Girls Should Not Play Videogames

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Culture, Games

[Unless they legitimately enjoy them.]

I’m tired of the litany that [more] girls “should” play videogames.

Face it. Videogames, at least the videogames which are always meant by the term, are designed for boys. What are Counter Strike or Halo or Call of Duty? They’re the modern equivalent of going out to hunt or fight. It’s simulated fighting, or sports. And what do boys do? They compete with each other.

Are all games like this? Well, of course not. You’ve got your Myst, you’ve got Civilization, you’ve got a million other games that aren’t training simulators for boys to learn how to practice hand-eye coordination and fighting tactics.

Thing is, the focus on girls not playing videogames is always about this small subset of games which are, for obvious reasons, attractive to men and young boys. These are games which are acting out traditional male roles in fighting and competition, but in a safe and nondestructive way. They cultivate masculinity, why would most women be interested in that? Sure, you’ve got your outliers, but that’s pretty much the situation on the ground right now — Nerdy tomboy girls playing masculine shooters. The non-obvious twist is that women are actually a majority of videogame players once you look at things like Bejeweled, Literati, The Sims, and Facebook, they’re just not as interested in the masculine games.

I can’t count how many articles I’ve read with so much hand-wringing over these intuitive observations. These sorts of articles tend to like to profile female gamers. “Whenever I beat a guy, I like to shout over the mic, ‘You just got beaten by a girl!'” they’ll say. The point being, if you’re a girl and you play videogames, you must glorify your victories over men.

Not only is this a blow to their masculinity, but it denigrates a woman’s femininity. This is why playing videogames is a lose-lose proposition. Women don’t need to emulate masculine behaviors to have worth. It’s not even beneficial to be a “gamer girl” if you’re going to constantly compete against your boyfriend or husband and question his masculinity when you win. There are plenty of girls out there who like certain games, and who can show interest in their boyfriend or husband’s activities without making that next step to trying to become one of the guys.

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