My friend is doing a survey about male and female gamers, and what situations female gamers have encountered. I thought the survey was a lot of fun, so I posted it here. What I do realize is that I have been very lucky; my encounters with abusive male gamers have been few and mild. It’s sad that anyone has any.
Questions for female gamers
1. How long have you been gaming?
I started on the Atari at four, so I guess 29 years for video gaming. I got into online RP in college, and tabletop RP only about two years ago.
2. List the games that you enjoy or have enjoyed playing (table top or on line rpgs, computer/videogames, MMOS, board games LARPS or others)
Video games: RPGS: Suikoden, Persona, and Final Fantasy series Survival Horror: Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, The Suffering, Clock Tower Action: Bioshock, Batman Arkham Asylum/Arkham City I like simulation and dance games too.
Board game: Arkham Horror
Tabletop: Paranoia, Fiasco, Dungeons and Dragons
Online: I used to play a wide variety of online, writing based RPs. I started with a Rurouni Kenshin one, followed by a Suikoden RP that is still dear to my heart, though it’s been dead for years. That was followed by Fushigi Yuugi, and then a very long Final Fantasy game where I made many wonderful friends, and I still miss that one, too. I’ve had a couple independent ones as well. I don’t play any currently, though I really miss them and wish I could.
3. Tell the story of how you started, what or who drew you into gaming? How were your first gaming sessions? Etc. etc.
I played as a kid with my dad a lot, but what really got me into it was watching my parent’s friend’s son play Ninja Gaiden. I was nine and he was fourteen, and he and his friend basically ignored me, but they did let me play a little, and I loved it. I saved my money for a long time and bought my first Nintendo. One day, I stumbled on the first Final Fantasy at a rental shop, and I was hooked. My family said it was just a phase. Hahaha.
4. Do you enjoy playing with others or alone the most?
4b. If you have a clear preference, could you please motivate why you prefer one over the other.
4c. If you do not have a clear preference, could you mention some strong points with either or both ways of gaming
I like both. I enjoy playing RPGs alone, especially late at night, when I can really immerse myself in the world. Having people around tends to draw me out. On the flipside, playing survival horror alone is much harder. I admit I’m a bad shot and easily startled, so it’s nice to have friends around. I like playing online and live RPs in groups, but I’m very nervous at the outset so it takes me awhile to get comfortable. Once I like the group, it’s a lot of fun. When I was in high school, I exclusively gamed alone; it’s only been as an adult that I got the courage to game with others.
5. If you play or have played in groups, do you have any preference on gender balance in a gaming group? (somewhat equal in gender ratios, mostly females, mostly males) Please motivate why you have a preference, if this is the case.
I have no preference. I have equal experience with both and they all worked well.
6. Have you ever experienced, in any gaming setting, being treated differently as a gamer because of your gender. Please tell the full story if the answer is yes.
I’ve only really experienced this in arcades. For example: I was in Vegas and joined a car racing game—eleven guys and me. I was about fifteen years old. When I sat down they all rolled their eyes and muttered, but they were all silent when I won the game. Afterwards, they left in a huff, muttering about how girls shouldn’t be allowed to play. Another example was at a child’s birthday party, of all places. One of the dads challenged me to a game of Dance Dance Revolution. I was in heels but I still beat him—so much, in fact, that he stormed off the machine halfway through and disappeared. Later on, I heard him telling another parent that he never should have participated in “some stupid girl’s game.”
On the RP I was a GM for, I did have one male player tell me that I was a “weak, deluded, warped fangirl, and that a male GM would do a better job because he wouldn’t get so emotional” because I told him to quit sending the other female players porn. He was stunned when I unceremoniously kicked him out and banned him. (He also told me that Rachael was a sadist and mind controlling me, so it may be less that he was male and more that he was just a few cans short of a six pack)
I know these are mild compared to what a lot of other female gamers go through. When I have played online, my handle is gender neutral, so I may just not have encountered it as much, or I was just lucky.
7. Do you think there is a general difference in style or culture between female gamers and male gamers? (if yes, please elaborate)
I haven’t seen much of a difference, but I think it’s likely because of the types of games I play. I might see it more if I was playing something like Call of Duty, or more online MMOs. As far as my own gaming groups, I haven’t seen much difference between the two.
8. What about the games themselves, have you ever experienced that games or game developers cater to a specific gender? (if yes, please elaborate)
I think most of them still cater to primarily a male base, though some of the independent developers make more female oriented games. Atlus probably does the best job of making games for female gamers—Persona and Catherine are good examples. The female characters are intelligent, powerful and have costumes that actually cover them. I had high hopes for Square-Enix with Final Fantasy XIII, but since they decided that it the sequel Lightning needs to be more “jiggly” to attract male gamers, I have lost faith. Plus the game was awful.
9. Recent studies have shown that about half of all gamers are female, and yet some male gamer groups have expressed surprise at these statistics. Why do you think this comes as a surprise to many? Could female gamers be less visible in various settings, and if so, how come?
I think it’s a surprise because women aren’t supposed to like games. I see this in the way women hide their identities when playing to avoid being insulted, and the way men react to a woman in a game store when she’s buying a horror game. (It’s usually surprise, followed by a comment like, “You play Silent Hill? Cool!” It’s positive, but surprised.)
I really see it when raising my daughters. When looking for video games, the girls invariably get Barbie or Princess games that involve shopping, finding the perfect dress, getting to the ball, etc. It’s as if the developers are saying, “Okay, girls, you can have a game, but it will be about shopping, being pretty and attracting boys, like every other toy.” My daughter does not have these games; she likes Super Mario Bros., The Sims, and old school RPGs like Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy IV. She also likes some of the superhero games for kids. I don’t want her playing violent games at this age, but I don’t want her to think that girl gamers are limited to games about finding the perfect purse. I do think that these stereotypical games for little girls do discourage them from gaming, because they’re boring.
10. Would you please share your favorite gaming anecdote here, if you have one.
Wow, hard to pick! In college, I started playing survival horror—Silent Hill 2 was my first serious foray into it. I lived alone and tried to play by myself; I failed. So, I summoned my two best friends to help me. We made sushi and played the game often as a group. One night, Rachael came over and we were playing through the hospital and ended up on the roof. Anyone who has played this game knows exactly what I’m talking about. I got stuck and told her to go check the walkthrough, so we knew exactly what was coming. In spite of that, when Pyramid Head did show up, I flung the controller into the air and I know I was not the only one screaming. We called it a night after that. A similar event occurred in Fatal Frame III, during the shower scene, when I crawled backward so quickly I slammed my head into my mother’s weight bench and literally saw stars. I’m amazing at horror games, can’t you tell?
I spent many wonderful hours playing out scenes in my writing RPGs, but they wouldn’t be interesting to an outside audience.