In Defense Of Women's Gaming

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slide1 (1)Illustrated by Tania Lili.
I usually like to end my days with pre-poo wash on my hair, a clay mask on my face, and a PlayStation remote in hand. When asked by my (female) co-workers what I did the night before, they are always shocked for two reasons. One, that I am playing video games without sharing this experience with a person who is male. And, secondly, that I'm doing it while taking care of my skin and hair.

Apparently, there are many things wrong with this behavior. Not only can I not enjoy video games without attempting to impress or spend time with a man, but it is also strange to certain others that I care equally about the maintenance of my skin and hair. Why are these women adding to the taboo of female gamers? The moment we judge each other for being gamers, we deny ourselves the joys and benefits of gaming — of which there are many.

After a long day of work, I like to come home, pop open a bottle of wine, and play some video games. In my hour or two of game-play yesterday, I shot some Necromorphs (monster virus animals from space), rewired a ship, upgraded my ammo, and got one step closer to solving a mystery. Of course, we can’t forget that by the time I was done accomplishing these things, my hair was deeply- conditioned, and my skin felt softer than a baby’s bum. Yet, my co-workers look at me and think I've wasted an evening. I don’t know about yours or their media habits, and I definitely don't want to judge anybody, but I cannot remember the last time that watching an hour of reality TV left me feeling consummate in any sense of the word.

By making video games taboo for women, most of us are missing out on an amazing part of the technological age. While many men play video games throughout their adulthood, a women playing games is often considered lazy or weird. Should I be watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians instead? It is already sad to see other genders boxing each other in, but it is even worse to box each other in with expectations of who we should be and the things we should be doing.

slide2 (1)Illustrated by Tania Lili.
But, I'd argue that being able to dive into a (often complicated and nuanced) video game combines the visuals of viewing an amazing movie with the feelings derived from reading a great book. Moreover, there are actual benefits to playing video games.

They can be used as a form of physiotherapy.
Games are known to improve hand-eye coordination; thus they can help you regain specific motor skills after suffering physical trauma.

They encourage decision-making.
Making decisions, as is true in all areas of life, requires practice. Playing video games involves constant decision-making. (For example: Which direction do I go in? What gun do I use?) It’s extremely rare that in real life you would encounter this many choices in such a short amount of time without seeing your stress level skyrocket. With video games you have the opportunity to hone the decision-making part of the brain while maintaining your sanity.

They enhance creativity.
Scientists from Michigan State University conducted an investigation in 2011 where they studied the brain patterns of boys and girls during video game playing. The study showed that those who played longer showed more signs of creative play. Plus, both genders benefited equally from playing.

They help us express our emotions.
Repressed emotions may be expressed through video game playing. I'd say it's akin to the feeling you get after an invigorating workout. Violent video games are definitely not for everyone, but, for me, I think of them as a way of purging. Sometimes, I come home feeling pretty peeved about the day, and while I can’t technically yell at everything that made me miserable, I can let off some steam by shooting imposing aliens. Video games are like my safe heaven, the place I turn to when I'm super stressed.

The rewards of playing are exponential. But, it's important to keep in mind that that while video games may enhance life, they shouldn't be used as a serious escape. As with most things, it's all about striking that balance. Gaming allows me to temporarily forget about time constraints and real life problems, kind of like meditation. Anyway, why should men be the only ones holding the controller?

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