The Brief: At the most basic level, a gamer girl is a girl or woman who plays video games.

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The idea of a gamer girl implies that the standard gamer is male. Many stereotypes about gamer girls/girl gamers” turn them into objects of male gamer desire and/or ridicule. Gamer girls are a popular topic on Reddit, 4chan, and other forums. Although gaming is typically viewed as a “male activity,” similar percentages of men and women play video games. However, men are much more likely to consider themselves to be “gamers,” likely due to societal perceptions, marketing, and the harsh stereotypes for female gamers.

There is much debate around the difference between a “girl gamer,” a “gamer girl,” and a “female gamer.” These variations suggest differences in a girl or woman’s motivations behind playing video games, skill level, appearance, and personality. A woman who plays video games may be viewed as a poser who is seeking male attention, as a tomboy, or as the ideal gf for male-gamers. Even with all the possibilities of what constitutes a gamer girl or girl gamer, the concept is rife with sexism and objectification of women. It implies that men are the only rightful participants in gamer culture and that women who do play video games should not be treated equally. It suggests that a girl or woman “gamer” is either an impostor or a coveted “dream girl,” ignoring the agency of the women themselves, who likely just want to play video games.

This archetype illustrates the difficulties that many women face within online and gaming subcultures. While they are likely in these spaces because of their personal interest in video games, they are often subject to fetishization and harassment.

Notably, some of the gatekeeping for girl gamers comes from other women within gaming communities, often in the form of gaming-specific slut-shaming.