Confessions of a Girl Gamer: Video Games

Girl gamers are rare. Girl gamers who don’t fit the stereotypical gamer prototype might be even rarer. Gaming is generally a male-dominated world, and as such, hasn’t held much interest for us females. Because many games have elements of tactics and fighting and seem by nature to be contrary to relationship building, many girls have shunned the gaming world. I was one of those. However, after my introduction to gaming, I realized there is a lot more to this universe than what meets the eye.

Girl gamers like me may find that there are more options for games than just ones with lots of shooting, gore, and battle strategies. As I’ve learned, video games come in all colors and sizes, and with a little shopping around (visit www.videogamegeek.com ), you can find a game that suits your personal interests and tastes.

My foray into gaming was gentle and gradual. I married a man who enjoys video games, and he asked me to watch him play. I’m a little squeamish, so I asked him to only play non-violent games if I was watching. He obliged by introducing me to the realm of Kingdom Hearts-a Japanese set of video games which prominently incorporate Disney characters. The storyline is of a boy, Sora, who learns that the world is full of darkness, and he must defeat the Heartless in order to save his friends from falling to this darkness. I have fallen in love with these games for the contrast of good and evil, strong character development, the beautiful animations, the sweet sound track, and the fascinating draw of the three main games that follow this storyline. There is no blood, swearing, or disturbing images of any kind. It’s a game that I would be comfortable letting any child play or watch, but it’s complicated enough that a grown man still enjoys the challenge.

So from watching Kingdom Hearts, my husband introduced me to games that I could play, such as Smash Brothers, Little Big Planet, the Lego® games, Legend of Spyro, and most recently, Ilomilo. I’m still squeamish about blood, swearing, and actual killing on screen, so I have yet to venture into games like Halo or Call of Duty which are “First Person Shooters,” and I may never actually play them. But I do enjoy “my games” as I call them: games where I need to think creatively (as in Little Big Planet), work as a team (as in Legend of Spyro), and problem solving (as in Ilomilo). And while I lack the skill and motivation to continue to progress to more complicated games, such as Fable, Oblivion, or Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, I do enjoy watching my husband play. It’s exciting for me to see him strategize and fight his way through the game, as well as watch him interact with the story. It’s a time for both of us to relax and spend some passive time together.

However, there is a valid concern regarding video games, one that was mentioned earlier. Because video games are so intriguing, there is a danger for players to become too entranced in games and to lose track of time and priorities. Games are entertainment, and as such, clamor for the attention of the player, sometimes at the cost of relationships, budgets, hygiene, and other such necessities. Discretion is needed, especially for young players.

With that moderation, as long as a gamer is careful not to neglect the realities of life, such as relationships, everyday demands, and finances, he or she can enjoy a unique form of entertainment: a world where creativity, problem solving, and imagination play key roles in determining how one interacts with a story.