By Marty Mulrooney
Here at Alternative Magazine Online we love computer games with a passion. Yet I recently realised that this was portrayed to our readers from a thoroughly male perspective. I decided an alternative viewpoint, from a female gamer no less, would be very appropriate. That is when I found GirlGamer.com and their ‘Director Of Engagement’ Emily Zimmer agreed to chat with AMO about all things girl gaming. Enjoy!
Hey Emily! Can you tell us about yourself please?
Well to start, I’m 19 years old, and I live near Seattle, WA. I’ve been gaming ever since I could pick up the NES controller. My family was huge on Nintendo so we owned all the systems like NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, and so forth. When I was about 12 I got into PC gaming, and from there my passion just continued to grow. A few years ago I got into competitive gaming for Team Fortress 2, and have competed in several online leagues, and some events. On the side, I work for Girl Gamer as their Director of Engagement.
So what is GirlGamer.com all about?
It’s a social network and video game website for females. It’s like a safe hiding place for those minority of gamers to come meet other girl gamers, and discuss things about the newest games, demos, hardware, and such.
What is your role there?
What I’ve been assigned to do is two jobs really. I’m a writer, and I help run the community and forums. So I’m half writer, and half admin.
So guys aren’t allowed?
Believe it or not, we get tonnes of guys signing up on our site every day! Some are also very active in our forums. Guys are allowed, but that’s if they can stand all the girl talk of course.
What got you into gaming?
My brother. He’s a few years older than me and growing up we played all the Nintendo games together. We have some great gaming memories together as well – like the one time my little brother shut our game off when we’re just about to beat Jurassic Park, and if you don’t know this… that game doesn’t have any save points. Still have not beat that game to this day.
So your brother was a big influence on your gaming as a child?
Without him, I wouldn’t be the gamer I am today. He was 100% of the influence.
Do your other female friends game with you?
Sometimes, but not that often. Most of my gaming friends are males, and most popular games are male dominated. Every once in a while I’ll run into another girl, or I’ll ask one of my lady friends to join.
How do male gamers react when you reveal your love of computer games?
Well, they usually end up having some sort of nerd crush on me, ha-ha. Most gamers are impressed that I have such a passion for gaming and computers. Then again finding a girl who is as big of a geek as they are is hard to come across. So I’d say most of the reactions I get from it are good.
Would you say that the game makers usually cater more towards male gamers?
Yes, but I believe they are starting to realize that a large sum of gamers are actually females. In most gaming advertisements I see, they use males to represent gaming. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the gaming apparel stores cater to mostly men sizes, and very rarely will carry women’s sizes. Luckily, with Girl Gamer we’re trying to prove to everyone that girls are just as hardcore as the guys.
Does this therefore make girl gamers tomboyish if they play male-orientated games?
Not at all! My two passions in life are gaming and makeup. I actually want to pursue a career in the beauty field. I paint my nails while regenerating mana, and I do my makeup while waiting to re-spawn. Yes, there are some girls out there who are tomboyish and play, but there’s lots of those ‘girly girls’ out there like myself.
Does the portrayal of females in computer games (such as Lara Croft for example) ring true to you, or annoy you?
It doesn’t bother me. Games are just games. I don’t take them to heart. Now, if there was a game that belittled women, and put us down then that would bother me.
Any examples of a good female character from gaming? (I liked Jade from Beyond Good and Evil!)
Well I played female characters in Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 2, and they rocked! There are tonnes of great female characters like Alex from the Half Life series and Cortana from Halo. Oh, and can’t forget Talim from Soulcalibur! She’s my all time favourite.
Console gaming or PC gaming?
Easy – PC all the way. Although I did start as a console gamer, my love is for computers.
Do you think more girls would enjoy gaming if they tried it?
Absolutely. Girls tend to stay away from it because they think it’s a ‘guy’ thing. What if guys tried cooking? Who knows, they may end up loving it. (Editor’s note: I love to cook!) I know some amazing male chefs out there!
What do you think ultimately stops females from picking up the controller?
I don’t think they see beyond the cover of a game. They look at it, and say to themselves, “Oh, this looks boring”. They don’t look at the stunning graphics, hard work that was put into developing the game or anything else. They read a book by it’s cover. I think to some it may be intimidating as well. They might not think they’ll be good, or don’t want to embarrass themselves, but you never know until you try. No one starts off as a pro gamer.
What advice would you give the gaming companies if they wanted to attract girl gamers?
You may think this is crazy, but make more things in pink! Girl gamers love to show off their cute side by buying pink computer cases, controllers, mouses, headsets, mouse pads or whatever it may be. They are so hard to come by though!
How could games cater to the female market more?
Similar to what I said to the last question, if they make more things that appeal to females such as pink hardware, women’s size gaming apparel or even more tech jewellery then I feel it would get girls more excited to show off their gamer sides.
Online gaming or single player?
That’s a tough call. 70% of the time I’m online gaming, but there’s some darn good single player games out there. I would have to go with online gaming though. The more the merrier.
You have competed at some competitions as well, right?
Yep! I’ve competed twice at PAX, once at PDXLAN, once at InfernaLAN and of course online.
Do guys hate losing to girls at a game in your experience?
That depends. When I compete against people I don’t know they tend to talk trash, but when my team was competing in the finals for TF2 at PDXLAN we played against friends, and they weren’t rude about our victory.
Which console would you say is strongest at the moment?
Hmm… also another tricky question. I know there are tonnes of PC gamers out there, but Xbox and Wii seem to be the hit right now. So I’d have to go with those.
You favourite classic games?
All the original Mario Bros games, Golden Eye 007 for N64, Vigilante 8 for N64 and Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube would have to be my all time favourite oldies.
I’ll try to make this short. Lately I’m playing Team Fortress 2, Dragon Age:Origins, Aion, Left 4 Dead 2 and Crysis!
Looking forward to?
Right now I can’t wait for Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2 and the Dragon Age:Origins expansion pack.
Plans for the future?
Well of course I’ll continue to game. I’m also a huge LAN party fanatic, so I’ll keep going to those. I’m not so much into competitive play anymore because it feels more like a job than anything. I absolutely love my Girl Gamer team, and I enjoy working with them. A little further down the road, I’d like to be toggling beauty school as well as my gaming hobby. My dream is to be able to fit both of my passions into my life. It’s a work in progress!
Thank you for your time Emily!
Girl Gamer Homepage: http://www.girlgamer.com/
If you are a girl gamer interested in writing for AMO, please leave a comment below (email address will be hidden) and we will get back to you ASAP!