By Noor Fatima Iftikhar, our Assistant Editor. The writer is currently trying to crack the SAT1 =P
It would be a sight plain enough for one, I had always presumed. Clad in the conventional kameez-shalwar attire, hair pulled back in a tight braid, air-phones in place and the laptop sitting snugly in lap – an ordinary young lady merely going about her daily computing routine. However, one might easily overlook the bunched muscles in my tense shoulders, clenched teeth, taut jaw and furrowed brows, or even miss the flaring emotion in my eyes. No matter, this is not something I will hold against anyone.
After all, it takes one to know one.
ROUND 1: FIGHT!
“DIE! DIE! DIE!”
Because not everyone is a gamer.
I have honestly nothing to hide on this one. I have a gaming fetish, one I cannot control. Rolling back the years, I now realize that all it took for me to discover this passion of mine was a Pentium II, a series of Disney games and an extremely limited off-hand knowledge on giving “commands” to the machine.
While the gaming culture may be more gender-based in Pakistan, research has shown that in the West, number of female gamers is on the rise and in fact account for 42% of all gamers. Directly in line with that, I wanted to share some of the aspects I’ve encountered while pursuing gaming. And readers, I assure you – my confessions are not a far cry from the usual frivolities associated with us females =)
ROUND 2: FIGHT!
Confession no. 1: We discriminate
I admit I may not have some highfalutin facts and figures to back me up on this one, but from all my years of gaming experience, I can safely conclude that female gamers have a strong preference for female characters. Be it role playing games, or fighting games or even shoot ‘em up – A game is incomplete without a decent female character and if you happen to be a female, chances are you are more likely to have a soft corner for them. However this does NOT mean that we cannot handle male characters. Johnny Cage, Max Payne, Ryu, even the oh-so-famous Mario – we’ve got them all wrapped around our little fingers. Literally 😛 And pursuing personal prejudices whilst gaming can sometimes lead to very *ahem* interesting things.
Confession no. 2: We can be softies at gaming.
I am particularly guilty of that trait. Minute features do not escape me – whether it’s the details of an intricate storyline, or the background music in certain levels or the voice acting of the characters. Glitches too, in fact (the dark side of my observant nature – let’s not go there). Simply put, it is not too beyond us to notice the small aspects that make a game – publishers must love us. For example, my cousins always wondered why I HAD to listen to the entire theme music that played in the background of the TR Angel of Darkness’ main menu screen. That orchestral piece would make my heart twist with pain, while my cousins would yawn and wait for me to get over it.
Confession no. 3: Cheating
Gamer girls are not really different from other gamers after all. If we can cheat a little on our diet plans, we can use a couple of handy cheat codes when gaming too. However, blatant cheating is just pathetic. Speaking for myself, I always make sure I finish the game with a medium difficulty setting before trying out any cheats. No idea if it makes me any more noble than any other game-cheater down the block, but at least I can say I have standards 😉
Confession no. 4: Gaming is therapy
I can bet the double fudge brownie I just had on this one (shouldn’t that be another confession?) If at any point in my almost 18 years of existence did I feel like I could kill someone, that is exactly what I did – only virtually. Now I understand that ratings are important, children should not be exposed to certain gory aspects and glorifying violence is socially unacceptable and generally a big no-no. But when you ask suppose, an A level student, who has a final Law exam the next day and she simply, could-NOT-stuff-anything-in-her-brain, she’d give you violence first-hand. Unless, of course, if she has Mortal Kombat Armageddon installed on her laptop. ‘Nuff said.
Final confession: Gaming can be a very personal thing
For the longest time (about 10 months since I took up Sociology), the sociological part of my brain pondered upon the high level of gender biases gaming carries in Pakistan. Girls were “not” supposed to be gamers. And if by some twisted product of nature that they did play video games, their activity was supposed to be limited to Barbie and MyScene.com. Most boys, feeding on this trend, would constantly criticize girls (while getting beaten by a girl became the biggest threat to the fragile male ego – especially in Street Fighter *wiggles eyebrows*). Even girls would start criticizing other girls for being ultimate “geeks” if they continued to play video games (Guess some still seem to miss their plastic tea sets – but I digress).
Fact is, gaming is extremely personal. It could be an outlet for venting out frustration, or a way of killing time. For me, it inspired me to start writing – for that I would be eternally grateful. And that should be a lesson to everyone: NEVER judge a gamer, or risk being slashed to smithereens by their laser sword.
Gamer Girl WINS: *FLAWLESS VICTORY*