Meowlentine from untold gaming writes:
I’m a gamer girl, in a gamer world- life’s fantastic when I unwrap the plastic around the latest shooter or RPG that has caught my fancy. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember, and even when I was playing with my Barbie dolls, it was to dress them up like Mortal Kombat characters using my mom’s hemming tape from her sewing supplies. I might not be a typical girl, but what is that, anyway? The Frag Dolls, a team of female gamers who played various shooters in competitive tournaments, disbanded last year after over a decade of pwnage. They were recruited by Ubisoft to promote their games at conferences and events, and to raise awareness amid the industry of the rising tide of girls buying and playing video games. They fought against the stereotypes of what a girl is “supposed” to like.
Maybe now we should also start focusing more on changing the idea of what a girl is “supposed” to look like. Most female characters in fighting games, for example, are wearing what would amount to wet paper in a stiff wind. (How does Ivy Valentine keep her huge tracts of land in check? A lot of tape is all I can assume.) Change and innovation can be difficult, but a new marketing strategy to bring in more female gamers shouldn’t be. A lot of us have been here since the beginning, or near enough, but a sort of “boy’s club” has always been a theme of the game industry. Now, with technology as accessible and plethoric as it is, I believe we will see more women joining the ranks as developers and customers alike. Does that mean we will also see more characters rivaling Agent Scully in their tenacity and grace? I surely hope so.
Technology reigns supreme in our lives these days so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are more ladies getting into gaming now than ever before. It’s also just a simple fact that video games have become much more prevalent in the last 20 years with consoles becoming a household item. It wasn’t until this last decade, however, that games have become less gender-biased in both content and marketing. It still swings bodily towards the Y chromosome, but we’re making some progress. Games like Mass Effect and Fallout have opened the doors for more personalized character creation so that we’re not forced to play as a male, which is kind of nice if you’re like me and enjoy a sense of camaraderie with the characters you play.
The Halo series of games has also come a decent distance since the days of the lone Master Chief and his near-naked AI companion, Cortana. I can be a female Spartan now and kick just as much ass as any freshly minted male player. (I’m not very good at Halo, but hey, at least I have slight curves to my armor now.) While you may not think it necessarily important whether or not you get to choose your gender while playing a game, or what you look like, just think what it would be like if you woke up tomorrow as a completely different person. It’s not as drastic as that, of course- and I’m sure we all want to do that sometimes- but I also want to feel like the people who made the games I play know that I am part of their audience. Maybe you play to escape the world we’re all so confined to, becoming someone else for a few hours. Or maybe you do it just “because”.
Whatever your reason, mine is that I like to play in an alternate reality as a character that is still a girl because I’m a girl and I want to pretend I’m the girl in the game. Simple, right? This doesn’t mean that I won’t play a video game wherein I don’t have the choice of gender, but it does make it a little less enticing. There should be an option, and there really is in a lot of games these days, but it’s still an overwhelmingly sexist market. I would like to see more realistic female protagonists in video games, not just realistic in the sense that not all women are underwear models, but realistic in that we are more than the sum of our private parts. Women play games, we also have jobs, raise kids, take classes, cook food, and poop (we do, I’m sorry to break it to you, gentlemen). We make up more than half of the total population of the world and we deserve to take breaks from it just like any dude.
The MMORPG survival game “Rust” by Facepunch Studios took a bold leap and now forces gamers to play as whatever gender you happen to start as, as well as being stuck with your given appearance. Kind of like life… huh. It’s a move that is proving controversial among their subscribers, but it has given them a fair amount of attention, as well. The industry as a whole needs to recognize that the people who dedicate their precious free time to staring at a screen looking for all the world like a coma patient in an armchair can be any gender, and are. There is more for us ladies in this age than there was in all of history before, and we are part of a marketable population, but not just as things of beauty. We are fierce warriors, we are mystical sorceresses, we are handing boys their asses in hand baskets on the Battlefield, and we do it all with the charm of a woman who knows we don’t need charm or a bikini to ragdoll a man from forty yards away with a plasma grenade.
What do you think? Is the video game industry accommodating more than the male market now, or do we lady gamers need to storm the gates? Share and like, if you dare.
(This is part one of an ongoing rant-stay tuned for more. Or don’t. You have options, you know.)