The thing is - I don't like being referred to as a "girl gamer." In my eyes, I'm just a girl who happens to enjoy gaming. I don't think there is anything really special about me. I grew up surrounded by male cousins, so instead of playing with Barbies I played with Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and G.I. Joes. I enjoyed stomping through thigh-high muddy ponds in search of minnows and frogs. I played softball and used to slide into every base (for no good reason) simply because I wanted my pants to be covered in dirt by the time the game was over. I didn't want to play with my Cabbage Patch Kids - I wanted to pretend I was an X-Men and use my awesome powers to destroy my "evil" opponents. I was a classic tomboy, and today a lot of those idiosyncrasies still make up who I am.
I started off with an Atari. I remember playing game after game of Asteroids, Pac-man, and yes, even Pong (geez I feel old) with my father and cousins. Then came the fascinating Commordore 64 with it's ridiculously long loading computer games (including my favourites - Maniac Mansion, Winter Games, and New Kid on the Block.)
|How awesome was the Atari at the time? Answer: Totally awesome.|
My own Nintendo Entertainment System came next, and boy, was I excited. I was glued to that system for hours on end playing all sorts of awesome games. And when my cousin got a Game Genie for Christmas? Well, I just had an excuse to re-play all my favourite games with the advantage of having infinite lives, mega power jumps, starting on level eight, etc. It completely changed the way I played my games! My cousins and I would stay up all night mixing the codes to see what would happen. We would take the first letters of one code and the last letters of another code, put a code in opposite order, or whatever else we thought might work. Sometimes magic would happen! We actually once turned all the bad dudes on Super Mario Bros. into King Koopas!
|This made the game infinitely harder, but it was hilarious to play :)|
After the NES I became obsessed with newer computer games - I adored everything Sims (The Sims, Sim City, Sim Ant, Sim Tower, etc.) I also loved playing the very non-PG rated game, Leisure Suit Larry. The objective of this game was to sleep with as many attractive women as possible. How my dad let me play this game for hours on end, I will never know. But my favourite game that I played religiously on my computer was Final Fantasy VI. Or is it III? Nevertheless, that game ruled my life for quite some time. It also helped that I could rename my characters. Locke became Buttface, and I believe Terra was Sillyho.
|Oh, how inappropriate ;)|
Sadly, I didn't own a Sega Genesis or a Super Nintendo console, so I became accustomed to skipping over to the neighbours house to "borrow" theirs. Then came the Game Boy (it became my life's goal to catch and evolve ALL the Pokemon!) Screw studying for grade 10 History - I needed to catch a Geodude!
Eventually, my boyfriend at the time felt bad for me and purchased me a Nintendo 64 (since I spent most of my time at his house playing Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.) I certainly had developed a taste for gaming at this point in my life, and nothing could tear me away! In retrospect, I feel a tad guilty for ignoring my then boyfriend while I devoted my time playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Sorry, Cameron. I hope you can forgive me.
|One of my favourite games! Gotta love Zelda (even though those water temples were a bitch to get through)|
A Nintendo Game Cube soon followed, as well as a DS Lite (The game Animal Crossing utterly consumed my life for a good year. Ughh... I even played during my classes in college because I just HAD to collect all the fossils and insects and fish. Lame.)
Fast forward to today, where I have my much beloved X-Box 360. Oh yeah, I forgot - I do have a Wii... but to be honest, it's been sitting in the cornor gathering dust for that last couple of months. If I wanted to get up and play sports, I'd go outside. :)
So, yes, I love video games. Being an only child, video games became something I could consume my time with. I didn't always have a playmate near, but I did always have my trusty video game console to turn to.
I am a gamer. I'm also a girl. I'm not special, or unique. And frankly, it irritates me to no end when girls scream from the rooftops that, "girls game too." This is not news. Sure, it's a small percentage of girls who game when compared to the general populace, but do we really need to announce to the world that we're here? Do we really need in-your-face gamer tags proclaiming gender? GirlyGurl69 with a totally hot pink skin in Halo is NOT awesome. The last time I checked, most girls want respect and equality when it comes to games, and if this is still the case, STOP TELLING EVERYONE YOU'RE A GIRL GAMER!
Be a gamer. Be a gamer who happens to be a girl - just like my friends who are gamers who happen to be boys. You don't see any of them announcing what gender they are, telling others in Modern Warfare 2 deathmatches that, "a guy just fragged your ass", or proving that their gender means anything at all while playing games.
|Look! Girls gaming at a PAX 2010 tourney!|
So why is it so important for so many women to announce in games that they are girls? I've played rounds of matchmaking in Halo where the girls actually go on the mics and said, "Take it easy on me guys, I'm just a girl!" *rolls eyes* Really?!
Crying for attention for everyone to know you are a girl gamer screams desperation to be noticed more than anything else, and surely that's not the goal, right? I mean, we want equality, not special treatment. When I play matchmaking games I purposely don't go on the mic because I don't want anyone on the teams to treat me any differently. If I beat everyone's butt (which, is usually the case ;) I don't want them proclaiming my gender had any influence in it. When I tea-bag (and yes, girls are allowed to tea-bag as well) a fallen opponent, they certainly don't need to know that a girl just pwn3d them. Imagine the humility! Shock and awe!
Also, claiming that gaming always assumes a male audience, and therefore, that's why we need to cry for attention, is not valid either. The fact is, men do make up a majority of the demographic, so yes, they are going to be catered to a bit more. You can't claim that there is nothing that appeals to women though, because there are several games out there with women in mind, and no, I'm not talking about My Pretty Pony, Wedding Dash, or Wii Sports Resort. In gaming, there is something for everyone - just like most other forms of entertainment.
The fact is, us girls don't need to call attention to ourselves anymore. We're here. Guys know it. We know it. It's time to drop the title of "girl gamer" (I mean, really... do you hear guys calling themselves guy gamers?) and just be gamers. Show your gaming awesomeness in a video game and not with your gender. Show how girls are gamers too; just don't yell it from a mountaintop.
I'm a girl, and I'm a gamer. There are more of us out there than you think. :)