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Girls in games/gaming

The following piece was written for this weeks Chalk Talk task:

Representation, respect, rights. All of these words are key when the topic of girls in gaming shows up. Since the early beginnings, women have struggled to make an impression or even be respected within the gaming universe. How many women can you name in the gaming industry? There are some catastrophic issues with being female and into games, none of them to do with the women themselves, but rather what transcends.

The simple act of enjoying a game online boils down to either being insulted or being subject to crude remarks and offensive slurs. Of course I am not female; I know nothing of really how it feels to be on the end of the following borderline abuse, but this is not something that is acceptable in anyway. Where it comes from does not matter, it needs to stop.

Years of mistreatment has meant that girls have had to stick together and become more secluded to keep gaming hassle free. We now have a divide; hostility has now formed in both camps. Women have learnt to keep a distance and males have seen this as rejection. So the way forward is difficult, in a virtual space full of anonymity what can we do about making things better?

Well the best answer is for both sides to just get on with it. If you find a decent human being in your game and they happen to be of a different gender, dont make a huge deal of it. Just be nice, like you would to any other gamer out there. We can all coincide without special treatment or abuse. The middle ground is where success lies.

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This of course is only half of the battle; there is that old chestnut, the portrayal of women in games. This is for me the biggest problem, forever the damsel in distress, the distant hero with a bad past, the abused, the helpless; it seems that whenever there is a girl in a videogame she has a problem, a problem a male must fix.

This is one of the biggest problems throughout the gaming world. There never seems to be a strong female character. Of course there are some examples, but the common trend is to make you rescue or fix the female characters around you to make everything better. One of the few games to get this notion of a strong female character right is Lollipop Chainsaw; even through the poorly chosen camera angles and lacking amount of clothes one thing remains. Juliette is a strong woman.

Of course the most recent example of controversy surrounding the portrayal of women in games comes courtesy of the upcoming reboot of Tomb Raider. The details have been discussed at length but it did cause me to ask an important question. In 2012 why do we find ourselves still having this conversation?

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Why hasnt this been eradicated? It seems completely crazy to think that women are still getting a hard time in gaming. Gaming has evolved so much from what it once was. We have characters that can show emotions, we have the capability to create games that are only restricted by what our minds can conceive. So why cant we take the step and start treating everybody equally?

Regardless of how we do it, it needs to be done. But Id like to end on a better note than this, so Im going to highlight someone for whom I have the utmost respect for.

Most know for whom I speak of when I say one of, if not the best female FPS player out there. Kelly Kelley (MrsViolence) is a brilliant example of how great this industry could be if we forget for one moment about gender and let our pastimes bring us all together.

She is an amazing gamer and a strong woman, and that is exactly what this industry needs more of. Ive recently been watching her livestream on twitch.tv and it is fair to say that the comments made on the video couldnt be more misogynistic. The mods, who are also girl gamers, on the channel are permanently in action yet this doesnt discourage either them or MrsV.

I encourage everyone to check out the channel, http://www.twitch.tv/MrsViolence if you dont think there is a problem in the way females are viewed in gaming it will certainly change your perception. It will also show you that great gamers are out there, and they arent all men. Neither do they have to be.

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