So yeah, I’m sitting in a semi-boring English class, and I wager I’ll have some free time, so I’ll write about a few reflections I’ve had recently about gaming, being a girl, and the casual vs hardcore gamer debate thingy.
First, I’ll layout my own personal gamer history and “profile” if I may call it so.
I started gaming when I was quite young, but I can hardly remember when exactly. Somewhere between 4 or 6 years old I believe. I started gaming because of my oldest friend and then neighbor. Her Grand-Mother (yeah, grand mother. elderly and female, whether you believe it or not.) was a gamer, a big fan of some of Nintendo’s game actually, and that led to my friend eventually receiving a SNES.
*several hours later, I am continuing this post from my bedroom*
Hence, my best friend got a SNES, and when we were over at her home, we played video games. Mostly Donkey Kong. That was my first encounter with the fact that I SUCK at platformers. Big time. We played that, and a shitload of Game Boy titles, because she had this adapter thing. I was… 6 years old at most, and she’s younger than I so we didn’t understand much, but we still had loads of fun. I started playing computer games (not PC; the only computer at home at that time was a Mac) roughly at the same time. Mostly kids game.
At the time I clearly wasn’t what you’d call a gamer. I was a kid playing with toys. But it did open the way.
My real conversion didn’t come until a little later. Two things happened, within a year of one another.
Around Christmas of 97 (or was it 96? to be honest, I can’t quite recall), I got my N64. If I had known the slightest thing about gaming, I would’ve gotten a PS1 and played all the cool RPGs. But back then, I had no idea those were the games I would enjoy. So I got a N64 and platformers once again. It wasn’t that long since I got bored with them. Probably because I sucked at them so much. But yeah. Thank god for party games or else I might have given up on gaming altogether.
Around the same time, I met a new friend at school. The first time I went over to her place, she introduced me to the wonder that was Age of Empires 1.
That is when I was truly converted. I saw her almost every week-end, and we played the game for most of the afternoon.
Later, my father bought Civilization 2 Gold Edition for my 10th birthday. I spent the summer playing the game from dawn to dusk.
In the following years I discovered RPGs through Pokémon, eventually got a PC and discovered old classics through emulation, and could play more PC games. I discovered a lot of what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about gaming in these years. I found out that I liked RPGs and Simulation games the most. That I would be eternally sad that the nice dating sims never get released here. I found out that I sucked at platformers (and, to a lesser extent, at action games). I also found out that I love 3d fighting games and not the 2d ones (always with a few exceptions) and that, similarly, I like third person shooters and find little enjoyment in the first person counterpart.
I love all kinds of strategy games. And I find enjoyment in puzzle games and party games (even though I’m not that good at them).
I met many more friends who shared a love of gaming, some more than others. And for most of my life, these friends were girls.
I think the first time someone told me gaming was a “guy’s thing” I burst out laughing. It didn’t make any sense to me: at the time, I probably had never met even one male gamer. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating things.
To me, gaming was the thing the quiet, shy, intellectual people did. At school, if I compared, the cool guys played sports, the cool girls put on make-up, and us geeks (mostly girls and guys the others would call faggots) played games, read books, etc.
So to me, for most of my childhood, gaming was a girl’s thing, or a nerdy thing, to do. Not that the others didn’t game. Everybody I knew gamed, at least a little. Here again, I’m exaggerating, but only so slightly. But my group of friend was always the most serious about it.
When I entered junior high I figured out clearly that gaming was considered a tomboyish thing to do by many (even though, once again, most girls in school played games at least casually).
It never made any sense to me.
Why do people consider gaming a guys thing to do? Why do people tell me that they know only a few girl gamers?
I’ve seen quite the opposite of this throughout my life.
Why must girl gamers be considered “special”?
I’ll explain myself here. See there are these phenomenon. Like the Frag Dolls. Or those “girl gamer contest”. These situations where being pretty counts more than being talented or dedicated. Female stars being associated to games on TV for promotion. When a girl says she’s a gamer and boys are like “cool”. Why is it cool? Why is it any cooler than a guy being a gamer?
It’s not. Why would it be?
Or these guys that tell me “You’re good for a girl”. No. I suck. Go ahead. Say it. I’d rather be told I suck than that I’m “good for a girl”. The fact that I suck at platformers, or FPS, has nothing to do with my vagina, thank you very much.
Some people claimed to me that they know no talented female gamers.
I care to disagree. I know plenty. Even if I’ll never be one of them. And being female doesn’t make the fact that they are good “special”. It’s not any more special than if it was a guy.
It is all too easy, for girls to become instantly interesting to guys this way. Say you’re a gamer and you instantly become the “cool girl”.
I refuse to do this. If it makes me interesting because it says I have similar interests to someone, it’s great. But if it makes me interesting only when combined to the fact that I’m a girl… then I don’t even understand it.
Let’s come back to the Frag Dolls. Why make a case out of them? Why are they “celebrities”? Because they are “hot”? (sorry, I don’t quite agree, I can find much hotter female gamers in my friends, thank you very much). Because they are good looking, female, gamers? Why is that so special?
Or why isn’t there the same with guys? A group of good looking gamer guys? Why does it exist with girls and not for guys?
“there will be no public” some of you would say That’s true. But there’s more to it. And it’s far less innocent.
It’s sexism. In one of it’s most insidious, subtle forms. Because sexism that praises is harder to detect, or harder to get annoyed by.
Girl gamers are put on pedestals for no good reason. No good reason because to me both genders are equals, therefore there should not be that kind of discrimination even if it’s kind of a positive one, according to some.
Now, onto double standards.
Why is it that, if my favorite type of game is the typical Japanese RPG, it’s because “well obviously, you’re a girl”, and that if my boyfriend likes exactly the same type of game, “it’s his tastes”?
I like RPGs because they offer a solid story, interesting characters, and a battle system where I can stop and think about what I’m doing.
It has nothing to do with the fact I’m a girl, once again.
Why do people make this categorization in my case, but not in my boyfriend’s case?
To add to it, I often get categorized as a “casual gamer”.
So on with the casual vs hardcore gamer debate.
What makes a gamer “hardcore” or “casual”?
Some would say a hardcore gamer is someone who spends most of their free time, if not all, gaming.
Some would say that a hardcore gamer is a talented gamer.
Or that it would be a gamer who is a completionist.
Or someone who plays all games, no matter what their type is.
Or someone that only certain types of games. The more serious type, perhaps?
Or someone who is very knowledgeable about gaming, and up to date on all the news.
Or someone who played a literal metric fuck-ton of games.
Some seem to equate “hardcore gamer” with “american gamer” for some reason. Others do the opposite.
And a casual gamer?
Some would say a casual gamer is one who plays only party games, or family oriented games.
Or one who plays only in certain social situations.
Or one who plays but not so often.
I could go on for a while.
I think most of these, if not all, are retarded. Gamers are gamers. The only thing that makes you a hardcore gamer is how important gaming is to you. How much how a space it takes up in your life. Not in terms of time, or whatever else. In your heart (yeah I know, it’s cheesy, kthx). It doesn’t matter what types of game you like, which ones you’re good at, if you’re talented or not, if you like to play alone or with friends, if you have a lot of free time or just a little, if you have other hobbies, if you like ton run through a game or complete every last part of it.
You’re still a gamer and I’m not one who would categorize you as “casual”.
If you care for gaming enough to spend money on it. If you care for gaming enough to list it among your favorite hobbies. If you care for gaming enough to discuss it with people.
Then to me, you belong in the core gamer category.
The only people I see as casual gamers are the one who only play Rockband at parties and Mario Party with their little siblings. Because they don’t seem to have any interest in it of their own.
And then again, who am I to judge?
I haven’t yet quite figured out which of the above quoted reason makes me a casual gamer to people but I don’t give a shit.
I probably spent more time gaming than doing pretty much anything else in my life (save for surfing the internet, and maybe dancing too.. and then again). It doesn’t make it special that I’m a girl, since the people who introduced me to gaming were all female.
This post was pretty hectic, and a bit too personal for my taste, but I can’t talk about sexism and females being gamers without getting personal about it.