A self-proclaimed hippy love-letter to all things gaming, ConTessa is a free online gaming convention (using Google Hangouts). The unique aspect is that ConTessa is by women, for everyone. This means that only those who identify themselves as women (I suppose to be inclusive of transgendered women) are allowed to host a game or panel.
Now, it’s important to note that ConTessa keeps stressing that they are apolitical. What does this mean? According to their disclaimer
There are a lot of opinions out there on gender issues, and the subject almost always results in heated discussions and flared tempers. For good reason, too, the stakes aren’t exactly small. We want ConTessa to be an oasis in all of that heat, a place where we can come and just be women who game rather than being women who talk about being women who game. While critical debate has a time and a place and a purpose, ConTessa is none of those. ConTessa is completely neutral ground.
I applaud this sentiment. However, why do something that separates male and female gamers anyway? Sure, I understand that gamer culture is still generally male dominated, but it’s not as if women are in the minority as gamers. Plenty of women game – why do we need to keep on separating ourselves? It just reenforces the idea that we’re a sad, frightened, angry minority.
Look, the only reason I decided to write about ConTessa was their tweet earlier
— ConTessa (@ConTessaOnline) June 4, 2013
Like I said, I really applaud the idea of accepting that women are gamers and we don’t need to keep talking about it. Great. But then don’t make events like this which seem to promote the concept that we DO need to talk about it and prove how different we are.
Also, check out their site. You can use one of their avatars to promote the event – there are a variety of “characters” used to promote the event around the site. Nice idea. Except… they completely conform to “gamer girl” stereotypes! Look at this!
Sure, girls want to look nice, pretty, cute or whatever. But c’mon. What do gamer males use for avatars? Even if they support their idea, are they supposed to adopt one of these women as their avatar on twitter to promote the event? Give us some aliens, robots or something. How about reenforcing the idea that gamers are gamers, regardless of whether or not they have anime eyes and curvy bodies?
It seems like the organisers are trying to be apolitical, yet don’t realise how innately political it is to have an event purely for female gamers. It’s like having an event and limiting it by race, or sexual orientation. As inclusive as it may purport to be, it will always come across as prejudiced. Will there even be a difference between the types of games or panels a woman would choose to host at this event vs. a different event?
What do you think of the gender aspect of this? Am I just overly sensitive to all this ‘girl gamer’ stuff? Oh, and how about using Google Hangouts for a gaming convention?
Last Updated: June 4, 2013