Game-playing fan boys have an unnatural fascination with the girl gamer.
Game-playing fan boys have an unnatural fascination with the girl gamer. The popular image of the elusive girl gamer is a skinny chick with purple manga hair who wears boob tubes and short shorts. In fact, stereotypes about gamers of the girl and boy variety abound, but not many of them stand up.
Many people think gamers are pimply teenagers who sit in darkened rooms and fiddle with computer parts. Maybe that was once true. But the pimply kid who had to keep pimping his PC in order to play the latest games has grown up since the 1980s. He’s now a 38-year-old man. He may own a console or two, and probably has a wife and kids, and they may all play video games, sometimes together.
And as for the elusive girl gamer, well, according to a study done by the Entertainment Software Association last year, every third gamer is a girl.
I am myself a step beyond the mere girl gamer. I’m a gamer-wife, which is totally different to being a gamer’s wife. Being a gamer-wife is difficult. There’s all the fighting and arguing, the tears and recriminations. Okay, that last bit was an exaggeration but I’m certainly not above using emotional manipulation to wrest control of the Xbox from my husband.
The problem is we have only one TV and one console. This makes negotiating play time difficult. Sure, there are cooperative games that we can play in split-screen mode, but they are few and far between.
In the same way that some men may disparage their wives’ choice of footwear, mine sees fit to question my choice of game.
If I want to play four hours of Geowars—the sole point of which is to fly around the screen shooting down geometric shapes—that’s my choice. Does he have to sit there sighing and rolling his eyes because he believes my time would be better spent on Fallout3?
And, like my father who would routinely go through my mother’s kitchen cupboards giving away casserole dishes and baking pans he thought she never used, my biggest fear is that one day I’ll reach for that copy of Unreal Tournament 3 that I haven’t played in months and find that he’s traded it at Zaps (the swap shop).
Heaven forbid I call dibs on the guitar controller for a round of Guitar Hero. Everyone knows a woman’s place is at the drum kit.
The only time he seems truly happy is when I’m providing cover fire during one of his suicidal runs in a round of Execution in Gears of War (an online death match). I guess the old sayings still hold true, even for gamers. Behind every successful man is a woman with a shotgun and a hair trigger, someone who will conveniently appear to resuscitate a downed husband when he inevitably gets shot up and the precious seconds of his bleed-out time start running out.
Social gamer though I am, I thank my lucky stars for the years spent playing Space Quest, Doom and Tomb Raider, which made me more likely to nag him to let me help mow down the zombie horde rather than choose between me and the horde.
I’m well aware that if I weren’t a gamer myself, our relationship would long ago have run into trouble. I’d want to go out shopping whereas he’d want to stay in and play games. At least this way we’re both satisfied with ordering in pizza and meeting friends online, happy to battle the evil lizard/zombie/Nazi hordes side by side.
Even if I do have to spend all night saving his sorry ass.