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Thread: Safe Spaces for Girl Gamers

  1. #1
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    Dancing Chocobo Safe Spaces for Girl Gamers

    Hi EoFF! I've been given an unexpected project at my new job, and I'd love your input - it's been so long since I've regularly played games; help a n00b out please.

    My workplace (a university library) has a large gaming collection and some designated gaming spaces, and I have been tasked with thinking about how to make it a more inclusive space for women (although I am extending that mandate to push beyond the gender binary, and to be more inclusive of people of colour) and to promote the gaming collection as empathy-building and a collaborative learning tool. It has been observed that women are just not using the spaces at all, they are disproportionately and consistently dominated by men.

    People can borrow games and peripherals to take home, or they can use our gaming spaces. The spaces are enclosed and you can probably comfortably have up to ten people in them, but one of them is a bit dark and hard to find. It also appears to me that you have to kind of already know that it exists, it hasn't really been promoted as well as it could have.

    The systems that people can use or borrow include: STEAM, PS3, PS4, Wii U, X Box 360, X Bone, Vive, Hololens, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard, and a bunch of other stuff I can't even identify yet.

    I've thought of some obvious ideas to increase equity of use - buying a wider variety of games, organizing a conference or symposium to talk about women/genderqueer folks and STEM (like Geek Girl Con), inviting Anita Sarkeesian or like-minded scholars to come lecture, hosting a monthly gaming drop-in specifically for women/genderqueer folks, and marketing the hell out of all the cool toys we have.

    With so many self-identified "Girl Gamers" here, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask - what might make you interested in gaming at your library? Do you see any value in being able to try out new tech/games in a "safe space"? Do you ever feel particularly intimidated or empowered when you discuss/purchase/browse games? Do you have a dream gaming space?

    I'm going to force myself to stop thinking about this for a while, it is quitting time, after all

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    That's a hard one. Maybe run specific events catering to it? Like have a mario cart night, or once a month demoing a specific game or piece of equipment that's not super common. The first part of making somewhere feel safe and comfortable is getting the knowledge that it's out there. As people know more about the safe, and feel welcome, they may even spend more time there when there's not specific events for them.

    You mentioned that one of them was a bit dark and hard to find, so maybe some new lighting and paint, if the university is willing to do it? I know a lot of women who get jumpy if somewhere looks shady, so decorating might help. It probably sounds silly, but safe spaces are just as much about looks as feel, I think.

    Probably stating the obvious here, and apologies if I do, but getting the people who are already there to buy into the safe-space thing will be the hardest. There is a lot of condescension out there for female/ minority gamers, and it's hard to feel comfortable playing a game when you have someone staring down at you for taking the system or game that they usually play in their spot. At least, that's what I've run into in places like that.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calliope View Post

    With so many self-identified "Girl Gamers" here, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask - what might make you interested in gaming at your library? Do you see any value in being able to try out new tech/games in a "safe space"? Do you ever feel particularly intimidated or empowered when you discuss/purchase/browse games? Do you have a dream gaming space?
    Not at all ( personally ) though I know how hard it can be for female players online with games like Overwatch. About buying games, not really. Though I've been doing it since about 7 ? So really used to it.

    Though really keen on a idea for a safe space where girls can play games together and have fun.



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    Dancing Chocobo

    Thanks for the input! I'm going to recommend that we at least take reservations for the space. I think that one of the challenges is definitely in ensuring that we can hold space for women to play games without fear of harassment, without making other folks feel like "their space" is being taken from them.

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