Why 'Games for Women' Has Given Me Rage Face

3 years ago

I grew up with video games. 

My family wasn't wealthy, but my two older brothers and I saved our pennies and my father agreed to pitch in so we could buy our first gaming system: a TI-99/4A. 

Image Credit: Quagmire's Photos via Flickr

I played Parsec, Hunt the Wumpus, and Alpiner with the best of them. As time passed, we continued to save our pennies so we could upgrade our game systems and purchase more games.

I grew up with Mario and Zelda and the various versions of them both.

In middle school, when I was done editing the team newsletter on Pagemaker, I'd whip out a copy of King's Quest and play well past the bell rang.

After I was married, I'd have game marathons with my hubs, and even joined in on a couple of LAN parties with his friends.

I never thought of gaming as a "dude thing". 

And yet, since I have eyes, I do know that there are plenty who do see it that way. 

But given the poor treatment of women in the gaming community, I was so disppointed to read an article entitled "Video Games for Women: 6 Apps That Aren't Candy Crush" here on BlogHer.

Why was I so disappointed when I could find something way more offensive with very little effort elsewhere on the interwebs?

This article was written by a woman. A woman who designs games. 

Now, I don't mean any of this to tear down the author. I think it's awesome that she is out there, designing games, and designing what she thinks fellow females may want in a game. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to expand the horizons of those who are limiting themselves to the world of Candy Crush and Bejeweled.

But the post itself, by offering recommendations on the basis of what women gamers want, is offensive. 

Does being a woman mean I need easier game play? Emotional storylines? Sexy men, steamy scenes, sexual tension, and basically anything that can be described as sexy? 

The article left me feeling like women a) aren't good at playing video games b) need a soap opera they can control and c) can't get into anything that doesn't involve romance and lots o' sexy time.

I'm used to hearing this sort of assumptive drivel from the dudebros online. 

But from a female game designer?

I expect so much more.

For the record, there were numerous times when the hubs and I first played Prince of Persia and Baldur's Gate that I had to step in and help him beat the "big boss". And a romantic or sexy subplot? That's usually when I take a bathroom break.

I'm not saying there aren't any women who would want what this author seems to think we need in a game. I'm just saying, why limit it to women? Why assume that it's only women that need their horizons expanded beyond Candy Crushin' it all day long?

We need more people, men and women, positively contributing to the conversation when it comes to gaming, not perpetuating the idea that as women, we only kinda-sorta belong. Not supporting the idea that women need to justify their presence as gamers or that we only play "girl games".

More guys are stepping up when it comes to that conversation. As women, maybe we shouldn't be stepping back.

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