OK so I am prone to this lapse of judgement, the pitfalls amongst all pitfalls; the ever convenient stereotype. We use them and throw them around like confetti at a wedding, they just make life easier and yet we know that it’s so wrong. So it’s no surprise that stereotypes have made their mark in the online world, going as far as the intricacies of gaming.
By taking a critical look at technology, values and institutions we are given a glimpse into society, how it works and what other changes we can expect in the future. And lads, it seems that all the female traits are starting to become sought after commodoties; emotional, relational, networking and connecting. All traits that most men shy away from, especially if they are preluded with the dreaded words ‘We need to talk’. Cue horror music.
This shift from the cold hard facts and stats to the emotional intelligence and empathy, means that a tremendous power shift is taking place from men to women. Rather interesting considering that historically women tried to be more like men to succeed.
Now lets take this stance. Gaming in its mere nature is a social, trust based interaction. Even though it is male orientated, its existence is based on the feminine perspective of life; meet people, interact with them, work towards a common goal and looking out for each other (am I missing anything?).
This makes it so surprising that men are taking ownership of this space and making it very difficult for female gamers to be taken seriously. But women have become the silent threat, with stats revealing that 40% of the gamers in the US are female.
Wam. Bam. Thank you m’am. Men consider yourselves warned.
Now it gets interesting. Although we call ourselves civilized, it seems that double standards are fast and heavy in the gaming world. Women will often be treated less worthy and will need to earn their respect from fellow gamers much more than a male gamers. I repeat: D.O.U.B.L.E. S.T.A.N.D.A.R.D.S.
I keep on mentioning these archetypes in female gaming; so here are a few. And let me tell you they aint pretty. For every stereotype we find, we find someone who almost, at a push, fits into this category and with this discovery deem it to be true for the entire population.
Ala any princess ever created in a Disney movie. This female gamer is seen as naïve and always needs a strong man to come in and swoop her away from impending doom. The long and short of this is that the only way this lady gamer will be taken seriously is by not revealing her gender.
OK ‘stop die lorrie’. So now we have to deny that we are female and are seen as a little prancing princesses not built for this environment?! We have to hide the one fact that at the end of the day makes us who we are? Is this not some infringement on some constitutional right that we have?
So either we are seen as little girls (with shiny objects on our heads) or we are seen as loud-mouths who do the finger-snap while exploring WoW?! So who/what is the Diva aka the Prima Donna really?
It seems that the Diva is actually a pretty decent player, but by her very nature she wants everything and she isn’t afraid to give her opinion. Every female gamer will be seen as the Diva at least once in her gaming career. It seems that men still think that some people’s opinion count more than others, and ummm cough cough you can safely guess whose is not that valued.
The vixen, the she-wolf and the bitch
We have been attacked for being too girly, now for being too loud so of course the next stereotype lambastes our sexuality. The Vixen is the seductress, the She-Wolf the deceiver, and the Bitch the punisher of men.
If anything these all hint at the way that females have tried to survive the barbaric treatment that fellow gamers give them. So we either try and be super girly or pretend to be men; this might not be the true personality of the gamer but it’s a coping mechanism of sorts. And if anything that is one thing we women do well is go with the punches.
So now it’s my time to fess up. Yes, me pointing fingers like I have at ALL male gamers is stereotyping in action, but we all know that stereotyping is fun and the way of life. So take the blow like a man and harden up.