There’s a popular argument in media theory that we shouldn’t use the term investigative journalism because all journalism should inherently be investigatory. Instead, we should just say journalism and leave it to the audience to interpret what that means. The same, I would suggest, should be true about the term “gamer girls”. Why should gender have anything to do with it? We don’t refer to male gamers as “gamer dudes”. The GirlGamers sub-Reddit is very pointedly described as “a place for gamers who also happen to be women, probably”.
A study published in 2014 by the Internet Advertising Bureau revealed that at least 52% of the gaming audience is made up of women. And that shouldn’t come as a shock because women have always played games and the growth of the mobile gaming industry in recent years was driven by a female consumer base. While hardcore gaming is still rooted in its traditional consumer base, males between 16 and 24, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the audience for games is rapidly expanding.
And what about women who create games? Earlier this year, Lisy Kane, a Melbourne-based game producer, made it onto the Forbes 30 Under 30 gaming list. The list also included other well-known figures in gaming, including Ben Hantoot, the man behind Cards Against Humanity. Despite Lisy’s success, women are still underrepresented in the gaming industry on a national and international level. Her start-up, Girl Geek Academy, aims to change all that, encouraging women to learn and create using technology. She told ABC that “the games industry especially is doing a lot to get more women in technology. It’s continuing to be a difficult thing and a big struggle, because it comes down to social norms and social practices…”
Growing up, it never really occurred to me that someone might doubt my geek credentials simply because I was a girl. I never noticed that my gender was under-represented in the games I played and the television shows I watched, that the heroes were always men and when women did appear, they were hyper-sexualized and often weaker than their male counterparts. While many girls love the gaming world, it frequently fails to love us back.
At conventions, in MMORPGS and even in our own houses, we all experience sexism when we try to talk about, play and purchase video games. Employees in video game stores ask if we “understand” what we’re buying, male gamers interrogate us to find out if we’re “legit” and then promptly hit on us moments later, and in conversations, we frequently find ourselves being talked over or completely ignored. But video games are for everyone. Unless you fervently believe that women are somehow “lesser” and that they don’t understand, there’s no reason to assume that we don’t know what we’re talking about or that we can’t get as legitimately excited about gaming as a man.
What are your thoughts?