I understand that the term “Gamer-Girl” didn’t spawn out of nowhere. The phrase has a history… For the better part of a twenty year period the world of video games belonged to boys and men. In 1982, sociologist Sidney J. Kaplan reported the composition of arcade video game players to be roughly 80% male and 20% female. Six years later a study by Nintendo found that an overwhelming 73% of NES players in the United States were male. Fast forward another five years to 1993, in which Computer Gaming World reported that a mere 7% of its readers were female.
But times have changed. According to a 2016 report, 41% of women now play video games on a regular basis (compared to 59% of men). However despite this close in the video-gaming gender gap, female players still feel the need to differentiate themselves not just as “gamers” but as “gamer-girls.” Here are 3 reasons to stop referring to yourself as a “girl-gamer:”
1. Tacking on “Girl” to Your Gaming Identity Promotes Ageism
Unless you’re 16 or under it’s misleading and a little creepy to refer to yourself as a “girl.” It also inherently implies that older “women” or “ladies” are less valued in the gaming world. This is especially ironic, as the same 2016 report referenced above notes that the average age of female players is 44 years old.
2. It Adds to Poor Game Design
When women refer to themselves as “gamer-girls”they are creating a persona; a label. Unfortunately when video game conglomerates and advertisers observe this they “give the people what they want” and pump out products that solidify the blatant sexism that we see in the world of video game development.
3. It Perpetuates False Reasons for the Minority Position of Female Gamers.
Women don’t have to “earn” or “prove” anything to their male counterparts when it comes to gaming- why bother to draw a line between “girl-gamers” and just someone who enjoys games who identifies as female? The use of the phrase “girl-gamer” enforces stereotypes that suggest a line should be drawn. By erasing the lines we communicate to ourselves and others that our skill sets and talents have nothing to do with gender.