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No Girls Allowed: Why are We Making Video Games a Boys Club?

We supposedly live in an "equal rights" society, so why is there so much hate towards female gamers?

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I’m a gamer. I started playing games when ‘Gizmos and Gadgets’ was released in the 90’s and gaming is still something I love doing to this day. The technology and the types of games have drastically changed since I first began, yet the place in my heart that they hold still remains. However I always seem to hesitate when people ask me what my hobbies are because when you say you're a gamer you’re generally perceived as a nerd, and a bit of a loner who doesn’t know how to communicate with people who aren’t in a virtual world.

Since gaming has gone more mainstream, this stereotype of the gamer that lives in his mother’s basement isn’t so common among the younger generations.

With games like FIFA or Call of Duty appealing to a wider group of people with every release, it’s becoming increasingly possible that one can be acknowledged as both a gamer and someone who is capable in the ways of human interaction. In fact most of my friends play video games and are usually up for a quick game of FIFA , but don’t venture into the worlds of Assassin’s Creed, Sleeping Dogs, PAYDAY 2, or Resident Evil.

This leaves me in a bit of a predicament when I’m trying to explain the pure awesomeness of the double takedown in Assassin’s Creed, or how Maya (the Siren from 'Borderlands 2') totally destroys everything with her elemental damage when you’re fighting against Hyperion robots. Sure I’ve got my best mate who enjoys the same games as me, but I find that you never really find that many people to talk about video games with.

This is why I was absolutely shocked to find that some people detested the fact that there were females playing stuff other than ‘Farmville’ and ‘Plants vs Zombies.’

What's going on here?

A while ago I noticed David Goldfarb (the game director for ‘PAYDAY 2’) having a heated argument with a few people about girl gamers. Some people didn’t seem to agree with the OVERKILL team adding a female character to the bank robbery game, and voiced their opinion in a not-so-eloquent way.

Apparently there are a lot of guys who don’t like the fact that girls are playing the same games as us males.  It’s common knowledge that most girls have played a video game at some stage, the most common one among my female friends being Sims.  No one seems to have a problem when females play Sims and the like because it’s deemed as “acceptable”, yet some people lose their minds when a female plays shooter games, racing games and all the other genres unofficially deemed as "male-only."

Maybe I’m the only one that doesn’t understand what the issue with a girl gamer is.

when there already so few females interested in gaming don’t you think we should stop pushing them away?

As a male student gamer, I feel like there only a few girls who don’t switch off the moment I mention video games. It’s seen as a mindless, brain-numbing, time-wasting male addiction which results in you becoming unpopular with the girls because you’re a “nerd.”  When I do come across a female gamer on the rare occasion, it comes as a welcome surprise. It’s refreshing to speak to a girl about a game which you both seem to enjoy and it’s something both of you can relate to, which doesn’t happen very often anyway. I actually find it rather attractive if a girl can play video games, even though I only know a couple of them.

I’m not saying that there should be a ratio of 1:1 between male and female gamers. There are many things that annoy me considering some of the double standards that women can have, (that might be due to the fact that I’m a male and that the female’s mind is unfathomable to all us men) but when there already so few females interested in gaming don’t you think we should stop pushing them away?

Originally Published Feb. 20th 2014

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A university student who is a lover of FPS, Top Gear and Indiana Jones. Been gaming for 14 years and still doesn't know how to change his Avatar... more »

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Comments
  • 1
    Meghan_1938 7 months ago
    I found it very refreshing to see an article like this written by a man. That's not being sexist, either, seeing as every other article I've read about this stuff has been written by women. I just thought that I'd mention that I've been a female gamer ever since I was 8, and while yes, I totally get into Sims and Animal Crossing, I need to regularly take breaks from those to slash down piles of monsters in Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess. I don't have experience in a lot of the other action games, mainly because growing up, I wasn't given much opportunity to get into a lot of the others, simply because I was a girl. The reason I don't now is to avoid all the sexual harassment that goes on by lonely pervs with no sense of respect or decency. About the women who flaunt their femininity for their own gain, that's something that's occurred throughout history, and our society definitely hasn't gotten to the point where that's about to stop, but women like that shouldn't be viewed as the average woman, and I'm SURE that breast flaunting women are vastly outnumbered by penis-flinging men. I should also mention that in my everyday life, every gamer that I've dated has found it very refreshing to find a girl who he can sit down and game with, especially the man I'm with now.
  • 1
    Brad_7401 7 months ago
    I don't see this boys club. I mean, I do see more girls playing animal crossing rather than Call of Duty, but that has nothing to do with a boys club in video games. That's a societal thing.

    In fact, there seems to be more of a stigma around guys playing Animal Crossing.
    Last edited 7 months ago
  • 1
    Kieren Dohla 7 months ago
    I play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I honest see a nearly equal amount of females. Also I don't see them harassed any more than males in dungeon runs. I'm male and somehow ended up with somewhat more female friends in the game. I wasn't try to pick friends by gender at all. Just happened to meet in the game.

    Now maybe my experience is the unusual or rare one. Or maybe it is something about the game I mentioned above that I'm playing.

    I've actually seen a drop in the rift between the number of male video game players and female players. But maybe that's just because of the games I've played.

    I'm just one person, my experience isn't statistically significant....
  • 1
    John_3367 7 months ago
    It just makes me think of the female twitch streamers who are AWFUL at the games they play, but get 200,000+ views on their videos simply because they show acres of cleavage on screen. Quite disgusting to be honest. They objectify themselves willingly to make money, not something unheard of obviously. I think it'll be difficult to legitimize female gamers with girls like these going around.
  • 1
    Shannon_9629 7 months ago
    Great article! As a girl gamer, it's refreshing to see something like this in such a male-driven culture. I have always enjoyed FPS and action games, but have shied away from online playing because the environment can be so toxic once it's found out you're a female. It usually splits up into two camps: "oh you play games because you're fat and ugly and can't get a man" or "show us your tits." And sometimes, on a truly special day, you might meet someone who falls into both camps. I generally stay to MMORPG games for this reason because it can be -less- toxic, though never completely welcoming. There's still a huge bias around women in mmos ("she's only a guild officer because she flirts with the leader, she only has lots of gold because guys give it to her, etc"), but it's not as outright hateful and abusive.

    Very good article and much appreciated!
  • 12
    Mike Saunders 7 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    I'll just make a general comment to you guys who have left opinions/advice. Thanks for the feedback! Nice to see that people actually read it, and gave input. I've noticed it's a much larger issue than I thought with there being several different causes etc. I'll be working on a few more articles soon! 👌
  • 60
    Venisia Gonzalez 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    I really enjoyed this article and I agree that your final question is a good one.
  • 12
    Mike Saunders 7 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    thanks for the feedback! Wasn't sure about this whole thing, but I think it didn't go to badly!
  • 1
    SirKillalot17 7 months ago
    Fathoms 4209, I agree that people aren't necessarily actively "making" it a boys club but I gotta say that generally amongst non gamers, gaming isn't viewed in the most positive light especially for our female counter parts. Good article, solid read
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    Gaming isn't viewed in the most positive light, period. The bias against this industry, created and cultivated by the mainstream press, attacks everyone involved.
  • 60
    Venisia Gonzalez 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    Amen to that!
  • 53
    Mary Yeager 7 months ago
    Senior Intern
    I love you final question. Its a very good point. It's probably why I enjoy MMOs so much because I feel that dynamic is a little more friendly on gender lines.
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    In point of fact, nobody is "making" gaming be a boy's club. The subject matter is typically male-oriented (explosions, guns, general action, etc.) so by default, more men apply.

    Thanks to more options and diversification of genre and style, though, women and people of various ages are getting more interested in games. This, too, will happen by default. However, if the majority of the biggest titles on earth remain male-centric (and yes, there are male- and female-centric traits even if they aren't universal), then it will always be a boy's club.

    I want to see more games that focus on great stories, which would indeed be universal. Stuff like Quantic Dream makes, for example.
  • 12
    Mike Saunders 7 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    I personally have come across hate toward female gamers on the playing level. I agree about the bigger titles being more male-orientated. Thanks for the feedback though! As it's my first post I wasn't sure if I'd be any good at this, and it's nice to see people familiar with the trade giving input.
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    Keep writing! It's always fun to trade ideas, and this is a great place if you want to hone your skills. The more you write, the more you'll get feedback, and you'll make a few friends in the process. :)
  • 12
    Hobo With A Keyboard 7 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    It's somewhat subjective of you in the first place to say that "general action" (arguably vague term there) is male oriented. As mentioned in the article, it probably won't be a 1:1 scenario, but female gamers exist, and enjoy these allegedly male-centric games. Sexism and ignorance is what creates the "man club" if you will, and you can shun or support that outlook. But there will always be sexists and fear from insecure people that women might beat them at a game, and that women can't be better at things because that's not fair.

    If anything is directly male-oriented, it's the bulk of female characters in games. Big tits and symmetrical faces for gamers to circle jerk over. There are few in-depth female heroes. The closest I can think of is Lara Croft, and her boobs still pop out like a cluster of grapes.
    Last edited 7 months ago
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    No, it's not subjective. Action is male-oriented. That's not an opinion and it can be verified by every last study on male and female preferences in the history of the world. Doesn't mean zero women like action; it means the majority of people interested in that form of entertainment are indeed male. Always has been, always will be.

    Hot women is obviously male-oriented as well, which is precisely why this entire industry inherently caters to young men. But all in all, there are differences between the genders. Trying to convince ourselves that there isn't is entirely illogical, and will get us nowhere.
  • 12
    Hobo With A Keyboard 7 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    No it's not subjective, lots of studies probably happened on some things gender related so that is an objective fact (I apologise for being so facetious it just is a little ironic. If you have these studies to hand then fair enough I would genuinely be intrigued to see).

    I think we're pretty much in agreement but I have time on my hands to be incredibly pedantic, so I will :P

    What I said was 'somewhat' subjective, and by this I mean you are expressing a subjective point based upon the notion that a majority of the male gender prefer action, explosions, etc. rather than glitter and fairy wands. I did not actually say that 'general action' wasn't male oriented, I said it was a subjective point. For something to be objective (in my view at least; which then brings into question the subjectivity of objectivity in the first place. Ahhhhh mind melt!), it has to be a proven solid fact. I have ten fingers and two eyes - that is objective. There is no opinion to input here. But if a man says I do not like male-oriented alpha male Sylvester Stallone movies (seen Rambo the game footage today and it's stuck in my poor mind, eurgh), that is a subjective opinion of him opposing the 'standard' of male stereotypes. You cannot place any objectivity upon stereotypes; you can rule from studies that x prefers y more than z, but even then it is applying social sciences to apply relatively loose points about a majority, that can still be argued against.

    Women can enjoy action, explosions and guns regardless of what a majority of their gender refutes, which is still subjective. Of course there are differences between genders, but there are also between individuals. I don't like the idea of labeling what people like gender-specific, even though I certainly do concede that there are for the most part majorities of genders that favour one thing or the other in the arts - be it music, film, games etc. .
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 7 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    There is no such thing as "somewhat subjective." It's either an opinion or a fact; there's no in-between. That's first.

    Yeah, it's a solid fact that men are more drawn to action-oriented entertainment. It's not a stereotype; it's the way things are.

    "...even though I certainly do concede that there are for the most part majorities of genders that favour one thing or the other in the arts - be it music, film, games etc. ."

    You may notice that this is what I've been saying all along. Right? That's all I meant from the start. :) You may also notice that this is the only clear, lucid point in your post...the rest is just blather. It's more probable that a man will like Rambo than a woman. Nobody on this earth should need empirical data to prove that, and if we do, if we've actually reached that point, we're just lost.
    Last edited 7 months ago
  • 1
    maximusdathirdIII 7 months ago
    Some fair points. The humiliation of losing to a girl is what irks me I guess
  • 1
    Errrr... Sloths. 7 months ago
    girl power ✊
  • 1
    Errrr... Sloths. 7 months ago
    👌 nailed it.
  • 53
    Mary Yeager 7 months ago
    Senior Intern
    I need a like button for this comment. lol.