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I’m a woman, I’m a gamer and I’m proud of it! Hello, my name is Jen Copedo.

It’s 2022 and women are finally coming out of the gaming closet. We’re normal, happy, cool, badass women and, yes, we like to come home, grab some snacks, and settle in for game night.

It wasn’t always like this, and being a woman in a male-dominated sphere proved difficult. We grew up with labels like geek and nerd, and feeling like we weren’t “cool” enough in school because we liked to play instead of hang out.

Research has begun to show that gambling is no longer a pastime for 12-year-old boys. Women all over the world admit that they love to gamble too. In 2020, 41% of gamers in the United States and 40-45% of gamers in Asia were female. Dr Jeffrey Brand and Dr Jan Jervis, co-authors of the Digital New Zealand 2022 report, found that in a study of over 800 households, 73% of New Zealanders play video games and 48% of those gamers are women. That’s almost half of the gamer population, and as more women get involved in writing, producing, and designing games, the numbers will continue to rise. So what about the game that attracts the female population to the field?

The new exhibition “Code Breakers: Women in Games” at the Tuhura Otago Museum celebrates the contributions of New Zealand and Australian women to an industry plagued by sexism and discrimination. I thought it would be interesting to hear some of the museum staff’s perspective on their love of the game and the challenges they faced as women who gamble.

Asked about their favorite games, the team admitted that they like challenging games, not the cute frilly dress up games that men associate with women playing.

One of our employees, Toni, loves the game Watch!. Because it’s “so addictive and you can play different playstyles and with a team! When I’m feeling hardcore, I’ll be a tank and play Roadhog or Doomfist.”

Lana loves a good RPG, like the witcher Where old scrolls. She says she found many action-based games “very boring, as I find them to be mostly male-heavy and war-themed characters. I enjoy following game series such as the restart of grave robber series, following a female protagonist with a loose theme of archeology and adventure.”

These women believe gambling is a great form of escape in a world where social anxiety and Covid make socializing difficult. Marijn said: “When the first lockdown happened in 2020 and we couldn’t go anywhere, it was nice to finish the day’s work and then go fight robot dinosaurs in Horizon or get away from it all. take care of my stupid little farm in Stardew Valley and forget about Covid for a while”. The game allows people to be social and interact with others on a different and socially safe platform.

However, it is not just a form of fun for these women. The game has proven to be brain-boosting, encouraging people to think strategically and solve puzzles to progress the game and get in on the action. Lana loves “the adrenaline rush you get from completing quests.”

Yet while these wonderful women are happy to be gamers, they admitted to feeling ashamed or dissatisfied with openly identifying themselves as “gamer”. A member of staff who chose to remain anonymous for this reason said that “when I was a teenager, mentioning the game often got me asked about anecdotes about the game by random self-proclaimed ‘gamers’. So it had a negative impact on my view of the term, and I’ve also made sure that I’m a bit careful about the audience I mention the games to. I don’t particularly care if someone thinks I’m not a ‘real gamer’ because I don’t know the name childhood pet Peach, or anything, but I find that kind of attention exhausting and want to avoid it.”

Although there are still negative connotations around women in the game, Code Breakers: Women in Games is proof of the changes taking place in the industry, with women emerging as key players. The staff of the Tuhura Otago Museum hope that the stereotypes and sexism encountered in the gaming industry will one day be a thing of the past and that we can all enjoy gaming without marginalizing or excluding others.

Exhibitions

– There are two free game exhibits at the Otago Museum, with a range of PC, tablet and big screen games to try, some of which are made by local Dunedin studios.

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