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.
Regina is a gamer, writer, teacher, and podcaster living in the Pacific Northwest. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011 from Washington State University in Vancouver and continues to teach there part time. Regina’s research interests focus on women and technology, and her dissertation discusses female gamers and identity in digital role playing games. A lifelong geek and technology enthusiast, Regina recently started a Girls Who Code club in support of their mission to close the gender gap in technology.
To continue the conversations about gender and gaming that Regina started during her research, she started a podcast called Game on Girl. Called the “NPR of game podcasts” by Chris Brown of The Married Gamers, the podcast features women involved in the game industry, and tackles some of the complicated issues in the gaming community. Season 2 began in the spring of 2018 and will premiere new episodes monthly.