Longread! but because the girls all have a different style in answering the questions, I appreciate each answer.
Girl Gamer Galaxy, the largest girl gaming website in the Benelux, run by 4 girl gamers in The Netherlands; Atusa, Judith, Joëlla and Purdey. As often in esports they all have fulltime jobs and the website is a project of love for gaming, successfully online for over 7 years now.
Besides running the website they have 2 ambitious projects that deserve the attention of potential investors: building an all-female- or mixed team (men, get over yourselves and sign up!) in cooperation with Asterion and Gameroom 416, a 24/7 streaming room in a hotel. As always, time&money are an issue which is a shame, since especially Gameroom 416 is an awesome idea of which the pilot has been much appreciated by their followers. Read more about those project up ahead in the interview.
So, 4 women, meaning 4 opinions on each question asked. Enjoy reading this interview where you’ll find out girl gamers aren’t really that different to men, it’s all in the game!
How did you all meet?
Atusa: I know Purdey from high school, it was years later she decided to join Girl Gamer Galaxy (GirlGamer.NL at the time). It’s great to not only still be friends after all those years but getting into more and more adventures together as well. Because of that, she’s more than ever actively involved on so many levels of my life.
Joëlla and i shared the same friends, but actually met years later when we were introduced for the first time. My childhood friend found out we were both gamers and made the introduction which was a blessing because I always played online and didn’t know any female gamers. That changed when I met Joëlla. She introduced me to Judith whom she shared a female Call of Duty clan with and took me to events. Judith and I are now friends and roommates. It’s really great, sharing a house with someone who has the same interests and whom you can spend your time off with doing stuff for your own community.
Judith: I started playing Call of Duty a couple of years ago. I always want to improve myself in gaming and playing Call of Duty allows you to start a clan and compete against other clans. I wanted to play with other girl gamers but didn’t know any, so I started searching the internet and run into Joëlla ‘s group and sent her a message. Together with some other girls we’ve played a lot of games and started making gameplay video’s.
It was always fun online and since we both live in Amsterdam we decided to go to the night opening of the new Call of Duty game. After that we spent more time together.
I’ve always played games, but Joëlla had gone to game events I didn’t even know existed. We went to the Gamekings Showcase with two other clan girls and Atusa, Joëlla’s friend who played World of Warcraft. We instantly clicked that day and started writing for Kijk Online Magazine. One of the columns was Girl Gamer Weekend in which we showed what kind of games girls played, sometimes accompanied by a video. All girls writing for Kijk Online shared a WhatsApp group that became too big, so we started a Facebook page. Another friend of Joëlla and Atusa, Purdey, joined the team and we started Girl Gamer Galaxy.
Joëlla: Atusa, Purdey and I know each other from way back (about 15 years). I met Judith in 2010 when I was looking for girls playing Call of Duty.
Purdey: I met Atusa when I was about 15/16 in high school. The funny thing is, although we were friends, we didn’t know we both loved gaming. Maybe because it wasn’t something you talked about back then?
It’s really hard to find personal info about you guys on your website. Is there a reason for that? Do you keep in touch online or do you meet on a regular basis?
Atusa: We meet at events or business appointments, sometimes we have sleepovers or go to the movies. Unfortunately, none of us live close by, so we skype a lot. It’s just easier because we’re all short in time, working fulltime and spending our evenings on our blog, website, arranging contests and keeping up social media. I think we would love to spend more time together in real life but fortunately we have this shared passion we can spend our time together on.
Judith: The website is a project that was new to all of us. We simply haven’t given it any thought, but will add personal info soon. It’s true there aren’t many photos of the four of us. I think it’s because we’re always busy when we meet and don’t really think about shooting photos. Apart from that, we have weekly skype meetings for Girl Gamer Galaxy.
Joëlla: Good question! I don’t know really why there’s no additional info. We’re still in the process of adding more facts here and there, so it will probably come sooner or later.
Purdey: Nope, it’s not a choice to not share any personal info but now that we realize the shortage of it, we’ll fix that I think! It probably happened because the website is and has always been about the community more than about us. I do realize now that some background info about who we are might be nice.
Apart from Atusa and Judith, we live spread around the country and all work fulltime which makes real life meetings somewhat difficult. To be practical about it all, skype meetings at least once a week solve the problem. Of course we love meeting at events or the occasional movie, but because events are always so busy, we simply forget to take photos.
In short, your favorite game and game personality.
Atusa: choosing one game is always difficult. I’m always hooked on a game for a while and then skip to the next one. My favorite genre is horror and indie games always make me happy. The latest game that took much of my time is Stardew Valley, but I’m almost done with it, so up to the next obsession.
Judith: I don’t really have one fav game. The games I’ve spent most of my time on are The Legend of Zelda games, Skyrim, Call of Duty & League of Legends. I really like survival games like Rust, Don’t Starve & Ark too. The characters and lores in games are often well designed but for those as well, no favorite.
Joëlla: Favo games: Call of Duty MW2, Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War III, The Last of Us, Warframe, Rainbow Six Seige, The Sims series.
Purdey: I love so many different games! That kind of suits my character, I’m a curious person that wants to see and explore everything, however, I can’t play every game. For instance, FPS games make me nauseous. During a busy week at work, games that allow me to play a quick round are perfect for me, like certain Fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken or BlazBlue. On the other hand, I can really appreciate a good game story. I thoroughly enjoyed The Last of Us and Ni No Kuni (makes sense as a studio Ghibli fan) and am currently playing Horizon Zero Dawn.
Favo game personality? Bayonetta, a tough, self-confident and, to my opinion, great hack and slash.
Why did you start this community, what was missing for girl gamers on the already existing websites?
Atusa: Joella, Judith and I regularly attended events where it became apparent it was fun to go out with just girls and that there weren’t a lot of other women at those events (besides the Booth Babes of course). From writing for Kijk Online about the female perspective on gaming derived a Facebook group that kept growing. At the time, we never could have thought the group would be so large. The need for girls to connect came as a surprise to us. We see so many cool things happening within the community. Women advising each other on gaming and gaming gear, showing their talents (from stats to art) and girls becoming friends in real life. How cool is it when you go to an event and recognize the (online) people there. That’s truly a beautiful thing to see.
Judith: The community actually made itself. I only used to play men at first and when I met girl gamers we instantly connected. When I was a kid, I was always the girl with bruises from climbing trees and playing dodgeball with the boys. The gaming girls I met were the same. We play games together, but just as easy go shopping, watch a movie or just talk. We started the website because we felt the need to share our passion and friendship in a different way.
Joëlla: The community originated because as a girl gamer I was almost always playing men and I missed hanging with other girls, so the community is there to connect women who share the same interests.
Purdey: It was the WhatsApp group that grew into the community, so you might say it generated from women of the same mind feeling the need to connect. As said before, gaming with other women has given me solid friendships. I would like that to happen to other women as well. On our website, the community is the focus point, we’re trying to show women it’s not weird to love gaming or to work in the gaming industry.
Your website is not only about gaming, but has a lot of lifestyle features too. Is there one particular female gamer’s style?
Atusa: There’s no such thing as one gamer’s style. Even more so, there is no one gamer. The gaming community is very divers. I’m not talking about the platforms people game on or the various game genres, the diversity can be found in the stage of life a gamer is in, the music she likes, her style of clothing and so on. It’s for that reason we let the women have their say on our website. They talk about what’s on their minds, it being cosplay, painting or decorating a baby room. We want to offer girl gamers a platform and show the rest of the world there is no typical girl gamer.
Judith: There’s no certain style or age in the gamers subculture. We just share what we like ourselves which doesn’t always have to be directly game related. It can be Anime, Comics or Fantasy as well.
Joëlla: Each person is so unique, the female gamer is no exception to that. I can’t think of one particular female gamer style.
Purdey: The world of gaming is very divers which fortunately goes for the female game community as well. Just looking at the four of us and our different styles, I’m seeing huge differences. That’s a good thing and it’s what makes this community so interesting to my opinion.
Will there be a new edition of the Girl Gamer Galaxy Game Event for women, with or without Mister Bard? (edition 1 was on Feb 13 2016)
Atusa: We would love that. We’ve organized the first edition with a partner and a lot of help from various parties for which we are very grateful. Because of them, we were able to put together a free event with goodie bags for the girls. If the opportunity rises to organize another event, we will certainly do so. The only thing is, it’s difficult to do it on your own, because we don’t want the community to have to pay entry fee and food&drinks. Some girls will have to travel a great deal to be able to attend, so they’re already spending money on travelling expenses.
Judith: For now, we’re mainly focusing on the blog site and social media. We want to increase our traffic so we’ll be getting more fun- and new opportunities for our community. This might be a new event or the chance to write for a big news website or participating in an esports team. Who knows what’s in the cards for us.
Joëlla: Not for the moment, but it is something we want organize again. Connecting girl gamers is still our core business.
Purdey: Organizing more events is definitely something we will do again in the future. The pre-valentine event has been put together with the help of a lot of parties we are very grateful to. If the chance arises to organize a new event with these parties we will absolutely go for it. Organizing an event is really time consuming and we want to focus on other aspect of Girl Gamer Galaxy too, like our website.
Is your community growing and can you link that growth to the rise of female gamers in The Netherlands/Belgium. Is there a rise of female gamers at all?
Atusa: Yes, there seems to be a constant increase in community members, followers on social media and website readers. Our social media- and website readers are international. We can’t tell for sure if there’s an increase of female gamers, but female gamers do make themselves known more, which is great. Around the world, gamers are looking for others with the same passion and they seem to be able to find us.
Judith: I don’t think so, there’ve always been female gamers, they only seem to be able to connect more and go to events together, which is one of our goals.
Joëlla: The community keeps growing steadily and more so when we’ve been to events and have talked to a lot of people. I personally think there is an increase of Dutch and Belgium female games.
Purdey: The amount of followers on our social media, the website and our community keeps growing. If that runs parallel to an increase of female gamers or if there’s a rise in female gamers at all I can’t say.
I think many women have always been interested in gaming, however, gaming for girls is being discouraged more (consciously or subconsciously). To my experience, parents are more likely to buy a videogame for their son instead of their daughter which makes it more normal for a boy to play. However, gaming for girls is getting more and more recognition so it’s only logical there’ll be more female gamers in time.
Together with Asterion you’re working on putting together an all-female team. About time, because Holland doesn’t have one left. Have there been many applications? Are you selecting on skills only or character too and how are the girls guided? Will members be rewarded in some form (sponsoring, money)?
Atusa: We’ve had quite a few entries and two girls are under contract as we speak. They’re already playing tournaments as well. As for getting up a team, that’s more difficult. We never seem to have enough members for one certain game to form a team, so we can’t start training.
Judith: This project is really in its early days and we’ve decided to take it slow. For now, we have two girls playing Hearthstone in tournaments. We’ve had a lot of applications for other games like League of Legends, CS:Go, Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm but not enough to form a complete team. A mixed team would be great as well, we’re not set to have an all-girl team or no team.
It’s our goal to guide girls who want to be a pro gamer. We coach them and talk about their experiences. The main thing is for them to feel good at what they’re doing. The fact that not many all-female teams last is somewhat alarming. Often the team members grow apart or can’t handle the attention that comes with it. Having someone to help you cope with that can make a difference. The girls we’re coaching are Asterion members and get a t-shirt and gaming gear. When they do well and their social media reach goes up, they’ll get paid further along the process, apart from the prize money they earn.
Purdey: Following up on Atusa and Judith, there are some interested indeed, but not enough to form a team of equal skills, let alone selecting on character, which would be advisable.
What’s up with the really cool Gameroom 416 project?
Atusa: Gameroom 416 is a project to which we gave our all. For two months we’ve had a pilot in cooperation with ID Apart Hotel where we set up a game room in a hotel room and let two girls play games every day. What are they up to, what games do they play, what do they eat and so on. It’s really interesting because you get to see the gamer for who she is.
Unfortunately, this project has been put on hold because our partners are busy doing other things and simply don’t have the means to work on this concept and make it happen. Our community really misses the time Gameroom 416 was on, so we’re anxious to see what will happen.
Judith: I’m sorry to say this project is on hold. The concerning hotel will open a new location in Amsterdam this year which has their priority. We truly regret that, but are hoping to restart this concept in the (near) future.
Purdey: After a 2 months pilot Gameroom 416 has been put on hold, partly by our partner due to the opening of a new hotel. Of course we understand and do hope to continue Gameroom 416 when the time is right.
Due to the progressive financial interest for gaming there’s more focus on female gamers. Girl gamers are a new group to make money on. Is this something that bothers you or is the result: ‘the acceptance of female gamers’ more important.
Atusa: Although not really happening in The Netherlands, our international contacts regularly let us know female gamers are still being locked out a lot. That is such a shame, because whether being male or female, you’re a gamer and that’s what you have in common. We’re happy it’s not a big issue in The Netherlands. Of course it does happen here too, but more often girl gamers are being welcomed instead of locked out.
For marketers to see women as a money market happens in more sectors, it’s only logical this goes for the world of gaming as well. What we find important is that they realize this target audience exists. Let’s take an event for example. Advertisers can convince event managers to take this group into account. This will translate to the event announcements and the event itself.
I’ve had endless discussion with exhibitors for years, trying to sell me something. The just didn’t understand why I didn’t want to buy a certain t-shirt. When I said it was a men’s shirt, they called it unisex. Call it what you want, but I don’t want to wear it, so won’t buy it. When you go to events nowadays you notice a variety of choices for women and I even get girls t-shirts at a game stand. How cool is that?
Judith: We are still consumers and women like spending money😊 What really disturbed me was the gaming gear. If a product had been designed for female consumers at all, they just made it pink. I think it’s about time the female gamer comes into the picture and for companies to develop a suiting product line.
Joëlla: I’m mainly curious as to how companies view the female gamer and how they want to focus on them. I don’t mind them wanting to make money on this target audience.
Purdey: The gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries, it’s only logical marketers want to pick up on that. As long as they really listen to the needs of female gamers and don’t simply make everything pink. It’s the clichés that bother me, not the attention itself.
It’s a fact that not the games (sexist and violent) hinder the continued growth of female gamers, but the behavior of male gamers. Is this something you’ve encountered yourselves. Did one of you have the ambition to become a pro gamer?
Atusa: I’ve never had the ambition to become a pro gamer, I just wanted to be online, playing others. As soon as you’re in a team or online, you notice you’re being seen as different because you’re a girl. Better still, I’ve leaded a guild where the new members didn’t even know I was a girl, simply because you were sometimes being harassed or made a pass on. As a guild leader I wanted to be spoken to in a normal fashion. This happened a long time ago and the online community seems to be getting more and more divers. In the early days (I’m like an old person now) I was surrounded by 45 year old men, mainly from the IT business because they were most interested in gaming.
Judith: Never had the ambition to become pro, but do have the ambition to constantly improve and grow. Teammates’ behavior can certainly influence my game. It’s for that reason I prefer to play with a set team of friends.
Joëlla: Pro gamer haha, I’m too old for that now, but I did want to for a while when I was younger, playing COD. However, I didn’t think my level was good enough so I got over it. I did have some online problems with men a couple of years ago, calling me names, but hey, that’s only online.
Purdey: I’ve never had the ambition to become a pro gamer and fortunately have never been threatened online. Verbally abused yes, but I think I would have been too had I been a man, only with different words😉 Verbal abuse online is an easy thing to do, I’m afraid we won’t be able to avoid that.
Do you notice a distinct difference in gaming styles between men and women and if so, what could be the advantage of a mixed team?
Atusa: My experience is with guilds, not teams. What I noticed is that men who accept you as a girl are more willing to cooperate, which you don’t see (or less) happening at men only games. A woman in a guild can be a binding agent and in my case it was easier for them to accept criticism or advise because they were talking to a woman, so there’s no ego vs ego thing happening. As for competitive games, the girls will answer that.
Judith: I think women are more protective by nature, the team comes before the individual. Working together is a stronger quality in women, this can be an advantage in a mixed team.
Joëlla: It’s being said men use less emotion during gaming (to win the game) to women being more emotional. I’ve tried to train two all-female teams and can say the skills are definitely there, so female gamers can certainly be a good asset to a men’s team.
Purdey: In a team, rivalry can be dangerous. Men often show macho behavior towards each other. Having said that, a woman will compare herself to another woman as well. With this in mind a mixed team can decrease rivalry and increase collaboration. Do women have a different gaming style? I’m not sure. Maybe men are more willing to take risks, in gaming as well.
What do you want to say to girls wanting to go pro?
Atusa: when you want to go pro you will have to just keep on going and keep challenging yourself, just as other gamers do.
As a team, your team members may act positive towards you but still won’t give you enough credit for your skills. This can happen and is bothersome and sometimes hurtful. People aren’t always aware of their prejudices. Let it go and just keep on doing what you’re doing and if it gets to you, you can always change teams. Ask around in your community, maybe there’re others playing at your level so you can train and improve together. They also might know of a team looking for a gamer. Our community is now yours, so use it!
Judith: Have faith in your abilities and at the same time, look to other gamers and learn from them. In other words, get out of your comfort zone and keep trying new things, keep challenging yourself.
Joëlla: Start young, make sure your network is solid and train like your life depends on it. Learn and participate in LAN tournaments to get more experienced.
Purdey: Gaming is a sport and if you want to be a top athlete, you will have to train really hard. Make sure you’ll go for different opponents on different levels and keep challenging yourself so you can truly improve.