Today I read a BBC article that reported on the sexual harassment of female gamers in the video game world. Articles like this one aren’t new. I’ve read other articles and discussions concerning the lack of respect for female gamers.
The idea of a female gamer is still relatively new even though it has been said the amount of gamers being female is growing. The BBC article says that 42% of gamers are made up of females in the U.S. Despite the growing trend of the female gamer, the article also cites that video games still remains to be a “macho environment.” Male gamers aren’t exactly welcoming female gamers with open arms.
The amount of vitriol aimed at female gamers is appalling, as reported by the BBC. Many of the comments cited in the article are sexist, misogynistic, and downright cruel. You would think it would be every guy’s dream to have a girl who is into video games like they are, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for some male gamers.
Now, I’m not going into a feminist tirade here. I’m also not classifying all male gamers as macho pigs who don’t respect women either. I know plenty of awesome male gamers who enjoy playing a game with female gamers. To be quite honest, it shouldn’t matter what your gender is as long as you are having fun. What I’m commenting on is why there are some male gamers out there who seem to want to attack a gamer simply because of her gender. Why call her a slut? Why tell her to go back to the kitchen? Or hope that their boyfriend beats them? Why can’t the comments simply be directed on how she plays the game rather than she is a girl who happens to like to play the same games guys do? Instead, the comments focuses squarely on the gamer being female and has nothing to do with her gaming skills in Halo or Call of Duty.
Maybe the reason for these insensitive comments has to do with females invading what was once considered “male turf.” Guys would be gaming for hours in their room or basement while the girls went to the mall, or went to get their hair and nails done. The idea of video games solely being the male’s arena is no longer the case. More and more girls are revealing themselves to be proud gamers too. And no, we aren’t talking about girls who only like cutesy games without any blood and swearing either. Female gamers can enjoy Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, God of War, or any other non-cutesy, OMG I heart Kirby kind of games. The fact that us females can admit to liking games like these can either be incredibly attractive for some guys, or it can be seen as a weird phenomena. For the guys against girls liking video games, the view must be, “Video games aren’t for chicks. It’s made for men, by men.”
This brings another possibility of why some male gamers seem to feel “threatened” by female gamers––games were made largely for a male audience, and to some degree, they still are. When you encounter female characters whose only real purpose in the game is to look cute and have bazookas for breasts, clearly these women aren’t meant to appeal to females but to men. These unrealistic looking female characters are fan service for men as they shoot or blast their way through a game. Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft can be seen as a character who can appeal to female gamers because she’s a strong, independent, adventurer type of girl, but she still caters to the fan service image for men with her breasts nearly bursting out of her tight shirt and wearing ultra short shorts as her go-to outfit for her outdoor adventures.
Games try to appeal to the female audience by now having a game option where you can play as a male or female. Sometimes choosing either one doesn’t have a big effect on the story. Other times it does, like in the case of the Bioware games, where a character would react based on the player’s choice of playing as a male or female character. I wonder if by trying to appeal to a wider audience, male gamers think games would somehow be less “cool” if a developer factors in what a female gamer might want to see from a game. Do these male gamers think we only want more “talk about feelings” in games and less killing stuff? Or maybe they think we want to somehow turn games into one big romantic comedy, video game style? I think by having inclusion, some male gamers think what they want will ultimately get neglected or ignored in an attempt to appeal to the new sets of gamers in the gaming world.
There is also this idea that female gamers just suck at gaming. It’s presumed a majority of us can’t hold our own in an online match. Or the female gamer can hold her own in a match, and ends up proving to be better than the rest of the male gamers who play the same game. A wounded ego can be terribly hard to accept, especially if it’s a girl who just handed your butt on a silver platter. Hurt male pride can cause someone to revert to such callous treatment of a fellow gamer when they don’t deserve it. All it proves is that you are just a sore loser.
It would be nice to think we live in a world where everyone is accepting and tolerant of everyone, but it isn’t always the case. There will still be a measure of inequality and unfair treatment going on. Rather than play nice, people prefer to play dirty. Luckily, the bad apples tend to make up a small percentage of people who want to try and ruin someone’s experience just by being a jerk. Again, there are awesome male gamers out there who think it’s awesome girls like to game just like them. A shared experience like that makes for just one other thing someone can bond over. It’s always better when two people can be geeks together.
What are your opinions on the topic? Do you agree with the article published by the BBC?