I need to clarify something; I’m not a big gamer. I never played N64 with my dad at a young age, and I’ve never spent hours lost in World of Warcraft. But I do enjoy games, and especially, perhaps even more nerdy, I like watching people play games. When Skyrim came out I was at university, and my housemate would play for hours and I would watch and occasionally instruct. Games are awesome, and although I may not be a pro, I do like them a lot.
The problem is, I’ve never really been a console gamer. When I was a child I was addicted to SSX3 on PlayStation 2, but that was about the only game I could master. I preferred The Sims 2 or Age of Mythology on the good ol’ PC. As a consequence, I’ve never really found that my thumbs do the right thing when you hand me a controller – but give me a keyboard, and I’m off.
Recently, I have been playing Minecraft. A LOT of Minecraft. I personally enjoy it because it is the kind of game that entirely suits my personality – I am completely independent in-game; it’s low risk, so if I die in-game it doesn’t matter; and it is completely creative. My favorite thing to do in Minecraft is to explore caves – there’s nothing more satisfying to me than fully lighting up a whole cave system. And bonus if there’s a mineshaft!
As I also mentioned, I enjoy watching people play games. YouTube is full of channels dedicated to game plays and the people behind the channels can become characters in themselves. I think what I most enjoy about watching other people game is that, particularly with contemporary games, they can be so cinematic as to be like watching a film. And it is easy, depending on the game, to spend as much or as little of your attention on a game play as you want, which can be useful for when you are wanting to do other things at the same time.
So, what it means to me to be a girl gamer? Apart from the obvious sexism rallied at female characters, developers and commentators, what is most striking to me about being a girl gamer is that even in writing this I have felt that I had to start off on the defensive. “Girl Gamer” is such a loaded term that as soon as someone says it people have an image in their minds, and if you don’t fit that image, you’re suddenly not a “real gamer”. I think female gamers come under much more scrutiny and have to prove themselves that much harder than male gamers. And for me, that means being very aware that I don’t play as much as other people, even though I enjoy it just as much!
Girl Museum Inc.