To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity
2. Materials and Methods
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. To Be or Not to Be a (Female) Gamer
I’M A GEEK AND PROUD OF IT!! Gaming is important in my life, both tabletop, and starting in a larger degree digital. I am not afraid to tell people I am a gamer, and I show off my geekiness through t-shirts of all kinds with geeky writings. For me ‘Geek’ is not a negative term, even though some, like my mother, tries to make it so. I wear that label as a show of pride.(FG7, 39, preschool teacher)
I used to be embarrassed to be a gamer. Many of my school/university friends don’t know. As I’ve gotten older I don’t waste time being embarrassed about something I enjoy. I’m not sure if younger women would still say that—as a gamer when it was only for “geeks” I didn’t want to be known as a geek so pretended I didn’t play.(FG4, 35, radiographer)
And the more people I came across growing up who thought that either it was silly that I played because I was a girl, or that I was no good at them because I was a girl, or oh I must have meant some silly little girlie game because I was a girl.(FG1, 33, Researcher)
3.2. Improving Social Skills and Levelling Up on Mental Health
It brings people together because you’ve got a common, shared interest erm, it’s good banter, it’s good stress relief, and honestly you know for a lot people out there that just don’t have much or just aren’t very happy in life, video games can provide a very escape for them. (…) I don’t think gaming deserves the hate it gets from the parents out there.(FG6, 24, Influencer and Sponsorship Manager)
(…) so I think the positive consequences of you know being a gamer and growing up with video games, you know it helped me master the English language far beyond what school could teach me. Helped me speak English better, it helped me understand life better, I mean those games sometimes deal with very serious issues and erm, if you’re playing online then you learn social skills, you learn how to interact with people, because it’s so much easier online than it is in person.(FG6, 24, Influencer and Sponsorship Manager)
But when I think male gaming I just think of games with a lot of bullets and explosions and things on fire and if I’m thinking female gaming I’m thinking something sort of more, erm, brainy or creative or more sort of wordy interactions sort of valuing more interactions between players than sort of you have to shoot A, B and C, kind of thing.(FG5, 28, Unemployed)
Positively, I think gaming has developed my brain by improving my reaction time and providing me with knowledge, such as teaching me grammar at a young age and how to deal with problems. It also taught me some common sense and how to talk to others, even though it sometimes does not translate well to reality.(FG17, 21, donut vendor)
I think that I would be more likely to like say that I’m a casual gamer sometimes more than basically any man. I think that erm, you know how it is, it’s like they want to be the best and like all that stuff and I think that I play more for fun.(FG10, 25, Software Engineer)
3.3. Not Always a Healthy Escape
Also it has an impact on the fact that I need to take care of my house, and I find myself forgetting time when I am playing video games. Sometimes I find myself longing for my computer so I can continue to play.(FG7, 39, preschool teacher)
I have started hallucinating a bit after having played certain games for too much. At times I find myself losing focus in real life when thoughts of my gaming grabs me, even though sometimes my gaming has strengthened my ability to focus in real life. And also I believe I find myself sometimes so consumed in gaming that I forget things outside the digital world that I also should focus on.(FG7, 39, Preschool teacher)
In terms of not being able to put a game down my favourite series has always been Pokémon so when a new game comes out in the series I end up playing it through the night which can disrupt my schedule.(FG11, 24, data curator)
3.4. There Is More to Explore in Gaming and Online Communities
I would like to explore the digital gaming world, to find maybe some multiplayer gaming communities that I can feel comfortable in, with a theme that appeals to my seeking of a relaxed, nice time. And as we speak I am already starting to think that I should.(FG7, 39, Preschool teacher)
I think it’s going to be a slow process for women to be completely accepted into gaming. But it’s getting there. And I think the first big step was the publishers making games about badass women. And the next step is for the audience to fully accept that, I think it’s moving. Slowly but surely.(FG6, 24, Influencer and Sponsorship Manager)
I’m part of little cultures online that discuss those games and, mostly extends to how I consider [being] a gamer. I enjoy playing games and I’m proud about it, and I’ll tell everyone who wants to know, yeah I like games and I’m a woman. I’m not good at games, absolutely not, but I enjoy them and I guess that’s the most important thing.(FG6, 24, Influencer and Sponsorship Manager)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Interview Questions
- To skip some of these; what was your unique identifier in the survey?
- Could I just ask how old you are please?
- What are you currently doing for work? What are you enjoying outside of work?
- What meant this activity to you?
- Why do you game?
- What kind of utility does it serve for you? (Prompt: reduced negative emotions)
- Now, from a woman perspective, How do you perceive your gaming as a woman specifically? Do you think gaming is perceived similarly from men and women?
- How do you feel about the way women are portrayed in video games and gaming culture in general? (Prompt: Lara Croft effect, Perez vs Day Twitter incident)
- Do you think this has ever influenced the way you perceive yourself? For example, physical/psychological comparisons.
- How are women represented in the games? Please, could you help us to know about this ‘gender representation’? In other words, what type of women appear in the games? What do you think about them? Ideally, how would you like to see women presented in video games?
- Do you think that more women are starting to play games? Why? When? How do you think the way women are portrayed in video games influences sales?
- How and why do you think this is important?
- How do you perceive yourself as a gamer?
- To what extend do you think you identify as a gamer? (Prompt: part of the culture online, just offline gaming) and as a female gamer? Have you ever reflected on that? Why?
- Do you think this is different to how a man might consider himself as a gamer?
- Does this relate to the games which you play, how so?
- Can you remember being so into a game that you noticed a change in thoughts, action or fantasies based on or around the game, and if so, how did these change?
- (Prompt: For example, do you dream about the game or mix up details about a character and someone close to you?)
- How did you feel during this experience?
- If you’ve had an experience of game transfer phenomena or something similar has this influenced your gaming, and if so, how?
- Alternatively, if you’ve had an experience of game transfer phenomena or something similar how has that effect your real-life behaviour, even just that one time?
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|FG6||24||Influencer and sponsorship manager|
|FG13||24||Research assistant (RA)|
|FG19||26||PhD student and RA|
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Kuss, D.J.; Kristensen, A.M.; Williams, A.J.; Lopez-Fernandez, O. To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169
Kuss DJ, Kristensen AM, Williams AJ, Lopez-Fernandez O. To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(3):1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169Chicago/Turabian Style
Kuss, Daria J., Anne Marie Kristensen, A. Jess Williams, and Olatz Lopez-Fernandez. 2022. "To Be or Not to Be a Female Gamer: A Qualitative Exploration of Female Gamer Identity" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 3: 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031169