We Strive for Legitimacy, But “Gamer Girls” Hamstrings Us
One of the reasons we started VGRHQ is because we wanted to see the video game industry achieve new levels of legitimacy. It would be a big step if we finally treated our best critics as professionals and journalists, and perhaps even established a game critics awards program.
However, sometimes, it feels like we’re struggling against an unstoppable tide of adolescence and stupidity that continues to hold us back.
The latest insulting mess comes courtesy of a new magazine called “Gamer Girls,” as unveiled at Canadian Online Gamers. Now, we are not calling it insulting because of how it portrays female gamers; that’s only part of the equation. What’s vastly more insulting is that it’s telling the world that gamers are, for the most part, shallow, teen boys with more hormones than brains.
How many years have we been railing against the stereotype that all gamers are male social misfits in their teens? How many years have we been railing against the archaic mainstream belief that all gamers are male, or that they’re all 15 years old? That magazine is designed specifically to cater to to a certain demographic, plain and simple.
Furthermore, even if there are legitimate gaming articles in the magazine (and there appear to be, if you flip through), that’s not the selling point. That’s not what everyone sees. What everyone is going to see is obvious, and the expected – and legitimate – response will be: “See, we knew gamers were just immature boys who live in a fantasy world and refuse to grow up.”
Honestly, isn’t that what such a publication says?
This isn’t about the women as much. Sex sells in all industries, and that’s that. You won’t see ugly guys in a Men’s Warehouse commercial, and you’ll probably never see an unattractive individual, male or female, on the cover of any fashionable magazine (obviously, we don’t count tabloids, which exult in the freakish and weird). Women volunteered to be featured in the magazine and whether they’re gamers or not is irrelevant.
That’s right, it’s irrelevant. It’s not a magazine with personal ads for lonely gamers, trying to convince subscribers that these women are a phone call away, looking for love. I suppose if you wanted to put a positive spin on it, back in 1985, all of us would’ve paid good money to see a hot model holding a controller. Hot girls – in fact, any girls – just weren’t associated with games at the time, so it would’ve been quite a thrill to see such a magazine. If anything, because it proved that gaming had gone mainstream, which, if we’re being honest, is what many of us wanted. We wanted gaming to matter.
The difference? We were all kids at the time. Young boys who kept such magazines under their mattresses, anyway.
The girls in the magazine aren’t what concerns us (although it certainly doesn’t help the reputation of female gamers, if anyone even believes what the magazine is presenting). What concerns us is that we embark on an endeavor such as VGRHQ with the goal of adding legitimacy and bringing serious attention to talented, hard-working individuals in the industry. And what do we see, less than a month after launch?
A publication that says to each one of us (all of whom have been part of the industry in one way or another for at least a decade; in some cases, three decades): “Yeah, you can try to go all professional. You can try to prove gaming has advanced. But really, it hasn’t, and we’re here to prove it.”
That’s the worst part, too. Ten to one “Gamer Girls” is a huge success.
Disclaimer: We would like to add that we are not outraged. Such publications exist in this world and truthfully, it probably makes sense to produce one that’s geared toward the gaming audience. If it’s soft porn, it’s soft porn. It’s a little late in the game to be “outraged” about that.
Rather, we’re frustrated. We’re frustrated because this is the one industry that needs a dose of healthy maturity, and we keep running into roadblocks like this.