I love games. And I love to share my passion with anyone that will listen. And I feel that the more people that are aware of the importance of video games, the better games will become. So in my mind, it is necessary, for me, to spread my passion and get as many people involved with games as I possibly can. So why is it then, that women are so often ostracised in the gaming community? It seems ridiculous to me that in this day and age one gender can be favoured over the other in any form of media. “Girl Gamers” have become a sacred being, and one that is sought after by any man who games, just to have someone to share their passion with. So I ask again, why are “Girl Gamers,” ostracised by ignorant people, albeit mainly men, when they are so desired by many a gamer?
I know a few girls who game, and they have asked me why, men are such pigs when they are on the Xbox or PS3, and I find it to be a really difficult question to answer. My friends have told me that they now no longer use their microphones for fear of being verbally abused over game chat, just for being a “Girl Gamer”. Whilst other females amongst my peer group have stopped using their consoles altogether, as they are fed up with the constant abuse, and disrespect shown to them on Xbox Live or Playstation Network. I try to tell my friends that the ignorant people on the other side of the microphone, were only acting the way they were for that very reason, they were behind a microphone so no-one could stop them. If the situation gets much worse, very few girls will want to game online, and that’s a terrible shame as I believe that gaming is the best form of media, in terms of narrative potential and emotional power.
I feel that another reason that women do not game as much as men is the lack of strong, female protagonists in games. Sure, Lara Croft made a triumphant return to our screens this year, however once you look past Tomb Raider no other games have truly boasted a strong female protagonist, and the games that have, have been ostracised themselves. Remember Me was an interesting game, with an intriguing story, that was unfortunately let down by lack lustre gameplay, however this isn’t my point. When Remember Me’s developers approached multiple publishers, they were told that, ‘ you can’t have a female protagonist.’ They were told that having a female protagonist would have poor sales potential, so they weren’t interested. The developers were quoted saying, “There’s a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it’s not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game, I don’t know, that’s extremely weird to me.” It is disgraceful in my opinion that publishers would turn down the prospect of an intriguing game all because it had a female protagonist. I think that if more games had female protagonists, then more women would be encouraged to play video games, and not feel so ostracised by not only gamers, but by game developers and publishers alike.
The term ,”Girl Gamer”, is in itself a demeaning phrase, as it suggests a difference between men who game and women who game. This difference is non existent in my eyes, as gaming is an art form that can be appreciated by everybody, no matter your gender. If you are a girl and you game, you are not a, “Girl Gamer”, you are a gamer. It is this sexist behaviour that holds the gaming back as an art form. Games have come a long way in terms of maturity, however the terms, “booth babes” and ” girl gamer” still show a very prevalent immaturity.
Normally, these ‘Booth Babes’ are dressed in cosplay related to the game that they are publicising. So, for example, if a ‘Booth Babe’ is being payed by Ubisoft to publicise Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, it is likely that they will be dressed up in cosplay that replicates the games main protagonist, in this case, one Edward Kenway.
The problem is, that these ‘Booth Babes’ are likely to be dressed as a scantily clad version the games protagonist in an attempt to lure customers to Ubisofts booth. This in itself shows that there is still a strong adolescent influence over the realm of the video game industry, and it is something that I think, to fully mature, the industry needs to move away from. People are at expos to play the video games that these ‘Booth Babes’ are payed to promote in the first place, so there is no need for companies to deploy this tactic in the first place. This blatant objectification of women in the video game industry has to stop, and cannot be appealing for any girls that are thinking about starting to game.
During their E3 press conference Microsoft gave Konami some time on stage to show off, Metal Gear Solid: V. During a prolonged trailer for their game Konami unveiled one of their games’ female characters, and whilst met with seas of scoffs, I was more disappointed than anything. I was disappointed in myself, and I was disappointed in the games industry as it was unfortunately what I had come to expect from a japanese developer. The character that I am referring to is a sniper named ‘Quiet’.
To conclude, I feel that the immaturity of some of the members of the gaming community are responsible for ostracising women in the community, and that needs to stop if the industry truly wants to mature. The ignorant males also must stop their incessant sexist verbal abuse over the microphone, if there is any hope of moving on as a medium. The objectification of women on video games also needs to stop as it really shines a light on the adolescent immaturity that unfortunately plagues our industry. Why women are ostracised in gaming I’m still not sure, however I can see some of the causes. It seems to me that the more people that game, the more interesting discussions people will be able to have with peers, and the more innovative ideas that might come to the forecourt of mainstream video games.