Gaming-it's not just for rage-filled sunflowers!

Many people ask me, "Oni? You're a girl gamer, right?  Why not tell me about X, from the point of view of a girl!"

To that, I must say, that it's really not a question that I can answer.  Most of us who identify as gamers identify as different types of gamers.  One person might enjoy console games, while another prefers handhelds.  And another person might prefer the choices and dialogue trees from RPGs while another prefers the flying explosions and frag-fest in a FPS.  

And of course, there are plenty of people who like multiple genres, consoles and gameplay mechanisms.  I think that most of us would agree that gaming shouldn't be relegated to only specific races or genders of people.

DSlite-Tan is so cute in her several color schemes!

For some reason, people keep singling out female gamers as though they are a concrete group hive-mind.  When someone says "this game is for girls," a lot of the time, they seem to think that women will play the game for some estrogen-based reason, and not because the game is, say, actually good or fun.

For example, plenty of women play the most popular mainstream games that are often considered "for guys".  Although, many of them will stay off of the mics during multiplayer for exactly this reason.  You can't believe how many times I've watched my male friends playing Halo and then some girl starts talking on her headset and suddenly a huge number of the guys go "GIRL!?" "GIRL?!"

It's like those seagulls in "Finding Nemo."  With about the same results...

Obviously, not all gamers are like this, but if you've played rounds with people  on multiplayer (although, obviously, it's more of an XBOX thing since most people have headsets), this is actually semi-common.  Also similar is the number of female gamers who will use their female-ness (or guys pretending to be girls) to try and get people to give them stuff for free in MMO's.  Honestly, I find this kind of...distasteful..but it's their stuff, so I guess they can give it away if they really want to.

PS3-Tan has big....tracts of land?

Which brings me to my next point-the idea of female gamers as "rare".  When I first started gaming, the main reason I was doing it was, well, because I enjoyed it.  I loved playing Mario, I loved zooming Sonic (or flying Tails) through a level.  I loved shooting light beams out of the Master Sword in Legend of Zelda.  It didn't occur to me that I should be upset because Mario was a guy rescuing a helpless (female) princess.  Or that Link was male so I should be all annoyed that there was no female character to play as. 

To my brain, as far as I was concerned, most male gamers don't look like either Link OR Mario, yet they had a perfectly fine time playing as those characters.  And even today, I still kind of see things this way.  While I do often play as a female character if given the chance (female characters get the cute outfits anyway), I don't really care what the gender of the character is, as long as the game has tight, responsive controls, fairly good graphics and a story/gameplay mechanic that I enjoy.  Other than that, the rest is just irrelevant to me.

PSP-Tan, although stripped down and scantily-clad, still has all the essential areas covered.

When I started hitting adolescence, (and subsequently my hormones decided to make me boy-crazy), I became really self-conscious about my gaming.  Obviously, when I was alone at home, gaming wasn't embarrassing, but I was so afraid that someone would peg me as some undesirable or worse, a freak, if I confessed to liking video games.  Many girls already thought I was weird and strange (but then again, I had a big old rag-tag group of other weird and interesting people to hang out with, so it wasn't that bad), so I was loath to give them another reason to completely ostracize me.

But as I grew older, I noticed that I tended to get crushes on either guys who looked kind of geeky or guys from the skateboarding/surfing crowd.  And many of these guys were into games.  So I started looking at gaming from the point of view of a girl-who-wants-to-impress-a-guy-because-zomg-he-is-cute.  So I hid the fact that I enjoyed gaming because I didn't want to look like a know-it-all.  Besides, this way when they got all excited about explaining a game to me, I wouldn't smash their excitement all over the ground by replying, "Oh yeah, I totally know ALL about that and beat it myself only a couple days ago!"  In my imagination, this would send any guy (even if said guy loved gaming) running for the hills.  Of course, now I know that a lot of guys actually like when girls play games, but back then, I didn't really know, and felt that I was already counter-culture enough by not wanting to wear make-up and pretty much permanently wearing jeans and a t-shirt (to cover my large breasts) because back then, the popular female body type among the guys was super thin with smallish boobs.

This is kind of where I started liking anime, too.  FInally there were women who had huge boobs just like me, who didn't look all frumpy and awful.  "Woo!" I thought, "Maybe there was some hope for me, contrary to all the horrible things that my mom says about me dying alone with a million cats because I'm too smart and act like a guy!"

But eventually, I did come out of the closet when it comes to gaming and geeky types of things, and I was pleasantly surprised in most instances.

Wii tan is cute, but one wonders what will happen when you take the nunchuck off her head...

First of all, I learned that, yes, other female people also enjoy games.  Of course, this in no way means that said women and I will get along or even like each other as individuals, but needless to say, I do have geeky (and not so geeky) female friends who still play video games.  Even my best friend Sara totally squeed when I got her a GBA Micro with Super Mario Land 3.  She's not really into gaming all that much as an adult, but she still loves herself some Mario.

Secondly, I realized that enjoying games as a woman was not really all that different from enjoying games as a guy.  I always had this feeling like guys "owned" gaming more so than I ever could, mainly because it seemed like 99% of the marketing and clothing items with video game themes were for guys (well, maybe except for the Barbie Tiger Video Game, back in the day when they made those crappy 20 dollar systems that only played one game).

I actually owned this very system.  Oh those were the days.....

And finally, I realized that a lot of people don't care either way when they find out that you are into video games.  I originally had this idea that people would react strongly to finding out my "dirty little gamer secret"-either cringe and shriek, running away like I had the plague or immediately get big hearts popping out of their eyes and a boa constrictor hug screaming "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE PERFECT LADY?!" but most of the time, people don't really care.  Usually it's one of those, "you like that too, cool!" sorts of conversation starters, but if it isn't pursued much further than that, there really isn't much more to say.

iPhone-tan is sophisticated and cute!

Being a female gamer isn't something that you ARE as much as it's something that you happen to be.  I mean, there are Christian gamers and Black Gamers and Left Handed gamers, but most of the time, these "categories" are little more than red herrings when applied to the multi-faceted likes and dislikes of the individual gamer.  

And really, that's the beauty of gaming.  Even though we all come from different origins and have different stories to tell of who we are and what we love about life, we still all can agree that gaming is a pretty awesome pastime and that regardless of what we may look like or what our genetics say we are, gaming is something we're not going to give up, no how no way!

So yes, I am a female and I am a gamer, and I'm proud to be both!


So what are your thoughts about your gaming habits and your gender?  Do you think that being male/female/othergendered shaped how you enjoy your gaming experience?