Letter to the Editor: Gamer Girls Don’t Need Coddling

After reading the article “ A Guy’s Guide to Getting Your Girlfriend Into Gaming,” I bit down on my tongue, set down the newspaper, and sat back on the couch. My first thought came as a question: “Should I be offended by this?” After mulling over this for a few minutes, I decided that I should be offended, and that I most certainly am.

The article is directly targeted towards guys with girlfriends, but as someone who does enjoy video games, I couldn’t help but read anyway. I shouldn’t have to feel offended for being a girl, and for feeling like I’d just been called a stupid girl, at that. The author’s intentions are noble, and he even makes some good points about the guys letting their girlfriends choose the games, even to the point where the girls will forever be more important than the game.

However, the article fails to clarify his definition of “girls.” The lack of such clarification makes readers believe that girl gamers do not exist, that girls are in fact incapable of playing video games. I have been playing games since I was five years old on an old Atari system my parents drudged out of our basement. I do not just mean games of solitaire or “Pac-Man”, but RPGs, first-person shooters, and any other category you can think of. I’ve tried it. Growing up around merciless cousins made me quickly pick up these games, where I learned to test every button before my cousin threw a grenade at my head.

The author is right: we (girls) do not need or want to be coddled, but don’t assume we’re going into these games knowing nothing. We are the generation of girls who grew up figuring out how to work iPods, cell phones, and any technology we can get our hands on. Give me five minutes in a new game and I’ll figure out how to kill something. We are not stupid. And for clarification, I do not assume all girls. I am also not assuming all guys expect us to be mentally handicapped when it comes to such games. I, like others, expect to be treated with respect when going into these games. Sure, blow up our heads once or twice, but don’t assume that our minds can’t handle anything more complicated than the “Sims” (which many girls have been raised on since the games’ first appearance).

If the girlfriend that the author speaks of was specifically defined as a girl who has never touched a game controller and is terrified of such pieces of technology, then I would allow this article. In fact, I’d applaud the attempt to convert more girls into the gaming world. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, or it just wasn’t considered. Most girls are, in fact, closet-gamers, or just aren’t as vocal about being gamers. Or maybe we prefer different games as opposed to the senseless violence ‘til one reaches a checkpoint, followed by more violence and gore.

I asked many girls if they read this article. I wanted an unbiased response. I wanted to know if they were at all offended. They were. And if they hadn’t read it, I handed it over without another word and waited. I never had to wait long, as usually a minute in I would get a vocal response of sheer outrage. This finally prompted my response here.

I have played PC-based games, Xbox, Nintendo, and other platforms when with friends. My favorite games include the “Legend of Zelda” series and “Nancy Drew” mystery games. I played “James Bond” games as a kid, and grew up playing the “Halo” series with my cousins (and on many occasions have kicked their male posteriors). I have friends who play games that are typically geared towards guys, and these girls have no problem playing.

When playing, if they “suck at first,” it is because the game is new to them. Guys will have the same challenge. There is no direct correlation between sex and original yet temporary suckiness of video gaming abilities. Girls have just as much gaming potential as the guys. But by saying “don’t overwhelm her with a difficult game,” the author is implying that girls simply can’t wrap their minds around said game.

I’ll give the author credit: let her choose the game, but don’t treat her like she’s a moron. And yes, I wouldn’t recommend taking the controller unless one has the desire to be dropkicked across the room. But treating women like they have the mental capacity of a grapefruit will not help the situation, and in fact sets gender equality back years.

The article should have been more specific in its subject. What was spoken of vaguely as all girls could have been easily changed to discuss girls with no gaming experience, or even anyone – male or female – with no gaming experience. There were good intentions here, I can see that. But the tone and way about writing this article needed to be considered more before publication.

 

- Katie Sykes

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