Girl Gamers Suffering From Gender Stereotype?
So this girl gamer goes on NPR and demands respect. Well, she's entitled, I suppose. If there's any group that can understand being stereotyped, it's the gamers, especially those who grew up during the dawn of the industry.
But has anyone considered the possibility that while male gamers back in the day (when 99% of all gamers on earth were male) were automatically labeled in a certain way, girl gamers today face a new issue...? Well, it begins with the fact that this industry has its roots in male entertainment, and that anything to do with violence or sports is restricted to the male realm. For the guys, it was more of a social issue; i.e., the belief that we only stayed home and played video games because we weren't invited to the latest party, we didn't have a lot of friends, and girls really weren't in the picture.
But for the ladies, it appears to be a very different hurdle, and it goes well beyond a lack of respect when playing online. No, this might be a gender-bending issue of some sort, in that girls who enjoy games must be too...well, tomboy-ish. These days, it's like the chick who was heavy into sports and played basketball with the boys at recess. Most of those over the age of 40 who are entirely clueless about this industry will see a screen, see a gun, automatically assume the entire purpose of the game is to kill people (even if they saw the handgun in Heavy Rain). And if they see a girl playing it, well, there has to be something wrong, right?
It just isn't lady-like. "She won't meet any nice boys that way," said grandma. And what if all this talk about games making people more violent really kicks in? Yep, the normal girl is changed into an aggressive, creepy girl. I don't know any girls who play games but if I did, I'm willing to bet they've encountered plenty of people who, upon learning they play, immediately assume they're lacking in estrogen. And worse, that they might have an over-abundance of testosterone. As gaming continues to hit a wider demographic with every passing year, I'm afraid that one set of stereotypes (all games are for boys, all games are violent, etc.), will generate another stereotype that specifically offends females.
It's bad enough that girls have to remain silent while playing online; it's even worse when they become pigeon-holed...into a pigeon-hole.
1/28/2011 Ben Dutka