Gamer Girls – Getting into the minds of women

This week, Tina takes a look at girls and their relationship with gaming. From Croft to, uh, Seth Green, take a look inside the minds of a growing market.

“Don’t you just want to meet a nice girl?” Seth Green implores in a 2010 video clip called “Geek and Gamer Girls”.  A parody of Katy Perry’s “California Girls”, this video featured four real gamers claiming their love for Stan Lee (who makes a cameo) and Joss Whedon TV shows.  Clare, Michele, Milynn, and Rileah, four actresses whom you may have seen before on the small screen, comprise the media production company, Team Unicorn.  It is a company whose members love dressing up in superhero outfits, relate much of their lives to Sailor Moon, and are, like, totally into Tolkien.  While their first claim to fame, the video clip, was full of hilarious references to and parodies of fantastical figures and superheroes, the girls were by no means making fun of this female subculture.  They were celebrating their own geekiness.  “Hello, we’re here!” they seemed to say.  Team Unicorn are getting all up in the boys’ stuff: comic books, B-movies, and video games, and they are proud of it.

Their “Gamer Girls” video caused a stir in the Internet gaming world when it came out.  Well, among the boys, at least.  However, the Underwire blog seemed positively amused.  It had received around 2.8 million views on break.com in the last year since its coming-out.  Much of the interest could be good or bad.

“Aragorn, Legolas; these are the boys they love the best,” Green continues, in his faux-rapping backdrop after the chorus.  Hmm, they sounded a lot like my boyfriend, who has been known to collect obscure Tolkien memorabilia.  I asked him for his opinion.  “They can’t sing, but the video is cool,” he concluded, without hesitation.  (I agree.)

An unfortunate outcome of the discussion surrounding “Geek and Gamer Girls” is the inevitable porn that it inspired, which came out this year.  An actress in it, Misti Dawn, is the most un-sexy female that I have ever seen in my whole life.  For the amount of skin that she shows in her newest raunchy flick, Dawn lets her inner self show in a recent interview.  For Lara Croft, the lonesome female hero of the eponymous video game, Dawn declares her respect: “She kicks ass and needs no romantic love interest to keep her going.”  Who knew that Misti Dawn was an intellectual?

If Team Unicorn are the princesses of the geek world, then Lara Croft is the queen of this fantasyland.  Though, is she a role model for independent females or an adolescent boy’s dream come true?  Her early avatars had a laughably large chest region.  However, in recent incarnations, she has evolved into a realistic woman in the eyes of many, men and women alike.

Jeremy Parish, of 1up.com, writes, “She was a first in action games: A tough, capable female, motivated more by ambition than altruism, with only her wits and endurance to depend on.  Her closest antecedent was Nintendo’s Samus Aran, but even Samus had her armored super-suit and its array of screen-clearing weaponry to depend on. Lara had whatever guns, ammo, and bandages she could scrounge, a leotard and cargo shorts, and a hell of a lot of derring-do.“  There was no predecessor to Lara Croft.  In the female gaming world, there is only a Before Lara Croft and After Lara Croft.

She is so insanely well-loved by both men and women that an entire media empire has been created in her name.  Minnie Driver has done the voice for the cartoon, a third movie is in the works for 2013, and gamers are falling out of their seats in anticipation of the newest videogame installment, which is set for release in late 2012.  Who will be her successor?  That is a debate for another time.

Getting into the minds of women can be pretty tough.  Certainly, videogame companies want to figure it out.  In “A Girlfriend’s Guide to Gaming,” Miss Risky of girlsandgaming.com gives a great opinion piece on why some women do not and will never get into gaming.  In 2009, she visited a marketing event that was hosted by Nintendo in Chicago.  Aimed at the casual female gamer, Nintendo execs hoped to attract new, loyal customers.  It turned out to be a disappointingly unsuccessful event, with many women still not having changed their ho-hum opinion about Nintendo after all the wining and dining.  Risky asserts that a very pervasive “nerd culture” still exists around gaming, which will continue to repel style-conscious women.  Some beliefs just will not disappear “because, like unicorns, geek girls are not supposed to exist,” hardcore gamer guys have said.  Team Unicorn attempts to debunk this attitude.

Perhaps serious female gamers are still enshrouded in that “unicorn” cloak, but casual geek and gaming girls are on the rise. Women own many electronic gadgets these days, in the way of smartphones and tablets. A text here, an email message there. “Why not try one of those free games from the iTunes App Store?” a woman might ask herself on day as she passes time on the commute home from work.  A little game of mouse-catch-cheese-through-maze becomes a gateway to FarmVille and Angry Birds.  Pair that with amazing marketing (Angry Bird stereos in Europe are poised to become the number-one stocking-stuffer over the holidays) and news-worthy drama revolving around your company’s IPO (ahem, Zynga), more women have started to look in this direction. It is an underground movement that is going mainstream.  “Jedi’s represent; now put your sabers up.”

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