It was a chilly night in September when I went into my local EB Games store so I could preorder Assassin’s Creed Syndicate for my Playstation 4. Before I went to the counter to ask if I could still preorder, since the game is street dated for the next month, I noticed that the man who was working that night barely looked at me while I was browsing the shelves. After a bit I walked up and ordered my game. What shocked me the most is that while he was processing my order he finally started a conversation with me, basic small talk, but one thing he said bothered me the most. He asked, “Who are you buying the game for?” This made me pause; I was shocked that he would ask me that. I was there by myself, and the store was empty, but I still looked around expecting him to be talking to another person. When I realized he was talking to me, and I stated that it was for myself, he smiled as if trying to say “yeah right.” As I was walking out I heard him chuckle to himself, and it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time that someone judges me at a video game store just because I am a girl. Other times I am completely ignored if I am shopping with either my brother or friends who are guys. Why is it so hard to believe that I was buying a game for myself? And why do I go through an interrogation every time I want to buy a game? I know—that other female gamers have this issue, or have had similar situations, and bringing it forth is the first step into changing the popular ideals of the gaming community.
When I was pitching the idea of writing this article to a group of friends who would associate themselves with being gamers, some of the girls shared their experiences. One told me that she met a guy, and when he asked her about her hobbies she said that she played video games, and he replied that he had never met a girl gamer before. He then backtracked, and said that he had never met an attractive girl gamer before. The relationship didn’t last long to say the least, but the sentiment is still the same. This is only one type of male gamer, the ones who don’t believe that there are girls who play. On the flip side to this, there are many guys who don’t have a problem with girls playing video games. One male gamer I talked to, who also happens to be a friend, said that he doesn’t believe there should be this dichotomy between genders in video games, and he enjoys the diversity gamers have in recent years.
The video game fan base has always been portrayed by pop culture as being a male only entity. The same references always show the female side of this dichotomy as being either “fake,” or only pretending to meet guys, thus stating that they do not exist at all. This of course, is the biggest lie ever told; according to a Canadian pole by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada in 2012, 46% of gamers are female, which is a rising statistic according to the research. If this is the case, then why does the pop culture idea bleed into reality, and when will it stop? In certain stores, what could be called “girly” products, have been moved out of the electronic section just to improve their sales in a certain demographic. That shows how much this idea is cemented in reality. This is basically showing the female gaming community how little they matter in a capitalistic gain. We buy just as many games as the guys and we should be treated as a paying demographic.
Being a gamer most of my life I have had various situations like the one I described above, but there have also been many great experiences at the various stores I have visited. It just depends on the people working rather than the place. I have had great conversations and recommendations by men who work at gaming stores. Also, I have noticed within the last couple of years there are more female workers that these establishments as well, so we can call that progress. Changing people’s opinions about female gamers is pretty much impossible but I can hope that by bringing this issue forward we can continue to push through the double standards and the judgment of female gamers, because they can hold their own.
Photo courtesy of Marco Bonomo via stocksnap.io
Brittany Budani is our self-diagnosed nerd here at On the Danforth. If she’s not slaying virtual dragons or on a time travelling adventure, she probably is buried under ancient texts, someone should probably save her. You can follow her on Twitter @BrittanyBudani.