Women who play video games have had to jump over hurdles in the boy’s club of gaming culture since, well, forever. I’m not the only one who’s struggled to fight for acceptance and respect, let alone that first place title. However, a recent study published by Newzoo finds that 46% of all gamers are women. And that number climbs to 66% when looking at gamers in the United States specifically.
And with the emergence of COVID-19, both men and women are playing a lot more video-games: women are at it 31% more.
So now that women are loudly making their presence known in the gaming industry, it’s high time to dispel some myths about how they play video games. If you’re soon-to-be wife, girlfriend, or romantic interest is into gaming, here are things to keep in mind. And if your partner is not into gaming, consider this a case study of the female mind.
No, we’re not here to impress you. We’re here to play… and win.
For some reason, many men think women play video games in order to impress them. First of all, no. Secondly, you’re probably thinking of the poseur “gamer girl” who gives a bad name to all of us “girls who game.” Spot the difference?
If there is one thing I hate more than save checkpoints, it’s the notion that I play for anyone other than myself. Why would I be shelling out $70 a pop for a game I didn’t really care about? The only recognition I seek is from my trophy list as I watch it grow with accomplished game feats.
No, we don’t just play “girly” games. We play first-person shooters and horror games too.
I’m not gonna lie, I love my Sims games. I can sit in front of my computer for hours creating a virtual world where I can pretend to have a steady job, loving partner, and enough money in the bank to pay for more than a $3 cup of coffee.
But I can spend just as much time in front of my TV playing combat games like The Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed, and Wolfenstein. In fact, maybe even more time. There’s nothing like embodying a badass character with even cooler weapons who also just happens to possess the most advanced combat training in the world. Your girl may wear flower dresses, but she still likes to wreak havoc on the side.
Yes, we curse as much as you do when something goes wrong. Maybe even more.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a fight sequence where you didn’t know what you were doing because you skipped through all of the cut scenes? Yeah, me too. Trial and error became my best friends. Never again.
Don’t ask me why, but there’s a trope where women are supposed to be demure and composed. Ladylike. I’m sorry, but if I’m in heavy combat and almost dying every five seconds, you can be sure I’m using every curse word I know and inventing new ones when I run out. If you hear your girlfriend cursing like a sailor, just leave her be. She’s too invested to quit now.
Yes, we wish for more badass female role models
One of the greatest things for me as a female gamer was playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey as wait for it… a woman. For the first time in the franchise, and in games other than Tomb Raider, I got to choose between playing as a man or woman for the full game.
More often than not, female characters are made for the male gaze, meaning they’ve got big boobs, tiny waists, and just enough armor to cover the naughty bits. But after seeing what an absolute unit Kassandra was in AC: Odyssey, I can assure you we want more of that. Pro tip: women can be sexy and tough.
No, we don’t need your help figuring things out
If the game you’re playing involves solving a mystery, sometimes it’s fun to sit with someone else and figure it out together. There was one chamber in God of War that I couldn’t get out of to save my life until my dad pointed out a single lever on the wall. I placed the dunce cap on my own head that day.
That being said, I definitely don’t need you to tell me how to actually play the game or what’s coming next. That’s basically handing someone a present to unwrap while telling them exactly what’s in the box. Half of the fun is figuring out controls and combat tricks on your own. If you like sleeping on your couch, this is the easiest way to get there.
Yes, we also play on high difficulty settings
What’s the point of playing a game where you know you can just whack and hack the bad guys without the slightest threat to your health bar? Surviving a hard-won battle is way more satisfying than prancing through the game.
I don’t play video games just for the story alone. A crazy thought I know, but I actually enjoy tough fights and challenges. I dare say I even prefer a higher difficulty. Men don’t like an easy fight, and women don’t either.
No, your hate speech doesn’t get to us
Online servers where you can talk over headsets are notorious for vile language. I thought I knew every insult in the book but apparently I was very much wrong. In all honesty though, it’s become a parody of itself at this point and this video is all the proof you need.
It’s pretty normal for a female gamer to get called out and put down in a chat simply for being a woman. Do we care? No. Are we paying you any attention? Not at all. Did we just sneak behind your back and grab the loot crate while you were too busy making a fool of yourself? Absolutely. Boyfriends beware.
Yes, we enjoy combat sequences as much as social interaction
I’m an avid fan of open world games. They’re super complex now with extremely detailed character arcs and interactions. Most even have multiple story threads, where your social choices change the timeline of the game.
There’s an outdated thought that women play more “social conscious” games because they’re “social creatures.” Don’t get me wrong, I love playing (and messing) with potential timelines, but combat is still my priority. Sometimes running in guns (or swords?) blazing, landing combo after combo, is really where it’s at.
Yes, we play strategically
Going in Leroy Jenkins style into a fight has its time and place, but when you’re dealing with more long term, complex stories, you have to play strategically. Weapons, armor, power-ups, you name it. Everything needs to line up or you’re going to have a really bad time.
Another thing I absolutely loathe, as I’m sure many other women do, is when someone thinks I only pick the nicest looking stuff to equip my character. I did not just go on an hour long mission, looking for a loot chest with a complete set of rare armor with extra upgrade slots, just to look good. I’m trying to be the most fearsome warrior in all the land. Get it right.
No, we not going anywhere
Women have always been playing video games and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Game companies realize this and are currently in the process of making their games more inclusive for all audiences.
In this chart from Freminist Frequency, we can see that in 2019, male-only protagonists in games is at all time low at 21%, while 66% of games offer multiple playable character/gender options. It’s not a perfect number in terms of female representation, but overall it’s better than it used to be.
There will always be those select few guys that will feel the need to give their opinion on how women game. But a word for the wise (especially grooms): If you told your best guy friend how to play his game, would he happily accept your critique or would he tell you to f-off and let him play? Probably the latter option, right? So if your girl is gaming, just let her game.