Playing to Win
Also complicating easy gender stereotypes of females as purely non-competitive nurturers, half of the female students I interviewed indicated that they enjoyed playing videogames because they enjoyed competing against other players—and they wanted to win. Hailey said that she played Nintendo 64 games with her friends growing up because she liked to win against them. Emma especially felt this way, writing, “I like playing with my friends and I like to win.” With WoW, Emma had a fascination with the competition behind player versus player combat (PvP) where one player tries to kill another player, writing that her perfect game “would emulate the Nintendo 64 game Mario Party, my favorite videogame. It would have fun player versus player battles."
Unfortunately, like with other aspects of achievement, the female students’ efforts to compete in videogames were often thwarted by a lack of gaming literacies. Emma explained that she disliked games that she was not skilled enough to win at. “It’s frustrating when I’m not very good at the games, which discourages me from trying to play them more often.” Like Charlene, she indicated that if games were too complex, she grew frustrated with them and gave up playing them, suggesting that if games were too foreign to her previous gaming experience, she did not know how to enter into the complex set of gaming literacies and practices that constructed them. “I don’t enjoy playing PlayStation games, or playing games on systems that are hard to understand and take time to learn.”
While Emma did not indicate a frustration with the complexities of playing WoW in the interview, some of this frustration was still evident in the research project she chose to write about. A PvP duel outside Goldshire While she was fascinated by PvP combat, she was also frustrated by the fact that as a new, low level player, higher level characters constantly challenged her to duel. For her project, she decided to research what the motivations behind such dueling practices were for players since it was hardly fair combat. Here her frustration at having the odds stacked against her in PvP actually empowered her as a student though because it became an inspiration for her project in the class.