Opinions

Sexism in gaming

What it's really like to be a "girl gamer"

Sexism in gaming photo by : Alexandra Sweny
written by Hannah Bing
October 1, 2017 5:24 pm

We’re all familiar with the age-old concept of ‘damsel in distress’ and living in a society where girls are portrayed as princess’ while men are here to save us. Men dominate the online gaming world with two thirds of gamers identifying as male; there is the other third, the population who identify as female. 

Sadly, in the gaming culture that has been created, opening up about being a female gamer is not as easy as we would like to think.  

In an article written by Stephanie Barrett for Metro UK titled “Men Don’t Like Women Who Play Games- What it is Really Like to Be a Girl Gamer in 2017” she writes that, “Admitting you are a girl in an online game can feel a bit like opening a bucket of KFC at a PETA rally.” 

According to Brooke Grover, an 18-year-old female gamer, the experience is not unique. 

“The general reaction of men when they find out I am girl gamer is surprise and shock, and if I haven’t revealed my gender while playing an online game it is usually assumed I’m a man.”  

Male gamers seem to often forget about the female population.  

According to Grover, the worst part about being a female gamer? “I instantly become the target of many sexist jokes, they will assume I am not good at playing because of my gender, and it can make me feel insecure about my abilities. Because of that I’ll try my best to keep my identity hidden online.” 

It is definitely a concerning matter that this experience is not rare. Many female gamers feel it necessary to hide their identity just to avoid ridicule, whether it be sexist comments or questioning their abilities because of their gender. 

It’s due to this preconceived notion that women are the princesses who need rescuing and men are here to save us that make it easier for them to doubt the abilities of women in gaming. To date, we have progressed in so many other issues we should have learned to leave the gender roles out of gaming and not base people’s worth or abilities on what gender they choose to identify as. 

Unfortunately, the sexism doesn’t stop just in the players of the games, but are also found in the games themselves. 

“Many games including female characters tend to exploit the character, making her wear very revealing clothing that is not necessary and giving her an unrealistic body. These over sexualized female characters give me and other females an unrealistic image of what we should look like,” says Grover.  

It’s no secret that men in games are given protective armour that is appropriate for fighting, and the same cannot be said for female characters. 

Being aware of the sexism in gaming is important. Although we are in a time where society is slowly progressing and is getting better at eliminating gender roles and stereotypes – we must be aware that they still exist and even thrive in certain communities. It’s important to be aware of it because we need to work on eliminating it, to make the gaming community a safe and better space for people of all genders.