Female Power Gamers

In the study Women and games: Technologies of the gendered self, Royse et.al. argue that it does a disservice to women to lump all of them into the category of ‘women who play games’, because there are different gaming behaviors that manifest themselves in different ‘types’.

The study then goes on to address an interesting type of female gamer: the power gamer, or “the gamer who embodies ‘femininity’ while performing ‘masculinity'” (Royse, et.al., 2007).  According to the study, “Power gamers place high importance on gaming and engage in it frequently…appear more comfortable with gaming technology and game themes and…gaming is better intreated into their lives,” (Royse, et.al., 2007). These types of gamers thrive on the competition, challenge, and ‘pleasantly frustrating’ nature of games because “competition provides an arena in which power gamers are able to define and extend their definitions of self and gender,” (Royse, et.al., 2007). These women often elect FPS (first-person shooter) games because, according to the study, “one of the most salient pleasures for women gamers is the opportunity to engage in game combat, a space which permits them to challenge gender norms by exploring and testing this aggressive potentiality,” (Royse, et.al., 2007).

Power gamers are also very aware of the gender stratification that sometimes is inherent in the game code.  “Despite the fact that typically, FPS games are played by males and have violent intent, several of the [power gamers] indicated that they consciously chose this genre for its unabashed aggressiveness,” the study argues (Royse, et.al., 2007).  The authors go on to argue that “Power gamers are certainly not oblivious to the hypersexualized representation of female avatars and they do realize that such representations pander to male fantasies,”  but that these fantasy elements, although representative of gender inequality, do not deter many power gamers (Royse, et.al., 2007). In fact, many female players in the study “indicated that they purposefully choose and create characters that are feminine and sexy as well as strong,” (Royse, et.al., 2007), mimicking the dichotomy that women have to straddle in the real world between being powerful and being beautiful.

Royse, P., et. al. (2007). Women and games: Technologies of the gendered self. New Media & Society9, 555-576.

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