I fell in love with video games when I was about six or seven years old. Video games at the time were a niche hobby and just something to pass the time. Not many people talked about them openly. Video games were what the boys played, but I was a tomboy, so I fit right in.
When gaming online was introduced, the online community was saturated with mainly male players. It was very few and far between when I would meet other women online. When I did, it was a feeling of sisterhood and banding together. It was as if there was an unspoken understanding of the challenges we have faced as female gamers.
Things have changed drastically since those early online days. Women are now a large majority of online players. Since joining the Retro Replay community, I have become acquainted with many wonderful, diverse women gamers, and I wanted to highlight their stories and journey through their gaming life.
I sat down with ten of these awesome ladies and discovered that some of them had been gaming for close to 40 years while others just recently took to gaming as a hobby. Most of the ladies had been playing video games in one capacity or another their entire lives. Since the years of experience varied between the group, I knew that we would have a great discussion on the evolution of gaming and where we hoped to see that evolution grow.
Our first segment will feature Amelia Brown and Cassandre Federowicz. Amelia is our youngest featured gamer from Wales. Her experience spans about eleven years. Cassandre, from Rhode Island, USA, started gaming as early as she can remember. Let’s find out a bit more about our fellow female gamer Replayers.
How did you become a gamer, and was there a specific influence that led you down this path?
Amelia: “I would always watch my father play games. I was always so intrigued by what he was doing and always asking questions. Definitely going to have to say my dad was a big influence when it came to gaming as he was a big gamer himself. I also used to watch a lot of YouTube. At the time, a lot of big gaming YouTubers came onto the scene, and I fell into watching a lot of content on YouTube.”
Cassandre: “I probably became a gamer because of my mom. She liked games, so she got us playing some “retro stuff.” It was on a PlayStation 1, but we definitely started playing the older games first. Then, she took me and my brother to Funcoland (which later turned into GameStop) to buy used PS1 games. As I got older and found out my friends also played games, I started playing more regularly. By the time the PS2 came out, I had a pretty decent size collection, and my friends and I would often play together.”
What are some of your favorite games you grew up with and why? What kind of gamer are you? Do you like challenges, is it more for the social aspect, do you prefer games that are puzzles or have a relaxing element to it? Has that preference evolved over time?
Amelia: “When I was growing up, I used to love Simpsons Hit and Run for the PS2. That was probably one of my favorites! It was like a kids version of GTA cross with The Simpsons universe, which I was obsessed with when I was a kid, so it was like a match made in heaven! There was a series of games by the Bratz dolls that I adored when I was like 10 or 11, and I feel like I love these games so much because there was a sense of open world-ness to them and what I really enjoyed about this game was how it embraced creativity. You were able to make your own tee shirts and put on fashion shows, and it really did inspire me at one point to become a fashion designer; not gonna lie!
I love a fast-paced game with multiplayer aspects to it, such as battle royales and anything PvP. I'm big into shooter games like Fortnite, Apex, etc. However, when I like to relax, I wind down with slower-paced games such as Animal Crossing, Pokémon, and Minecraft.”
Cassandre: “I still have the first-ever game I got when PS2 came out. Britney’s Dance Beat (LOL) I don’t think it works anymore but I knew I couldn’t part with it. Besides that Legend of Mana for the PS1, which I also still have, and Final Fantasy X for the PS2. Those were games I played on my own. My WHOLE family would get in on some Crash Bash and Crash Team racing (both of which I also still have )
A year ago, I would have said I only play single-player narrative-based games. However, that has definitely changed. Pandemic allowed me to meet new people that I started playing online with. I also started getting into PC gaming which to me is something I never really did before now.”
Throughout the years have you noticed a shift in women gamers? What’s been your personal experience with this?
Amelia: “I feel like a lot more young women are starting to get into gaming which is really good because it gives people a chance to find a new hobby as well as potentially make new friends.”
Cassandre: “Growing up, I was kind of the only girl I knew that played games. My friends watched me play a lot. As I got older, I came across more women gamers. More of the people I knew in person and online played games. Especially in the last year when I started going to school to make games. My program itself is pretty evenly mixed.”
Has there been any specific female leads in games over the years that have inspired or motivated you? How did they do so?
Amelia: “Abby and Ellie in the Last of Us 2, Chloe and Nadine from Uncharted: Lost Legacy, and so many other incredible stories that have female-focused characters. However, one that I really connected with when playing was Horizon in Apex Legends. Her Scottish wit and constant puns in the fast-paced battle royale always puts a smile on my face even if I’m losing! Not only this she shows a sensitive side in cinematics when referring to her past and her family before taking part in the Apex games.”
Cassandre: “As a young woman I was basically obsessed with Yuna from FFX and FFX-2. My grandfather drew me a picture of her that I have hanging up in my office. It's from 2004 when I was 11. When I FINALLY was able to afford to buy myself a PS4 it became Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn. I put well over 300 hours into that game over a 3-year period. Since then, I rediscovered my love for Tomb Raider and Lara Croft, and found a new love in Ellie and Abby from The Last of Us 2.”
Do you feel that women have been underrepresented as leads in games throughout the years? Have you noticed a shift in recent years? Expand on this.
Amelia: “I do not think women have been underrepresented at all. I feel recently there have been enough female leads in games.”
Cassandre: “When I was a kid, I feel like it was only Lara Croft and Samus. I still play as Samus when I play Smash games. She's my go-to for sure. I know there were more, but the games I was exposed to as being a mostly single-player gamer really only had those two characters as true leads for the longest time. As I said in my previous answer, the emergence of Aloy, the remasters of Tomb Raider, and the second Last of Us game has definitely given us stronger female leads. I also only usually play PlayStation games, so there might be more on other platforms that I don’t know about. I would like to see that change.”
What’s been your experience with becoming a streamer?
Amelia: “I have adored becoming a streamer. I love my community and everything about streaming in general!”
Check out some clips of Amelia streaming. She is a champ at editing her highlights:
Cassandre: “I started streaming as a joke. After that, I started doing it more often, and before I knew it, I became a Twitch Affiliate. I kept up with it regularly on a set schedule for a few months. I haven't been able to as much because I work full time and attend school full time as well. In the future, I’d like to have more time to do it fairly regularly.”
What are some of your favorite things about streaming versus your least favorite things?
Amelia: “I absolutely adore streaming, and it's my favorite thing to do when I have a chance! I love being able to share my experiences with gaming with other people who share similar interests and sometimes being able to show my audience games that I enjoy that they may not have heard of. My least favorite thing has to be the stereotyping that happens across twitch when it comes to a quote-on-quote‘ girl gamer’.”
Cassandre: “My favorite thing about streaming is the fun I have while doing it. I grew up having my friends just watch me play games anyways so it's almost no different. It took a while to get used to being on camera for hours at a time but once I got past the initial anxiety of it, I didn’t mind it. My least favorite thing is how much money I’ve spent on the setup for it. I didn’t have to do that but I did want my streams to look somewhat different. I still get anxious streaming as someone who's never really been in the spotlight like that before.”
What is one of your favorite achievements in your personal gaming history you’ve accomplished? A game you’ve beaten, an achievement reached or a charity stream goal achieved?
Amelia: “Well, I've got a few platinum trophies on the PlayStation for a variety of games but I have to say my favorite trophy that I've earned was my platinum for Minecraft for the PlayStation when I was about 16. My proudest achievement in gaming has to be being able to play at professional level for Apex legends at the age of 17. I may not have won all of the games, but I won one or two in a tournament and I was very proud of those considering I was going against very high-level players. I didn’t even know how to play a couple of months prior to it! I think my team placed about 4th out of 20 teams which we were proud of! Who knows maybe one day I can do it again and we could rank even higher!”
Cassandre: “I know it’s lame but I was so proud when I got my first platinum in a game that I spent 200 hours working on. It was for Death Stranding. Since then, I’ve gone back and worked on a few other games that I found really challenging and eventually got it for them as well. I never thought about achievement hunting before since I was a gamer just for fun, which I still am but now I have fun going that extra mile.”
Video games have evolved significantly in the last few years in regards to diversity and strong female leads. What more would you like to see from the industry in the future?
Cassandre: “As someone who's eventually (hopefully) going to work in the industry I like what I’ve been seeing in regards to women working in the industry. I love seeing more and more on my Twitter timeline and in articles. It gives me a little extra push for me to work harder to make sure that I end up there as well. That being said, I think with more women in the industry as well as female streamers, female gamers in general, the shift is coming. The hate they receive, I can see, it fuels them. I know it does for me.”
Amelia and Cassandre both had roots in gaming from influence from their parents at a young age which has led them to have a strong passion for the hobby in their current years. It’s inspiring to hear how other women have gotten into this wonderful hobby of gaming and how some plan on making game development their career to bring joy and excitement to the next generation.
Stay tuned for Part II of this Candid Discussion, which will feature Replayers Charlotte Merritt and Stephanie Watson!
Amelia - Twitter: @its_ameliabrown Twitch: twitch.tv/its_ameliabrown Instagram: its_ameliabrown
Cassandre - Twitter: @casswitch2319 Twitch: twitch.tv/casswitch2319 Instagram: casswitch