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Feb
18
2012

Why there are no gamer girls

Girl playing video game

Often I see the assumption in the comments for my YouTube videos that I'm a 12 year old boy. My hands aren't masculine, therefore I must be a young boy. The assumption is actually based in reality — that's why women often voice young boy characters in animation or video games — their tone of voice happens to be very similar. And apparently their hands are similar too. I started putting my name in the description of the videos when I noticed this trend, but some people who don't read the description (and possibly even some who do) still make the assumption. And those who do know I'm female are often surprised by it and leave a comment to that effect.

When things like that force themselves into my view, it becomes very hard to live under the denial assumption that I'm a gamer first, and my gender is irrelevant. But it would seem that there is still clearly a disparate imbalance between the number of female gamers and male gamers today. Even for an ever-increasingly cute game like Zelda.

This imbalance is something that stands out to a lot of people. And it leads to the exaggeration that there just aren't any gamer girls because not many people ever see one of these elusive creatures. The title of my article is a hyperbole, but I used it because I can almost hear the burning question ringing out, "Where are all the gamer girls??" Short answer: Right there! You just have to know where to look.

I am a "gamer girl", so I will be basing this article off my own personal experience. It can't cover every female gamer's own personal situation but it will at least give you one more relevant perspective to base your own opinions off of. First let me define what I mean by "gamer girl". Or rather, let me start by saying what I don't mean by "gamer girl". I don't mean someone who pretends to love (or even convinces herself that she loves) video games to get easy and over-abundant attention from gamer males. I also don't mean someone who casually picks up a Wiimote now and again for some tennis. I mean someone who is passionate about video games beyond the superficial or casual. I mean someone for whom gaming (of any flavor) is a favorite passtime. My own succint view of gaming is that it is the only passtime during which I never wonder if my time would be better spent doing something else.

Now that we have that out of the way, I'd like to point out that the titular assumption is often offensive to female gamers because it makes them feel like they don't exist. I'd say many female gamers who feel this way are already sensitive to feeling invisible because they are often a shrinking violet: someone who is super shy, hardly ever talks to people, has maybe 1 or 2 close friends, and prefers to blend into the background. If you want to find a [real] gamer girl, you can almost certainly raise your chances of success by seeking out the girl who's trying to evade you. This isn't easy, because it involves the skill of attention to detail or being observant, both of which are qualities I highly value and happen to possess. Just scan a situation, take note of what is most obvious and make a point to look everywhere else except that obvious thing, which is so obvious it's not worth a second glance. This skill of mine might have stemmed from the practice of not meeting people's gaze, but either way it is a skill than can be honed if you want it.

The correlation between nerds and video games isn't a surprise. Nerds tend to focus more on intelligence, while non-nerds tend to focus on socializing or sports. Nerds spend a lot of time studying, and don't expend much energy into making friends. Consequently, most nerds spend a lot of time alone. And video games are historically a solitary activity. While social video games are becoming more popular in the average population (i.e. Dance Dance Revolution and Mario Party), I would still be hesitant to call someone who only plays casual party games now and then a "gamer". For the most part, single player video games reign supreme, and as such, are a really great way to have fun by yourself. Add to this the fact that video games started out on early computers as text-based programs and you can see where the strong linkage between nerds and video games comes from.

So if you want to find someone who likes playing video games (a LOT not just casually) you have to find someone who spends a lot of time alone. A social butterfly is going to spend more time texting or on the phone juggling her entourage of buddies than playing and reading up on the latest video games. Everyone has limited time — the more time you spend doing something, the less time you have for other things. Someone who spends a lot of time enjoying video games will naturally have less time for social pursuits. Someone who spends a lot of time socializing will not have much time for video games. It's all about priorities.

So once you find a girl who hardly talks, keeps to herself, and has minimal friends, go up to her and say, "Hi. Do you like to play video games?" If her eyes light up and she smiles, you know you've got a winner.