Why does it even matter, guys


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So here’s the gist of it: when you register for an account on IGN.com (a popular video game news and walkthrough website), your gender is automatically set to “male.” To change this, you’ve got to go into the account preferences section of the site and manually switch it over to female (the only other option).
It’s really only worth mentioning this at all because IGN doesn’t presume to know anything else about users from the get-go; the rest of the account preferences sections is completely blank. So why bother setting a default gender?
It seems really small, and maybe it is, but to me this says something pretty rough about enjoying games and being a girl: “not welcome here, this is for boys only.” Nevermind if you identify outside the gender binary—no options for you at all!
I’m a pretty casual gamer at best (last night I killed a guard in Dishonored by accident by dropping him from a chandelier so he landed on his head), but it’s just a little disheartening to see that male as the default for a user on an extremely popular gaming website.
I won’t bore you with dry statistics, but according to the ESA (Electronic Software Association), “47% of all players are women, and women over 18 years of age are one of the industry’s fastest growing demographics.”
47% definitely isn’t close to half, or anything. Nah. The default should definitely be set to male because 3% is an insurmountable majority. Women will never, ever catch up, and that that 47% should totally not be considered when creating any sort of default settings. Nah. No way.
You might be scratching your head and asking, “But, well, that’s not so bad. I mean, IGN’s settings are probably just a mistake and, well, they had to have /something/ in that section, didn’t they?” Play along for a second and try this in reverse: would you ever see a popular gaming site with the default gender set to female? No.
(And absolutely forget any sort of gender-neutral or non-binary assumption, gosh, no way).
I’m not entirely sure why IGN needs to have my gender input as part of my profile, anyway. If it were an optional addition, I’d pay it no mind.
But it’s something the site sets sets for me—incorrectly, but who’s counting—and something that doesn’t seem all that relevant to my experience using the site for finding game walkthroughs. It’s unnecessary for any site function I can think of, it’s misrepresentation of the population of people who play video games, and it’s rude as hell. Don’t you tell me how to be, IGN.
I’m tired of this argument that women don’t play games, and I’m tired of things like IGN’s default gender settings and everything that says about how the gaming industry views their female demographic (spoiler: they overlook the female demographic entirely).
Things like this—the small things, the really minimal things that say “no girls here”—don’t make me angry anymore, just tired.