Katy Hollingsworth’s recent article about what makes a true gamer in an industry that can be hard on women, young men, and new people seemed to get a strong emotional reaction from people both positively and negatively. I am not immune to this and I agree with the people that argue they are gamers if they only play mobile games and the people that argue their thousands of hours put them in a different category. I agree with both, but feel more strongly associated with the people arguing for their hardcore MLG status than those fighting just to be recognized.
I think that my particular situation is interesting as a female gamer at an all-female university. I have no friends who consider themselves gamers. They don’t understand my posters or when I start talking about dungeons, dwarves, and dragons. I had never met somebody at school with a desktop and twenty-three inch monitor before I went to other institutions and met guys. Whenever I move into a new room I have to ask technology to fix the wired internet because I am (sigh) apparently the only student who still uses an ethernet cable at a school with 1,700 women. I’m not complaining. I just think it is unusual that few other people at my university geek out over games as much as I do.
I’m a gamer. I’m passionate about it. I don’t hide it. Even in an environment in which it makes me feel isolated I continue to spend many hours each day grinding out my dailies on multiple games including Guild Wars 2. Anyone who says that the rise of casual games has entirely eradicated the prejudice against girl gamers has not lived my life. The blank stares I receive when I tell girls at school that I’d rather play platformers than shop for platform heels makes me feel slightly excluded. I think women are making strides in acceptance into the game industry, but I think we have a way to go because it hasn’t caught up to my daily existence.
I live that all the time while also interacting online with guys who tell me I’m not a gamer for various reasons. I have to admit that I like The Sims 3 and Candy Crush Saga almost as much as I like Skyrim and Civilization V. I’m not ashamed of it either. I think they both have their place. I think boys should be allowed to like CoD if girls are allowed to like The Sims. I think girls should be allowed to like Halo and boys should be allowed to like Secret of the Magic Crystals. Anybody should feel free to play whatever games they want. I don’t play as many hours of casual games as big titles, but I enjoy Angry Birds, Jetpack Joyride, and Temple Run when I’m waiting at an office. I hope that still makes me a gamer.