Move Over, Bros: The Future of Video Gaming Looks Decidedly Female

The documentary 'She Got Game' follows women going for the highest score.
Apr 9, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Where does a woman who wants art, music, storytelling, and drama go for fun? Nowadays, she grabs a controller—or warms up her thumbs—and settles in for another go-around with her favorite video game.

Yes, forget what you think you know about who’s playing video games. A 2013 report from the Entertainment Software Association found that women and girls are 45 percent of all game players and 46 percent of the most frequent purchasers of games. That’s why Toronto-based visual artist and videographer Cailleah Scott-Grimes is determined to show how diverse players of "World of Warcraft"—and every other game you can think of—really are.

Scott-Grimes hopes to produce She Got Game, a documentary that’ll take a deep dive into the inspirational, social, and professional world of female game lovers. “By celebrating women’s work in the industry and acknowledging their perspective,” says Scott-Grimes, “we are reminded of what games are all about; they’re a social medium and a form of self-expression."

While in the initial stages of making the film, Scott-Grimes says she’s been surprised to discover some of the generational differences between female gamers. “Women have been working so hard for gender equality for the past few decades, and you can see the results starting to emerge,” she says. “We’ve interviewed some young girls for the doc, and it was amazing to see how it never even occurred to them that video games were ‘for boys.’ ”

However, the sexism within the gaming community is all too real. In 2012, male gamers bombarded media critic and video game aficionado Anita Sarkeesian with violent, sexually graphic images after she floated the idea of creating a documentary about the most common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games. Just as women in Hollywood are rarely cast in leading roles, female game characters are typecast as the damsel in distress or sexy sidekick too. Although her goal was just $6,000, Sarkeesian raised more than $158,000 on Kickstarter.

Scott-Grimes chalks up the lack of diversity to the male-heavy tech teams that create games. “If very few women are on your developing team, you’re not likely to put lots of time and money into imagining what kind of games women might like,” says Scott-Grimes. And when gaming companies have profit margins to hit, it’s all too easy to stick to tried-and-true game titles.

This dynamic is beginning to change, she says, as “organizations emerge which make game design accessible to the public.” That includes indie developers, she says, who can introduce a wider range of perspectives and experience into games.

“Ultimately,” says Scott-Grimes, the film, which is in the fund-raising stage on Kickstarter, will show that girls and women who are into gaming are normal people, and their individuality, not their gender, should be the focus. She hopes the documentary “resonates not only with women who love gaming but with anyone who’s ever felt like their voice isn’t represented."