While I was scrolling down my tumblr last night looking for gifs of the Glee episode I had just watched two hours prior, I found something that filled me with disappointment and shame. If you guessed the fact that I still watch Glee, well, yes, you’re right, but there was something else that caught my eye.
There was this comic that I think perfectly encapsulates the talk we’re having about women and their place in the gaming community:
There are two points that I want to deconstruct here:
- the first thing is the misogyny that is embedded in the gaming community
- the active pushback for women to integrate themselves into the community as equals instead of subordinate.
What this comic illustrates is the elitism that runs rampant in the gaming community (which, in itself can take up an entire blog post) and where “girl gamers” lie in that hierarchy. The first thing that’s wrong here is the very term “girl gamer”; as if the distinction of being a woman who enjoys games is so noteworthy. It is similar to the terms “male nurse” or “female rapper” where the lack of people in this community is so large it must be announced. The “gamers” are the rule, and “girls” are the exception.
Just like the other terms I listed before, “girl gamers” are generally looked down upon and toward the bottom of the hierarchy of the gaming community. When it became apparent that, yes, women do enjoy games like everyone should; gender roles and enforcement took place.
Games like Cooking Mama and Candy Crush are the kinds of games that take “traditionally feminine” traits and digitize them: effectively keeping women oppressed despite being in a new medium. Likewise, these same games are thought of as being “low energy” and not worthy of “true gamers” because they do not difficult or strenuous to the gamer. Women in society are viewed as weak and frail, and so their games are structured to be weak and frail. That is why is comes as such a “shock” to have women in the battlefield and what this comic is about.
The truth of the matter is: by in large, a woman has to be exceptional in order to match male mediocrity. What I mean by this, and this goes back to the idea of hierarchy, is that a woman must be a “superfan” to even be considered as a “true gamer”. When a man plays thirteen minutes of Call of Duty, he can call himself a gamer and not be questioned. When a woman reaches two-hundred hours of gameplay and has an expansive armory; she is accused of not earning her merits and her character is mocked (ie: she must be ugly and live in her parents’ basement.)
All in all, there is still much work to be done before women are treated equally in the gaming community (or, you know, society in general…)