One may believe sexism is a big and booming issue in gaming, but I am willing to point out that it is nothing but a sad fallacy that has become more of a tax loop in the legal system than a valid matter of fact. It’s already proven that exploitation of the female gamer market is firmly based in the working of a system reproducing contemporary gender stereotypes.(Bryce & Rutter) Through a mechanism called “priming,” an implied retention outcome in which contact to an incentive effects a response to a later stimulus, many avenues of social media, specifically gaming, get people into a particular state of mind that gets them to think whatever you want to think. You might wonder what this “priming” is, but I assure you it’s a principal of advertising and it can be so easily done without you even knowing it!
The most obvious gender stereotypes that are constantly being primed are the “female gender linked roles,” “the male-only public gaming areas,” and the “family oriented ideals.” Starting with female characters, we don’t have to look far for some sort of priming of stereotypes. The tendency to have damsel in distress often eludes one to believe she needs saving from a strong, handsome, and charismatic man. Games that don’t have a lead male protagonist saving the day often become topics of wonder and astonishment. People are primed to see a male lead role model save the day, so anything other than that is “wonderful,” “miraculous,” or “ridiculous.”
Not just men are primed to believe that public gaming is specifically meant for them. The whole world is primed to believe video game is a male dominated field. You ask a politician about professional female gamers and they look at you like if you have three heads. Let’s face it! What’s worse, the trickling effect is that everyone in the community sees superiors baffled by this so they debauch these women into trophies worthy of the most severe admiration or disgust.
When we get to family oriented ideals, things get tough. At the end of the day, the baby is popping out of the mommy. She has the nurturing capabilities because she was built for that. (Some don’t, but that’s the beauty of genetics!) So we prime ourselves into thinking women must be ladies, raise the family, be serious, marry rich, and take care of the house. Sadly, we sometimes prime ourselves to these contemporary gender stereotypes because our parents, friends, and elders told us these things.
Honestly, these are our lives. Using “contemporary” is as meaningless and moronic as is the use of the term sexism. Why, because all that is made knowledgeable to us is that we are brain washed to resisting conceptualization of masculinity and femininity related to ourselves. We don’t try to create an alternate role that challenges the emphasized ideals of physical strength and competition in men or nursing and damsel-syndrome in women. As a gaming community, we need to manage and negotiate gaming situations and resistance to dominant concepts of masculinity and femininity. We’re allowing ourselves to become indoctrinated based on fear, stress, and extreme agitation over completely unrealistic responses to challenging events. We are so afraid of the limit of our endurance to ignore deliberate instruction that we just become suggestible to whatever people tell us.
We allow the priming of reproduced contemporary gender stereotypes to affect our behaviors that reinforce the perception that the gaming community is still sexist. Sadly this creates a cycle which primes people to reproduce these stereotypes.
We need more female characters not to “fight sexism” but to prime gamers that it isn’t baffling to see a female lead role model in normal clothes. We need more of the gaming community to realize these women gamers are just like you; no need for the hate or over-the-top admiration. We need to stop believing we need to be “preconditioned ideals of society” and begin to construct ourselves the way we are meant to be.
- Jamie Madigan. Priming, Consistency, Cheating, and Being a Jerk. Psychologyofgames.com. September 09, 2010
- Aldous Huxley. Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited. Harper & Row. 1960.
- Jo Bryce & Jason Rutter. Killing Like a Girl: Gendered Gaming and Girl Gamers’ Visibility. Tampere University Press, 2002.
Narz is CEO/ Founder at Girl Gamer Vogue and Video Game Columnist at KnickerBocker Ledger.