Ageism In Video Games

by April 27, 2012
filed under Entertainment

This grandma thinks Call of Duty is for “pussies.”

Sometimes, I feel like I am taking a more narrow view of gaming.

What I mean is, I am “young.” I’m 21 years old. I am writing from my “young” POV. But something I am pretty insensitive about is age. I don’t mean to use age as a negative label, but rather in terms of experience. I may feel like I am quite experienced in a lot of things, but the truth is, I am not.

The path for females in gaming has been set by women before me. But I have noticed something: older women never really get represented in gaming.

Well, that’s not really true. There are older women in games. Mostly, they are delegated to leading the male character along his destined path. Or they are evil crones who want to destroy the world. Outside of that though, I haven’t seen them in any other roles.

But in the “real world” there is nothing. Women in gaming are supposed to be young and hot, because they want attention. Older women are an anomaly, because older women are supposed to shut themselves away once they get to a certain age.

Uh, I hate to break this to you. But older woman? They still are doing all the same things you are. They are listening to the same music. They are watching the same movies. They are getting tattoos. And they are also playing video games.

I know we tend to categorize video games as more kid-orientated activity. Often in television, commercials and movies we see children (usually boys) playing games while ignoring their exasperated parents. We see a person who is supposed to be a “loser” staying up late, playing on their computer or Xbox. The few times older people are featured is when they are nervous about and/or confused by technology. Okay – some older people don’t want to play video games because they are often loud and violent. But you know what I want to see?

A successful CEO playing Wii with her coworkers. Or a grandma beat her grandson at Super Smash Bros. Because I bet you that those young women who were playing arcade games in the 80s didn’t just disappear once they hit their “prime.” They just adapted and evolved with the new trends. Because, I am seeing more and more older people buy gaming systems to play the less violent games, like Professor Layton or The Sims. I see them playing games on their iPads. I see them talk shop with their friends about games like Farmville. You may not include those annoying online games in your definition of video games, but like it or not, they are counted. And you know what? That skews a lot of demographics in the favour of those old people you ignore.

Video games are not just a young person’s world. And the women who play them are not always going to be young. Older women need to have a representation, just like any other group.

And just because my mom may roll her eyes at me when I whip out a Gameboy on a road trip, doesn’t mean she won’t be playing Sudoku on it five minutes later.

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