Gender vs. Experience: A “Gamer Girl’s” Take by Jennifer Amlie

I don’t know why or how the stereotype of the elusive girl gamer got started. All I know is the very first year the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, I wanted one for Christmas, and I got it. The rest is history. I spent many years blissfully unaware that gaming was something “the boys” did. I spent years not realizing that I should be offended because my virtual sisters were being oppressed and under represented. I forgot that because I usually wasn’t playing a girl character, I shouldn’t be able to identify with the male ones. Whoops, I guess I’ve been doing this wrong since 1985.

I  enjoy writing and reading about gaming culture issues. Although, sometimes it feels like all women are supposed to think one way about the gender issue. We’re getting ready to riot in the streets, burning pink 360 controllers if more female characters aren’t introduced. We’re all supposed to identify with our gender first and foremost, and that shapes our opinions above anything else.  But honestly, I don’t feel like that. Not every single thing I like needs to be directly marketed to women. If your game sounds interesting, I’ll play it, write articles about it, and spread the word.

When it comes to giving my “gamer girl” thoughts on a regular, old thing like a video game review, it’s not going to happen. I think as a gamer first. Do the controls work? Are the graphics okay? What about the story or replay value? These are things I focus on. I really don’t care that I’m playing as an overly masculine dude fighting a war against locusts or if I’m controlling a Commander Shepard who’s my spitting image. As long as the character works with the game, I’m cool.

When I read articles or comments about how women can’t get into a game if they’re not playing as a girl or how Lara Croft’s enormous  boobs turned them off to Tomb Raider, it almost makes me feel sorry for them. They’re missing out on some fantastic games. Why is it so important to play as a certain gender or have your character look a certain way? It’s fun when role playing games let you make your own character, but personally, I don’t feel it’s a necessary element needed to enjoy a game.

Video games are a form of escapism. I’ll never compete in Mortal Kombat, save the galaxy from aliens, or shoot fire from my fingertips in real life.  But I can do all those things and more when playing a game. When I’m watching a movie or reading a book, I don’t need the main character to be a woman, why should that be any different with games? Shouldn’t the quality of the experience trump gender roles? I think so.

(featured image source)

Jennifer has been playing video games since the NES. Her favorite series is the Legend of Zelda. She has her own gaming blog, Residentgamer, and is a featured contributor in technology on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  


  1. Love your take on gender in video games. I do wonder, though, is it also possible that your gender has been shaped by video games and, likewise, that your video game experience is shaped by your gender identity?

    • shannonhumphreys says:

      That’s actually a really interesting question, especially for our generation. “Our” being the author and myself, as I have no idea how old you are.

    • I’m really can’t say if my gender has been shaped by games. It was all fantasy to me and i don’t think it shaped much about me as a girl.

      However, I don’t believe my gaming experience is shaped by my gender identity. I’m a gamer, first and foremost and that’s how I approach video games I play or other gamers I encounter.

  2. Well-said.

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