I am a gamer. That statement, in itself, indicates to people who don’t know me that I am a “guy” who likes to play video games, according to many articles and papers written on gaming and associations. As a gamer, generally speaking, you have better motor skills than people who don’t play games, supposed higher situational awareness in day to day life and the unnerving need to make sure your “tech” (consoles, television, PC rig) is the best it can be given your budgetary constraints.
Most gamers choose the gaming genres they follow such as first person shooters, turn based strategy, MMO’s, indie games, horror and AAA titles. Gamers tend to measure success based on how much gaming time you have or allow yourself to have at any given time, achievements, points and other reward based schemes. Being friendly, a good leader, a strategist and the ability to be flexible with character types on offer will get you game invites a rather large friends list and a roster of what is being played on what evening if you are in a gaming clan or guild. So far, gaming does have its upsides.
So let us assume for a moment that this hypothetical gamer is not a “guy” but a “chick”. Now ask yourself, how has the above definition changed? Has the gaming community reached neutrality of equality amongst the sexes? I would say that this is becoming a very real possibility. There are a few pockets of resistance, mainly from younger players who have not fully matured emotionally enough or are embarrassed that a “girl” can play just as well or better than a “boy”. It is also sad to read that some younger women players are being derided by their peers because they are a gamer. If you take gender out of the gaming community, I see no difference between the sexes; we are equally as good as each other. It is how we treat each other that really matters. Gender anonymity is where gaming is really at.
I enjoy being labelled as a gamer because it doesn’t matter how good or bad I am at a game. I play computer games because it helps me to wind down at the end of a long day, it is a talking point during office lunches about what games are out, what is the best console or what have you played or are going to play. I have never come across in my very long gaming history (20 + years), a person or group of people who have tried to tell me that I am no good at games because I am a woman. I have never been singled out in Halo as ‘being crap’ just because I am a woman. I have never been bullied or told I cannot hold an intellectual conversation with “the guys” about games because I am “a chick”.
I am not denying that this kind of sexism does not happen. It does. However, I have never experienced it. When I am playing a game, I am that character, I am progressing through a story line be it Master Chief or Kit the Crazy Cat Lady. It does surprise some people when they do find out but I am not pigeonholed into a role, such as a healer when I am a rogue, or kicked from a group or made to feel second class by any means. The only down side to being “found out” is that the conversation becomes politer. Good gamers know a good (or bad) player regardless of gender. They also know if you have respect for their way of playing, and don’t judge a mistake for what it is, you will be invited back.
“I have had you in my sight the whole time, and I am just a… “
Personally, I believe we should take gender debate out of the gaming as it is an ever evolving media. The perpetuation of stereotypes has long since been “modelled” out of most games worth playing. I don’t see a return to the dark ages of the gaming industry where genders play a specific role or “busty” women or “well endowed” men appear on download feeds or boxes, unless the game is targeted to a specific audience. Some common sense should prevail when it comes to gaming. If you don’t like the portrayed stereotypes, don’t play the game. Personally, I am still going to play games with a male protagonist and I see no issue with gender specificity. Enjoy gaming for what it is, a media for telling an interactive story regardless of gender.