When you’re a woman gamer, it’s hard not to feel like an anomaly. Even though there actually are a lot of us, we’re represented as a minority. Both in the official imagery of games (and their marketing), and in the surrounding gamer culture, we get the message that this space isn’t really for us. When things get shitty, or even just sort of odd and uncomfortable, we wonder “is it me? or is something really amiss?”
One can get a little crazy thinking like that, and thinking like that is definitely encouraged by the little corner of the Patriarchy that is gamer culture. You, gamer gal*, must adjust to this world, and if this world is intolerable to you, then the problem is you.
There’s only one antidote to that kind of gaslighting: connecting with other women who share your experiences. Then you get to see that no, it isn’t you, you special snowflake with your personality flaws that you must fix via the self improvement megacorporate insecurity generating complex (happy New Year folks!), it’s actually a whole friggin’ system of culture wide oppression playing itself out in our corner of the world where we play video games and do nerd things. On the one hand, dang, what a bummer. Even our escapism is poisoned with Patriarchy. On the other hand, hey, we’re not crazy!
In 2011 I found, frankly to my complete surprise, a whole community of feminist gamers and nerds on Twitter. Until I started blogging and tweeting about feminism and gaming, I had no idea there were so many of us. There’s also a surprisingly large community of women and men who have shown themselves to be allies of feminist thought, even though they aren’t ready to join us in the glorious revolution quite yet.
When I started blogging about gaming and feminism this year, I felt alone. I could think of one feminist gamer in my community. Thanks to the Twitter community, I now know and interact with at least a dozen, and I know there are many, many more. I’ve gone from feeling like an anomaly, to feeling like I’m part of a movement, or at least a supportive group of like minded individuals. We can, and do, disagree, but not in a way that undermines our lived experience. (At least, I hope if I ever write something that makes someone feel I’m undermining their lived experience, they’ll call me on it)
Finding the feminist gamers on Twitter is one of the best things of 2011. I’m so glad to have you as my Internet Friends. You inspire me; you make me examine and often revise my ideas; you make me feel like I’m not alone. Even this post was inspired by Twitter conversations in the last few days. Happy New Year, and thank you for being awesome.
* It is the official postion of Games and Trips to adopt the term “gamer gal” to identify women-identified gamers as a compromise term between the problematically infantalizing yet alluringly allitrative “gamer girl” and the tin-tongued if accurately seriouscat “woman gamer” as our commitment on the editorial board to truth is equalled by our commitment to elegance of expression.