The Unofficial SWTOR Girl Gamers Thread- and Why it’s Not for Me

San Diego Comic-Con 2008. Photo Courtesy of Jason Scragz

For those unaware, there is an “unofficial girl gamers” thread on the SWTOR forums. It’s in its 4th incarnation last I checked and is garnering thousands of replies. From this thread has also grown a number of girl-gamer websites for female SWTOR fans such as SW Girls started by Amonette.

There’s even a girl SWTOR Wiki. No, I’m not kidding you…

It’s the go-to place if you’re a female planning to play SWTOR who wants to hook up with other females but it’s not for me. I just like to play my game my way and meet people along the way, regardless of their sex, race, religion or other affiliation. To me, it just doesn’t matter. This got me thinking about the whole gamer-girl thing and how the video game industry has evolved over the years that I’ve been a gamer.

I’m a child of the 80s and I’ve been gaming since Duck Hunt was the most awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon and while I love the sentiment behind all this gamer girl hoopla, I think it’s unnecessary and well… lame.

Gamers are gamers- why does there have to be a separation between the sexes? Females cry that they want equality in the gaming world yet they set up special threads, wikis, forums and even “SWTOR socials” just for them. It’s like hanging a NO BOYS ALLOWED sign on your clubhouse.

Since when have you seen a “Males Only” thread in an MMORPG forum? Furthermore, if you did see such separation from the guys, you can bet there would be a mob of feminist gamers demanding it be taken down because it’s sexist. 
So why is it ok for the gals but we cry foul when the boys don’t want to include us? 
Apparently, there are still girl gamers out there thinking they are alone in the world or that they are something special because they play video games. If you’re one them, here’s your virtual cookie, pat yourself on the back and let’s all move on now…
The originator of the Unofficial Girl Gamers thread on the SWTOR forums, Ysme posts, “Being a girl in a male dominated past-time can have its benefits as well as its disadvantages.”
Since when was gaming a male-dominated pastime? For the past couple of decades, female participation in video games has grown by leaps and bounds. “Women now slightly outnumber men playing Web-based games,” says PBS.org. MMOs in general tend to draw more female players than other genres of video games. 
M2 Research estimates there are:
·        130 million women currently playing online PC games worldwide
·        140 million men currently playing online PC games worldwide
That sounds pretty balanced to me. So why is there any surprise that there will be female gamers in SWTOR? 
As a female gamer, I find it irritatingly annoying when other female gamers feel the need to point out they are female and ask if they are the only one around. It’s commonly called “attention whoring” and while that probably isn’t the most pleasant term for it, it’s a term that fits quite well for some. If not for attention, then what other purpose is there for making a big deal over the fact that you are a female gamer? 
If directly asked or when it comes up in conversation, feel free to say that you’re a girl. When you jump on Vent or Teamspeak, most of your gaming buddies will figure it out. Unless you have a unisex name, sharing your first name is another telltale sign. But to designate entire threads just to pointing out that you are a girl is a bit over the top. 
Don’t get me wrong; I love to connect with fellow female gamers but we don’t need special forums, websites and Wikis set up specifically for us. My mom plays video games as does my sister, my daughters and many of my girlfriends. Female gamers are everywhere. I feel the industry has evolved to such a point we no longer need distinctions or special groups for females. It’s time for all gamers to band together and end these stereotypes once and for all.
Now here’s a fun video for all my real gamer girls:

*EDITORIAL NOTE* It has come to my attention that the originators of the SWTOR thread in question took offense to my article. It is not my intention to hurt anyone who enjoys these types of groups but rather to express that they are not for me. There is plenty of good info to be found at SW Girls and the “unofficial girl gamers” thread, which is why I linked to them and gave due credit to their originators. What I disagree with is the exclusivity that comes from calling it “female only”. I dream of the day when gamers are just gamers- male or female does not matter. This editorial is MY OPINION only and not intended to slam anyone who is a member of such exclusive gaming communities but rather to express that I think such generalizations actually do more to perpetuate gender bias in video gaming, rather than end it.

Lisa Mason

Lisa has been an avid gamer since she was old enough to hold her first controller and a game writer for more than a decade. A child of the Nintendo generation, she believes they just don’t make games like they used to but sometimes, they make them even better! While consoles will always be her first love, Lisa spends most of her gaming time on the PC these days- on MMOs and first-person shooters in particular.