Answers from the Gamer Chick

So, one week ago, I posted a Blog Post asking for questions from my readers.  I said I’d answer any (tasteful and non-derogatory) question that they had about being a girl gamer, my experiences, or anything in general, really.  So, the following are all the questions I got and the answers I’ve come up with for them.

Before we get into all of that, though, I would like to send out a very heartfelt thank-you to everyone who asked a question and viewed the blog.  After that post went up, I had two record-breaking days on the blog in a row.  A very special thank-you goes out to all of my friends at The Pallet Tribune.  Without all of you, none of this would have been nearly as successful.

This first question came from Jacob.

Out of the big three (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft), which one do you feel treats girl gamers as equals the most? Which is the most non-sexist?

This is a thorny question to start with.  I think each company has done a lot of things wrong and a few things right.  There seems to be the idea that Sony and Microsoft have largely ignored the female gaming populous, but that can be taken to mean that they’re not trying to single us out and demean us with “girl games” like Nintendo.  Then again, a lot of those “girl games” that Nintendo puts out are very popular with younger girl gamers.  I suppose to answer the question, however, I would have to say that I don’t feel any company has yet been able to embrace female gamers are equals.

Next, we have a question from ThunderBringer.

Would you agree with the stereotype that girls aren’t good at video games?

Absolutely not.  Now, while there are studies to prove that boys are better at some things and girls are better at others, I do not think video games fall under that category.  I think a more accurate thought would be that girls just don’t play video games as much as boys.  This is honestly due to a few things, perhaps the most prominent being that girls aren’t supposed to play video games. While that idea has fallen out of popular thought in some areas, in lots of small towns and even larger cities, that feeling still runs free.  It’s a challenge for girls like me, who really want to play video games, to even get started.  It’s even harder to find friends who play video games, especially at a young age when boys are not at all interested in you.

I firmly believe that women can play any video game just as well as men.  It takes practice.  If you were to set a man and a woman down in front of any video game at the exact same time for the first time (providing they were both interested in the game), I don’t think you would see a lot of difference in initial proficiency with the game, thus proving that men are not any better at video games than women inherently.

Here’s a question from Straw.

What do you think about girls-specific games, or games that are “obviously meant for girls”? I, myself, enjoy a small dosage of dating sims every now and then. Do you think the game should be labeled “just for girls?”

Games that are “obviously meant for girls” can seem rather demeaning at first glance.  But what is important to remember is that these games are geared more toward the younger gaming audience as opposed to gamers in my age group.  Games like the Imagination series where you can play as a Fashion Designer or a Ballerina are great for little girls who are into that sort of thing.  And it’s a great way to let them start playing in a world that was formerly a “boys only” club.  But when you start getting into my age group, I’m still finding an extreme lack of games that cater specifically to my wants as a female gamer.

I’m not sure why you mentioned dating sims in the idea of “girl games.”  Dating Sims are not at all geared toward women.  As far as I’m aware, most dating sims have you playing as a man attempting to get with one of a host of women, not playing as a women trying to get with one of a host of men.  The idea of a Dating Sim does have some feminine qualities, though.  It’s focused on creating relationships as opposed to shooting someone through the temple.  It’s just a shame I suppose.

Next, a question from “lol”

What’s your cup size?

8 ounces.

However, in a slightly less snarky response, I almost just deleted this question when I noticed it sitting in my comment queue.  But when I thought about it a little more in depth, I thought it might be good to respond to it anyway.  It’s questions like these that make girl gamers nervous.  And let me promise you, stupid comments like that are bound to get you a knee to the groin and a lifetime of being single.  If you ever want a women who shares your gaming hobbies, you’d best change that attitude and learn how to treat women properly.

This is a question from Ryan B.

As a child what was your reaction to finding out that Samus Aran was a woman?

Being totally honest, this discovery was a little before my time.  Due to my parents initial desire to keep video games away from my younger sister and I, I missed out on the retro consoles.  The only time I played an SNES was over at a friend’s house, and we mostly played Duck Hunt and Super Mario.

As I got older and more into video games, however, I rapidly became aware of Samus.  My first exposure to Samus was actually in Super Smash Brothers for the Gamecube, and I just assumed the character was male.  When I got into college, I discovered that Samus was a woman.  At first, it didn’t really have a whole lot of an effect on me until I realized how mind-boggling the discovery was for a lot of young boys playing video games.

Samus now holds a special place in my heart of challenging the way video game players (who are still, at least in the non-casual market, vastly male) looked at the heroes they took the roles of during their gameplay.  Samus also challenges the stereotypical view of women, both in appearance and personality.  (I actually covered Samus in an earlier blog post, which can be viewed here.)

Next, I received two questions from twilightcook.

Will you be reviewing any trading card games in the future?

I’ve actually been meaning to do this for quite some time.  I play Magic: The Gathering rather frequently, and I have more Pokemon cards than I know what to do with.  I also have a lot of the Harry Potter trading card game that I collected during my high school years.  So I guess the short answer is — Why yes, I would love to review TCGs in the future~

What is your opinion of the book Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the D&D Game ?

I actually bought this book and read it in nearly a single sitting.  The author has a very conversational tone and speaks in a way that doesn’t demean female gamers, especially in the tabletop world.  Her story is a great one for the girl in your life whom you think would rather enjoy playing a game or two if you could just get her started.  While I had already been gaming for some time when I read this book, it was still a good read for me.  I tried to get my mother to read it as well (as I don’t think she really understands my gaming), but she wasn’t interested at the time.  Maybe I’ll try again soon. ^.^;

Here’s a question from Frosted.

Which video game console did you start with?

When I was in elementary school, I always wanted to have a video game console.  However, my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea of video games, so it took me until I was in middle school to get started playing video games.  One year, for Christmas, all I wanted was a Gameboy.  All of my favorite cousins had Gameboys, and they got to play Mario and Donkey Kong and all sorts of fun games.  So my mother finally broke down and bought me my Gameboy Pocket.  It was like a dream come true until we opened the box and Mom realized that she didn’t get my any games.  So I had to wait for three days before I could play anything.  That same year, I got Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow for Christmas from my older half-sisters.

A few years later, I got my first console.  I was in high school and got an N64.  It was amazing.  Suddenly I had access to Mario Kart and Mario Party and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  While my Gameboy still held a very special place in my heart, the N64 was different and amazing as well.  So my start into video games was really focused on Nintendo, but that was mostly due to the fact that my parents didn’t want anything to do with video games, and thus didn’t really know anything about Microsoft of Sony at the time.  Growing up in a small town meant that all my friends (who were girls) also had no idea what a Playstation was, and were honestly less-than-amazed at my Nintendo.

This question I received from MrDudle.

Do you ever play any of the more violent/masculine games? If so do you ever just really get into it? You know like continuing to shoot the body of a player you have already killed?

Actually, I play these pretty often.  I’ve played Halo and Dead or Alive, even Mortal Kombat.  I honestly really enjoy them.  (To be honest, I’m pretty terrible at Halo, but I’m getting better.)  When I’m playing video games, I’m almost always extremely competitive.  Especially when I’m playing fighting games like DoA or Mortal Kombat.  It’s during these games that I usually show a little of the behavior you asked about.

If you haven’t played Dead or Alive, you play as one of a host of characters and fight another character, played either by the computer or another player.  When your character has defeated its opponent, the opponent gets knocked-out, and there’s a period of about five seconds before the screen changes.  During that time, the victor can continue attacking the knocked-out foe.  And to be completely honest, I love to attack an opponent when they’re down, especially if the match was difficult to win.  >.>

Here’s one from KLB.

Are your multi-player experiences against/with boys different than what you would expect from a boys point of view?

Definitely.  Definitely, definitely definitely.  When men go online and play multi-player games, there’s almost a sense of comradeship and healthy rivalry.  They play together and get angry and have fun.  It all seems very… communal.  This is a great thing, that’s what’s supposed to happen.  However, the very few times I have gone online to play multi-player games and have been outed as a female have not been so pleasant.  I find myself being degraded and not taken seriously.  I get comments like “Is this your brother’s/boyfriend’s Xbox?”  “Are you really a girl?”  “Only ugly girls play video games.”  And after I start doing well, I get worse comments.  “You’re cheating.”  “This is hax.”  “I can’t believe I lost to a chick.”  “I’m lagging.”

The unfortunate thing is that my experiences aren’t unique.  Female gamers everywhere share my struggle in the online community.  I can avoid these things by not using the headset when I’m playing online games.  If my opponents don’t hear my voice, then they don’t know I’m a woman.  That stops the stupid comments cold.  They might still be swearing when they lose, but at least it’s not directed at my possessing ovaries.

Even when I’m playing against a guy who does have respect for me as a person, I feel the stakes are higher.  Because I’m a girl, I have to be good at what I’m doing.  Otherwise, it’s like the stereotype of girls being lesser games is furthered by example.  It’s a lot of pressure, which I think can turn a lot of girls off the competitive side of gaming.

Next, a question from Pwnemon.

So, as a girl gamer, are you ever offended by the “For girls” games? You know, stuff like Fashion Boutique Owner. Does it make you feel like companies are putting their crippled foot forward in inviting girls into video gaming?

To be honest, I used to be offended by them.  I used to hate the idea that companies thought some sparkles, pink and purple script writing, and the words “fashion” and “puppy” would get me to buy a video game.  It used to drive me crazy.  I used to shudder every time I passed that section of the DS games.

However, that’s not so much the case anymore.  I’ve come to realize that these sorts of games are more geared toward a young audience — elementary school students and the like.  Honestly, I think these games are a great way to open doors into the world that used to be almost completely populated by boys.  It lets little girls who like typical little girl things play video games and potentially move out of the “casual gamer” market into more “hardcore” games, like JRPGs and such.  That in and of itself makes me think that companies are trying to include girls in their markets.

Unfortunately, I’m not an elementary schoolgirl, and companies have yet to approach my personal demographic.

And here’s one from bubman.

Do you in anyway find games that over-accentuate females or use the visuals of women to sell games distasteful in anyway?

Sex sells.  To be completely blunt.  Because the gaming market is still vastly populated by men, putting sexy women on the covers and in the games themselves helps to sell more copies, which in turn keeps the companies in business so they can produce more games for consumers to buy and play.  It’s a symbiotic process.  So I understand why the companies do what they do.

That being said, I’m not a fan of every overly sexualized female character in video games.  I don’t like video games where the women are objectified or made to appear as “lesser” players than the men.  This isn’t always the case, though.  There are plenty of video games wherein the women are good role models.  I actually did a post on this a number of months ago that can be viewed here.

Thanks for all the questions, guys!  And keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of “Ask a Gamer Chick.”

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