Every day, the goal of Twitter is to not be the main character. Every day, someone is the main character. Somehow, E3 has managed to make itself the point of derision yet again, but completely unrelated to its own mess. A story that ran on Parade, titled “The Games We Play! 25 Online Games That Women Enjoy,” has quickly gotten thousands of retweets, when posted from their account, universally disliking the contents within. The tweet, as well as the article, have been deleted after more than 6,000 retweets. Parade and E3 issued a short statement:
We messed up. We are taking down the post and apologize for perpetuating a harmful stereotype. We will do better.
— E3 (@E3) August 18, 2020
As the resident writer of terrible list articles, I’ve finally met someone who is more abrasive in summing up video game stuff for people to type angry comments to. What irks people the most in the list is that the choices reinforce a stereotype in women that can only be described as embarrassing and outdated. There’s also some confusion in the theme, whether or not the games mentioned are free online games or if the online part is relevant at all.
There are a few accurate assessments, luckily, like The Sims 4, Overwatch or Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Primarily, however, choices that were polled from different people in different industries, not all of them women, bring up lackadaisical results. Solitaire and Sudoku make it seem like women are stuck playing whatever came with the Windows XP installer. Hay Day is essentially the updated version of Farmville, alluding that the only time women are playing is while making Facebook updates or posting Minion inspirational pictures.
Being the listicle idiot that I am, I thought I’d come up with a few glaring omissions not mentioned in the Parade article. Naturally, the real answer is that women are just women and therefore play games. There are no qualifiers or differences when it comes to any identity being interested in video games. Rather, the list is a set of games that more frequently have women playing them, polled from scrolling through Twitch, friends lists and social media like TikTok. Granted, that intention was exactly what the original piece stated as well.
Anyway, here are ten choices that aren’t a mobile game from 2007:
People love Borderlands. Through the years and despite Gearbox shenanigans, people can’t get enough of the loot shooter with a cartoon style and slapstick atmosphere. More than just cosplay material, though that’s certainly a draw, Borderlands 3 offers fans a way to continue going through the motions forever, picking up missions, shooting at enemies to see numbers pop up and picking up rewards at the end. Borderlands 3 is comfort food and thus enjoys high replayability and a dedicated fandom.
It’s still a mystery to me why, but people are still obsessed with Fallout to this day. Bethesda’s series is great, no doubt, but the amount of dedication online for any of the iterations is as if the games never left. While Fallout 4 seems to be the main draw, New Vegas and Fallout 76 also show up regularly in players’ feeds. It is true that a good atmosphere can help the longevity of a game. Add a large, emergent open world to that and you have a game for the ages, particularly as companions make the time spent that much more memorable.
Another mystery for me is people in my group constantly playing Destiny 2. I do mean constantly, because every week there’s a meeting where people band together for a raid or a similar type of organized playthrough that takes up hours to a day. I can’t even organize a day for real life matters that well. Destiny 2 is easy to get lost in, as the objectives are usually simple, combat has a familiar loop and the numbers going up seem endless. It turns out that hopping around and shooting aliens never gets old, certainly not if you can pretend to eat a digital bowl of soup after a fight.
Final Fantasy XIV
For an article that seemingly wanted to address online games, there seemed to be a lack of massive multiplayer online (MMO) games in the Parade list. Final Fantasy XIV has definitely been one of the more entertaining ones, as the game still enjoys millions of subscribers. While the art style is likely a draw, as are the cute Chocobos and other mounts, the MMO also just has an impressive story with tons of cutscenes and content to go through. Those who get enticed by this game are usually there for the long haul, with frequent, large content updates keeping that carrot dangling.
League of Legends
Another one of the most frustrating omissions in the list was League of Legends. Not only is this online game one of the largest in the world, it also actively tries to connect to fans with pop culture. Mediatized acts like K/DA transformed some of the characters into a Kpop group, which still receives recognition today as a commendable music act. The game, featuring the skins of the Kpop avatars, has constant cosmetic updates that easily competes with the Kim Kardashian game mentioned in the Parade piece. That’s without even going into the complexity of building a hero and going to battle.
One of the most frustrating parts of the aforementioned article, for me, was that the choices barely recognized the importance of community. One of the choices is literally called Solitaire, which drives the point home that women would somehow want to isolate themselves when playing, which simply isn’t true. Minecraft is still a game where people flock together, after all these years, to mess around, build entire worlds, explore, but most of all, just hang out and chat. Buying and maintaining a server is a clear sign of how dedicated people are towards having a game space that they can enjoy with friends.
It’s Fortnite. Fortnite hasn’t gone away; the game is still wildly popular and played daily by millions. What sets this game apart from its competing battle royale peers is that there are tons of auxiliary goals. While the goal of winning is only something one in a hundred players can do, everyone can hunt for gnomes, jump through hoops or infiltrate a secret area. Fortnite is fun because the battle royale aspect isn’t all the game has to offer. Every part, from the mechanisms to the cosmetics, receives great care, making it easy to jump into for a few minutes, much like a Facebook game or mobile phone distraction.
Dead by Daylight
People seemingly love getting scared in video games. I wouldn’t know, I have anxiety. What people love even more, is hearing others scream in panic while playing together. The asynchronous gameplay of Dead by Daylight offers a bit of everything, from team building exercises to goal orientation or even just chaos. Once again, having more than just running and gunning makes a multiplayer release like this more enticing. As a killer, the enjoyment of hunting and chasing down victims is thrilling as well, which makes this game still one of the most played items on Steam.
Street Fighter V
Despite a lacking critical reception, Street Fighter V is still one of the most popular fighting games out there in many groups. Moreover, a growing cast of aesthetically pleasing and diverse characters continues to draw people in with new ideas for identifiable main characters. Street Fighter also has the benefit of being upheld as the standard. Everyone knows the motion for a dragon punch or a projectile attack, making it the fighting game of choice for many.
Life is Strange
Considering a bunch of choices in the list had tenuous links to being an online game, being more something that exists online, I thought I’d pick one single-player experience. Life is Strange plays through a story that people can relate to, even if it draws from paranormal events. The characters within deal with grounded issues that have resonated with fans. There’s replay value, for those who want different outcomes for their choices. As the game also deals with coming of age problems, Life is Strange appeals to a younger crowd that wasn’t very represented in the subjects who were primarily polled at their place of employment. It turns out that young people play games as well.