The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line! If you like Kristy’s work, don’t forget she’s co-host of our Flash Point podcast.
One of the first things you do before you start writing anything is decide your target audience. For the most part, this is easy. Normally I write to gamers or to people that might be interested in a certain game. The first part of this article was even easier – I didn’t have an audience in mind and merely wrote it more as a speech on my previous experiences.
This article was always going to be difficult to write. When talking about how women are treated in a male dominated place, it’s never going to go down well – especially when the majority of your audience is probably male. I do however believe that this is something that should be talked about and while I am not the most qualified to do it, every voice counts and I want to add my own.
So I’ve decided to target the silent majority of gamers out there. The ones that either see a problem but don’t want to or feel the need to say something or maybe they just don’t see a problem at all. It’s very obvious that when it comes to this topic, those of us that are talking are the minority. Most people just get on with enjoying games, or avoid the larger gaming community for their own reasons, so don’t see how big an issue this is.
The gaming industry is male dominated although not as much as people might think. When studies show there are more of us than perception might have people believe, people deny our rights to call ourselves gamers. When women make known we are females, we are accused of being attention seeking or wanting free stuff. So either we stay quiet so we aren’t accused of being attention seekers or we let the world know how many of us are actually out there.
Women can’t win.
The gaming industry isn’t perfect – no industry is. It may be male dominated but that is no excuse for how women are treated by some. I know, I’ve worked in the Information Technology field and currently work in Construction. Both are considered male dominated but how women are treated is completely different. There are so few women that do my day job that I can name (and have met) the only two others in my state. Yet I have never been treated badly as I am in the gaming communities or when I was in IT.
Women can’t win.
Two years ago, I left the IT industry. I never felt welcomed because I would have my work colleagues come into work in the morning and talk about the smoking hottie they passed in the lobby. They would talk about every woman they encountered as if she was an object. While I was ‘one of the boys’ and so privileged to hear these inner thoughts, it didn’t mean I was one. It still surprises me that my work colleagues think they could break a woman down into parts and that I would somehow respect them or feel like I was a valuable part of the team afterwards.
Women can’t win.
Computer games have embraced the internet – it’s getting to the point where you can’t be a gamer without an internet connection. Sadly it seems that it has also inherited some of the less savoury aspects of the online community. It’s been debated many times whether the anonymity of the internet is to blame for people’s poor behaviour online. I don’t think it is – I think it’s the lack of consequences and many gaming communities are a no-man’s land where there are no laws and no accountability.
This in itself isn’t a terrible thing. People should be allowed to run their communities however they want. However these communities can’t hide from the effect this is having on the gaming industry. You can’t have the gaming world as a place filled with people doing whatever they want and then expect the larger community to embrace gaming as more than an immature pastime.
If the gaming industry can embrace all gamers, no matter what package they come in, then things will only get better. There will be more variety, more people will become gamers and we will have more people to enjoy our favourite pastime with. The first thing we need to do though is stop acting like only young, white straight men play computer games, because this has never been true.
The second step is to speak up. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and if you see something that isn’t right, then take a stand. The gaming industry will not grow until we can all feel like a valuable a part of it.
The biggest change starts with the smallest action. If you think the gaming industry can be better, then start making it better.