I work and participate in an industry that’s usually dominated by males between the ages of 16 and 34.  Personally, I like saying that I’m that small percentage of women that participate in this activity.  I am by no means a professional, but I do consider myself above average in some areas.  If you think I’m talking about racing cars, you’re wrong. I’m talking about video games! That’s right! Let me give you a brief background on when I started playing.

I remember receiving my first console, a Nintendo, on my fourth birthday with my own television. One of the first games I recall opening as a gift was in fact, Barbie.

"A Glamorous Quest Full of Magic, Fun, and Adventure!"

I honestly didn’t know what to do other than play the game.  I remember playing it, but I didn’t get the enjoyment out of it that I was expecting.  I remember dodging some water fountains in a mall, throwing a ball to a dog so he could close a hatch,  some evil ice cream cones, and some REALLY irritated music notes and vinyl records. For some reason, this type of game didn’t fancy me at all.  My grandfather, who was a major influence in my life and is also the blame for making me a tomboy, noticed this.  He decided to rectify the situation the best that he could; Contra and Metroid were now in my possession thanks to good ‘ol Grandpa!

CONTRAAAAA

Samus!!!

To make a longer story short, Grandpa also got me hooked on the Final Fantasies, Silent Hills, Resident Evils – you name  a game, he has probably helped me retrieve it in some shape or form (legally of course).  Now, let’s get to the heart of the article.

I was chatting in IRC with a friend from a forum I belong to, and he sent me this link that he thought would peak my interest.  He was indeed correct!  The link contained an article written by Petter C. Beller of http://www.forbes.com/ on July 6th, 2009. The title is Female Gamers on the Rise. Ok. I think I’ll give this a read even though it’s rather short.  Little did I know that I would be marking this article up and down with a pen like a graduate student taking notes for their thesis.  Now, I do feel that I’m slightly biased when I reviewed this article as I am not your typical female, and I’ve been playing video games for twenty one years.  I still figured I would share my initial feelings when I read it.

The beginning of the article states that when you get on ‘online shooter games like Call of Duty or Battlefield:2142′ you hardly hear a female voice. I would have to agree with that. You usually hear a teenage male playing the game while breathing heavily into his mic without even realizing it.  That first paragraph of the article is something I completely agree with, however, the rest of the article just stung me in the wrong places.

We move forward:

Much of that rise is likely due to the popularity of the Nintendo Wii…console is easy to use.”

*Looks around* What? So, you think that other females can’t figure out how to use an XBox 360 or a PlayStation 3? The controls are too difficult? That statement rubbed me the wrong way. It made me feel like the Wii is the dumbed down version of a console for a female.  There might be some more hand-eye coordination involved in some games that are console specific, but I feel that any person is intelligent enough to figure out how to operate a controller for multiple consoles.  It just takes practice like anything else.  A professional basketball player isn’t pulled from an alley to be expected to know all of the teams plays in less than a day, are they?  Also, yes there are some girlie games available for the Wii, but I honestly don’t think that was Nintendo’s target. Nintendo wanted to make a family, friendly console that can make an activity a fun, physical experience for everyone.  I feel that family bonding was the main reason behind the creation of the Wii and some, if not all,  of the games.

…Wii is attractive to females…because of the ban on sexist material and graphic violence in games that play on its hardware.”

Ok. I admit. The amount of boobie physics can get a bit annoying, but after due time, you ignore it. You may say “Wow! Her boobs are as big as her head!” then it’s ignored.  Even though there are tons of family friendly games for the Wii, there are also not so family friendly games. I wouldn’t say there is a ban on them. No More Heroes is a great example. He uses a fluorescent bulb as his weapon, and he charges it in a rather phallic manner.  Dead Space, Obscure: The Aftermath, Silent Hill:Shattered Memories…all of these aren’t exactly family/’female’ friendly games.  I think this statement just bothered me because he made it sound like there were no mature rated games for the Wii.

 

Is that your weapon, or are you excited to see me?

“…Nintendo DS…started to attract female gamers earlier this decade…started to attract female gamers  with games such as Nintendogs which was specifically targeted to girls. The title simulates caring for a pet…can take their pets on walks.”

I can agree with this partially. I also feel that the Nintendo DS was the new revolution for handheld /  portable games and the touch screen.  Nintendogs aimed at girls? I felt it was aimed toward smaller children, but that’s just my opinion. One other huge revolution to think about was Tamagotchi. Who didn’t have one? Seriously?! You didn’t?! Oh man. I’ll let you borrow mine. I still have it!! I remember Tamagotchi was a huge success, and everyone (I mean EVERYONE) had one at my elementary school. Boys and girls alike! What if Mom and Dad don’t want you to have a real pet because you’re too young to assume responsibility? What if they find Nintendogs an outlet to any child to learn responsibility of taking care of a pet? (That’s the responsible pet owner in me).  I feel that Nintendogs and Tamagotchi were created to help assume responsibility of a living being.  Also, they’re pretty fun.

This is exactly what mine looks like.

Ubisoft…made Imagine games – a line that includes activities like babysitting, ballet, cooking…”

Okokok…hold on. Really? Yes, they sold a ton of copies within that line of games, but this made me feel like all girls should learn domestic or girl-like activities. Stereotype much? However, I’m also biting my own tongue with that statement. What if the parent wants the child to learn responsibility through simulation babysitting and cooking? Warning: Biased Ashley – While growing up, I don’t think I had a single game on babysitting or cooking. I turned out fine.  My cooking hasn’t killed anyone yet. Here I am, playing games that icky boys play, and I think my survival skill is up there.  Anyway, I guess I’m saying that if they make games like this, why don’t they make games for males on how to get a girlfriend or how to slam dunk or how to fix cars?  *shrug*

” ‘I think the biggest obstacle to growing the female gaming community is the trash talk that goes on in the online area,’ says Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush Morgan.”

I admit, I’m not the type of gamer to get my headset on and talk to a bunch of random people. I usually get my headset on to talk with some friends in a private party or private chat. Usually, when a female voice comes on, most of the male gamers can’t believe a person with a vagina has entered the gaming realm dominated by males.  Granted, I do put my headset on when I whooped up on them just to get some bragging rights. Everyone loves bragging rights…right?  Trash talk is an obstacle for any level headed, mature gamer.  It’s just super easy to mute them.

If you couldn’t tell,  this article rubbed me the wrong way, and I felt completely insulted.  To me, his article seemed a bit sexist.  I also may seem a bit biased since I’ve been playing games for a decent amount of time, but would another girl with gaming experience feel that way, too? I am in no way dissing the Wii since I personally enjoy some of the games that are Wii exclusive.

A few things that I felt could have been pointed out in this article:

  1. The term gamers could of been defined better. Gamers can be PC gamers, LARPer’s, tabletop gamers, and console gamers. How about gals that fall into those categories?
  2. Each console has a different association with a group of individuals. The Wii and Kinect (in my opinion) are geared toward families and or active individuals,  not necessarily one sex.
  3. There are games for every console that can fit different interest groups.  Want to ride some horses at your stable? My Horse and Me is for nearly every console (even PS2!).  Want to shoot some heads? There are a great handful of FPS’s for all consoles.  RTS’s? There’s a ton of the PC, and even more are starting to arise on consoles!

Yes, there are some females that play the games mentioned earlier in the post. I think the author of the article just approached his audience in an ill chosen manner.  Females that fit outside of this ‘criteria’ may find this article offensive and irksome. I know this is a subject I will touching on again in the near future, so watch out!

-Ash, a.k.a. TAGCDove

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