The Challenges Gamer Girls Face – What Stigmas & Biases Exist?

UPDATE:  We’ve had tremendous response from this post (yet the comments are lacking.. Hmmm…) and I realize that some are still very uncomfortable with T&A, even though it is relevant.  I’d hate for our fellow gamers to miss out on an important discussion over something so trivial.  So I have changed it.

Sorry fellas..  But the show must go on!

Here is a parody video that should lighten the mood for those that find this subject matter a bit touchy.  I’m sure many of you have seen this already (Seth Green, Michelle Boyd, etc.):

The previously featured image of GamerGirl90 (read on) is what some guys imagine (or hope) your average gamer girl would look like.  This is not very realistic, for a few reasons.  The reality is that we gamers come in different shapes and sizes, folks.  Besides, jaded gamers tend to expect the worst in the faceless entities they play with over the interwebz.  Apparently, all us gamers are fat, lazy slobs with acne..  Or at least that’s the stereotype.

For some background info, check out HorsePLAY! EP18 – the HD video is provided up there.^^^

Over at Be Like Water, they have a Woman Crush Wednesday theme.  We shared the Lady Sif / Jaimie Alexander Woman Crush Wednesday post here because, let’s face it: that’s the sort of stuff that draws people in.  Sure, there are list posts, cute-overload animal photos, silly memes, cheats, and other SEO, traffic-boosting subject matter but those are not particularly evergreen.   The female form is art: timeless, beautiful, and intriguing to most of the world..  I know even some gay guys that find boobies (I’m more of a booty guy myself) appealing..  It must be a guy thing!

GamerGirl90 - A Man's Idea Of A Gamer Girl

GamerGirl90 is just an everyday girl.. And she just happens to play games.. And be easy on the eyes. Just sayin.

Now let’s set the stage further: this is the story of the disappearance of GamerGirl90 and the drama that ensues when geeks as a whole can’t play nice together.  GamerGirl90 used to be a DeviantArt contributor (here is some of GamerGirl90’s DeviantArt work).  Sadly, she was scared away due to trolls and clients who refused to pay her for commissioned work (after she delivered the goods, mind you).  She was a very engaging individual.  Not only is she easy on the eyes but she is quite talented as an artist.  DeviantArt, hell, the geek community has suffered a great loss.

This sort of thing happens all the time..  And it’s a bummer.

Shriek Unveiled By GamerGirl90

Cynical geeks may think that people like GamerGirl90 are attention-starved, inauthentic posers.  The most prevelant stigma dictates that attractive women can’t possibly be “true gamers” or real geeks.  But look at that artwork – the coloring is beautiful..  And that is a rough work.  What people fail to see is that geek culture is so pervasive that we’re no longer the minority.  Heck, jocks and pop culture junkies are more of a minority now.

So let’s look at heard numbers to prove a point.  Wikipedia confirms what a lot of studies have suggested.  Almost half of the gaming populice are women!

In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).” Entertainment Software Association’s 2013 study found that 45% of game players are female, 2% decrease from last year’s figures.

Thank goodness for that because, let’s face it: the screechers are the worst of them all.   Seriously, though, this just goes to show that we should not longer be shocked that we encounter women in our favorite games.  Sadly, biases continue and the assumption is that women only play social or casual games.  The statistics speak for themselves: gamer girls run the full gamut in terms of gaming preferences, appearance, personalities, and more.  There are more differences within sub-groups than gender yet some folks will desperately hold onto their ignorant assumptions…  Why?

GamerGirl90 Flirty (Yet Classy)

Is this sort of thing classy, tacky, or just plain pathetic?  Is this just a mere marketing stunt?

It’s easy to let our biases guide us towards hasty judgments and bitterness.  The general assumption is that women that make themselves known online are attention whores but that is not always the case.  Let’s be honest: if you got it, flaunt it..  More importantly, we all like attention and doting to a degree (hello, social media).  We humans are social creatures, after all.

For the sake of brevity, I will insert a page break here.  Click onwards to read more, where we’ll tackle the core issues.  For those who only came for the eye candy, at least leave a comment and share before leaving..  Thanks! *wink*

…Glad you stuck around!

Let’s talk about some of the core issues here with the gamer girl situation.  This impacts us all in some way or another.  First, I will share observations from a personal experience and then we’ll delve into some major points.

 

When A Gaming Clan Becomes A Boy’s Club

The gaming clan I founded back in the days of DOOM, Corridor 7, Archon, [original] Warcraft, and Terminator Rampage, NoF (Nipples Of Fate), is still going strong today.  These days we are more of a social group than anything else but we’re still growing.  Heck, the NoF (pronounced “nawph” web site has been online and kickin’ since 1999..  Yup,  I feel old now.

Sadly, it’s not all good times.  I’ve always tried to cultivate every NoF division and game front as a diverse, welcoming community..  But we’re still more of a boy’s club than anything else.  My experience is that, every time I recruit women, some dudes act out of control and then we have to start recruiting all over again.  Typically, one of two things happen:

  • Cliques form.  The clan splinters off as groupies follow the girls into private/full servers or new games all together.
  • The over-compensating dudes engage in chauvinistic behavior.

I know NoF is not alone in this.  I’ve seen tons of scenarios where one or two recruits cause total disarray.  Personality clashes are inevitable but they seem to be magnified when women are thrown into the mix.  Why do some of our fellow geeks insist that things like online video games are meant to be boys clubs or frat parties?

 

Super Mario Bros Before Hoes Print - Society6

[ source: society6.com ]

The Fallacy Of “Bros Before Hoes”

One thing I have encountered is that some bros insist that men should prioritize their male friends over their female ones.  Even worse, quite a lot of men feel that women can never truly be “just friends”.  I’m all for some non-homoerotic bromancing and mancrushing, but these are silly notions.  Personally, I find I connect more with women because, generally, they think outside the box more and can go deep on conversations that go beyond sophomoric or superficial subject matter.  Of course, I’m not talking about the teeny bopper or fish-face-making varieties..  They are just weird.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy sports, Mr. Skin, grunting, farting, and all the usual manly things.  Thing is, I make a distinction between friends and buddies.  I have only a few friends but tons of buddies.  It just so happens most dudes end up being buddies because they are just not dynamic or interesting enough to me.  Also, they are full of shit.  Hey, someone had to say it.

The core issue here might be that we men tend to put on masks.  We act tough, hide emotions, and avoid anything that makes us feel vulnerable or exposed.  Women are often seen as insecure, emotionally-driven creatures but we men are no different..  We just deal with it in, ummm.. interesting ways.

As such, we dudes tend to become territorial with our friends and rituals.  When we feel our happy places are threatened, we act all weird..  Then bridges are burned, faces punched, and clan members lost..  Some of us bros end up sleeping on the sofa.

Remember:  You are always being watched..  Or at least *should* act like you are.  You never know! o_O

You're Being Watched - Bros Before Hoes - Funny Junk

[ source: FunnyJunk.com ]

She’s Got To Be Ugly.. Or A Poser!

It boggles my mind that we are still shocked when we encounter women in video games or any geeky activities. Gaming as a whole has become so pervasive in geek and even mainstream culture. It should be no surprise that all types of people play games.

One way close-minded or insecure guys deal with the baffling notion of a gamer girl is that they make gross generalizations like this:

  • It must be a boy on the brink of puberty.
  • I bet she is fat and/or ugly.
  • She’s too pretty – she must be a poser!

The last one is something that impacts all gamers.  There are elitists and fanboys that feel “true gamers” have to dress a certain way, own all consoles, have bleeding-edge technology, and love “good games” only.  It’s insane the crazy expectations and labels some people throw around liberally.  Trolls love giving people with unique thoughts and personalities a hard time.

Interestingly enough, these same trolls end up messaging the girls with friend and photo requests, often right after giving them a hard time in public chat.  It’s like they are ashamed of being heterosexual or having feelings. *GASP*  This only further supports the stereotype of gamers being immature..  Or desperate, horny fools.

I think it’s okay to act different around the opposite sex.  It’s even cool to acknowledge a rare encounter.  I mean, bumping into a random girl online might very well be rare to you..  Just don’t be an asshat about it.

 

Douchebag Friend With Double Standards - Bros Before Hoes

Da Double Standards, “Doh”.

The same testoserone-driven, beer-can-smashing bros who tell us that we should always put “bros before hoes” are the same ones that go completely dark once they find one that gives them the time of day. Talk about irony and hypocrisy! But there are plenty more double standards that plague gaming communities, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, or worldviews.

While I am certainly defending girls who are authentic and simply want to make friends, it is true that there are some that are just attention-starved drama queens. Sometimes, it’s hard for us guys to know when to draw the line. If we give too much attention, we’re flirting or being creepy but, if we just ignore them, then we’re the assholes.  Walking on egg shells sucks so I get why some dudes just try to steer clear of the female element in organized play or even social gaming environments.

Brags For Attention..  Accuses You Of Sexism

Ladies, consider this: us bros are discriminated against too.  If we suck or feed our opponents, we get crap.  If you suck, people still want you on their team just because you’re a girl.  Everyone gets crap to a degree.  You can’t escape elitism and favoritism.

You know, it’s not just about sexism.   People love to play the racism card.  Some say black people don’t play non-sports games.  We’re all outcasts and weirdos in some way yet we sometimes put ourselves into boxes.  Let’s not play the sexism or racism card so fast. Give people a chance to prove themselves.

When we hold onto assumptions and biases, we become the very things we despise. I wholeheartedly believe in self-fulfilling prophecies. If you assume everyone is out to get you, you become unbearable and people end up antagonizing you. We geeks are often so passionate that we perpetuate the very drama we supposedly despise.  That’s kinda how it works.

Double standards exist everywhere but we geeks need to be more united. We already face tons of stereotypes as it is so why fight amongst ourselves? We are all flawed. Embrace our differences.

#GeeksUnite

 

But What About The Twitch Posers?

On HorsePLAY! LIVE EP18, we talked about about a real sore topic for many streamers: the growing number of female Twitch personalities.  We discussed what many are too scared to say:

Often, the main or only reason some channels have tons of activity is because girls are playing games.

That was not meant to be mean-spirited or ignorant in any way.  We men are mystified by gamer and geek girls.  We always will be.  My experience has been the following:

  • The top channels for any game either do giveaways, are part of a massive network, and/or have gamer girls.
  • There are rarely other women in the gamer girl channels.
  • A good portion of the women are not particularly engaging, interesting, authentic, or friendly.
  • People are usually watching in hopes of making a personal connection or just to enjoy the eye candy.
  • Skill is optional, not that it matters much to begin with.
  • The video windows tend to be bigger.
  • It so happens that cleavage happens to be standard fare.

Don’t believe me?  Browse Twitch a bit during peak times.  We’re not the only ones noticing this.

Find A Girl - Do Nothing- Gain 3K Followers On Twitch

The general consensus is that all you need to do is find a girl and watch your followers grow.  This girl does not even look amused, let alone inviting.  Sure, this may be a staged meme but it happens more often than you think.  Consider KaceyTron…

KaceyTron - TwitchTV - Cleavage And Humor - WIN!

KaceyTron is actually pretty cool.  She plays League of Legends, WoW, Hearthstone, and tons of other games.  No matter what she plays, she tends to have hundreds or thousands of people in her chat.  She’s a bit abrasive at times but she can be humorous too.  I think she tries too hard to be funny at times but she seems cool enough.  She’s skilled at gaming so there’s that.  Still, we can’t help to wonder if she would be as popular if it weren’t for the cleavage (notice the bigger video window) and her emotional outbreaks.

Your experience may be different but other people who are super active on Twitch.  I’m not hating…  They are just interesting observations.  Outside of mainstream personalities like Angry Joe, TrumpSC, and the like, you can bank that the Twitch (and YouTube) channels getting the most love have girls on-screen.

It certainly is tougher for us male streamers and YouTubers to get attention when women do have a natural advantage.  Do you need boobs to make money with content marketing?  No, but it helps.  That said, it’s no cause for hate.  It just means we have to step up our game, guys – be extra likeable and fun (maybe give away free stuff)!

We should redirect our frustrations at Twitch.  The platform needs serious retooling.  There are no comments, social sharing tools, and the ecosystem itself is rather flawed.  Think about it: the most active people on Twitch likely stream themselves.  That means that everyone’s attention is spread VERY thin.  I am sure Twitch will step up their game soon because YouTube is seriously scaring away newcomers and lowbies.

 

Girls Are Good At Games, Too!

There Is No Default

Some girls are great at games, some suck at them..  Just like some guys.  There will always be generalizations, ignorance, and discrimination.  This is not something that only women face.

I know plenty of girls that are awesome at video games.  Some are way better than me.  They also take games more seriously than me, though that does not mean much.  I tend to be more casual these days as I want to enjoy games and not deal with toxicity.

The point is that there is no default.  We’re all different, regardless of what equipment we have (anatomically and not).  Of course, there are some rules of engagement we should be aware of.  One book I would recommend for the less-sensitive men out there is You Just Don’t Understand by Deborah Tannen.  Yes, that is an affiliate link but I think this is one of the few books that truly addresses the root cause of issues between humans in general: poor communication.

"You Just Don't Understand" By Deborah Tannen

(this is an affiliate link)

While this book is more geared towards marketers, it does a great job of pointing out the stark differences in how men and women communicate.  I think, overall, humans are using superlatives and powerful words too lightly, watering down their meaning in the process.  We dudes certainly tend to express ourselves in ways that pack a punch but most folks I know have issues communicating.  Let’s talk about this: everything is NOT awesome..  And you can’t possibly LOVE every song you hear on the radio.  Seriously!

…AHEM…

Read the book.  It’ll improve your human relationships in big ways.  Effective communication and a basic understanding of human needs/psychology help prevent misunderstandings, dead gaming clans, and smashed gaming peripherals.

Profile photo of Yogizilla

Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi!I am the founder of GANG.My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online.My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design.I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!
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Profile photo of Yogizilla About Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi! I am the founder of GANG. My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online. My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design. I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!

Comments

  1. Stan Faryna says:

    Silly rabbit! Tricks are for kids.

  2. Stan Faryna says:

    Seriously…

    Mommas and Poppas have been failing, increasingly, to grow men and women of moral character. And I am not the exception – regardless of the circumstances.

    It’s not all their fault (mommas and poppas), the cult of me, self-satisfaction, and “now” has replaced human culture, wisdom and conscience.

    Regardless of context or community, however, poor behavior is not to be accepted. Ever. The dignity of the person, justice and civility must be upheld at any cost. Basic rules must be posted. Violations require disciplinary action.

    If a person can’t contribute (one way or the other) to the thriving value of the community, it’s not a question of can’t – it’s a won’t. And won’t doesn’t fuel the awesome.

    • Indeed!

      Now we’re bordering the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture”. I think it’s a bit of both. It’s sorta like indulging in alcoholic beverages.. Some people are happy drunks, other become major asshats or violent. There is an inner essence we all have but I think proper upbringing and support systems can help us bring out our best.

      I see what you’re saying about setting boundaries but I think there is an excessiveness there. For example, what does self-promotion really do? Who is it really hurting? So many of these Twitch channels you go to have Nazi bots that put you in time-out for two minutes for minor infractions. That’s not the sort of warmth that Twitch is intended for. I get that in the massive channels because, well, those are not about engagement or social interaction. =oP

      I do agree that, if people do not contribute, they should not have power or privileges.. Privilege is the operative word; these are not God-given rights. FUEL THE AWESOME!!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] we discussed the challenges gamer and geek girls face, but the truth is that we all face challenges.  There may be some gender disparity but, if […]

  2. […] These are the questions which our clumsy and stumbling journey has brought us as we further reflect on the female gamer and geek. Warning: this is not a […]

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