GAMING SHOULDN’T BE A BATTLEFIELD FOR WOMEN
31.6 million people play video games in the UK and 48% of them are females. BIMM Brighton Second Year Journalism student, Lottie Taylor, started playing as a child, on a Sega Dreamcast, with Sonic Adventure on repeat. She explains the appeal and discusses some of the issues faced by girls who love games.
Being a girl in gaming, now that’s interesting. I’ve been one for most of my life – my first console was a Sega Dreamcast and my first game was Sonic Adventure, way back in 1998.
Since then I have jumped to Xbox One and have gone on to more challenging games (even though I still have nightmares about the blooming ‘Big the Cat’ levels). I’ve just completed the new Resident Evil and I loved how the game knew when to scare you by having jump scares every so often, so your mind creates the fear more than the game. You have to want to be properly scared to play it on the ‘Ethan Must Die’ difficulty, by the way.
The fact that girls play games still seems to be a confusing thing for some people even though 48% of gamers are female and that number is rising. Common responses from guys range from, ‘That’s really cool, what platform do you play on?’, to, ‘If you like Bioshock so much, who was Atlas really?’ (spoiler alert: it’s Fontane).
This does bug me a bit. If I say I like games, why should I be questioned? I would like to point out though that this is not all guy gamers. I have a group of guys who I have fought through countless dungeons and battlefields with and they’re the best group you could ask for. It’s like everything in life: it’s always fun till someone poops on the party.
Girl gamers are now less like unicorns. When girls first got put in the mix, there was always the, ‘Oh they must play games like ‘Cooking Mama’ line. I like that game, sure, but I also like Battlefield.
Notice that I keep saying girl gamer, not gamer girl, or gamer girlz, two very different things, I assure you. Gamer girlz are the ones you find on the servers and on social media eating their controller or flossing with the wires, calling for help constantly when if they just used their gun they would be fine. This annoys me due to the fact it makes it seem like girls play games to get attention from guys. Heck, I have even had a girl ask me why I wasn’t playing as Rochelle on ‘Left for Dead 2’ (I like to play as Ellis). So I would like to make an official statement now and say girls are not like that when they play games and most of us don’t do it for attention.
Something which does get brought up a lot is the way woman are represented in video games. You always hear people talk about how there is a need for more strong females. But if you look hard enough there already are, and they are most certainly not waiting to be rescued. One of my favourite game franchises is Portal and right off the bat, you have two main female characters (one being a giant evil robot) who have managed to spawn a huge fan base (and one overused meme). One of my other favourites is Bayonetta, but with her you have the face value of, ‘Oh she is just eye candy’, but she is actually one of the best role models out there. She knows what she has and she makes it work, which is a good way for anyone, let alone a woman, to work with what you have and show them what you are really made of.
I do get riled by accusations in the States that games are to blame for inciting violent atrocities, choosing to ignore their gun laws and going for an easy target. I remind people that just because someone plays Surgeon Simulator, it doesn’t mean they will go and operate on someone, or that someone will claim to be a world-class chef after playing Cooking Mama. It’s the same with GTA and Call Of Duty.
I’d like to see attitudes change towards gaming. I’d like the world to not just see them as a thing for children. If you’re six or 60, you can always start – there’s no time or age limit. Advice for girls who want to get into gaming: find yourself a good group of people to play with, be it guys or girls, because it is so much more fun to play with a group than by yourself. There may be creeps and assholes out there, but there are also people on the servers with whom you will make lifelong friendships. Happy gaming!