‘Girl gamer’, much like ‘girl boss’, is a phrase that was created for and centered on female empowerment. It has proliferated within pop culture over the years, and became a term designed to celebrate, promote and preface a feminist female force. It was a social media movement, an institution, and an inspiration.
But are these ‘girl gamers’ – which is a rhetoric used to describe a group of grown women – wearing this slogan like a proverbial badge of honour? Or has it just become another tone-deaf linguistic tool of oppression?
Well, instead of letting society decide for them (cuz, ya know, that neverrrr happens to women...), we asked the girl gamers themselves…
“I personally think the term girl gamer is unnecessary. A lot of other girls will disagree and say that it’s nice to have a term that gives them a sense of community. Gaming for me is about enjoyment and teamwork and nothing to do with gender; I’m in a League of Legends team and I’m the only girl. They don’t treat me any differently but when I play alone I’ve had men completely shut me down in game, try to leave the game because they “don’t want to play with a girl” and I’ve had a huge amount of sexist and derogatory comments.”
“I also think it does put successful women in the gaming industry in a box and it feels condescending - why make a point of our gender when we’re doing the exact same thing and a lot of the time we’re doing it at the same level, if not better? It’s like female streamers being more successful by appealing to the male gaze but that’s a whole different story…”
“I would say that I wholeheartedly identify with it. I started gaming when I was eight-years-old, but even before that I would watch my mum and dad play games like RuneScape and Tomb Raider and ‘help’ them. Gaming is such an important part of my life and of my identity and I can’t imagine my life without it. I would never call myself a ‘girl gamer’ when describing myself, I’d just call myself a ‘gamer’ but if people feel the need to prefix the term with ‘girl’, I’m not really bothered either way! I love being a gamer and I love this community, it has helped me through some of the toughest times of my life.”
If and when I've ever been called a "girl gamer" I have never taken offense to it, as I actually find the title quite funny. It's been used a lot in memes, so I see it in quite a light-hearted way. I've never taken it seriously when my friends have called me a "girl gamer", but I can understand how some might not like it. I mean, nobody ever calls guys that play games "boy gamers", so I don't understand why "girl gamers" ever became a thing? Gaming is perceived to be a predominantly male-dominated activity, but that has changed a lot over the years. But ultimately I don't feel any particular way about being labelled as a "girl gamer!"
“I've always been a gamer ever since I was a kid, and I remember other gamers were astonished by it, since there were barely any girls who played video games - and played them well. It was nice, but these past few years some girls who claim to be gamers ruined the concept of "gamer girl" and it’s now become associated with girls who don't actually play games - they just want attention and donations or money for holding a console and pretending to be gamers. The concept these days has become misinterpreted, but it still shouldn't hold you back from doing what you like or embracing it.”