Woman on campus helps form group to show guys they can keep up in the video game world.
By Courtney Kaiser
Sylvia Bolles, business administration sophomore, is probably one of the biggest video game fans around. The youngest of five, she has been playing them with her siblings since she was little. Fast-forward to today, she is one of the founding members of the all-female gaming group Gamers without Joysticks.
“My friend Cat, who started the group, is a very punny gal,” Bolles said. “We do a lot of wordplay, especially with things with cats or our nicknames. One day, she just wanted to come up with something that had ‘chicks that game’ in the title. And that’s the ‘Gamers without Joysticks’ origin story.”
Bolles worked at a local comic book store in San Antonio until leaving to focus on school. She said she definitely came across her fair share of negative comments and sexist opinions from guys in the store.
“We’d get a lot of those underhanded comments, like, oh, you are a chick working in a video game store; do you even know what you’re doing?” Bolles said. “It’s like, yeah, probably a lot more than you.”
Knowing she and her friend were just as good as the guys, they decided in March 2015 to start a Facebook group for women to play video games and talk shop.
It quickly turned into a friends-adding-friends situation, and has continued to grow, Bolles said.
The group currently has 66 members, including three or four students from this college and about 20 throughout the Alamo Colleges, Bolles said.
“Not everyone in our group is attending or graduated, and some don’t even live in the state. We have members all over,” she said.
Though they don’t regularly meet at specific times, they always have their Facebook page.
After some suggestions from a friend studying public relations, they decided to join some panels and become more vocal about their group.
They most recently organized a panel discussing women in gaming in early August at San Japan 8-Bit. San Japan is an annual Japanese culture and anime convention in San Antonio, and Bolles said they are happy to go to any panel discussion to talk about women getting involved in gaming.
All-female gaming groups are not as uncommon as they might appear. Women in Games International is dedicated to women who love video gaming, and has many different chapters all around the world. A short drive over to Austin lands female gamers in one of the biggest chapters in the organization, according to the Women in Games International website.
According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2015 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, 44 percent of video game players are females over the age of 18. That is almost half.
Though she said she feels there is still a long way before gaming is viewed as equal, Sylvia added, “It has changed quite a bit.”
Gamers without Joysticks have a couple of YouTube videos from previous panel discussions that illustrate their passion for gaming and for spreading awareness that it is for males and females.
“Even though it’s comprised of mostly women and we go ahead and, like, promote women in the gaming industry, a lot of people like to associate us with a feminist group,” Bolles said. “It’s actually — I wouldn’t say it’s the opposite — but we’re not feminists at all; we just happen to be women that like gaming, and people are confused by that. … We meet for one specific purpose because we just happen to be women and we like gaming.”
For more information, visit http://facebook.com/GamersWithoutJoysticks.