I am a girl gamer, so this article is not a rip against the feminine-kind. But instead is meant to be an insightful and playful text into the 'trouble' with girl gamers. Not only am I a girl gamer, I'm also a South African gamer. Do you know just how few of me there are? I'm like one out of 4, or something else even more pitiful. I often wondered why? Why are we ladies just not into games? Is it masculine by nature, or is it too mathematical for the often creative female mind?
My trouble with girl gamers started in the fifth grade; this is when I first identified myself as a gamer. I have two older brothers who loved Super Mario Brothers. (So I've given away my age.) We would play everyday. We were the only kids in my neighbourhood that owned a Super Nintendo (which I later sold on Gumtree†for a sum), so all of the kids came to our house. Well at least all of the boys, but my female friends would rather do other things. Sometimes they would watch, maybe for 30 minutes and then once bored, busy themselves with more girlish activities.†
I would ask them, "why don't you want to play?" They were so dismissive, "it's for boys," they would say. I of course didn't agree, but as I've gotten older, I realize that they may have been right. Maybe video games are for boys.
Take a look at women in games - we are either the victim or the sex figure. We can't be effective without needing rescue, or strong without curves. That is not reflective of the real female-kind, but then again should games be reflective of reality. †Many would say that males aren't represented correctly either, and I would agree that games are an act of imagination, it is a place to escape. But it just seems that our perceptions (or stereotypes) of gender are transferred into our game lands. Gender disparity morphs its way into our game roles. Not many female first-person shooters! Granted many ladies seem to prefer action-adventure over first-person shooter, but you catch my drift.
Lack of female and cross-cultural game developers is severely undermining gaming. 'You pull where you're from.' Meaning you draw from your own personal experiences. It would be rather difficult of a developer from Main Street, USA to visualize an African-female character acting out of stereotype in a game. And therefore true equalization in games can never been achieved. It's not an accusation of discrimination, it's a lack of opportunity. If you were to look at job listings in South Africa on Gumtree (our biggest jobs ads site), you will notice there is not one listing for a game developer.†
Games themselves are marketed to guys, even though females technically comprise 47% of gamers. In the early days of game advertising, creatives were multi-gendered since many games were neutral. Now, we are left out of the audience and when we are catered to, we are shown "pink items" - the antithesis of the female gamer. My favourite console is Xbox, but I'll be damned if I start using a pink controller.†
So after much ranting, I see the future of girl gamers as this: there will be more female owned gaming start ups to bridge the gap between male and female gamers, there will be an increase in female protagonist and gender neutral games. And this will starve any troubles with girl gamers that currently exist.