I'm a very late twenties girl gamer. I have a fairly nice PC and rarely buy anything that's not available through Steam. I'm also a "patient gamer" who typically bides her time playing through her game backlog while waiting for games to go on sale.
I'm horrible at platformers, but that's not stopping me from wanting to play Thomas Was Alone. I'm passable to good at just about everything else, though I particularly enjoy (and will geek the hell out about) The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
Right now I'm playing Saints Row 2 and Darksiders.
I don't pretend that my friends actually represent a full-spectrum slice of people, females, or even white female college-educated gamers living in Texas. But all of my female friends have played a video game. A small minority play mostly things like Angry Birds or Farmville, with the occasional bout of Okami to spice things up. Others play at least as often as I do.
Why does it have to be true? Why must female players play predominately male characters? Why can't we have a fairly even split?
Last year, a friend of mine gifted three of us with copies of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. Both were already very popular with one of my friends, we'll call her "K." K is an occasional player. She goes for things like League of Legends, WoW, and other multiplayer games. She's also fairly recent to the world of video gaming.
When we began playing L4D, she played Zoe. Since she often instigated the games, she'd get first choice of character. Nevermind that we had all of one male in our regular rotation of players and that one of the other female players might want an occasional turn with Zoe. I was a bit miffed, myself, since I didn't really like any of the others. After a while we all just chose the same characters. K got Zoe, I got Francis, the token guy played Bill, and whichever of the other two women we were running with any given night picked up Louis.
And then we moved on to Left 4 Dead 2. Stop the presses, this game has a black chick. Rochelle. And once again, K took the only female character. I grumbled but didn't press. I wanted to play a chick, too, but I didn't want to start a fight. Later on I discovered that our friend T had much the same reaction.
I have never seen K run anything other than a female character. She says she'll play males "if the game is good enough...or when I finish with the storyline with a girl and the guy is a different class." I've never seen her do it.
T and I have a longer history with video games. We've already become assimilated into a culture where having the option to play a black chick is something to be remarked upon. We're accustomed to playing predominately male characters. It's not that we want to play male characters, but that we've been doing it for so long we only notice when the PC is female.
K isn't accustomed to this. She identifies as female, and she wants to play female characters.
So is it that female gamers don't care one way or the other, or is it that we're so rarely given a choice in the matter that we've learned not to care?
And since so many of us have already become accustomed to playing males, should we continue to sit quietly while new female gamers are alienated until they grow accustomed to this phenomenon? Are female protagonists truly unpopular, or is the lack of female protagonists due to old, tired ideas about gender norms that leaves female gamers with the option to play a male or play not at all?
When it has chowed itself down all the way to its head (which is, itself, doing the chowing-down) it will very closely resemble my lifespan. -Unknown
My first video game ever was probably Super Mario Bros. for the SNES. Some friends of the family had it, and although I never played it, I derived many hours of enjoyment from watching.
My mother eventually wore down and bought my siblings and I a Sega Genesis and a subscription to Sega Channel. I do believe the only reason we got that Genesis was because of Sega Channel. It was perfect for three kids with wildly different tastes and a mother who predicted that without it, we'd be demanding a new game every week. I still remember my sister had figured out that if she managed to cartwheel you into a corner while playing Jetta in Eternal Champions, there was no way you'd get out of it. I preferred Larcen, myself.
After the Genesis, my brother saved up his money to buy an N64. That was my introduction to The Legend of Zelda, first though Majora's Mask and then through Ocarina of Time. I never played myself, but would faithfully aid my brother as he played. I did, however, play hours of Harvest Moon 64. The irony of this was that I lived on ten acres, at least two of which were dedicated to a sizable garden and a small collection of livestock, all of which were my primary responsibility. My mother would ask what I was doing in Harvest Moon, and I would cheerfully respond that I was farming. "You can do that outside, in the real garden." "Dad's got it hooked up to the sprinkler system so I don't have to water it and the animals have all been fed."
It was my brother who introduced me to Pokemon. We started with Red and Blue, and continued from there. It was also the first time I noticed a distinct lack of female player characters. There were chicks in the game, why couldn't I play one of them? I had to wait until Sapphire (I skipped Crystal) to finally be female in a Pokemon game. I was ecstatic.
Sometime in high school we finally got a computer and an internet connection. I was into Dragonball Z at the time and my brother introduced me to a DBZ MUD. That was my first introduction to the world of being female in gaming. I learned quickly that the only good response I could give to A/S/L was either to lie or ignore.
My introduction to PC gaming proper was Diablo II and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The former I found out, like everything else, via my brother. The latter I discovered one day while cruising Wal-Mart. I was looking at the inside cover when my brother came up and said "That cat person, right there? You can *be* a cat person." SOLD. I've been playing Khajiit ever since. It was Battle.net that taught me my second lesson in multiplayer gaming: people are dicks. At least they weren't harassing me because I was female.
My lack of exposure to video games was due to a lack of information. While many of my friends (mostly female) enjoyed Pokemon, none of them played any video game besides it. My brother's friends played all kinds of games. My other problem had been that I always lived in small towns. GameStop was unknown to me, the internet close to absent. If it wasn't available in Wal-Mart, I didn't know a damn thing about it.
It was when I got to college and had some money, some time, some internet, and some local game stores that I finally got into actual gaming. I bought a PS1 and eventually a PS2. A friend burned me a copy of Oblivion to tide me over until I got my own copy for Christmas and I traded him a piece of sweet potato pie for a DVD drive.
But the most important part was that I finally had a group of friends who also loved video games. Many of them were female. My earlier experiences with being "a girl on the internet" were replaced with people who could care less if you were a girl.