Video games and feminism: are they mutually exclusive?

15 Feb

As I sat today, watching a female friend play Call of Duty for the first time on her brand new XBox 360, she made a statement that made me think: “I’m just crappy at the moment, the other players don’t wanna play with me.” This got me thinking about women and the video gaming industry. I don’t know many women that kick butt at Halo or spend a minimum of six hours a day playing World of Warcraft. I thought about how women in and around the video game industry are portrayed. Also, that the “nerdy” aspect of gaming should be something that attracts women: we’re nerds about a lot of stuff! I found this video that really began to tie all of this together…

Earlier today, I decided to interview my brother on women and gaming. I would have loved to interview a female gamer, but I don’t know any! Now here I’m talking about serious gamers, or as he would call them, hardcore gamers. We talked about World of Warcraft, one the highest grossing video games ever made. It is a computer-based RPG that is notorious for having one of the higher female counts of gamers. Alex (name has been changed, of course) plays it every day. Here’s what he had to say:

Grrrir: Why do you enjoy WoW?

Alex: I think it combines the ability to “leave this world” and go immerse yourself in a fantasy world also for the hardcore gamer (which I consider myself) you have challenge, problem solving, agility and reaction both physically and mentally. Video games stimulate not only your brain, but also your ability to communicate and work with a team or they CAN anyway.

Grrrir: Do feel women play for the same reasons?

Alex: I’d imagine yes just like women ALSO like to read fantasy books and science fiction… and watch horror movies and star wars there are women who enjoy the mental stimulation and “pretty graphics” of video games in my experience, I find that for the most part, women don’t tend to be “hard core” gamers as much as me but that might just be because of the sheer number difference they “hard core” types of women just never pick up a video game.

Grrrir: How is it that you become successful at WoW?

Alex: Practice… tons and tons and tons of hours playing learning, researching, experimenting.

Grrrir: Hehe, I mean what characteristics do you generally need as a human being to be successful at it other than time, clearly.

Alex: Common sense… hand eye coordination… logic… the ability to problem solve quickly the ability to instantaneously react to “doing X will equal to Y, so I need to do Z in order to do it right” understanding dynamics, and numbers and most importantly… above all else… you MUST pay attention… constantly be paying attention its like driving… you take your eyes/brain off it for a split second… you can end up in a wreck.

Grrrir: Do you feel that the game itself is shaped in any way to make it easier for men to master than women?

Alex: Actually, Blizzard, the company who makes WoW, makes the game fun and exciting for anyone and they’ve done an amazing job at doing that. they touch on the look and feel over the gameplay for those who care, etc.

Grrrir: What about the actual characters?

Alex: Some people care more about what their “avatar” looks like, than how they play.

Grrrir: Do women take on male characters and vice versa?

Alex: Actually, I have a lot of female friends who do because there is a widely known assumption that a female character is 7 out of 10 times a guy but 3 out of 10 is a girl and when men meet a woman in WoW SOMETIMES its like the scene from Eurotrip where they are at the nude beach a bunch of creepy dudes going “WOMAN! WOMAN! BOOBS!” and that would make anyone uncomfortable

Grrrir: Huh. Weird.

Alex: Gaming has a lot of immature men…

Grrrir: Are there any differences in the male and female avatars?

Alex: Well of course the female avatars tend to be sexy and sultry, the typical “Asian” style of women insanely large breasts, insanely small waists, and insanely firm and large buttocks. By Asian I mean… the false art… anime and such. the male characters are large, and brawny usually or if not large and brawny, they are thin, but tall and in great shape

Grrrir: What about their abilities or stats or whatever?

Alex: World of Warcraft doesn’t take the sex into consideration if you are female, you get the same stats as a male character, your outfits are just skimpier…

Alex guesstimated about 7 to 1, men to women participating in WoW.

Grrrir: Why do you think more men play games, over women?

Alex: I think some part of society has told us that girls need to care about their physicality and cant be “nerdy” and video gaming, whether hardcore or casual, tends to be trended as “nerdy”.

Grrrir: What do you mean by physicality?

Alex: Like, women have to care about clothes and being fit, and do “girly things” (like reading a book, or watching TV, or going outside and walking or socializing) and men are not looked down upon as much if we want to “get fat and play video games 24/7″, the quotes being typical stereotypes of course.

Grrrir: In your opinion, why are men held to less of a standard to become fit then women are?

Alex: I think society (and the media) has made it quite clear (look at the movie Couples Retreat) where men can be slightly overweight as long as they have personality, but the women have to be attractive physically. And because of that, I think that its less important for men to be attractive physically as long as they have a personality, which is hardly the case, but that mentality works very well for video gamers… they aren’t always the most attractive, but they have passion and interest in something.

Grrrir: Is it attractive for a woman to be a gamer?

Alex: To some of us. I find “gamer chicks” to be very attractive… its basically a “typically male dominated sport” and women are playing it just like how a lot of men find the LFL (Lingerie Football League) to be “hot” (sure they are in their underwear, or close to it) but Ill bet men like the idea of women playing football too and I’ve known/met plenty of girls who are very attractive physically too, these girls tend to quit playing much easier… but they exist.

Grrrir: If men like women playing male-dominated sports why isn’t there a professional football league for women? Or actually any, I guess

Alex: My opinion, is that chauvinism tends to ALSO be a characteristic of men in power…

Alex: And men in power… tend to have money… and money is who owns the major sport franchises.

Grrrir: Question. If you couldn’t make it into a guy’s football teams for whatever reason (not saying you wouldn’t, but just hypothetically) would you try out for the women’s?

Alex: God no… I’d be at a disadvantage A. I have physical extremities that can be sniped… B. Women can probably take more pain then men… and C. women hyped up on adrenaline and testosterone would probably be scary especially when they were given free reign to tackle the shit out of me now I don’t think it’d be fair for a college football sized man to play against the women physically he is just MUCH larger… muscle mass, weight, etc and that could cause a lot of damage

Grrrir: Okay, but if you wore a cup or hitting you in the balls wasn’t allowed or whatever?

Alex: That could be fun… I mean, I’m sure there is a little thing in every guy who would get enjoyment out of tackling a girl, and vice versa the reason we don’t tend to do it… is because we can be bigger and that could be dangerous…but given the right conditions… why not there are probably certain parts of the game that women can excel at that men cant more agile, planning, etc.

3 Responses to “Video games and feminism: are they mutually exclusive?”

  1. adjinneed 03/04/2011 at 12:45 am #

    I think female gamers are becoming more common and more accepted overall, but i play wow a lot among other games and think that within a couple years there the face of gamers will change a lot.

  2. Julia 04/06/2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Hi! I’m a female and I consider myself a hardcore gamer…you can interview me! xD
    I am actually starting a research about games & genre to my PhD in Arts and Multimedia in Brazil (yep…I’m brazillian). Loved the video you shared!!!

  3. hils 11/24/2011 at 6:14 pm #

    hilarious, your picture for “efforts are being made” and showing a pink hand control make me laugh so hard. oh man. women are not six year old girls, that’s why the pink handest does not work. great vid. i do reject most games cos i’m not interested in war or dressing the dog. i find sex specific games really dumb, like chick lit or really bad action movies, none of those are good. like good books or films, i don’t see them as gender specific. i think a really strong indie scene needs to create good games cos you hit the nail on the head, if a game is only ever made to sell and be a product, like girl/boy bands, they will only be reduced to the same sale pitches with new covers. lots of game’s problem stem from this cos they are products first and cultural expressions later. go on the indies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 335 other followers

%d bloggers like this: