What’s Up PlayStation Nation,
Do you recall the Gamergate scandal? Heck, did you even know about it or do you even care? If you don’t, it’s probably due to the fact that the perception of it was that Gamergate had a lot more to do with drama that occurred among a gaming subculture that may have seemed insignificant to the otherwise “hardcore gamers.” But in actuality, this was no drama at all. Within it all existed a greater cultural battle with real issues of great conflict. This conflict targeted a group of people who considered themselves to be gamers but just so happened to be women. These issues mostly consisted of inclusion, progression, sexism, and harassment of female gamers. Now before we continue, let me clarify that I am not a feminist. I will not be ranting on about the over-sexualization of women in gaming, etc. I am referencing this simply because as a result of Gamergate, the number of women in gaming has continued to grow in numbers and trust me, we all talk about the negative experiences we’ve had.
According to an article by the Washington Post, the average female gamer has played for 13 years. This is often surprising to most male gamers but is the absolute norm for most girl gamers. Personally, I’ve been playing video games since Pong was on Atari. Early on it became obvious to my family that for me, gaming was much more than a hobby. While other girls were having sleepovers and pizza parties for their sweet 16, I was in the arcade ripping people’s hearts out of their chests with Kano. I accepted that in that way I was just different, but with advances in technology, the internet has given us more availability to make contact with others across the world. It soon became clear that I wasn’t such a rare breed after all.
What am I getting at? My point is that the face of gaming is changing. Granted, males still dominate as the major consumer in the gaming industry; however, statistics show a pretty steady increase in female gamers since 2011 – Gamergate didn’t distract from that. Game developers are paying much more attention to this fact and have begun adding more playable female characters, more customization features and have begun to place more female protagonists at the forefront of their games. Coincidentally, more and more females are becoming game developers and are helping to contribute to this growth directly.
Major companies such as Sony and Microsoft have started cracking down in regards to online gaming by implementing reporting and blocking features in the event of harassment and inappropriateness. And while this is all well and good, at the end of the day, we female gamers often times talk smack with the best of them and we have pretty thick skin. A bit of playing the dozens goes and hand with some good competition so it’s expected. We aren’t the chicks that are scantily clad with a game controller hanging from our mouths to get attention (although we can still be sexy). We aren’t just sensitive creatures who need coddling because the healer didn’t save us in a Final Fantasy fate. When it comes down to it, we’re all just gamers who love games. We too care about our K/D ratios, trophy hunting for platinums, and being on top of the leader boards. Girl gamers are making a huge impact in the gaming industry, now more than ever…
So it’s time to do away with the notion that gaming is just one sided – gaming is for everyone!