The evolution of girl gamers
Boy gamers are so self-centered they act as though women haven’t been playing video games for decades, and then act horrified when the female gamers who have always been there actually become visible and vocal about the rampant misogyny that has infected the gaming world.
Like seriously, how entitled do you have to be that women saying “it sure would be nice if I wasn’t treated like shit while enjoying the games I play” translates to “I must be catered to” when video games have LITERALLY been catered to men for decades?
I didn’t get all the dates, but I think you can get the point.
Also considered posting my own personal gaming history, but I would’ve had to go back to the 80s for that. e_e
Been playing since I was old enough to hold the NES controller.
I was in middle and high school in the 90s (oh god I’m old), and I don’t remember a lot of “lol look at the loser and his videogames.” If you had a videogame system in your house, both boys and girls were most likely to respond “oh lucky, you have awesome parents, please invite me over to play.”
The only videogames that carried any social stigma were MMORPGs and to a much lesser extent violent FPSs. But even then, it was mostly other guys going “lol virgin” at male MMORPG players (and “lol guy in disguise” at female ones, which is maybe why the OP doesn’t remember their existence) and out-of-touch adults going “omg spree killer” at FPS players.
If there were menacing packs of nerd-hating girls going around in the 90s and 00s cruelly mocking boys for playing Super Mario World or Oregon Trail or Simcity, I sure never saw them.
Shit. This only goes back to the 90’s. That’s nothing.
I grew up in Mexico in the 80’s and, God, how I loved video games. Small, dingy arcades were fairly common, and almost exclusively populated by boys, but I started going to them when I was about 8-9 years old. In most early cases all I got were snide comments and a little bullying - kids flexing their attitudes to see if I’d abandon the game I was at and run off crying.
I vividly recall the first time I was touched and/or physically threatened in some way. I was nine. The typical group of circling harassers were going through their standard routine of name-calling and other snide bullshit when one of them got the bright idea to grab my ass.
I guess at that point I should have left, but the intensity of my wanting to be there, of wanting to play whatever bullshit little game had my attention that week, was deeper than any self-preservation. My tactic up until that point had been to steadfastly ignore the taunts and threats. But trying to distract me through physical interaction was new, and I didn’t appreciated.
I kicked the shit out of that kid and threatened the same to his buddies if they got too close. But of course, that ultimately made me the game. I spent the next few years as the hostile gamer, the only girl ever to enter any of the numerous little arcades in the town. And anyone who got too close got my foot up their ass, up their shins, in their stomachs.
My foot. Because my hands were busy playing the fucking games.
The groping and attempted gropings got worse when I started to develop, but my love for the “maquinitas”was too great. I was the kid who would sneak change from her mom’s purse to support my daily habit.
I was also the girl who still climbed trees, played in the street, got dirty. The social expectation was that I’d become passive, stay at home, watch telenovelas and protect myself from the ever-increasing male gaze directed at me. Parents started telling my female friends not to spend time with me anymore; well-meaning, kindly neighbor ladies took me aside and told me my unladylike behavior was a concern. I was getting a reputation, attracting notice. I was still a kid and all the things I wanted were childish pleasures. But now I had breasts and, good God, of course the drunk 50 year old men at the corner were going to call suggestive things after me if I dared to walk past them. I was twelve and I should expect it. The problem was that I was yelling back, flipping them off, disrespecting them. I had one hell of a mouth on me by that time. I was unseemly.
I still played video games. When a Super Mario 3 game was put in the dingy shop around the corner from my house I played it interminably. There was a time I would play the entire game through, no whistles, every day. I even made a deal with the store owner that allowed me to stay inside and play when he closed for siesta time in the afternoons.
Sometimes I was alone, sometimes I wasn’t. I was still getting harassed, groped, and bullied on a daily basis. The intensity of these interactions escalated as the boys grew bolder, older. The boys started hitting back, taking tentative swings at me that sometimes connected, but mostly didn’t. One idiot pulled a kitchen knife on me once to see if he could get away with robbing me as well as scaring me away. I told him to put that fucking thing away before he hurt himself…and I kept on playing.
Eventually, when I was around 14-15, I just got tired of it all. None of my female friends were allowed to spend time outside their homes anymore and, if I wanted to see them, I would have to go to their homes, watch television, watch the younger kids. They were interested in other things: musical artists, fashion magazines, gossip about those same neighborhood boys. It was boring as fuck.
But it was another type of game that I needed to learn if I was going to survive in that environment. The girl game. The playing along with narrow societal expectations game. The boring, boring ass game of life for lower class women in that area of Mexico at the time. Most of my childhood girlfriends only finished 6th grade and then weren’t allowed to move on in school because they were “needed at home.” They were expected to conform, and any natural rebellion against these narrow parameters was dealt with harshly, sometimes brutally. Conforming was self-defense, and it became that for me as well.
I don’t game anymore, not really, and I don’t own a console. I still cling in my heart to a few beloved PC games, but it’s not the same. Part of my decision not to game is that I know myself. I know my level of love for gaming can become unhealthy. My childhood, along with some experiences in college that were gaming-related, have proven to me that I become obsessive to the point of blindness about video games. I don’t make the best life decisions when gaming is involved.
But God, sometimes I miss it so much.