Girl Gamers: Are They Real?
Editorial by Carolyn Koh
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.
MMORPG.com Senior Editor Dana Massey tossed this topic out in the Staff Forums. My first reaction was to look down, then look back up at my screen and type my response:
"Last time I looked..."
/em looks down.
"Yup. Still there."
Girl Gamers: Are they real? If you have to ask that, I'll have ask you... what underground bomb shelter have you been living in for the past ten years? So... like... you know? Women can vote and drive cars and operate PCs. If we can vote, we can be politicians. If we can drive cars, we can race. If we can operate PCs, we can game.
We don't just play Barbie Make-up World or My Pretty Pink Ponies either. Those titles didn't even exist when I was growing up. I played Centipede, Pacman, and Joust (although I stank at Joust) but I didn't play those on a PC. I had to put a quarter into a machine. Time went by and I graduated to PC games such as Eric the Unready, Camelot, created a pilot with nickname of Pinky in Gunship 2000, solved puzzles as Guy Threepwood and played Castle Wolfenstein on the office LAN after hours with the guys in engineering.
I don't play PvP games unless it's team against team / realm against realm. Just my preference... but although I do not play PvP regularly, I've always like shooters. I preferred picking up a rifle and plinking ducks, sinking battleships with torpedoes and killing aliens... and learning to lose to my dates. Or else not beating them too, too badly.
In an arcade world, there was little doubt that a girl gamer was "real." She's the one over there with the pony-tails and yeah... boobs. You soon got to know the regulars and which girls were gamers and which were just there to hang with their guys. But in MMOGs where skills and levels count, any girls playing have to be there to be gamers. Yet, they are still greeted with disbelief and demands for "Proof" by means of photographs. Okay... since you don't believe that's my voice on chat... why don't I download a picture of some model and send it to you? My favorite ploy was to send or post a picture of an overweight babe in a bikini on the guild forums. The more chins, the merrier. Wanna see? I even "photoshopped" a guild logo as a tattoo on her butt once.
Why is it still so hard to believe that girl gamers are real? The Sims drew them out from hiding into the scrutiny of the public eye in the 1990s. The 50% of the population that were discovered to be teenaged girls have grown up in the past 10 years and are probably the ones getting grief in voice chat because "girls don't game." Yes, that was when developers began to take notice of a possible "female" market in electronic games. There's been a "Queen of Quake" crowned in an All Female Tourney since 1997 and I don't mean Drag Queens either. Fer cryin' out loud... there are more "girl gamer" sites then you can shake a stick at these days... and we are still greeted with disbelief when we join voice chat for a raid?
Are we so rare that we have attained "myth" status? Like the guy with the beauty queen girlfriend where seeing is believing; is the guy with the gamer girlfriend only believable when she "pwns" you in a deathmatch? Like Stevie "Killcreek" Case defeating John Romero?
Well, maybe you'll meet one in the flesh one day. They are starting younger these days... or maybe it's the corrupting effect of having an Aunt that raided 5 nights a week during her heyday in EverQuest. My four-year old niece doesn't ask for sweets or TV. She asks if she can play on my computer because "It has the good games!" She knows which icon logs her in and even though she can't read yet, she knows which book mark takes her to NickJr's Playtime where all the "fun games" are. PBSkids and Disney Playhouse on Mommy's computer just aren't quite as fun. Of course Lego Star Wars on the big screen when she and her brother can talk Daddy into it is heaps better.
So... yeah. Girl Gamers exist. We may play different games... or not. We may play them differently... or not. But we do exist. We are definitely in the minority so maybe some of you disbelievers out there will get really lucky one day and find one of your own... and maybe she won't even have to trounce you first to prove it.