I grew up as a bit of a tomboy. I didn’t mind getting dirty or wrestling with my friends or my cousins. You see, I am the only girl in my family. I have three older brothers… waaaay older actually. The youngest is 17 years older than me. So I grew up with a pretty powerful squad of brothers. They never treated me like some gentle, fragile item, so I became a bit of a rough and tumble girl.
I also learned early how to stand up for myself. I have no trouble putting someone in their place… a trait that’s gotten me into some trouble through the years. At the same time, I’m just enough of a girly girl. I danced ballet for many years and started performing on stage around three years old. Lipstick, mascara, and blush were all a natural part of my overflowing wardrobe.
From this mash-up, I’ve always felt I was an interesting balance of feminine and masculine qualities. I have my mom’s love of clothes and my dad’s sense of humor. When it came time for me to figure out what I wanted to study for my Ph.D., I wanted something I could sink my teeth into academically but also a place I felt comfortable. Gaming is that place for me because it mixed the best of my tomboy and girly girl identities together.
I come from a family of gamers of one sort or another. I am pretty sure I learned basic math skills from games like Black Jack, Yatzee, and 10,000 (now known as Farkel). No one went “easy” on me because I was a girl. I was expected to play as competently as I could and it wasn’t long before I was winning some hands of Black Jack, and holding my own in 10,000. (Don’t worry – the bets and rewards were candy based back then.)
Because of the equality and acceptance I found early in gaming, I carried that confidence and belief in myself into other areas of my life. Rarely have I thought I couldn’t do something because I am a woman. This is a huge step from my mom’s generation where she was told women don’t go to college because they have babies, and gaming has played a significant role in that confidence.
How do you feel your gamer identity lines up, or doesn’t, with male and female gender roles? Leave your comments here.