I know I’m a little late to the “fake gamer girl” dialogue, but I was in the shower getting angry about it, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.
For those who have no idea what I’m angry about, it seems to be the hot new thing to accuse women of being “fake” gamers, because apparently being a gamer is now cool supposedly women are pretending to be interested in video games in order to attract men. Those hussies.
I did a quick google search for fake gamer girl and about half of the results pissed me off so much I had to stop reading them. So you can go ahead and take a look yourself if you’re really curious. (The rest were posts like this, because as I said, I’m late to the game.)
So here’s the thing: I’m a gamer. I tend not to stick “girl” in the front of self labels, because I don’t say that I’m a girl soap maker or a girl photographer or a girl dog owner. We got our first desktop computer in 1988 or 89, and I recall being woken up at 1am by my parents to show them how to get into “the dirty game” and then being sent back to bed because it was way too adult for me at the age of 8. (Leisure Suit Larry 1, for the curious.)
I played a shit ton of Space Quest 3. I couldn’t get past the “adult proving questions” in LSL until I was 12. Sad.
I got my first (original, 8 bit) Nintendo when I was 9. I played the crap out of it. I had a Super Nintendo, a Sega Game Gear, and a PC. I wasn’t much for console gaming after I left home, but I’ve always played PC games. I started with MMOs with Ultima Online in ’98, and I’ve been playing WoW since about 3 months after launch. And a zillion other games in between.
I say this to establish some sort of “gamer cred”. What irritates me is that I actually have to do this. If I were male, it would not be necessary to list my gaming history. It could be used for bragging rights in the right crowd, but there would be no assumption that I only play warcraft because of my significant other. There would be no snide comments about using games (and tits) to get guys.
And what really galls me is that I find that I have to defend myself to people who weren’t alive when I started playing games. (I tend to find it’s the under-25 category who get up in their self righteousness.)
As it turns out, I’m secure enough in my geekhood that I don’t feel the need to defend myself very often. Sure, you think I’m a “fake girl gamer”? Clearly that’s how I landed my geeky husband (who has never had to defend HIS gamertude) — I grabbed a controller and flashed my cleavage to distract him from the fact that I was holding it upside down. Ok then.
So here’s the thing: lately, there’s been a lot of talk about equality in games. Things like the possibility of same-sex encounters in Dragon Age, a less boob-tastic version of Lara Croft. The fact that people (male AND female!) are actually standing up and asking if it’s possible to have maybe a few more AAA titles that aren’t actively anti-woman. You can actually do this and still make money, I promise. Some women even work outside the home these days, and can afford to buy their own games!
Naturally, there’s the backlash. The standard “white male gamer” seems to think that if games are a little bit more open to women, they’re going to be closed to men. I have a very hard time understanding this school of thought, but there’s an excellent article on The Distress of the Privileged that makes some excellent points. The “fake girl gamer” trope seems to be the latest tool of the patriarchy to keep the status quo as it is. Ignoring the fact that women have been playing games for decades and are getting a little tired of being dismissed.
You know what? We can do better than that.
I’m going to leave it at that. A wee bit of advice though: Let people self label. Don’t be so damn cliquey. If someone thinks playing candy crush makes them a gamer, who the fuck cares? Are you somehow better than them because you play Call of Duty? Are you better than ME because I don’t like first person shooters? I’ll let you in on a little secret: You’re not. And I’m not better than you because I’ve been playing video games since you were in diapers, but I’m sure as hell going to be a bit pissy if you tell me that it doesn’t count.