Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Gender Issues Matter In Gaming (pt. 1 of many)

There's a video making the nerd rounds, based on Katy Perry's "California Gurls," which, incidentally, I hate so seethingly much and with such a burning passion that if the opening chord sounds on the radio in the car, my husband or I will smack the power button so fast that the antenna gets confused.

(I drive a mid-90s car with an oh-so-high-tech retractable antenna that doesn't work as well in 2010 as the mid-90s designers had hoped.)

Kotaku posted a link to this video today under the header Geek and Gamer Girls Will Likely Be Irritated By This Video.  (You can watch the video at that link as well.)  As always, what I went looking for were the comments.  A sample:
I'm not sure what's terrible about this -- they're cosplaying, I see geek girls doing that all the time at cons -- regarding the rolling around naked, it's a music video: you can't forget that.  --jayntampa

Female commenter here.

I didn't really take any offense to the video. If anything, I laughed quite a bit, because there was some clever bits that they snuck in there.

Does it make girl gamers seem anything more than sexed up woman who play video games in sexy outfits? Not so much.

As a gamer myself (yeah, I left out the girl prefix) I've always been slightly sensitive to the plight of female video gamers. We're like a lot of you guys, we like to chill around in comfy clothes and play long gaming sessions. And it isn't just RPGs or anime style games, considering I'm always up for a good round of headshotting.  --FinerFrenzy

fail on multiple levels. This only allows more "i'm a gamer too" girls to spawn.

THINGS THAT ARE FOR MEN ONLY: Cigars, Poker, Video Games. (not a complete list) -- buddhatooda
And one exchange that summarizes a lot of the discussion:

I don't understand why females can't just call themselves gamers. It doesn't make you any special to add the fact that you're female. I treat any and every person who plays games the same. -- NekuSakuruba
Being female stands as a modifier of what would be the "standard" mode of being human: male.  I'm just explaining what seems to be the reason why the term "gamer girl" exists.  -- Fernando Jorge

More importantly, not all female gamers are like that. Chance is, REAL female gamers hardly make a big deal about their gender when they're gaming. Girls who don't know jack about gaming are more likely to make a big fuss whenever they happen to play a game for a bit.

Not to mention, sometimes it's not the female player who wants to make herself special or anything; its the male players that don't threat her normally once they find out. :/ -- Ossidiana

A (members-locked) discussion from the "Inclusive Geeks" community summed up a lot of the double standard going on in this discussion, and one that is repeated every time issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and so on come up in gaming.  It's the "It's Just A Game / You're Taking It Too Seriously" argument -- one that is summed up well in Games Aren't Art, After All, Say Angry Gamers.  LiveJournal user sparklyappolion summed up the argument thus:

It's like the article said (or touched upon, at least): gamers want the legitimacy that comes with an artistic medium. This might have its roots in the stereotype that games are just time-wasters not to be taken seriously, and that gamers are awkward shut-ins. The gamers stand up and say, "Hey, no, we're pretty competent people and these games have a lot of thought and beaut to them," and I can't blame them for that.

HOWEVER, I can blame them for demanding the recognition without doing the work, which I think this is an example of. As soon as someone says, "Well, something's gotta change if games are gonna be considered art," these gamers put up their hands and back away from the situation. They don't want to actually have to change the way they play, think about, or experience games; they just want people to take games seriously. They don't realize that you can't have one without the other.
 Right.  Silly wimminz!  It's just a game!

Next in the series: If It's For Women, It Must Be Stupid and the corollary, If You're Female, What You Play Doesn't Count.


  1. Do you take requests? How about: "If you're not willing to stop being douche bags, stop whining that women don't want to hang out with you." And: "Stop Ruining Things For The Rest Of Us."

  2. @RedJenny -- It might be that I've said the first in person before. ;)

    Though I will acknowledge: the VAST majority of male gamers that I know in person are pretty mellow. (Self-selecting sample, maybe...) And the one I married knows better than to take it personally when I unload this rant...

  3. Hey, this is DoctorJay, writing as my alter-ego, the 3000-year-old high elf with fabulous red hair, Toldain.

    You got me interested in the video, so I watched it, and the original (we all have to suffer for art) and I wrote about it here.

    (I hope you don't mind the link-whoring).

  4. @Toldain -- I don't mind at all! I was hoping you would, in fact, because I wanted to see what you wrote after you mentioned it over at TNC's place. :)

    (Also, are you still in EQ2? I've been out for a couple of months now but will probably be heading back in this fall. If you ever see Test.Kella, say hi. ;) )