We've all heard the legends, the hushed whispers emanating from herds of awestruck, greased con-goers, and the awe-inspiring tales of heroism at the hands of a mythic creature: the girl gamer. And while my feigned shock and awe simply serves as a sarcastic device, sadly, game developers and gamers themselves seem to hold a similar opinion; a point Professor Celia Pearce makes well (in spite of some questionably factual statements) in a recent(ish) article.
Unfortunately, Prof. Pearce seems to fall in to the same trap many do when expounding on the infamous "girl gamer;" namely, assuming that all women who play games want games that are "female friendly." She attributes the success of the Wii and DS in part to its casual appeal and thus ease of accessibility to women, which in spite of her good intentions sounds uninformed at best, and insulting at worst.
In her lambasting Microsoft and Sony for focusing on "higher-end graphics" rather than the introduction of a new gimmick and focusing on "casual" games like Nintendo, Prof. Pearce makes an egregious mistake in assuming that "girl gamers" want "girly" games.
Of the female gamers I know, not one of them owns a title I've seen that was specifically marketed to women. Why? Because girls that game like killing giant monsters, racing obscenely fast cars, saving the universe, and stabbing hookers post-coitus just as much as I or any other gamer does.
Granted, my conjecture could be just as mistaken as Prof. Pearce's. However, I'm operating under the assumption that girls that game don't want to be treated like delicate flowers, spoken down to, or marginalized simply because of their sex. They want to be treated like gamers.
Would a broader spectrum of protagonists and less oversexed and unrealistic female characters be welcome? Sure. But that doesn't mean that everyone with two X chromosomes wants to play Imagine Babyz or Barbie Horse Adventures; or even if they do, that they can't enjoy a couple hours of kicking your ass in TF2.
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