"A woman paying $130 for a pair of shoes is one thing, but one paying $130 for the Legendary Edition of Halo 3 is something else altogether."
This is one of the best lines in Susan Arendt's recent piece in The Escapist. It's a perfect summary of how many non-gamer women see those of us who love to spend chunks of our leisure time blasting away zombies, solving puzzles, saving the day, and grinding out XP. Most of the women I know don't play video games, and such things aren't even on their radar. It can be difficult when I'm excited for a new MMO or a console release and can't really discuss it with them.
I've been gaming for most of my life. Our family got out first console when I was about two or three years old. I cut my gaming teeth on the classics on Atari and NES and haven't looked back since. I've had female friends that played games, but I was often the only one that was pretty hardcore about it. These days, I'm part of online communities aimed at women that play games, but in real life, outside of our niche, sometimes we get what Arendt deftly describes as "[being] constantly asked to explain and justify our hobby, a requirement
rarely placed on those who choose trips to the movies or pickup games
of basketball as their pastimes of choice".
Another point she touches on is the reaction of family to a woman that plays games. We're more apt to receive comments about "growing out" of games, where the males aren't expected nearly as often to somehow give up this particular hobby. When it comes to my family, they don't quite understand either, though they haven't been as harsh as to ask when I'd grow out of it. However, when all of my younger cousins received Nintendo DS systems one Christmas, and I got slippers and pajamas, as cute as they were, I was disappointed. Last year, my family talked about trying to buy Wii systems for my younger cousins. 'What about me?' I thought. But they don't consider buying me games or systems because I'm an adult.
Arendt's piece, which is highly recommended, goes into many other situations applicable to us female gamers, and includes testimonials from several women. When I read it, I kept thinking "yes, that's exactly how it is". No one would bat an eye at a woman spending $130 on shoes, and yet that's something I probably wouldn't do. New Silent Hill release on the way? Sure.