This September Legends of Gaming Live takes over Alexandra Palace for three days of competitive button bashing (actually a delicate art form) and as your average twenty-something gamer, I can’t wait.
The closest so many of us are going to get to E3, nothing excites me more than the thought of finally getting to play titles for the very first time, the inevitable wrist cramp and giddy sense of anticipation to losing days on end to completing a game in one sitting. One thing I forgot to mention? I’m a girl.
What has my gender got to do with gaming? Nothing, actually. Or it shouldn’t have. But it’s been one year since Gamergate and “actually it’s about ethics in games journalism” is still – just about – a relevant meme. For those blissfully unaware of the severity of Gamergate, it was a full scale “online movement” (read: harassment campaign) to boot feminists out of the industry via the medium of sexual assault and death threats. And then some. Lovely.
And whilst not all members of the gaming community are raging misogynists, it’s been an underlying issue since the dawn of time and a war that rages on. Recently, games journalist Alanah Pearce became my own personal hero when she realised a lot of her critics were young boys with no real understanding of the severity of their YouTube comments. Wanting to make the world a better place, Alanah contacted the boys parents, specifically their mothers, to teach the boys a lesson and smash the patriarchy, one horrified parent at a time.
But it’s 2015, and this shouldn’t be happening. As someone who identifies as a gamer AND female, it’s been not been the easiest lifestyle to navigate. The midnight launches, the sleep deprivation, the worrying deterioration of my eyesight…none of these things have anything to do with gender, yet from a young age I’ve been more than aware that being female isn’t always encouraged in the gaming world unless we’re talking about cosplay and Lara Croft’s bra size.
The idea that female identity in games is a weakness and something to be exploited is disheartening at best. There isn’t anything wrong with feminine ideals, yet it still feels like we’re a million miles from equality. I identify with Sheik, Lightning and Samus Aran as much as I do Princess Peach, but it’s taken a long time for me to realise that two aren’t conflicting ideals. I CAN be a badass whilst wearing a pink dress, both in the literal sense and from the comfort of a video game. It’s a sad state of affairs when girls everywhere are questioning themselves for the sake of a chance at fitting in with the boys club.
There’s hope, however, that the times are finally changing. The community (mostly) stood up for females everywhere, and whilst we could probably kick their butts at any Call of Duty title, it was great to see all that solidarity and support. And let us not forget those females at the forefront of breaking down those patriarchal walls – one of which will be representing us at Legends of Gaming Live in September.
Top YouTuber Ashley Mariee will be there, showing the world that being part of the sisterhood is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course I’d support any gamer, journalist, industry expert, whatever for their credentials and the gamer they are, but I’ll be cheering extra hard for any female making her place in the world of gaming. The battle for equality is far from over but as long as we’ve got great female role models standing up for themselves in the gaming community, we’ve got a chance.
Words: Becky Mount
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Legends of Gaming Live comes to London’s Alexandra Palace between 4 – 6 September.