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The Complicated Appeal of 'Gamer Girl' Porn

We take a harder look at how female gamers are portrayed in porn.

by Samantha Cole
Sep 24 2018, 6:07pm

Janice Griffith / Screenshot from the Burning Angel film "Ass Effect"

“If something exists, there is porn of it:” Welcome to Rule 34, a weekly column in which Motherboard’s Samantha Cole lovingly explores the highly specific fetishes that can be found on the web. If you’ve thought of it, someone’s jerked off to it.

The links and videos in this article may be considered NSFW.

In previous installments of Rule 34, we’ve stayed fairly straightforward and uncontroversial: People wank to Lego minifigures and extraterrestrials and gooey girls because they find them sexy. Simple. Everything we jerk off to has layers, but porn featuring “gamer girls” is a bit more complicated than these, because of the shit female gamers deal with in real life.

Before we delve into the sociological implications of fetishizing women who game, let’s establish what we’re talking about here. Gamer girl porn is porn featuring female gamers, and all the tropes within that setting. Many of these involve multitasking—see Miss Banana’s clip where she plays God of War while giving a blowjob, videos where a man suddenly interrupts a woman gaming to fuck her, sitting on a man’s face while she plays a game, or the more voyeuristic “she forgot to turn off the Twitch stream” examples, where we see women engaging in sexual acts after they supposedly forgot to turn off their webcams.

To be clear, we’re not talking about 3D models of Overwatch characters having sex or even live-action parodies like Fortnut. We’re looking specifically at the genre of porn that involves women who game, and the sex that they have.

Fetishizing female gamers, outside of any societal context, seems innocent enough. It’s a fantasy, like any other genre of pornography—nurses, firefighters, librarians—"gamer" is almost just another kind of uniform. But we live in a world where women who try to enter gaming fandoms are harassed and intimidated—and often driven out of something they love doing—because of gaming’s culture of gatekeeping.

"I got yelled at by gamer bros about being fake, even though I disclosed it was for a scene and never pretended it was real."

I asked Katherine Cross, a games writer, sociologist, and columnist for Gamasutra, to help unpack the genre of “gamer girls,” and what it might reflect about ourselves.

“There's cultural value in any image that allows people to envision women in nontraditional roles, and there's always legitimate concern when the only 'valid' women in those roles are portrayed as sex objects,” Cross told me in an email. “I think this sort of porn lends itself to both interpretations... the ‘gamer girl’ as an almost mythical fetish object has long been enshrined among even the most virulent misogynistic men in gaming, at once lusted after and mythologised out of all proportion to reality.”

Early examples of how the “gamer girl” has been viewed by society is seen in gaming magazines from the early 2000s. “Getting girls to play games? Easy. We paid this model $200 an hour to pretend to play with us,” one section of a 2004 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly reads. A letter to the editor in an issue of GAMEPRO magazine, also in 2004, waxes on breathlessly about nude codes for Lara Croft’s character.

A page from Electronic Gaming Monthly, issue 184 (2004). Image via @falldogs on Twitter

Janice Griffith, a porn performer who has experience portraying a “gamer girl” in her videos, told me it’s all about the fantasy. “I think it honestly has to do with the age-old idea that women don't play video games, and then hyper-sexualizing that,” she told me in an email. “Men who are really into video games see this extreme fantasy of someone they're attracted to sharing an interest with them, similar to other tropes we see in porno and media in general.”

She said her fans love her “gamer girl” work, but many of them picked apart the scene: they wanted her to be playing Xbox instead of PS4, or the controller wasn’t in enough of the shots, or they called her a “fake” gamer because she wasn’t actually immersed in playing while fucking.

“A lot of people get worked up over the idea of 'fake' gamer girls to the point where they're pushing women who'd be interested out inadvertently,” she said. “I explicitly stated I was ‘pretending to play video games for porn’ and it didn't matter, people thought it was the hottest thing in the world. [But] I got yelled at by gamer bros about being fake, even though I disclosed it was for a scene and never pretended it was real.”

"The girl-next-door is somewhere in the neighborhood, whereas the gamer-next-door is at the other end of a network"

The toxicity Venn diagram of gatekeeping in gaming and harassment against adult performers meets in the middle at gamer porn. But it also represents a shift in how society views sexuality and games. Playboy’s 2013 “Gamer Next Door” series featuring Playboy bunny Pamela Horton is an example of the notion of girl gamers who are also multifaceted sexual beings going mainstream. When the series launched, Horton spoke with Engadget about being a performer who also games, and having to prove herself to both the adult industry and the gaming community. "Honey child, I was a gamer before I was ever a pretty girl," she said.

As a genre, gamer girl porn reflects “the everydayness of gaming,” Tom Apperley, associate professor of digital education at Deakin University in Australia, told me in an email. He suggested that what’s appealing about the gamer porn fantasy isn’t just the idea that women do game, but that gamer men aren’t stereotypically socially inept.

Read more: Pewdiepie Is Teaching His Audience that Women Are Asking For It

“Probably what seems the most unusual is thinking of gaming as a form of intimacy, which really runs counter to a lot of the usual discourse on gamers being isolated, anti-social nerds,” Apperley said. “In some respects, gamer girl porn reflects changing ideas about masculinity... This suggests a reconfiguration the fantasy of sexual fulfillment with a proximate every-woman, to an enmeshing of technological mediation in this fulfillment. The girl-next-door is somewhere in the neighborhood, whereas the gamer-next-door is at the other end of a network, often in her private and intimate space.”

The gamer girl is accessible in that next-door way, but even more than that, she’s often at the mercy of her (frequently male) partner. “Key to the fetish is a kind of dominion,” Cross said. “The ‘gamer/nerd girl’ may be smart, but she remains subordinate and compliant; she knows who's in charge, at the end of the day.”

Read more: Twitch Commenters Talk About Games on Men’s Streams, 'Boobs' on Women’s

Cross points to Ready Player One author Ernest Cline’s infamously problematic poem “Nerd Porn Auteur,” about his Manic Pixie Gamer Girl, who begs her partner to stop having sex so they can watch Battlestar Galactica. “The fetish is for a woman who does not fully exercise her humanity, whose qualities exist only to reflect those of her man in a flattering light.”

Being a woman existing in traditionally male spaces is an endeavor in itself, and gamer porn is no different. But it’s not all heteronormative masculinity: A ton of gamer girl porn is centered on men, but a lot of it is lesbian and queer, too. Cross cites in particular the fandom around transforming D.Va from Overwatch into a Doritos- and Mountain Dew-loving gamer. Many of those interpretations are queer, aimed at the game’s LGBT fanbase.

“These things transcend the base motivations of those angry men who want a perfectly compliant girlfriend.”

If you have a freaky-obscure internet fetish that you’d like to see featured on Rule 34, please submit it to sam@motherboard.tv. No judgement.