In a recent article I wrote “The Biggest Threat to Girl Gamers: Not a Girl Gamer, Just A Photolite“, I discuss the difference between the “fake gamer girls” and women in gaming striving to create a positive representation of women only to get backlash from their gamer counterparts for being too much of a gamer or not enough. Some cry out in defense while others retaliate with such force that it causes unsettling disturbance in the ambiance of the gaming community.
Might we remember what happened to Felicia Day when one tweeted she hadn’t done much to support the gaming community as a woman? How about the backlash Aisha Tyler’s had to endure after hosting Ubisoft’s E3 conference and being called a “fake gamer’ which lead to a profound Facebook letter in retaliation? Arguably, it is hard to discern a real from a fake gamer unless put to the test, but what I have learned from the PAX East panel “You Game Like A Girl: Tales of Trolls & White Knights” is that gamers come in more types than I realized. Panelist included NYU Gamer Center Game Designer Shoshana Kessock, The Mary Sue managing editor Susana Polo, cosplay model Stella Chuu, D20 Burlesque Anja Keister, and sex educator/nerdlesque performer Iris Explosion.
The panel discussed strategies to solving the challenges of judgement to create a safer, more supportive community for women in the gaming industry, cons, and at large. First is acceptance; not all gamers are alike. This can be the most infuriating and challenging because we often find ourselves confronted with people who may not know enough about games and so we jump to call them ‘fake’ or ‘unacceptable gamers.’
Panelist talked about Booth Babes and how they are always given the negative connotations that they are eye candy, dumb as door-nails, fly traps of gaming conventions. We fail to take a step back and see them for what they are, people just like us either interested in gaming or trying to work. Should we judge them for that? Or how about the cosplayer who dresses up as Lara Croft because she feels like a badass tomb raider able to overcome any challenges she faces. Who are any of us to throw the first stone at any female cosplaying as a character they feel empowered by but was designed by a gaming company to look ‘sexi-fied’? It’s almost hypocritical to like a game by a company, even like the female character, and yet think anyone that cosplays that character to be a ‘slut’.
In my article, I labeled anyone that used provocative photos using video game accessories to solely gain attention as photolites while offering no positive support, having no knowledge of video games, nor offering safer community for women hinders the female gamers ability to gain a strong footing in the industry. It is my belief that strong women are needed now more than ever to help evolve the industry just like politics, law, and even the movie industry evolved to balance genders. I argue wholeheartedly that those who reflect a reputation that might have audiences question their ‘gamer side’ balance it with reflections of their ‘true gamer side.’ I don’t condone sexy,sensual, and even provocative gamer style, but when it is the only thing you got to show for there is a psychological undertone that subjects viewers to insult you by your image. We must not stoop to their level of judgement, but yet we must uphold the integrity of women whom are geeks and gamers. Remember, us girls gotta stick together. If one of us looks bad, we all do.
Narz is CEO/ Founder at Girl Gamer Vogue and Video Game Columnist at KnickerBocker Ledger.