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Girls don’t REALLY play video games

2009 March 2
by Cleo Calbot

Overheard today at a GameStop (a mother and her son about age 6):

Son: Mommy, why would a girl ever play video games?

Mother: Because they have the WiiFit out now. So they can play too.

Now, this is offensive on a couple of levels. Firstly, it’s perpetuating the stereotype that girls can’t/don’t play video games AND that they are insecure about their body, thus the need to excercise. Secondly, the fact that a mother, of all people, would be encouraging such thoughts. And finally, as my roommate (an avid gamer) noted, it’s offensive to her because it essentially dismisses an entire aspect of her life.

I suppose my reasons for relating this are a genuine desire to know WHY ideas like this get perpetuated throughout THIS day and age. How likely is it that we’ll be able to find a common ground, or some level of equality between the genders?

All I can say is, with this recent experience, I’m looking forward to our “modern connections” section of this course…

3 Responses
  1. March 2, 2009

    Ugh. So very frustrating. On the other hand, the day I went to pick up the new WoW extension, Wrath of the Lich King, the only customers in the store were two women and we were there for the same thing. The other woman had pre-ordered hers. She was probably college age and likely the cashier assumed that she was buying it for herself. I think he could have made the assumption that I was buying it for a kid. Boo. He didn’t say anything, at least.

    Yesterday, we took the kids to Best Buy to buy games as a reward for weeks of chores. I talked my daughter out of buying a DS game called Babyz. She said, “All my friends have it.” I said, “How many of those friends are boys?” She said, “I don’t know any boys.” And then I launched into an explanation of how the game implies that only girls can take care of babies and how I thought that boys should take care of babies too and that I didn’t want her to play it because it was sending a bad message. She got a SIMS game instead.

    On the other end of the spectrum, my son wanted to get Call of Duty. We stood in the aisle to discuss it. I’d told him a story a while back about a guy who let his son and his son’s friends play the game only if they followed the Geneva conventions. Before I could even say anything, he promised to play by the conventions.

    It’s funny, because I think the focus on violence in video games takes away from any discussion we might have about gender representation in video games. I don’t think you can be a female soldier in CoD. And there’s a whole host of games for the DS (because it’s popular with girls) that play on gender stereotypes.

    And I agree with your roommate about erasing a huge part of her life. Because not many women my age play MMORPG, I don’t talk about it much. When another mom asks me what I did over the weekend, I’m not likely to respond with “I went on a 10-man dungeon raid and we pwned!”

  2. Baibh Cathba permalink
    March 2, 2009

    I know! I am utterly annoyed by gaming stereotypes. So far I’ve asked about five girls on WOW why they play and the response it that they were originally drawn in by their boyfriends. Why is that the case? Why no guys drawn in by their girlfriends?

    Also, this is compounded by humor regarding gaming sites and “everyday geek” skits like this one: world of wifecraft Why the stereotype of a nerdy guy being addicted? Is it statistically more likely because of the “social” aspect that other people have alluded to?

  3. Alex M. permalink
    March 4, 2009

    It is a frustrating and plain silly mindset. Why do people still tell their children this, fully knowing its not true? A few years back, my little sister came home one day and told me that girls don’t play video games. It was shocking on one level because her teacher told her this to discourage her from playing computer games at school and on another because I was sitting there with a Playstation controller in my hand. She grew up with girls playing video games and someone essentially tells her that this is strange and wrong. What does that achieve?

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