International Women's Day

Games are for Girls, Too

todayMarch 8, 2020 5

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By Lauren Rabalais
Web Content Contributor

I remember when I got a Nintendo DS for Christmas. 

I was young, probably no older than 7 years old, and I had been so excited to get the new gaming system that all my friends had. Coming with my gift had been my first DS game, “Super Princess Peach.” 

At the time, I was delighted. I didn’t consider that I was already being shoe-horned into a feminine role of gaming in which I was only allowed to play things that were pretty and pink. 

As I got a little older, my parents bought me more games. I’d received games like “Catz,” “Imagine Wedding Designer,” “Petz: Dogz Fashion” and multiple other games of the like. Was I upset with this at the time? Of course not— I was getting new games, and I sure as hell liked animals. 

I asked for another game one day. I’d been hooked on “Pokémon Diamond” around that time (which was apparently not too boyish), and I wanted to play games like it. I asked my mom if she could get me “Fossil Fighters,” a game that featured a young boy digging up dinosaur fossils, reviving them into living dinosaurs and sending them off into battle. I remember very clearly what she said to me.

“Isn’t that game for boys?”

Was it a game meant for boys? Maybe so, I thought at the time, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to play it. I eventually convinced my mom to buy it for me, and I’m really glad she did.

But that day got me thinking— what’s so inherently masculine about “Fossil Fighters” that girls were discouraged from playing it? Was it because it had dinosaurs? If so, then what’s so inherently masculine about dinosaurs? 

Then, I realized. 

It was because the main character was male. I, as a female, didn’t fit into the narrative. This game wasn’t meant for me. Any video game beyond fashion, animals and cute things wasn’t meant for me. Games that didn’t have a female main character weren’t meant for me.

Since the video game industry is dominated by men, this is unsurprising. Video games are mostly made for men, by men, so of course the main characters of these games would be male. But does that mean the industry should ostracize girls who want to play these games? Why must every game with a male protagonist be “for boys?” 

Screenshot of Franklin from Grand Theft Auto V
The main characters of “Grand Theft Auto V” are all men: a common occurrence in the video game industry. Screenshot via “Grand Theft Auto V” by Lauren Rabalais.

According to multiple recent studies, females make up almost half of the total gaming population. That’s a lot of young girls like me asking their mothers if they could play a “boy game.”

The gaming industry, thankfully, has noticed this, and games are becoming much more accessible for women than they used to be. 

Modern games are now, more than ever, including options to play as a girl. Games without female leads now feature strong, inspiring women that no longer need to be rescued by a man. Maybe one day, we’ll get to see a Triple A game featuring only a woman as the protagonist, but until then, the industry better be prepared for us. 

Featured image by Lauren Rabalais.

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