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Women Don't Want To Call Themselves 'Gamers' -- And It's No Wonder Why

A new survey finds that women enjoy video games as much as men, but they don't identify as "gamers."
The award-winning "Splatoon" lets you play as a girl or boy character from the outset.
The award-winning "Splatoon" lets you play as a girl or boy character from the outset.

A new survey finds that men and women play video games in roughly equal measure -- but men are much more likely to call themselves "gamers." 

The Pew Research Center published the new findings on Wednesday. Surveys were conducted on 2,001 American adults in June and July this year. All told, 50 percent of men and 48 percent of women of any age said they play video games, but 15 percent of men "identify as 'gamers'" while only 6 percent of women do. The numbers are more split for the 18-29 age bracket, where 77 percent of men and 57 percent of women say they play video games but 33 percent of men and a paltry 9 percent of women identify as gamers.

Meanwhile, the survey found most people believe that the majority of folks who play video games are men.

It's like mansplaining-plus: Even when statistics show something is true, certain people bend over backwards to say otherwise.

This really shouldn't be surprising. For one thing, reports have indicated for years that men and women play games in roughly equal measure. And one can imagine why women may be a bit more hesitant to identify as "gamers." Over the past year or so, several women have been subjected to high-profile harassment campaigns stemming from gaming communities. Conventions as large as SXSW have tried and failed to address the problem properly. A major video game awards show practically failed to acknowledge that women exist when forming its jury.

"There's clearly something there that makes young women say, 'Gosh, I don't identify with this community,'" Brianna Wu, a video game developer who's frequently discussed gender issues, told The Huffington Post when asked about the new Pew research.   

"Anyone can look at the video game industry and see the product we put out and say we suck at representing women. It's a very predictable consequence of 30 years of making video games a boys club," she added.

Women are also questioned even when they identify as gamers. For example, when this exact subject came up in the Guardian last year, commenters were quick to allege that women aren't actually gamers because maybe they're just playing smartphone games:

Public comments on a Guardian article about women and gaming.
Public comments on a Guardian article about women and gaming.

It's like mansplaining-plus: Even when statistics show something is true, certain people bend over backwards to say otherwise. It happened on the Guardian, it's certainly happened on HuffPost and it will continue to happen elsewhere.

The urge to question someone who identifies as a "gamer" is almost too dumb a concept to shoot down. But let's do it anyway: If you're trying to claim that "Candy Crush" is in some way an inherently different activity than "Fallout 4," you're just wrong. They're both electronic interactive entertainment of the very same sort. Besides, if you've been a gamer for decades, you probably never felt the compulsion to shoot down someone who enjoys more "casual" fare like "Tetris," "Bust-a-Move" or "Puyo Pop."

It's a flawed premise anyway, as there's no reason to believe that women, as opposed to men, favor smartphone games over console games. In fact, it's arguable that more women than men own video game consoles.

And if you were really going to be a stickler, you could crack open the gosh darn Merriam-Webster, look at the definition of "gamer" and realize that it's simply "a person who plays games and especially video or computer games." 

Makes sense to us. 

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