Sometime just before 2000,
My family had the privilege of acquiring
A Nintendo 64.
I remember family Goldmember and Mario Kart
And that shitty Star Wars movie game.
My first rated-R game was Shadowman,
Before I knew what a rating even was.
And I taught my brother 3nd-grade-level English
Using Ocarina of Time
Before I finished the first grade.
I found myself in Sailor Moon And the Powerpuff Girls
And even a little bit in Dee Dee as she ransacked her brother's room.
But never had I found peace with seeing a role model
In Princess Zelda, and Princess Peach, and the "Bond Girls,"
Who I always found myself saving instead of playing.
(Well, I didn't know Samus was a girl!)
I wanted to be a Pokemon Trainer, an elf running across the lands,
And no matter how silent, how supposedly-relatable they were meant to be,
They were clearly meant to be for a player,
And that player was not me.
That player was my brother and the boys on the playground.
But I found no solstice in the moments of glory
When the hero climbed up to the top of the tower and claimed victory.
Soon I matured, and so did the games
And past these golden ages of gaming
I found more women characters but less women than ever before.
These characters that I loved did grow with me,
But the growing options showed not my growth,
Instead that of my brother and the boys in the locker rooms.
They showed them what they wanted to see,
And they do not see this in me,
Nor any other girl who enjoys video games,
And now they take it out on us,
As slurs and catcalls and insults
And anything that will just get us away from the things we love.
As much as it is the community's fault.
And they say that they treat us well,
But we're either a unicorn or a bitch,
Either "brave" for just doing what we want
Or a "bitch" because we're doing what we want
And they're scared that we're going to hear their slurs and bullshit.
Maybe the "gamer girl" excuse would have worked in 2007
When a PS2 and an ethernet cord and expensive hook-ups
Were a sign of power and wealth for the white boys of America
And girls strive to have even so much power to this day
But now that games are cheap and multiplayer just requires Internet
Because we're in their space.
Apparently belongs to the people who claim it.
And I know women claim their spots,
So much as men do,
Because I am a woman
And I know women
And we enjoy games.
But the developers see men.
They see white, straight men,
And I do not see white, straight men.
I see myself, a biracial woman,
A girl I once knew
Who is short and Irish and possibly genderqueer,
A girl working to rid herself of her penis,
A girl who is working towards the top of her game,
Women in the army who fought for my country,
Women who dress as their favorites,
And I see none of these women
In the white men with guns.
And the white warriors
And the white-passing men who kill in the streets.
So perhaps they say we have space
But it's a tiny corner,
One where we become vulnerable
To a player.
Today, I finally talked to my younger girl cousin about video games,
A rising Lego Robotics champion, a Girl Scout, an artist, a potential programmer
And clearly wanting to be a gamer as much as I had,
I looked at her video games,
And they were mostly her father's.
Had she been a boy, she would know about the female body of Master Chief's digital companion,
The digital versions of real women cheering on the sidelines,
How women only die as motivators for your actions,
That men are the soldiers and commanders of the armies that will rule one day.
So I'm glad that she enjoys Minecraft.
Maybe in a year or two I'll buy her the most recent Tomb Raider.
I'll play Remember Me to see if it's appropriate for her,
And maybe the same with Mirror's Edge.
But I have a feeling her father will tell her
"that's too violent for young girls"
While our cousins play Call of Duty.
So we'll eventually get by somehow.
But for today.
I found a post upset that Bronies are harassed.
"We just like Ponies!"
"We shouldn't be punished because we like girly stuff!"
"Why are you so upset at us?"
"Don't make Bronies such an easy target!"
And what I'm finally seeing
Are the players that I envied
And they are finally making an outrage
Because there is a space,
And it is good, and they see this,
And it belongs to an audience,
I am the audience.
And it is not a game,
But these are many of The Gamers
And I want them to taste
The isolation we have felt
Since the creation of gaming.