Times have changed, and with it a shift in those who play video games. Where gaming was once perceived as an exclusive boys club, research provided by a 2016 study by Bond University and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) showed 47 per cent of game players in Australia identified as female.
Fiona Wang, a Chinese international student, is just one of many young women living in Australia who regularly play video games in her downtime. As a teenager, she was exposed to the world of gaming through her cousin and attributes Grand Theft Auto IV as the gateway into a new hobby.
“I actually really enjoyed the feeling I got when playing [Grand Theft Auto IV] for the first time, it made me feel very exhilarated,” she said.
Now at the age of 19, Fiona regularly plays video games with her friends. Online gaming is where she thrives and where she feels like she’s “part of something much bigger”.
“Online gaming gives me the opportunity to not only play video games with different people but to also make new friends,” she said.
Beyond the community, she also enjoys how playing games has helped her “release pressure in times when [she feels] very stressed out”.
The experience hasn’t been entirely rosy however. Noticing her increasing interest in gaming, her parents were quick to voice their disapproval of her hobby. She attributes their criticism towards the expectations placed on young women in her culture.
“So, my parents think being a girl, I should be [quiet] and gentle, [not] someone who wants to play aggressive video games all the time,” she explains.
Fiona disagrees with her parents of course, and she’s not alone.
“Most of my friends think there is no difference in gender when talking about if girls should play video games,” she stated.
Despite her parents’ words, Fiona feels that being in Australia has helped her grow her interest even further. Here, events like PAX Australia have given individuals like Fiona a chance to experience what an inclusive gaming community looks like.
And fortunately for her, that sentiment may soon find its way home as well as rich investors put their money into growing the female e-sports scene.
So take on Fiona’s story as inspiration — if you’re want to get into gaming but are hesitant to because of cultural influences, don’t be! Just pick up your pad and press start.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.