There’s no Such Thing as Fake Gamer Girls

Why the idea of a "fake" geek girl can be rather childish and damaging to video game fans.

There’s a bizarre situation in video game (and geek in general) culture where being a female gamer means you have to defend your credibility. The header image is something that a man at the Rooster Teeth Expo decided to stick on women, and when that turned into too much of a confrontation, he would instead hand them the sticker and then “quickly walk away.” He had no way of knowing that the women he was putting these stickers on were “fake,” as he never spoke to them. One of the women speculated that she received the sticker because she was standing with her boyfriend. 

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No matter how you slice it, there’s no way this would happen to a man at a convention. You don’t hear men told that they’re “fake geeks,” at least not in the institutionalized way that you see happening to women. Whenever I’m in a conversation and the subject of my gaming comes up, I instantly have to defend both my skill level and my knowledge base. 

What is it about geek culture where people feel like they must defend it from illegitimate people, that they are the last bastion of hope against the burgeoning tide of women who might be interested in the same things they are?

There is a story that appears on Reddit’s girl gamer community that illustrates this point well; 

“You know, I’m wearing a superman shirt with a cape that someone bought me, and the first thing I got asked was “You like superman? Have you seen the new movie?” 

I actually am anti-DC in the playful way proper Marvel girls are, and when I told him that, he gave me this look and told me I was being “misleading” like I’m a freaking craigslist post or something….

I’m not constantly questioning boys (if they call me a girl, they’re boys) about /their/ clothes. “Is that an Air Force shirt? Have you ever been in the military? Has your family member joined? THEN WHY ARE YOU WEARING IT.” 

On the same line of thought, there are definitely men who wear shirts for Superman without reading every Superman comic ever, but they’re rarely questioned about their motivations. There is some sort of illegitimate nature that is assumed by a woman doing the same thing. 

The creator of the aforementioned stickers is a man known as Doctor Nerdlove, or Harris O’Malley. The stickers are intended to be satirical and poke fun at the idea of “fake geek girls.” O’Malley distributed some of the stickers, and left some around the convention hall, but was not the aggressor who was “slapping the stickers on their [women’s] butts.”

The stickers are intended to be satire; O’Malley spoke with Kotaku and said,

“I don’t believe in ‘fake’ geek girls and I like the idea of mocking people who buy into the idea with their own words, so I mocked up a design patterned after the ‘explicit lyrics’ stickers for CDs.”

He has admitted that some people don’t get the joke, and that after the RTX incident, he is rethinking the stickers in general;

“Cons are supposed to be safe places for everyone; shit like this drives women out of fandom.” 

Until acts like this–acts of idiocy that do not represent gaming as a whole–are pushed out the business, you can’t say that there is no sexism in gamer culture. It might not be every guy that feels this way, and the thread on Reddit proves that many men were just as disgusted with this juvenile behavior, but he felt comfortable enough to even bring the stickers to the convention. Things have to change. 

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Author
Amanda Wallace
Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.