What Does it Mean to be a "Girl Gamer"?

This week's guest post is right on track with a topic that keeps coming up during the making of She Got Game. A lot of people ask me "who qualifies as a girl gamer?" (as if it's up to me to be the judge of that! Whaaaaaaaat?) They want to know how many hours you spend playing, how many games you play, how much you need to know about it in general to be considered a "real girl gamer." A lot of people have also asked me if the term "girl gamer" has some kind of special meaning they don't know about. Well, rather than trying to compile some kind of generalization on girl gamers, I want to share this fantastic piece by Kirara Koneko, a self-identified gamer girl who's here to help explain what that means from a personal stand point. Her blog can be found here if you're interested in honor of her "three loves, Japan, Video Games and Life."


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Kirara:

What does it mean to be a "girl gamer"? This isn't really a question that I ask myself, I don't really ever even think about that question. Until I see the look on people's faces when they find out I play games. For me, and I would assume for most of us "girl gamers," we don't think about it, because this is just the way that we are. 

I am female, an adult, and I like, no dare I say, LOVE video games! I am just like the men/boy gamers of the world. So why are we seen so differently? For some reason females in gaming are seen as this elusive species, a legend, an urban myth, a unicorn. So let me let you in on a little secret, we exist! We are out there, you walk by us every day, you talk to us, you interact with us, in some cases we might even be your boss. And just in case nobody noticed there are females in the gaming industry working hard to create these games we have all dedicated countless hours to, and guess what...they are doing it right alongside the men!

So why am I asking this question now? I don't think most people realize what women take on when they find themselves drawn to what, from an outsider (and even some insiders) feel, is a boys club. Most of the time we are dismissed, and it is automatically assumed that we can't play or that all we play are Hello Kitty and Disney games (absolutely nothing wrong with that) but there is so much more to us. We don't all get into gaming because our brothers or boyfriends taught us too. Most of us found ourselves attracted by the amazing worlds that opened up literally at our fingertips. Most of us taught ourselves how to play with countless hours of sometimes frustrating gameplay, and for most of us years later, we still love it!

So let me share with you the story of one such "girl gamer." I was young and completely unaware of the video game world. I had seen my uncle play with an Atari, but I was never allowed to play, because of course... I was a girl. One day I happened to find myself staring wide eyed at a Sega Genesis, I still remember what it felt like. I was just walking by, minding my own business at the local toy store, and all of the sudden behind this glass cabinet was this amazing shiny black box that literally screamed out my name. It was indescribable, I had to 
have it! It looked beautiful, and the worlds it promised, I literally stood there enthralled. I pressed my little face up to the glass hoping that somehow magically through osmosis I could just touch it. Fortunately the gods were smiling down on me, and my mom decided I had been a good enough little girl to warrant such a gift. 

You see I am the oldest of four--the only girl--and she was about to have my first of three younger brothers. So really, I think she was just trying to butter me up for permanent baby sitter availability. This one moment is what started it all, and from that moment on I was hooked. I spent hours completely immersed in so many games that to this day I still absolutely love. Fortunately some of them have even been remade, Castle of Illusion being one of those games I loved, and after having a chance to play it again recently it is still amazing. I have to say my only regret of those early gaming days is never having beat Ecco the Dolphin (those were definitely my first nerd rage moments). As I continued to grow and my desire for games increased I discovered Nintendo, and let's just say they stole my heart. 

Throughout the years there have been so many games that I have enjoyed and I literally own every gaming console and handheld, in some case multiples that have come out since the Genesis (except a Neo Geo Pocket that was stolen and never replaced). But for some reason there is no other that speaks to my heart the way Nintendo does. There is a small exception to that, Gears of War, and I don't know what it is about that series that touched me but I actually cried more than once as I played through the trilogy (I say that because I didn't play the last one, a slight boycott since Cliff Blezinski had nothing to do with it). So many years and so many games, but one thing remains the same I am a gamer!

I wait with baited breath for word on the latest releases from my favorite developers. I subscribe to numerous gaming magazines. I follow news online about the goings on of the gaming world. I have even been known to cosplay now and again. It's no secret to those that know me that if you just but peaked inside my bag you would surely find my 3DS XL. My little friend and I have only been parted twice, once for surgery, and once because it was stolen, the latter a very sad experience as not only did I not have my little friend but OH MY GOD, my save data!

It is also no secret that I'd rather spend quality time at home playing my latest game on a day off than wasting it at the mall or some other place that us girls are supposed to go. I strategically organize my schedule to ensure that I have the release day and a couple of days off after the launch to make the most of my gaming time (can't wait for the Destiny launch and 3 days off). My most recent acquisition was Diablo III Ultimate (not enough games like this). I find myself wanting to jump out of my comfort zone and try games that I might not be as great at but where I am drawn by the world. I will even share another little secret with you... I am a damn good sniper!

So you see, we are not all that different from all the other gamers you know. So I ask you, in the end aren't we all just gamers that love, hate, and dive in to these vast universes time and time again to experience and enjoy the possibilities at our fingertips?