The Unjustified struggles of Women Gamers
“Gamer.” The image that most often comes to mind when one hears that word is a boy although age doesn’t really matter too much anymore. When it comes to boy gamers, you picture them tightly clutching a gaming controller in their hands while they shoot virtual enemy soldiers at the TV, as blood spats everywhere. Now, take that same image and replace the boy with a girl and the whole image becomes weird and unusual. The fact is that even with as many things as women can do nowadays, People still associate gaming with men, causing problems for women within the world of gaming. The truth of the matter is women have been the center of a new movement in video games since the mid-1990’s. They’ve been fighting a system that favors males over females, however, this is nothing new for the so-called “fairer sex.”, it has also dominated the gaming industry for most of its brief lifetime. With that said life is improving for female gamers, Women in a largely male industry have undoubtedly faced challenges, but aren’t asking for special treatment. They just want a level playing field with their male counterparts and both are optimistic about the future of the professional gaming space where, they hope, the term “girl gamer” will soon be obsolete.
Felicia Day said “My philosophy has always been, Exist and represent yourself the way you want to exist as a woman who loves games, not as a reflection of what other people think or want of you. You will change minds by BEING. Show don’t tell.”
Some of the struggles we can face, Trolls and Harassment. There are still some people out there that firmly believe girls can never be as good at gaming as men therefore when we play and something goes wrong we are almost always considered the weak ones or the problems. We can ( again not in all circumstances) also get the “Go back to the kitchen”, or the people who think you’re the damsel in distress and take it easy on you. You also have the “You don’t belong here” trolls with oh so encouraging words of wisdom as we fight to help the team win. They are hyper focused on the fact that they are losing to a girl and creating a hostile environment because of it. Stereotypes: Some people still believe that if we are going to be girl gamers, we need to fit this picture they have in their head of us half naked sitting on our beds. When in reality we are just like the men, trying to have fun in sweats, our hair not done up, no makeup, just fighting killing, or whatever else. We’re just trying to have a good time without expectations or this predetermined level of association with women in gaming. Sexism: Unfortunately, there are certain circumstances where women are being misrepresented “as slutty” in games, causing this level of dismay to come out. Even on the programming side of that in just the gaming industry alone according to a Mother Jones article about “women in the video game industry, female programmers tend to make $10k less than males doing the exact same job. As well, female animators were making about $26,000 less.” So, not only are we sorely misrepresented in the general media as gamer girls who can’t play but even in the industry, we are trying to be a part of we are not making the same as everyone else further supporting the belief that women don’t belong in gaming.
All we are looking for is a way in and to be treated the same. We want to have fun, playing whatever we deem without being considered weaker or in need of protection, without the fear of harassment or trolling, or stereotypes following us around. There are a lot of great people out there that help women grow and to them we thank you, but there are still struggles we face everyday as girl gamers, and as things improve people will see we have just as much to contribute as everyone else, and can provide a new level of gaming some didn’t know was possible.
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