Being female in the digital world

Video games were introduced to me from a fairly early age. I was about 6 or 7, I had an older cousin who had a Super Nintendo and she would let me play on it when I would visit. I always found them more fascinating than playing outside because you could pretend to be anything, save the universe as a mighty star ship pilot, rescue the princess as an Italian plumber or battle to be the best in pro wrestling. The possibilities seemed endless then, and are even more so now.

Metroid. Loved that game especially the surprise ending. Playing through the entire game thinking you’re one gender and then finding out at the end that you’re the opposite. I am pretty sure it was meant as a joke, but I loved it. I loved battling the monsters too, but the ending always made me smile.

My earliest fascination with being female in video games though came with Pokémon Crystal. I was really happy that I could pick a girl to play as instead of a boy, my friends thought it was weird, but I just told them I liked the look of the girl sprite better and nothing more was said about it. Next came Tomb Raider. I had already watched the Indiana Jones trilogy of movies before playing this game, and the idea of a female Indiana that you get to play as was irresistible to me. I was hooked, and have played nearly every instalment since the first one.

Whenever there was a choice in games to play as a male or a female character I would almost always choose the female. My story was always the same. I like the look of the female better. I never admitted, not even to myself that it was because I wanted to be a girl. There were several times though growing up that I wished I was one, and in my dreams I would sometimes be a girl and it felt normal.

The point where I had to admit it was not just about liking the look of the females, but that I was thinking like a female was when I got round to roleplaying games. When I started playing RPGs. I would try out male characters first, but they never seemed to fit properly. I switched to a female character once, and that felt much more natural to me. I did try going back to male characters again, but I was always drawn to female characters and eventually I gave up trying to play male characters altogether and went with female characters exclusively. This wasn’t limited to graphical games. In text based games also I will play female characters as my main characters all the time. I may sometimes have a male character as a side character if I want to tell a particular story where male fits better, but that character is never me, the female characters always feel like me though.

Then there is text messaging on mobile phones. I loved this. When it first was introduced it was a novelty and I was just really excited to be playing around with it and having fun with my friends trying to come up with some abbreviations no-one else had thought of yet. I’d like to say some of those being used by todays young children were made up by us, but I cannot be sure. The other reason I loved it was that you could ‘speak’ to others without using your voice, you lose some sense of what the other person is feeling with the written word as opposed to the voice of a person, but, I don’t know when it started but when I would text someone I would be ‘speaking’ in a female voice. I could hear it in my head. This carried over to online chat rooms and instant messaging too, and has remained with me forever since then.

I have never tried to deceive anyone in the online world. When asked about my gender and age I’ve always given my birth gender and true age, but perhaps I was trying to deceive myself. Choosing female avatars and characters to represent myself in the digital realm, but still telling myself I was male. The deception is not the female avatar, but that I was telling myself I was male. I think I was trying to convince myself, and for a long time I did a good job of doing that.

2 thoughts on “Being female in the digital world

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