strong sense of self. Women like Samus Aran (Metroid), Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), and Lightning (Final Fantasy) show that lead roles for fictional female characters can pour into huge results and followings. These women have also shown that they do not need saving and can stand on their own two feet and get down with the very best of them. Roles like these also help women to continue to play games because they are able to have their pick. At one point and time it was difficult to find a game with a leading lady, now these appear more frequent and even if it is a deuteragonist position they are often strong-willed and can even be more likable than their male protagonist.
We have great headway being made for female equality within the realm of gaming, both player and video game based, however, it is up to those who are serious to kick off with momentum. These great women and organizations provide great examples of what females can accomplish within this industry despite the wealth of misogynists and obvious obstacles that block their path. If you are a woman who loves to game but are tired of the blatant egoism and over-bearing aggression of the competitive industry, let this be your motivation to not let those be a deterrent.
Also something else I want to say is do not worry about being a professional gamer in order to prove your self-worth as a player. Just like there are guy gamers who are casual, hardcore, and professional; so too are there female gamers that are the exact same way. Do not worry about being anything you are not and just accept who you are. Do you play for fun? Do you play because you have a love for the game? Do you play to win and have glory and fame? Why ever you choose to play, just play.
Think it is safe to say that women are often portrayed wrongly and appealed to unjustly by companies, male gamers, society, and even among themselves. Often times we do not treat them as equals in gaming and look down upon them as a minority without much power or skill. This needs to stop and I feel this article is a good point to address that for everyone.
I have learned that women can deliver head shots, punish whiffed attacks, and go completely geeky with even the best of the boys. Once we get it through our mind that there is no such thing as a “Girl Gamer” but just a “Gamer who happens to be female” we will all be better off and benefit from the mutual respect. Gaming is an activity to entertain and bring about the friendships and cooperation of unlikely people, lets keep this spirit with us on this topic and move forward as gamers were society often lacks.
Thank you for giving me your time and reading this article, I hope you got something out of it. Arigatou & Sayonara!