by Jillian Washburn
Typically when one thinks of a gamer (and I don’t mean the person who plays an occasional game on their console), they think of a nerdy, unkempt, male. The key idea here is that it is typically a male being thought of as being a gamer. A quick image search of the word ‘gamer’ turns up pictures of the previous description, with the occasional picture of a female playing a game. It’s very rare that a woman is thought of, or associated with being a gamer and when she is she doesn’t always have the most “feminine” qualities attributed to her; her friends and fellow players tend to see her as ‘one of the boys’. On the other side of the scale are the female gamers who, maybe to the untrained eye, don’t seem like they would be interested in playing a game targeted towards men or any game at all. If there is a woman playing a game, who doesn’t fall into the ‘typical’ category of a gamer, it’s assumed she isn’t playing the game because she enjoys it, but more so to get something (i.e. attention) in return for playing. I happen to consider myself a ‘gamer girl’, even though I don’t fall into the stereotypical role that would be expected. I have quite feminine tastes when it comes to other activities in my life, and it shocks people when I tell them that I love playing a game such as Call of Duty online. When I started playing video games online it was mainly to spend time with a long distance boyfriend. Once I learned how to mute everyone else or speak my mind when they said something offensive, I really enjoyed playing first person shooting games, along with many others, with a group of other people (and I’ve made some friends while doing so). I was welcomed into the group of online guys because of my boyfriend, not because of the skills I had while playing the game(because to be honest, I had zero to none), and when we broke up I was annoyed, to say the least, at how little of a group I had left. But being the independent woman I am, I played by myself finally showing others I could carry my own weight on the team, now I have a group that I play with on a regular basis. Playing online with people I don’t know has it’s down sides, besides the constant derogatory comments being spewed from the mouths of players, I feel a need to hide the fact that I’m a girl playing their game. I have to admit, there are times that I keep quiet so people on the other team won’t want to target me as the person they go after(though I don’t think it happens all that often, I wouldn’t put it past anyone). I also get the occasional “oh my god there’s a girl in the room!” or creep trying to hit on me but I find ways to deflect what they are saying or to ignore them all together. There are positives though, I think when women play a game online or off, they are proving to men that we too have the ability to be successful in that arena. The more females there are interested in playing games, the more support we can lend one another in breaking down the stereotypes in the gaming world.