I don’t think we have a problem with women not wanting to do videogame filming; there are plenty of women who would love to do it and who’d be stunningly good at it.
I think the problem is, as always, with gamers not policing their own bullshit. If the community were less actively, virulently hostile toward the women who do attempt let’s-plays, I don’t think there’s any question that there’d be more of ‘em who make it to the superstar level. Or, y’know. That there’d be any of ‘em who make it to the superstar level. It’s like saying, “Oh, how do we get more women interested in science?” without addressing the issue of “How the fuck do we get the men in science to stop chasing the women out?”
Let’s-playing as a career is inherently bizarre. The funniest thing is that the folks who make a career out of it generally aren’t especially good at gaming—the hardcore types who play SC2 professionally or whatever get folks watching, but for the most part people like seeing videos of people screwing up hilariously, or messing with the game, or just hanging out with friends and having a good time. I mean, friggin’ Michael at RT got hired specifically because he was so awful at games but so funny when he screwed up. It’s stand-up comedy. It’s the ultimate sort of fantasy job: you get paid for broadcasting the goofy stuff you do when you hang out with friends.
Except, if you’re a woman, you’re pretty fuckin’ hard-pressed to find a let’s-player out there to watch who doesn’t feel the need to explain in detail which female characters are most bangable, or to grouse about how the wife doesn’t let them play as often as they’d like, and if you ever want to participate in that community you kind of have to spend a lot of time blocking your ears and going ‘la-la-la’. And, I mean, when it comes right down to it, you’re not even welcome as a consumer of this media. Why the hell would you want to put the start-up time and money into becoming a producer with that kind of reward?
But there’s nothing about let’s-playing that should make it an inherently cisdude-club sort of proposition. You don’t play video games with your dick. Women make up almost half of gamers. Despite being immensely unwelcome, women still make up a substantial fraction of the demographics of folks watching let’s-players (I think NerdCubed mentioned at some point that about 40% of his audience is female, according to YouTube). But if you’re gonna get harrassed and belittled, why the fuck would you even put in the effort, y’know?
I mean, I have zero interest in let’s-playing as a career—when I do let’s-plays or livestreams, it’s purely because it lets me throw a little gaming party with friends who live nowhere near me, and it lets me maybe draw a few more people into my gaming circle that I wouldn’t have met, otherwise. And even doing that, even with my goofy little party channel with maybe 60 subscribers, I still get shit. I get people who flirt awkwardly and incessantly, I get people who go on and on about my “sexy voice”, I get people who appear to be under the misapprehension that I’m being paid for this and that I’m only being paid for this because I’m a woman, I get people being surprised that I’m good at the game or being pissed off at me for not being good enough at the game (and again, even the people who do this for a fuckin’ living don’t get that kind of scrutiny).
Basically, it shouldn’t be expected, it shouldn’t be a given, that female let’s-players are gonna get shit, and that they’ve just gotta deal. Put the blame more squarely where it belongs: with the assholes who harrass them and the assholes who see this happening and just shrug and say, “Boys will be boys.”
This is an incredibly excellent post. “You don’t play video games with your dick.”
Revolutionary concept, that.