Gamer should be a neutral term, including all kinds of humans who game: women and men; humans of various races; able bodied and disabled; gay, straight, bi, other; cis and trans; young, old and in between; and much more. It should mean that but it doesn’t.
Analyze the ways games are designed and marketed, examine the culture within gaming, and you will find that all the signs point to a default gamer who is a white, cis-gendered, straight male, young and able bodied. That’s the supposedly neutral position. It’s not neutral at all and in fact excludes huge segments of the gaming population.
The entitled jerk who complained “Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer” got one thing right: most games are designed with him in mind. And most people in game communities behave as though the straight male gamer is the default and anything other is, well, Other.
Simply being a woman in gamer space and geek space one is the Other. When instead of hiding our identities by refusing to speak we play without concealing who we are we are marked. Speak on voice chat or object to a woman hating comment and you’ll see just how quickly you are marked.
When I say I am a woman gamer I acknowledge all this. I also claim this space, and make space for myself, and for other women who come after me. I shine the bat signal of woman gamer solidarity. I send a sign to designers that I play their games, and I am not alone. I elbow my way into the conversation in the greater gaming community. I join the voices of other women gamers who have spoken up before me.
We exist. We are women and we play video games. One day, that distinction may become irrelevant, but today is not that day.