Girls in Gaming: Killing the Cliché with Chelsea

by Remy Carreiro

The idea of a steady stream of girls and women who play video games was almost unheard of until recently, and has become far more commonplace over the last five years. But sadly, many of the clichés and stereotypes involving female gamers do not seem to grow or evolve, creating what is ultimately a hostile or overly sexualized environment. Male gamers have always wanted there to be more female gamers in the culture, yet it is those very men who may be subconsciously (or overtly) pushing the girl gamer away by acting like a sexist caricature of the alpha male.

I thought the best way to address this was to give an opportunity for a few of the genuine girl gamers I know to put their point of view into their own words. I am starting with Chelsea. I won’t tell you anything about her. I’ll let her do that.

Remy: Hey Chelsea. Thanks for sitting down with me and helping to abolish some of these archaic stereotypes involving your gender and gaming. Let’s begin with you telling us a little but about yourself. Also, tell us your favorite game of 2011. 2011 was a benchmark year for gaming and a favorite game says a lot about a person.

Chelsea: No problem, Remy.  Well, I’m 21 and have had every gaming console from Atari passed down to me by my mother. From Sega to Nintendo and all in between, I have pretty much rocked every console at one time or another.  I was raised on Mario and Sonic.  Gaming has always been a huge part of my life.  Also, to my surprise, gaming has helped me pass some classes in high school and college.  The knowledge of accurate history in some days, as well as the critical thinking they require, is a wonderful trait to have nowadays.  As you asked, 2011 has been a huge benchmark in gaming.  However, our standards have since dropped from the nineties.  CoD MW3 I saw as a very expensive map pack to its predecessors.  I was at the midnight release and partook in the contest. Overall, I was very excited, only to be highly disappointed by MW3.  The graphics were good, the ability to level up weapons was also a perk, but overall the game was a gimmick.  It was nothing but a copy.  I sold it for a chair.  And it is an awesome chair.  I regret nothing.

With all the games released in 2011, great and not, my personal favorite is Skyrim.  I know it’s simply Fallout with swords and magic, but that game is amazing.  And since Fallout 1 for PC was released, I have been an avid RPG player.  Each one has its ups and downs, but Bethesda blew me away completely with this one.  From the never ending quest lines, to the graphics, and the customization of everything, it’s perfect.  There are even little details that people often overlook.  Like the ship you can swim to, beneath the ocean.  There isn’t a quest attached to it.  There’s no back story.  It’s simply there, just for you to find.  It’s amazing.  The game is littered with things like that, and it’s a well spent $60, since I intend to put thousands of hours into it.  Although BioWare probably ruined any RPGs for me with their interactive conversation wheel and having your character respond with a voice, I still love Skyrim.  And I am excited to hear Bethesda won the rights to make a Fallout MMO.

Remy: Yes, the idea of a game that takes place in a Fallout universe that never really ends is a scary and exciting prospect. Ok, next question. If you could take this opportunity to address one stereotype or cliché female gamers face, what would it be?

Chelsea: You’re making me pick one, when there are so many?  I’m no feminist, but let me tell you, there are girl gamers like myself who can kick a boy’s ass.  Be it at Mario Kart, COD, or Super Smash Bros, I have just as good a shot of winning as you.  I do not game to ‘fit in’, I do not game to ‘get attention from boys’ and ‘seem interesting’, I game because it is an integral part of my life, and it is a place of socialization, challenge, and stimulation. I also think of it as a way to escape the everyday mundane reality we all live in.  Granted there are girls who’ll whine, complain, and express they game in order to get attention, but I am not one of them.  You’ll never hear me on the microphone on XBL saying ‘aw but I’m a girl’.  No.  You’ll probably hear me say ‘Get in my backpack, because this team just got carried.’  And I only play Xbox because my PC got pissed on by my dog, and it broke.  And now I can’t afford to build a new one, with all the specs that I want.

Yes.  I can build my own goddamned computer.  Yes.  I have a vagina.  Yes.  There are real women like me out there.  We just like to hide behind the names of the great gamer men who came before us, lest we get berated online for being a girl.  I’ve gotten plenty of rude XBL messages.  Which is the main reason I often hide my voice when I play on Xbox live.  But rest assured, we girl gamers exist.  And you’ve probably had your ass handed to you by us.

Remy: Yes, I do believe you have handed me my ass on a few occasions. I am OK saying that. Male or female, may the better gamer win. When the Fallout MMO comes out, I will nuke your ass though, even if it is not PVP. I hold grudges. Anyway, you spoke of Xbox live, which was a nice Segway into my next question. Xbox live can be a pretty nasty place if you are a girl gamer, especially one with skills. What is your least favorite aspect of playing online and have you had any particularly nasty interactions with some of the younger gamers who seem to frequent it?

Chelsea: Great question actually, and probably one I would have addressed even if you did not ask it.  I really have a very split relationship with Xbox Live. Sometimes, I hate XBL.  I hate it when I’m alone, and not in a party.  Because if I say one thing, and there isn’t a White Knight there, things get nasty.  I get called every name in the book.  I get threatening messages telling me they’ll find and rape me.  I have ten year olds flipping out at me.  Two gamers, constantly messaged me to the point where all the notifications froze my Xbox and I had to restart it twice in one night.  Luckily, I was in a party, and not wanting to respond, I sent my good friends Frosty and Lupus to handle the situation with chivalry.  (Editors note* A snowman and a werewolf? God, that is beautiful ). Since then, the trolls who were harassing me haven’t contacted me.

I did have an online stalker, as well.  He joined our party, found out my name from the party’s casual conversation, and then somehow found me on Facebook.  He would message me all the time, although I never accepted his friend requests online or on XBL.  It went on for months.  I would block him, and he would make a new one.  That was probably the creepiest thing ever, and the messages aren’t ones I would show anyone under the age of eighteen, they’re that vulgar.  That’s the worst of it though.  You get the shit talkers, the trolls, and then you get the friends.  I have a group that I play with, and we’re all pretty close and even talk outside XBL.  I don’t get mad over trolls or creeps, I just ignore them really, and keep going. Because I’m there on Black Ops to kick ass, not fight with some pre-teen.  And I do kick ass.