“Women + PC Gaming: BFF”

I was reading the latest issue of Games for Windows magazine today (October, the one with F.E.A.R. sequels on the cover) and came across this "advertorial" near the back tech section. Ugh, I know Microsoft features these as part of its sponsor partnership with Ziff-Davis, but this one was particularly close to home.

It begins – "Women who play Games for Windows: It's not a myth, and  it's not a publicity stunt."

Wow, Microsoft. Thanks for telling me that I play games. I had trouble believing it before, but now I am assured that this activity of mine is not a publicity stunt.

Wait, it gets better.

"That's right–there are real, everyday ladies playing computer games (even hardcore favorites such as Age of Empires III [Microsoft, Rated T] and Shadowrun [Microsoft, Rated M] the entire world over this very minute!"

Once again, thank you Microsoft, and writer Christa Phillips for letting me know that the mysterious creature known as the female that plays games is not a rare local species and is found throughout the world. Even sometimes playing hardcore titles. OMG!

It's not the content that I'm taking issue with so much as the presentation. The cutesy title and writing style makes me read the entire piece in this syrupy hyper voice in my head. It's also written in this patronizing way that I suppose is meant to speak to the mostly male readership of gaming magazines, but comes off as treating the female gamer as something of an exotic mystery, even while its aim is to debunk that sort of thing.

There are actually some on-target comments from some women quoted in the article, but the overall style of the piece just rubbed me the wrong way.

Part of the ending paragraph, "Women who love to game still look forward to the day when guys value our sniper skills as much as our crafting abilities. Until then we'll find safety and acceptance in female gaming groups like GamerchiX and PMS Clan…," also hit upon one aspect that I've thought about often. That is whether or not all-female clans and groups make further integration into the greater gaming community easier or more difficult.

But that's a topic for another day.

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