Plus ça change, or “hooray for stereotypes”

I subscribe to Daily Infographic, because infographics are nifty and interesting (although most infographic makers, sadly, have fallen into lazy templating instead of designing the “graphic” part to suit the “info” part, but that’s a rant for another day).

Today’s featured infographic, produced by Online University, was entitled “Gamers Get Girls“.

(Click the link for a bigger version; animated GIF warning. If it doesn’t display, try viewing it directly.)

Gamers Get Girls

Some interesting stats in there? Sure. (And the subject matter provokes other thoughts which can wait for another post, like “well duh, of course shared interests work better for forging relationships than catch-all dating sites”.)

Unfortunately, none of the stats or conclusions were interesting enough to compensate for the ho-hum clichés and sexism of all the surrounding commentary. Dear Online University, the 1990s called and would like their stereotypes back, please. “Gamers get girls”? Gamers, increasingly, are girls – as of 2011, the Entertainment Software Association reports that 42% of gamers are female.1 Didn’t you get the memo? Because I thought I’d seen a lot of people talking about it – loudly.

That is, of course, to say nothing of the logical inconsistencies in their stereotypes. The infographic makes the point that a huge number of WoW players are dating another player. So… only the male players actually qualify as gamers, apparently; the female players are just girls, their purpose to be “gotten” by the male players. Like a reward.

Oh, you know what? We’ve had this discussion before – repeatedly. It’s pretty ridiculous when we have to keep shouting just for some basic visibility and recognition. Consider this my turn at the megaphone.

  1. I realise, of course, that there will be plenty of girl gamers who’d like to “get girls” themselves, but I somehow don’t think that’s what Online University was talking about.

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2 Responses to “Plus ça change, or “hooray for stereotypes””

  1. November 23, 2012 at 15:20 #

    On a tangent, the ESA report says that 42% of people who purchase games are female, and from that concludes that 42% of gamers are female. I’m not sure I’d trust that stat, as a person buying a game is not necessarily playing the game (eg, a parent buying for a child).

    Female gamers have certainly been on the rise the past few years (yay!), but if the number was truley at 42% or more wouldn’t we bump into a lot more of them? Outside of MMO’s , I rarely encounter them (unless you consider Farmville gaming). Maybe the gender demographic is split into different game types and that is why they appear so rare to me (eg 300 people in my MWO group… only one female)? I really don’t know. 42% doesn’t gel with my experience though. If I didn’t know you, I’d still consider the “gamer girl” to be a myth.

    • November 23, 2012 at 15:43 #

      Regarding the Farmville thing, I do think the ESA report doesn’t distinguish between different types of games, so the report includes casual games just as much as hardcore games, which does represent female gamers more than limiting the spectrum to “people who play AAA console and PC games”. But that’s fair enough – gamers are gamers, and I’m not interested in policing who counts as a “real” gamer :)

      Bear in mind that a *lot* of female gamers don’t identify themselves as female, to avoid the maaaaaasses of abuse and harrassment that’ll come their way if they do. There are stereotypes about the “gamer princess” who plays up the fact that she’s a girl gamer to get attention from guys, but the “tee hee I’m a girl give me stuff!” types are a small (but visible) minority. The vast majority of female gamers I know simply do not admit their gender unless they’re playing with a group of actual friends (not just ‘acquaintance-level guildies who seem okay so far’), or unless they’re in a guild/clan where they absolutely trust leadership to crack down on abuse and harrassment.

      And obviously, demographics will be involved too – I suspect there are probably higher percentages of female gamers in themepark MMOs (eg WoW, RIFT, LotRO) than in EVE or online shooters, for instance. (Prior to WoW, only about 15% of MMO players were female. In 2005, that was true of WoW too. By 2010, 32% of WoW’s players were female.) I expect that MWO *heavily* skews towards male gamers, because its primary appeal is to BattleTech fans, and that’s always been a fairly niche, heavily male fanbase. When I was playing MWO actively, I only ever saw one other player name that sounded even vaguely female. (Not that that proves anything, especially given the tendency for female players to choose gender-neutral handles to avoid outing themselves.)

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