We all know the kind of annoyances we encounter as women who play Fantasy Football – whether it’s from within our own leagues, with men expecting us not to know our stuff, or from people outside of the game when we tell them we’re into it. Some of the reactions are not dissimilar to those girls who are into other things people assume are ‘guy things’ like video games experience. Women gamers are not a huge rarity by any means, and among kids and teens, girls play almost as much as boys. However, for adult women who love their gaming, whether it is console or PC, online multiplayer or single player, there are some common frustrations! Here, we take a look at a few of them:
We’re grown ups, so we can handle a little bit of eye candy for the male audience, however sometimes it goes to something of an extreme, and it can feel like developers did not consider it even a remote possibility that women might end up playing their games. This is not just obvious when you look at games like fighting game Dead or Alive, which sees women dressed in tiny outfits (and there are countless outfits to choose from, including those to suit just about every fetish from bondage gear to PVC nurse’s uniform) have what can only be described as catfights, through to games like Smite which allow players to play as male or female deities – but the female deities look more like strippers.
It is also apparent in the less sexualized video games where you are always playing a male hero on a macho quest to save someone or assassinate someone or destroy all the zombies. This makes sense in games set in male environments, like World War Two, but not so much in fantasy settings. Also, why is all women’s armor in fantasy games just a metal bikini? This protects no vital organs at all… Except the ones the guys are interested in!
There are exceptions, such as really gender neutral games with no human or quasi human characters, like Minecraft. This is possibly one of the reasons it is popular with men, women, and people of all ages, and you’ll find a really diverse set of people on any Minecraft server list. Other games like the Fallout series that let you choose to play as a man or a woman – and gay or straight at that – also buck the trend, but on the whole women are often an afterthought in the design of major characters and plotlines in games.
So, some games developers have noticed there is a whole community of girl gamers out there, and they need games specially targeted at them, apparently. Rather than just make the games aimed at men or boys a fraction more balanced instead, some developers actually try and make games for girls. This is more a thing in the games aimed at kids and teens, but there is something disturbing about girl games based around cooking, fashion design, ponies and other ‘girl things’. In the adult game market, games like The Sims can be seen as this – sure, some men play it too, but with a premise of it basically being a soap opera you control, you can really see how this would be one of the more successful games that has tried to position itself as being good for people who like ‘woman stuff’.
Online gaming on consoles is already something that brings out the worst in people, and men too report a lot of teenagers telling them on a nightly basis that they’ve had relations with their mothers. However, for girls, as well as the usual infantile smack talk, there is also an extra level of general abuse to contend with, based on the assumption that as a girl, you’ll be a liability on any team. This doesn’t change no matter how well you perform, so as a girl gamer you either have to develop a very thick skin, or somehow not speak while you play so nobody can tell you’re a woman!
These are just some of the things that make being a gamer way tougher for women, but thankfully it doesn’t put us all off – the industry is slowly changing and eventually, maybe the players will too