Guest Post by Lisa Harrison
I am a cynical, disgruntled, female twenty-something career woman. I listen to hip hop and buy lots of handbags. I also play a lot of games—and I mean a lot. At least I used to, before I started getting up at 5.30 a.m. to go to work every morning instead of staying up until 5.30 a.m. playing RPGs every morning. One might say I’m reformed. Or alternatively, one might say that I have become increasingly disillusioned with an industry that caters almost exclusively to the much less attractive sex, and offers me and my kind absurd trash along the lines of “Bratz” and “Britney’s Dance Beat” that would barely entertain a cocker spaniel on acid.
Today I had lunch with some male colleagues who do not know me particularly well. One of them mentioned Championship Manager. I asked him what he thought of it, to which he replied, “It is a football game” with a patronising smile. This is the sort of reaction that I have become accustomed to, sadly. My reaction was to ignore his irritating comment and reel off a load of babble about Eidos and their recent bad judgements and so on, and it all went satisfyingly over Captain Condescending’s head. Score one for the girl gamer. Bet he never saw that coming. Apparently he’s been getting stick for it all afternoon.
I feel that this is as pertinent a point in this rant as any to point out that I have not and will never play any Barbie games of any description. Sorry Barbie, but you’re an outdated instrument of gender stereotyping and anyway no human being is capable of tolerating that much pink on the screen at once.
There are many differences between men and women. Men have their uses—mowing lawns, carrying shopping and sex, to name but a few. But when it comes down to good, old-fashioned gaming, I do not believe that there really is a difference between the genders in terms of what they want. A game based around cutting grass would admittedly not appeal to the average female gamer in the same way as that DOA: Beach Volleyball nonsense doesn’t appeal to anyone who has ever known the love of a woman, but fundamentally I enjoy throwing grenades onto the dancefloor at Club Malibu in Vice City as much as the next commuter-angst-ridden rush hour timebomb. It’s just fun. Remember that word? “Fun.” “Fun” doesn’t involve smashing crates open with a stick in order to find the key that opens the door to the next guard-infested area. “Fun” involves not giving a flying crap about what lies behind the door and just nuking it into oblivion for the hell of it, not caring about the detrimental effects that has on your character’s health. Better find one of those floating heart things—I’m in the mood for carnage. When I get home from the office, I don’t want to solve puzzles and I sure as hell don’t want to tap some buttons on a controller in time to the aggressively cheerful music. I want to kill things. Perhaps it’s a bad case of penis envy.