Girl Gamer Said What?
As per my last post, my search for people in Sweden with similar interests to mine has yielded some interesting results… Probably not the results I had expected (or maybe hoped for), but interesting nonetheless.
One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is that in Sweden (and many other parts of Europe it seems) it’s completely acceptable to casually play ‘real’ games. The distinction between casual gaming and ‘normal’ gaming is virtually non-existent and it’s pretty normal for someone to say, “oh well, I play Call of Duty sometimes, just for fun.” Piracy, however, is equally common here and you’re considered a bit of a freakin’ weirdo if you don’t have some kind of Torrent client on your computer… it’s one of those ‘how do you manage without it’ situations.
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I have also developed a slightly jaded dislike for The Big Bang Theory fans because they keep getting my hopes up by talking about DnD and Star Trek, only to reveal that all they know about it is what The Big Bang Theory has taught them… which is often not very much and not very accurate either!
One of the strangest (and perhaps saddest) situations I’ve experienced so far was a conversation with a Taiwanese girl from one of my classes. I noticed an ‘I heart zombies’… well technically an ‘I *splat* zombies’ sticker on her pencil case and asked her about it. She told me that she loves everything zombie, The Walking Dead, classic slasher films, zombie shooter games, the works! Naturally, I got all excited and asked her more about what games she plays (being neither a fan of The Walking Dead nor slasher films). She replied that she used to play all sorts of games like Resident Evil and Half-Life and was pretty damn good at them by the sound of it, but that she hadn’t played them for a while because nowadays she plays games like Farmville and Angry Birds… which she described as ‘more girly games’. The only zombie related game she still plays is Plants vs. Zombies… awesome game, but not exactly Resident Evil. I couldn’t help but be surprised… this was totally backwards! Aren’t you supposed to start with Angry Birds (screw Farmville entirely) and then progress to wantonly slaughtering supernatural abominations from there? And I got a bit offended that Farmville should be considered a ‘girl’s’ game because it could possibly be one the most mindless games ever made (and I would know because I played it religiously for a year before I realised how much of my life I had wasted collecting eggs and getting green cows). What was especially strange was that she didn’t even seem sad about it. She seemed to have completely accepted that this was her lot in life: green cows and exploding birds. She also showed no real interest in talking about the games she admitted to loving only a few years ago.
The gaming culture is huge in eastern Asia. I mean they have national StarCraft championships for crying out loud! And she admits to being friends with people who are hugely into the gaming scene, but that as a girl she feels that she shouldn’t play masculine games like FPS, and that she should be playing more ladylike games instead. This upset me surprisingly much. I guess because I assumed that if South Africa was becoming more open minded about girl gamers, then it must be happening everywhere… I mean, no offense SA, but we are a little behind the times when it comes to liberalism and progressive social thinking. But apparently there are still places that are even more behind the times than we are, where a girl who dominated at killing monsters in high school switches to the purest form of casual gaming at university to be considered more appropriate.
I must confess that part of my disappointment was fuelled by the fact that she’d never played BioShock and hadn’t even heard of Portal. But personal taste aside, I was disappointed both because I thought I’d found some awesome common ground, only to lose it again in an instant, and because she was so okay with it all! If someone told me I had to spend the rest of my life playing nothing more exciting than Angry Birds I’d tell them to piss off (or possibly something stronger) and then promptly ignore them. I’m far from an experienced gamer; I still think Torchlight II is one of the best ways to pass the time and I’m the first to say I love casual games, but even I know there’s a lot more fun to be had in the gaming world than just that.
I know it’s none of my business what she plays, and if she isn’t upset about it, why should I be? But I suppose more than anything it made me wonder how many other girls were in the same situation. Were they all as accepting of their situation? Or were they secretly playing Counter-Strike under the blankets every night? I’d like to think the latter is true for at least some… or even better: that some of them told social pressure where to get off and carried on exactly as they were!