I’ve spent some time thinking about why I play, and how I play recently – and that I agree with many of her reasons, but come to a different conclusion:
I AM a GIRL GAMER. Similar to how I am human first, female second, I am gamer first, and girl gamer second. Just as I do many everyday things the female way, I believe I also play in a feminine way. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It doesn’t mean I only play The Sims and own a pink PlayStation.
To set the record straight: I don’t do pink (The only person I know to have a pink PS is a guy). I don’t do chick flicks. I build my computers from scratch. I am not addicted to chocolate. 😉 I am certainly not your cliché blonde. On the other hand, I can’t deny that I’m also quite girly: I love shoes. I love Johnny Depp. I love clothes, jewelry and make-up. I totally go awwwww at cute kittens. (I posted some details on my inner dilemma in Girl vs. Geek Part One. Let me know if I should see a shrink yet).
So, how does me being a woman affect how I play? Or does it affect what I play in the first place? Some of my all-time favorites are: Baldur’s Gate I+II, Fallout I-III, TES: Morrowind, Dune, Planescape Torment, The Dark Eye Trilogy, Colonization, SpellForce II, Mass Effect I+II, Dragon Age, The Witcher and Tropico II. Are those per se girly games? (Oh, I also loved Rollercoaster Tycoon III, but it was way too easy to beat. That one is definitely girly. Perhaps they thought that girls wouldn’t dig a harder game – which is part of the problem Next_Jen’s been discussing…)
I don’t think my choice of games is too girly. But let’s look at how I play. Say I’m faced with a quest that I can solve with brute force or with diplomacy, a special skill, trade-off, or some such. I’m well aware that this is a cliché, but isn’t there a bit of truth in that women tend to try to solve problems through talking and compromising rather than direct confrontation? I’m not saying that all guys will pick the fight, nor will all girls play nice. But I certainly would like to see statistics or a survey on that! It’d be nice if you commented on your playing behavior! I’m really curious!!!
I think all that dialog and relationship-building in the Mass Effect or Dragon Age series appeals to women more than to men. I totally loved it. Not just the romance part, but all that banter and teasing. Awww, Wynne taunting Alistair about being enraptured with “me” was so endearing (watch on YouTube). And one of the funniest romance dialogs of all times in Mass Effect 2, which I won’t go into because it has early-game plot spoilers (I can reveal more if you’re too lazy to search, just contact me). So there definitely are girly parts in those games. I don’t care for relationship-building and romancing as the sole purpose of a game, like in Japanese otome games or in “Singles”. But I love how you can win a battle and then discuss it with your companions especially in BioWare’s games, it adds so much to your character’s progress that can’t be shown in XP and talent points. And I will admit that I was really touched when Kaidan Alenko grabbed my depressed Shepard’s hand and pulled her up in Mass Effect I. (Literally speaking, you’d have to be “up” first in order to “get laid”, right? But that pun could quickly get way out of control… ahem.)
I would never want the label “girl gamer” to mean ridicule or not being taken seriously. Or being not equal in any way to a “guy gamer”. But if it means “girl that loves games”, I’m, well…. I’m game!
Speaking of equality… *sigh*. Regarding that, I have a bigger question in mind… which I will ponder in my next post.