Saturday, December 3

Why is women playing computer games still such a 'joke'?

Depending on whether you are in computer games and ‘geek culture’ or not, you might or might have not heard about the uproar at a passage of a critique on the new Elder Scrolls RPG, “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim”. It’s not about people who play Hannibal the Cannibal in the game, which would have been understandable from the point of view of the ‘computer games are evil’ fraction out there. It’s about taking it for granted, at least to a certain degree, that adult women (read: women of 20 or older) do not play computer games – at least no computer games other than casual ones.

This post is not about the uproar, it’s not really about that article, either. It’s a post that wonders why someone would still consider it a given women don’t play computer games. For, you see, to make it a ‘joke’ to claim ‘if you haven’t heard of Skyrim, you’re a) an adult woman or b)…’, you need to believe it’s still a given women aren’t interested in games. Otherwise the poor guy would have known it wouldn’t go over well, especially not with Facebook and Twitter around.

Now, I could pull off a ‘hipster cat’ move and say ‘I did computer games before it was mainstream for women,’ but that would be beside the point. Yes, I did play computer games while most women were not interested in them. I still play them, as my main blog might show, where I did two posts about computer games today. But this is not about me, it is about people who still think women are not playing ‘real’ computer games like “Skyrim”.

No matter which way they came, women have taken up computer games as a hobby for quite a while now. Some started with consoles and made their way to the computer to play more of their favourite games (RPG games, no matter whether single player or MMO, are very popular with female players), some started with casual games and made a jump over to the other ones at one point. They all are playing computer games today (according to some statistics, female players are close to 50% online now, maybe a few percent less offline) and quite some of them are well-informed on what is in the line or out right now. And especially “Skyrim” as an RPG game has been in their line of sight for a long time – so much for women not being aware the game has been released.

Yet men – some men at least – seem to be completely oblivious (or Oblivion? little inside joke) of this fact. Only because most heroes in RPG games are male by default (even if a female alternative exists), some people still seem to think that only men play those games. But if men enjoy creating female characters for MMORPGs, why should women not enjoy a little gender change, too? A character you play in a computer game is merely an avatar, changing with every game. It’s not your only possible online or digital self. I have never had any moral or other problems, playing a male character. I’m sure most men don’t have a problem at all with playing Lara Croft…

If you haven’t heard of “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,” you a) haven’t read this post or b) haven’t read this post. Otherwise you will at least be aware such a game exists, no matter whether you’re a man or a woman. Oh … and long time no see, but I promise to improve…