There are a lot of phrases I hate. Any that follow the sentence structure “I’m a blank that does blank, but I’m not a blank!” is guaranteed to drive me up a wall.
“I’m a girl and I play video games, but I’m not a gamer!”
In that same vein “I’m not like other girls, I play video games!” or anything that insinuates that you are a better, cooler, specialer person because you participate in the totally underground, secretive, subversive subculture that is video gaming. It’s like saying “I’m such a nerd, I’ve seen all the Star Wars movies!”
Newsflash: The people who have managed to live their lives without seeing Star Wars (especially those who are over twenty) are the rare magical creatures, not you. And honestly, the same thing goes for video games. I do not know a single person who has NEVER played a video game. I do know some (male and female) who don’t really enjoy it, and many who enjoy it but can’t afford consoles.
There seems to be this pervasive cultural idea about what video games girls play, and the idea that playing “boy games” like Halo is what makes you a true gamer. I don’t know how this came about. I was introduced to the “girl game” of Katamari by three male roommates, and to the male games of World of Warcraft and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Everyone I know has played a Lego game at least once (whenever I’m home I play Lego Indiana Jones with my brother).
Right now, I am commandeering my partner’s PS3 to play Skyrim. I’m behind the times, because I had to wait a year before I had access to the consul and actually could play it, but one excited Facebook status lead to a male friend messaging me saying “I didn’t know girls played Skyrim. I bet you’re playing as a cat person.”
Well I’m not a cat person, I’m a level eight Breton and I just killed my second dragon and I managed to make it Morthal and clean out a bunch of bandit dens without Gamer Boyfriend backseat driving. Even though necromancer’s killed my horse. My playing technique is what we have started calling “slash and burn,” Orcish War Axe in one hand, magic flames in the other, but I’ve taken a liking to great swords even though I tend to just flail around and hit buttons when I’m fighting.
There’s a reason I don’t call myself a gamer, but roll my eyes when girls with video game collections also refuse the title. I’m new to this land, and my knowledge is gleaned from the internet. You know what first interested me in Skyrim? This Christwire article about the hidden homosexual agenda. Is it possible that when I was informed the game had been purchased I yelled into the phone “IMMA GIVE ALL THE SKYRIM JOBS?” and was asked to please never say that phrase again? Totally. Does my knowledge of Dragon Age consist entirely around the discussion of players being able to chose homosexual pairings for their partners? Yes. Is my biggest frustration with Demon’s Souls the confusing punctuation? Maybe. Do I have any video game knowledge gleaned from actual playing experience? Yes. Necromancers will kill your horse if you leave it unattended and all those reloads you did to keep it from falling off a cliff will become meaningless. Your elf friend is not named ‘Falafel.’ Housecarls are really, really condescending.
I am just a visitor in a strange land, lots of girls aren’t. I know ladies who live to play Call of Duty. Some of the biggest, most serious gamers I know have vaginas. I’m not a girl gamer yet, because I’m new to town, and I don’t know that I will ever pass beyond a casual member of the community. Either way it’s fine, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m some special creature because I play slashy killy “guy games” and I’m not some rare gem of a woman for doing that. I also don’t feel the need to assert that I’m too cool for the gaming community, or insist that I’m still a viable lady-person and not just one of the guys. I own shoes that would make a stripper jealous, I play Skyrim, and Manbeast promises that soon he will let me try Dark/Demon’s Souls because he actually respects that I have learned and improved my playing. I guess I jumped in the deep end first, but that’s kinda how I do things, not because I’m special, but because I don’t think things through.
I’m in my penguin pajamas, I have a large glass of red wine, and I’m going to finish packing for a trip and then start my long weekend by lighting a den of vampires on fire. I’m a girl, and I play video games. I’m not a gamer yet, but I’m also not a mythical creature. Those frost trolls, on the other hand…