It’s not easy being a gamer that’s for sure, it’s sometimes even harder to be a gamer and be female.
We’ve come a long way given that we now make up at least 50% of the global gaming population. But aside from the usual problems we still face like harassment, lack of opportunities/revenue if we turn our passion into a profession (esports or streaming), there are still a lot of myths about female gamers that I think need to be addressed. I sometimes ask myself why did I never have to deal with this? Is it because I don’t stream, work in the gaming industry, or do esports? Is it because I don’t play multiplayer games, or at least not use my mic when I do? Whenever I did interact with male gamers, I often tried to just blend in with them on forums and not try to be the odd one out because I’m female. I don’t know, and I’m not saying that what everyone else is doing is wrong. But none of us should feel like we should lie about ourselves to avoid discrimination and harassment.
My blog has grown since I moved it from Blogger after using that for six years and realized I was getting nowhere, to here on WordPress, and I thank each and every one of those people for keeping up with me. Many of my followers are also gamer gals like me, and we all have our different tastes. So, without any further ado, here are the stereotypes that I think need to be addressed.
We suck at video games
One of the biggest insults we get is that because we are women, we must be terrible at video games no matter how hard we try, we cannot surpass the male players and that we should just go back to girlie things.
Wrong. There are lots if badass female gamers out there who are great at certain games. There are female pro Fortnite and Overwatch players out there and I’m sure there’s tons in World of Warcraft too. I’m really good at Mass Effect and I could tell you all of the best choices you should make in the game’s story that have the best outcome and where to spend your points on skills when you level up.
I also kick ass as a Pokemon Trainer! My team is always full of tough Pokemon that can take a beating in any battle so I definitely do not suck at video games. Sure, I haven’t got 100% on every game I’ve played, beaten it on the highest difficulty, or made it to the top of a Slayer match but I’m good at video games in my own way and to say we suck and can’t play because we’re women is sexist and further oppresses us when we can do anything that men can do.
We only play support characters
I thought of this when I read a story about a girl who played Overwatch and recorded everything during the match due to two guys on her team harassing her. Disgusting. Anyway, I do not play that game but I know that there is a playable character in it called Mercy who looks like an angel and can heal other teammates. She’s not the only female playable character in that game, but she does seem to be the most well-known. So if you think about support characters, Mercy is the first one to come to mind where you play OW or not.
Backlog Crusader wrote an interesting article explaining why we might play support characters and she made some totally valid points. A discussion on Reddit I stumbled upon with female OW players, said that it’s because everyone else on their team will not, or because we’re better at it rather than who gets the most kills. Makes sense, sure, but I think what eventually made me not always do that was I started to play Halo when I was 14 and that’s how I branched out of the norms and stereotypes of what women like to play.
Sometimes when I play Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, I play a lot of different characters, mostly the plants. I do play as Sunflower sometimes which is technically a support character since it is a healer, but I’m way better with Rose and Citron; a mage and a tank. The latter being the first I got good at.
So believe it or not, regardless of the roles of women we grew up hearing about, not all of us play support roles. I will admit that in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer before the remaster’s release, I was a support role regardless of what character I was (even if I was a tank-like character like a krogan), because I was better at the objectives than killing enemies. Sometimes we play as tanks, or mages, or other forms of frontline characters. I don’t think it’s right to label us as only the support/healers, whether you like to play support the most or you try a variety different classes.
We only play because we have a significant other who does
I’m not condemning female gamers who were inspired by their SO to start gaming or play with them, hell I started gaming because I enjoyed watching my brother and decided I wanted to start playing too. As time went by, I continued gaming because I enjoyed it myself. (what I think is REALLY wrong is when a girl pretends to be into gaming because the guy she likes, enjoys it, or refuses to get into it and demands he choose between her and it)
Still, I think we all have someone in our lives that influenced us to start gaming!
But to assume it’s always someone a girl is dating or married to, is definitely something that needs to be addressed. How many of you ladies here have walked into a game store to buy a game and the cashier asks if it’s for your boyfriend whether you have one or not? Outrageous.
Some female gamers are happily single, while others do have a special someone but were gaming before they met them, or started gaming for themselves because of genuine interest. It’s just as bad as assuming that any male person a girl hangs out with is her boyfriend and I can’t describe to you how much I hate that just because one of my best friends just happens to be male.
We only play casual/indie/farming sims
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve discovered some fantastic indie games in the past few years that are definitely relaxing. Also I love farming and other simulation games, they are fun and stress-relieving: Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, The Sims, Slime Rancher, etc.
But there will always be that stigma out there that we play nothing but farming sims. I do know some female gamers who prefer to do that as stick to games that offer a more relaxing experience. That I understand but you never know, plenty of us love RPGs, shooters, puzzle, etc. so it seems pretty unfair to assume that games like the ones I mentioned, are all that we play.
Indie games on the other hand are easier to get into because they tend to be shorter than most RPGs, though some can still be story-rich, they’re easy to play, layout of things is simple (like Cat Quest is extremely straightforward compared to other RPGs I’ve played) some of them have no dire consequences, and sometimes it’s easier to grind for all the achievements. But once again, just because we may think differently than men, doesn’t mean we are incapable of playing video games that fall outside any of these categories.
We want attention
Wrong. Most of us just want to play games for fun. However, the reason why this gets plastered onto us is because there unfortunately are women playing video games that do this. Some of them are genuine gamers and some of them are not, the latter is the worst of all which I think is the biggest to blame for this myth.
Why some women choose to do this I, I will never understand. But I can tell that 99.9% of us game because we love it, it’s a good escape from reality and can be a social experience too. But because of the amount of attention these fakers get is exposed so much, it’s no wonder this stereotype still exists. I think it’s also to blame for the sexual harassment we face if we choose to play multiplayer/stream/play professionally (the #1 reason why I choose not to do any of those things when I game) and why we get quizzed on our knowledge and it’s despicable.
We don’t like action games
Wrong again. I LOVE action games, this pertains the myth that we only play farming sims. Once again, yes there are some female gamers I know who don’t play anything too story-rich or too much action. I have yet to meet any female gamers who play DOOM like me.
Maybe we do like more relaxing games that aren’t so fast-paced but that doesn’t mean none of us can handle a more aggressive gameplay. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to play DOOM, the gameplay may look intimidating at first but it’s simpler than you think, keep moving, shoot the demons, glory kill for health, chainsaw for ammo, and you’ve got it, the rest of the stuff will be a piece of cake. Then again, id Software and Bethesda believes that their primary players are men because it’s demon-killing as a marine in a Praetor suit with heavy metal blasting in the background which further enforces the stereotype of personal taste.
I get it though, some of us are more easily drawn to games with easier objectives, less competition maybe because we don’t have the same natural competitive nature men have, that is what makes us the demographic for games like The Sims. I’m not saying EA and Bethesda need to change how they advertise their games, but I would like companies and other players to be aware that not everyone has restricted tastes. Not all women shun action games because their objectives are more challenging than The Sims. In fact some of us love a good challenge!
We like to show ourselves off on social media i.e. selfies with the controller, or what we’re currently playing
Hell no, if I’m taking a selfie on my personal Instagram account, I don’t need to do it holding up what’s on my Switch or turn around from the game on my PC and take a selfie behind it! When I’m gaming, I’m gaming. What I choose to do instead is share screenshots from my game sessions and many of those will make it onto my social media platforms and reviews that I publish here. Because of this approach I do not have as many followers as some other female gamers who do like to show their faces.
Maybe it is due to the fact that my Instagram account is private….. for valid reasons. Some female gamers do this, but not all of us do and I’m one of them who doesn’t.
We love fitness games
Oh boy, I remember the days of trying Wii Sports and today I have not picked up my Wii in years because I just don’t have a lot of interest anymore in it, so it’s in the basement collecting dust, but still connected just in case me and my family miraculously decide we want to do a bowling tournament.
I was never good at those types of games, maybe the Kinect ones would have been easier, but my methods of exercise is I go for walks, ride my bike, swim, and when the weather’s bad I do cardio and strength videos on YouTube since I’ve not interested in getting a gym membership with all that fancy equipment.
So to speak, I’m not really into fitness games. I play video games to relax after a long day of work or other things, including exercise. But because we women are more likely to be insecure about our bodies than men, if we have a hobby like gaming, it’s easy to slap this label on us and I don’t like that.
Our setups are girlie
Yeah I know a few female gamers on Instagram with pink Razer headsets that have cat ears or their Switches have bright pastel skins on them, some even have the analog sticks shaped like paw prints.
But the furthest I go is the lights on my keyboard, headset and mouse which are pink, and I draw the line there. I don’t need to overdo it. I’ve thought about changing the color for a while. I do personalize my gaming gadgets and Teletraan-1 but would I cover it with stickers or have everything pink from the headset to the mouse? Nah, just the lighting, everything else is black!
And there are plenty of us out there who do not customize at all. Our consoles/PCs are ready to go and that’s all we need.
Those are some myths that I’ve busted for you, I’m sure there’s tons of other articles out there that talk about this all the time. It’s like me saying that just because somebody loves multiple fictional characters, doesn’t mean they can’t have a real relationship, or that people with autism are all savants (I’m not).