Despite many a survey saying that women make up almost half of the gamer population, women in professional gaming have spoken out about a sense of isolation. According to an interview with Guardian Australia, four female Twitch streamers have confessed that “I feel like being a gamer has always isolated me,” one streamer named Mia says, “growing up in a girls’ school, it wasn’t really common to be into video games.” The second streamer, Chelsea, relates a similar conundrum, “I would always be so excited for my friends to leave so I could sit down at my computer and play games all night. [Gaming] was a thing that I kept on the lowdown. It wasn’t so much shame, it’s just I felt like [they] wouldn’t understand it the way that people who play the games do.”
I certainly understand where these ladies are coming from, especially when the third, Kat, states that, “I had a few good girlfriends that did play games in high school but they kind of grew out of it. And I guess that was the thing: they grew out of it and I never did. I had boy cousins, older boy cousins, and you just can’t help it. If they’re playing it, you want to play too.” Growing up, video games were 110% considered to be for boys, I get that. The amount of times I've watched the cautious joy spark in a man's eye when I mention my career can attest to this. And don't get me wrong, the game industry is definitely still marketed to boys as long as game merchandise remains in the “boy” section of the toy aisle.
But I don't think this feeling of isolation is purely because of gender. I experience this isolation as well, as someone who writes about video games daily. I'm generally up to date the latest happenings when most gamers are sometimes behind by a few months. That's one reason, but certainly not the all-encompassing one. It's not like I forget what happened last week and can't talk about it too. No, the isolation comes simply because I live in a community where an interest in video games is seen as a waste of time. It has nearly nothing to do with my gender. No one is going to look at me and think, “I bet that cashier is super excited for Breath of the Wild,” but not because I'm a woman. It's because being a gamer isn't a uniform I wear all the time and again, being a gamer around here is like being part of the Secret Club of Guilty Pleasures. For most people in this city, video games are a mild interest not to be admitted to.
So as much as I understand where these ladies are coming from, I think the feeling of isolation has less to do with gender and more the people we are surrounded by. It's a simple case of being in the minority, even though gaming is a major hobby that's starting to outstrip moviegoing and television. Maybe we're just too spread out across the world, or maybe we're too afraid to admit our “childish” passion with other people. Whatever the reason, I know that gender is only a small part of it.