With Black Friday and other holidays sales, I am tempted every year to buy new games – video games or board games. I know, however, that my list of video games that I own and haven’t played yet is way longer than I like to admit. Finding the time and a decent amount of people to commit to playing any of our board games is challenging though! At least the video games I only need to rely on myself to commit the time… and I still don’t get around to it, unfortunately.
That being said, I still consider myself a gamer. I love the idea of the video games I own. I love playing my board games and trying out new ones any chance I get. I light up when I meet someone new that has played and enjoyed my favorites. It’s part of who I am even if I don’t always have much time to commit to it.
Many people like to put their own definitions to labels. Society generally believes all gamers are males. Any female claiming to be a gamer has to prove it and quantify it before she is taken seriously. People don’t question a male on his knowledge of various games or how many hours he’s logged before accepting his claim. This happens online as much as in person. It’s a topic that hits close to home for me.
I’ve walked into many game stores and felt all the eyes turn to me wondering why I was there or which guy there was my boyfriend trying to convince me gaming could be cool. Many are surprised when I ask specific questions or show genuine interest in the games being played in stores. Online, when I mention being female without the ability to prove it via my looks or the sound of my voice, people don’t believe me. They assume a male is playing a female character and just joking around by claiming to be female.
They judge my appearance – am I too pretty to be a gamer or am I ugly enough that it rationalizes me being in this store? Stereotypes go deeper than just being female. If I am pretty by the collective standard and claim to be a gamer then I must be fake. If I am ugly then society can accept that this is my only means of social interaction. Neither of these are accurate or even relevant to gaming! Breaking through to the “inside” is difficult for a female, but at least once there we are accepted members of the group.
This is just one aspect in society where gender stereotypes are still dominating the general perception of an activity. Even though I consider myself a casual gamer, I don’t like having to tack on the [girl] label as well. Why can’t I just be a gamer, no hesitation or doubt at my declaration? Why can’t I, a female, be treated just like any male counterpart? Why does society still feel the need to separate humans into groups and decide what is appropriate or inappropriate for each group?
Changing the way a society thinks collectively is difficult and slow. I fear it will still be many more years before the genders are truly thought about as equal, as human rather than defined by their parts.