From Our Readers

Reflections on Being a Girl Gamer

I have a confession to make: I’m into video games. Bear in mind, this is not a conclusion I arrived at lightly, but it also didn’t require weeks of intense introspection and inner soul-searching for me to realize. It started off slowly – a game of Mario there, a few levels of Zelda there. Somewhere, in the inner recesses of my closet, lies an old, dusty, red Nintendo GameBoy with the batteries well past dead. I have fond memories of many a car trip spent in the back seat, playing to my heart’s content until someone yelled at me to turn the sound down, thus sparing them from hours of bleepy-bloopy noise and effects. I bargained for an old Nintendo 64 at a yard sale, inheriting it from an old friend, another girl gamer who’d decided she no longer had use for her Super Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. Her loss was my unadulterated, gleeful gain. I even managed to get my sister involved since it came with two controllers and enjoyed beating the pants off her a little too much until she started getting better. (To this day, she still kicks my butt on any racing game in existence, a fact that she holds over my head with only minimal gloating.)

Once I got to college, I discovered that video games were mostly a male-dominated pastime, but I was determined to not let that stop me. The guy I was dating my freshman year liked to play in his spare time and since I didn’t want to spend our afternoons sitting on his bed in his dorm room watching him play for hours, I picked up a controller and joined in. We jammed out on Guitar Hero (and subsequently struggling through every note of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ – ON EASY) and he taught me how to make the perfect headshot on Halo. Inevitably, the honeymoon period ended, the romance soured and we broke up, but I kept playing – a little less, ultimately, given that I didn’t have my own game console anymore, but the love was still there, just hidden behind the scenes as I finished out the next three years of my undergraduate career with only the occasional round of Guitar Hero under my belt.

A lot of time has passed since then, but I’m noticing that more and more women aren’t afraid to pick up the controller – at least more than when I was the only girl with a GameBoy in her back pocket. We’re still definitely in the minority, and though the people I play with from time to time (all guys) are incredibly supportive, completely unbiased and treat me like just another gamer, there’s still the occasional guy who likes to trash-talk who underestimates me simply because I’m a girl. But that’s why the mute button was invented, to tune out the haters. (I won’t even get into the behavior guys resort to while playing video games – I will say, however, that girls do not want to get teabagged, not in the virtual world and most definitely not in reality, so let’s just put a stop to that right now.)

The reason why I play? I like to have a good time, I get to have free long-distance conversations with my friends who live on the other side of the country via headset and I ensure that my hand-eye coordination isn’t completely shot. Plus, I just bought a Zumba game for my XBox and now I get to shake my booty in a free class all in the comfort and non-judgment of my own living room. How awesome is that? And I’ve been told more than once that guys totally dig girls who play video games. I know it’s a long shot, but I sort of have this fantasy (in the vein of Zack Morris, all edged in pink soft focus) that one day I will lock eyes with some cute gamer guy with slightly shaggy hair and relatively decent hygiene (who, perhaps, looks remarkably similar to Zachary Levi or Christopher Gorham) across the rows of games in Best Buy and we will eventually get married and have little gamer babies. Ridiculous fantasies aside, at the end of the day my future husband has to be willing to play video games with me. Sorry, that’s just one of my dealbreakers.

To all the girls out there who play, who used to play and don’t anymore, who have always wanted to pick up a controller and play for the first time: you’re not alone. There are more of us than you think. And if you ever want to play a game with me, I’m resident iCarly on XBox.

You can follow Carly Lane on Twitter

  • Jacinta Wyld

    pft. i know tons of gamer girls. i dont know why ppl cling to stereotypes that only guys game, or that geeks are unattractive… i know gamers that model. ppl need to stop clinging to these outdated and inaccurate labels. Im an attractive woman and im a MASSIVE geek and i game. put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • Carly Lane

      Agreed! Although I’m always amused by the number of people who are surprised I’m a girl when I play against them.

  • Jacinta Wyld

    i need to get an xbox. just the computer atm.

  • Pablo Aldabalde

    i don’t know if i’d attracted to a gamer girl (just for being so and me being just a spare time gamer) but the fact that a girl does not bother guys playing videogames and to happily join a game it’s just beatific, i’d be a serendipity. Ps. Having played Halo makes you not just a another girl i think. But here a girl friendly game you should try in companion (it’s always better to have someone to play with): i know it’s only avaible on ps3 but still.

  • Charlotte Scott

    A recent study showed that in Australia, gamers are made up of 53% males and 47% females. It’s nothing to really be ‘proud’ of.

    • Lindsay Goins

      A lot of those studies are based on whether you play any video games at all, including those social games on Facebook. My mom participated in one where she said she played video games, but it’s really only limited to Bejeweled and those hidden object games. I totally agree with you though – there are enough gamers like me who are girls out there that it doesn’t really need to be a badge of pride anymore. It’s just a fact. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. I work in an entertainment retail store, and customers will sometimes go out of their way to find a dude to ask their video game questions when I know more about the games and the hardware than almost all of them. But then again, I think that’s linked to nerd-dom in general… the same thing happens with all the comic books at work, too.

  • Becca Sands

    I wasn’t allowed to play video games as a kid and it was only recently that I showed an interest. I got a Wii for the Wii Fit and then I nabbed Mario Kart. 😡 But my roommate plays Call of Duty and I gave it a try, and let me say….I AM AN AWESOME SNIPER. Also, I rock at L.A. Noire. Except driving. I don’t think I’ll ever get that right :(

    • Carly Lane

      I LOVE L.A. NOIRE. I find that the driving problem can be solved as soon as you put the sirens on and let ‘er rip! I’m seriously about three cases done from finishing the game and I keep forgetting to play, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
      And I’d let you snipe me any day.

  • Alyson Hockenberry

    I *try* to play the FPS-style games, but I’m just no good at them. Therefore I always get heckled on Xbox live by the little 13 year old boys who do nothing but play Halo/L4D/whatever. My boyfriend and I play as often as possible with some of our best friends from home (another co-ed couple!). My best friend’s awesome at video games!
    Instead I air toward the RPG style games. They’re just more interesting to me and although less tactically difficult, I think the strategy involved makes them harder in the long run.
    I too grew up with an NES, sega, gameboy, etc. and still have a DS that I play frequently!

  • Shelley Franklin

    I know I’m in love because I allowed my boyfriend to spend the evening playing our copy of Arkham City, while I really really wanted to keep playing. I’m a girl who not only plays games, but works as a game developer. I’m so glad these dumb stereotypes are getting shelved, and more women are wearing their gamer cred loud and proud!

    • Carly Lane

      Wow, a game developer – that sounds like such a fun job to have! Color me jealous. And you’re definitely a good girlfriend for sharing; I probably wouldn’t be as generous!

  • Lauren Vaughan

    I’ll admit that if I hadn’t had an older brother, I probably wouldn’t be into video games. But, I DO have an older brother who is an avid gamer, and he got me into gaming when I was old enough to hold a controler. Zelda was my all-time fave, but I really liked the mortal combat games too. I don’t play much now, but I’m planning on stealing my family’s Wii next time I go home and spending all of christmas break beating the Zelda: Twilight Princess. Heheh.

  • Joanna Boese

    I’m actually the type of gamer who prefers the cute…I’ve become fond of Nippon Ichi, a company that brings JRPGs to the US, mostly with female protagonists in them. It’s mostly because of their “Atelier”/”Mana Khemia” titles which involves making useful items from things you gain after battles. Maybe because it appeals to my crafting side. :) Of course, I still have yet to get my hands on “Atelier Totori”, the sequel to “Atelier Rorona”…

  • Mindy Mathis

    I didn’t play a lot of video games growing up. A little Super Mario on the Nintendo, and SSX on the Play Station. In high school and some of College I played quite a bit of The Sims and Sim City. My then boyfriend now husband and his friends would always have Halo tournaments on the weekends so I started playing that with them. I was soon addicted and awesome at shooter games. Now, my husband and I play Call of Duty just about every night. It’s an activity that we both love and can share together.

    • Carly Lane

      No matter what they say (honestly, who are these they and why do we listen to them so much?), video games are excellent ways to spend quality time with your S.O. I love that you and your husband play together – so awesome!

  • Amy Ergle

    Growing up our family loved Super Nintendo….’94 edition. Donkey Kong, Yoshi World, Mario Kart, etc. All of the cousins would gather around the tv and cheer on the oldest cousins to finally kill the giant bee at the end of one of the levels on Donkey Kong 2. Passing the controllers around taking turns. Such great childhood memories. To this day all the cousins still go crazy if we see that old school nintendo. I recently found one at a flea market and made the purchase. I have since been reliving childhood owning all the levels of Donkey Kong 2…just defeating the giant bee once again. Still felt great! haha.

  • Made Cepeda

    I’m a gamer!! I’ve been one since I was six! I have had every Nintendo version, I am currently an Md who still finds time to play a round of Call of Duty! We rule!

  • Brittany Marcotte

    I don’t really see the distinction in being a “girl gamer”… Surely the label “gamer” is good enough for both sexes? In any case, when I hear a girl bragging that she is a GIRL who plays video games while in a matchmaking lobby, it makes me cringe. Let your skills, not your gender, speak. I would rather be respected as a MEDIOCRE “gamer” than a GOOD “girl gamer”. I’m sorry, but most of the girls I come across when playing just aren’t very good- and a lot of them try to blind that fact by saying “I’m a girl” every minute or so. Also, when you claim that you were the only girl who had a GameBoy in her back pocket, it doesn’t make you sound like a hipster- it makes you sound like someone who WANTS to be a hipster (which is soooo much worse). When I was in elementary school, I had many friends, both girls and guys, who were obsessed with Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog just like I was… I guess I’m saying don’t understand WHY gender makes a difference here. I wish everyone would just get over it already- being a girl who games isn’t a big deal, and anyone who thinks otherwise is sexist… be they male or female.

    • Carly Lane

      Oh, I totally agree with you. I think it’s sad that people feel the need to make a distinction between girl and guy gamers when we’re really all just doing the exact same thing. While I don’t shy away from the fact that I’m a girl who plays video games, I don’t go out of my way to broadcast it either. Let the skills speak for themselves, amirite?

      As for the whole GameBoy story, believe me, I’m as un-hipster as they come, but when I was in elementary school, I was definitely the only girl I knew who was even interested in gaming – and was even made fun of by other girls in my class, who claimed that I MUST be a boy if I was into things my guy friends liked. But don’t get me wrong! I think it’s awesome that you had friends – both boys and girls! – who were into games along with you.

      Gender shouldn’t make a difference whatsoever, I completely agree, and someone put it to me this way: the perception of video games being a guys-only hobby and/or interest is definitely becoming more and more dated.

  • Elisabeth Miller

    My BFF is a huge gamer. I became ADDICTED to Rock Band (and could kill most songs on Expert) and I even enjoyed some of the other games that I never thought I’d be into.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a gamer and proud of it :)

  • Hillary Leigh Richardson

    I wouldn’t consider myself a “gamer” per say, but I do enjoy playing. I have my own xbox and xbox live account, love to shoot people in COD. I rock hard on the drums in rock band. I’m not very good at most “boy” games, but I still love to play. I also love to hear over the mic “Is that a girl!??” lol

  • Lauren Nespoli

    Yay Carly! I’m glad you got something posted on here! I wasn’t allowed to play video games when I was younger. We did get Playstation was I was 12-ish and I liked to play Crash Bandicoot Warped and Spyro the Dragon. We got Nintendo 64 at some point and I played Mario Kart and Mario Party. Everyone said I had to try Zelda, so I did, but literally I could do was make the guy run around in a circle! I hated that game. I had (well, have) a DS that I’ve probably used about 10 times total and haven’t touched in years (maybe I should sell it?). Now I have a Wii and I use it sometimes, usually for Wii Fit or Wii Sports. I’m just not a video game person. I’m not that interested in them, and I’m not good at them! lol. Sometimes when I babysit I’ll play Mario on Wii and that’s fun for a while. But, to each his own, and I think it’s cool that you like video games so much!

  • Angel Fernandez

    I don ‘t own any consoles at the moment but I just downloaded Devil May Cry 4 on Bear Grylls, my iPod touch. (Yep, I name my things.) And it was tiding me over until I went on Google and searched Final Fantasy Tactics and Metal Gear Solid on the iTunes store and THEY EXIST! Goodbye, (non-existent) social life! /geekingout

  • Meredith Lambert

    I have been reading articles on Hello Giggles for a while and have ALWAYS thought that gamer girls needed some representation. I am a huge game, almost to my detriment. I grew up playing all of the classics and now-a-days I try to keep up with as many new releases as possible. My preference is RPGs and open sand-box games, but I’ll give almost any game a chance. Playing Halo at LAN parties was an integral part of bringing my (very long-term) boyfriend and I together!
    I rarely go a day without using my 360 so my live account is very active, but I am seriously lacking girls on my friends list. So if we have games in common, I am MereLamb on Xbox.

  • Eilis Edmonds

    I’m in agreement with those who want to be referreed to as just gamers, not girl gamers. But it still annoys me everytime I play xbox live and you get a large percentage of males on the headset who will not play with you because you’re female or are astonished to come across someone of the other sex and mostly assume you’re going to be terrible.

    • Carly Lane

      I know! It’s like they think you’re a rare unicorn or something. Hopefully someday soon it’ll be less of an issue – until then, all we can do is keep playing.

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