WHY DO GIRLS PLAY VIDEO GAMES? Girls don’t play games because the industry needs them to. A girl will play games because they like to. I don’t believe there’s any magical reason behind it. They play for the same reason anyone else plays: to be entertained.
ANOTHER ARGUMENT BEING MADE is that in order for there to be female gamers there have to be games specifically tailored to women. Games where the maiden is the hero and shows the female demographic that they can be more than the damsel. Games that don’t enforce the stereo type that women are nothing more than sexual objects, for a mans personal pleasure. Now while I agree that developers should start changing up the age old formula of women in distress, I don’t think that it’s necessarily what needs to happen. Yes, create better female protagonists, but not for the sake of getting women to feel included or to get them to play.
A GAME IS LIKE A BOOK, a movie, or any other form of entertainment. They allow you to do things you can’t in real life. They give you the chance to experience the life of another person, see the fields of war, or race through a city without fear of injury in a car wreck. Yes, there’s a message. Yes, there’s an agenda it’s trying to get across. And the majority of video games teach women that they’re weak, and only eye candy for males, and that a female’s role in a male dominated society is to be ogled? Yes. Games do. A lot of them do, actually. It’s rampant in all of entertainment, not just video games.
BUT JUST AS RAMBO or God of War condones brutality and killing countless people as heroic and bad ass, you need to be able to separate the two. Reality from imaginary. What you watch, and what you play, shouldn’t become your world view. What are they teaching you? What are they teaching our children?
I THINK THOSE ARE the wrong questions. I think the better question is what are YOU teaching your children? Games, movies, and television may enforce the jaded role of women as sex objects, but that’s why parents should talk to their kids. Play games with your children or have a meaningful conversion with them, people. Seriously. That and have some common sense. And most importantly, kids will learn from your actions. Your decisions. Your choices will influence them more than any movie or video game could.
THE MESSAGES AND STEREOTYPES shouldn’t be left to a game/movie/anything/anyone to teach gender roles to someone. There’s so much more to it than that! Mentally. Psychologically. If a game is teaching something offensive or morally wrong to someone, it’s the job of a parent to address those issues. And if the person is older, they should have the cognitive capacity to tell the difference. And if they can’t, there’s a bigger issue than the genderfication the game is teaching. A game doesn’t change your perception just by playing it.
I’VE PLAYED GAMES WHERE YOU literally kill God, or you end up fighting the church and changing fate by destroying God. Does that mean my take from the game is that I have to try and kill God, too? Welp, the game did it, so I guess it’s what I need to do. Because, you know? It happened in the game! What is it teaching me about religion? Oh, right. It’s a game. A story.
WHILE I WAS GROWING UP my brother and I loved video games. When our youngest brother was born, we introduced him to all the games that we love, once he was old enough to comprehend the controller: Nights into Dreams, Mega Man, Street Fighter, Zelda, Castlevania, DDR, Final Fantasy, Mario, etc. To this day, he’s an avid Mega Man fan.
WHEN MY YOUNGER SISTERS were born, we did the same thing. We didn’t relegate them to only “girl games”. We let my younger brother and sisters play everything we were into at the time. They’d sit in our room for hours, taking turns, playing games with each other. They’d even help each other through stages, progressing as a team. Can’t beat a level or boss? Pass the controller! I also introduced my younger cousins to video games, and they’re all gamers at heart, to this day.
MY SISTER LOVES Professor Layton and retro games. My youngest sister is obsessed with Pyschonauts and Bioshock. My wife is an avid fan of Dragon Age, Persona, and the .hack series. My female cousin is bad ass at Halo and does amazing in tournaments. My other young cousins (all girls) love the Legend of Zelda, and play Ocarina of Time and beat it once or twice a year, simply because they adore the game that much. My other cousin is in love with Snake and the Metal Gear series. Sneaking and Stealth is her thing.
THEY PUT THEMSELVES into the role, fall in love with the characters and story, and it lives on with them forever after that. They play because it’s fun. It interests them. I mean, as gamers, isn’t that what we all do? The lack of female heroins does nothing to color their view of the world. It’s only a game, after all.
NOW, I’M NOT SAYING that there isn’t room for games about women. I mean, powerful games, where the damsel if free to wield weapons, achieve her own dream, and save the world in the process. I’m all for that. The industry needs to embrace it, and start creating stories about women that matter and resonate. But I don’t think that games should be made specifically for girls. Whether the protagonist is male or female, if the story can grip you, if you fall in love with the characters, and you root for them till the very end, the game is worth playing. No matter who you are.
GAMES, LIKE MOVIES, and everything else, is for the person that finds them interesting. Men aren’t the only people that watch Doctor Who or love the Avengers. Women aren’t the only ones that love and watch My Little Pony or Sailor Moon. Hell, on a kind of related note, men and women both love football! Whether a girl or a guy, you can like whatever the heck you like regardless if it’s meant for men or women, boys or girls. Love football? Watch football! I hate football, so I don’t watch it. Love video games? Play and enjoy them. If you love games, just freaking love games.
FOR ME PERSONALLY the reason female gamers are important is because my wife, sisters, cousins, and my daughter are important. She’ll be turning 4 soon and I will introduce her to video games. I’ve already started. I don’t plan to relegate her to only games with girls, or for girls. I plan to take her down memory lane and share all the wonderful games that meant something not only to my childhood, but to me as an adult.
THERE WILL BE GAMES WITH horrendous messages. It’ll be my job as a parent to address those issues and teach her the difference, and answer any questions she has. Like I said, I was able to share my love for games with my family and it was amazing to see them embrace video games with the same passion that I have. I also play games with my wife, all the time, and we’re always on the hunt for games that allow local co-op! I look forward to sharing this with my son and daughter.
DESPITE WHAT THE MEDIA, and perhaps the gaming community, may be saying, girl gamers do exist, and they matter, for the same reason any gamer matters: games are meant to be enjoyed by those that enjoy it. It isn’t gender specific and it shouldn’t be. Play for the love of games.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading! I’ll be back with another entry next Monday. Keep that imagination kicking! Please take care all, you all rock. Cheers!