My name is Catarina Ferreira (a.k.a CATpt93TAC, as in Catarina from Portugal, born in 1993, and “CAT” mirrored).
I’ve been a gamer since I could use a computer. Today, my platform of choice is Xbox and I’m a huge Halo fan. In 2015, I founded and created the Xbox PT Dummies, a Portuguese community of Xbox gamers that is still going strong today!
What does being a woman in gaming mean to you?
Being a woman in gaming is definitely a challenge. Women have a long way to go in the fight for equality. I’m a feminist because I believe we all deserve equal rights. Though I was shy as a kid and teenager, today I have a voice with so much to say yet many in society still aren’t comfortable with strong opinionated characters.
What does it even mean to be a woman? I identify as such and share in the struggles women face, but I definitely don’t go along with what other people think I should be. I’m just me, Catarina. In gaming, all I am is a gamer.
What’s your favourite game to play on Xbox and why?
How about a favourite series? If that’s the case, mine is Halo.
When I first saw Halo, I was “blinded by its majesty”. Back when Halo: Combat Evolved was on PC, I used to watch my Aunt play the game (yup, my Aunt!). The look of it fascinated the 9 year old me. There were beautiful landscapes, snow, fellow marines to help out, scary aliens to kill etc. I think that what captured me was the first person view, the graphics, the diversity of scenarios, the grunts’ voices, Master Chief with no face, Cortana as a female AI. I just loved all of it.
I still play Halo today, without getting tired of it. If anyone wants to go through the campaigns, Halo Wars included, I’m in. I know a lot of tricks, I know the Easter Eggs, I know the tips. I even know how to go through most of it in LASO. There’s nostalgia, so many lonely solo moments as well as incredible multiplayer memories with friends, from Halo 2 to Halo 5: Guardians. Achievement hunting, aiming to get perfections, fighting to get to the Scorpion and have crazy sprees.
Plus, it was thanks to Halo that I got to know Xbox, and thanks to Xbox I got to know amazing people, friends, my partner and started a community. How could I not love Halo? All their characters, and its story. I’m even reading the books!
What challenges have you experienced as a woman who plays games?
Gaming is considered to be a man’s world, so growing up with games as a female was not easy. Growing up I enjoyed activities like football, playing outside and getting dirty, and things reserved for boys. I wasn’t much of a girl girl and more of a tomboy. Games was just another aspect of life that I enjoyed but wasn’t considered a place for girls.
I was 16 years old when I played Halo online for the first time and I endured years of unnecessary experiences. Suggestive pictures sent to me, name calling, insults. Those were the worst.
As I made more Portuguese friends, I entered Facebook groups and communities of Portuguese gamers where there were barely any women in sight. I was told the most sexist things that made me feel really uncomfortable. I learnt that a man can be rude, can swear, can have an opinion, can stand his ground, but a woman could not. A woman is not allowed to be just another person with feelings, thoughts and principles. A woman cannot swear. A woman cannot think differently. I was sadly alone in this world and had no one with experience in gaming to guide me.
In a way, I believe that fight is done on a daily basis. All you do eventually leaves a mark on the world. I, for one, never searched to be highlighted as a girl or woman. I just wanted to play video games.
The gaming world still has a lot to grow, but I see more and more women empowering their own voices on gaming platforms, communities, social networks and channels. I remember almost 10 years ago in a group of thousands there was no girl to be seen. They were there, they just didn’t dare to talk. I was always a bit against the system, crazy enough to dare to speak. I just wanted to feel free, to be able to just be me and not have people telling me what to do or not to do. That’s why I came up with Xbox PT Dummies. I was tired of so many failed groups with no moderation and I created my own, to let people speak, regardless of the rest.
Are there any positives to being a gamer? If so what are they?
Gaming and art are two homes I always felt close to. So gaming to me is also a fantastic way to share art. With visuals, music and stories. Stories with a strong impact is one of the things I look for, as well as amazing looking worlds and different art styles that speak to me.
On the other hand, to me, it’s the stories we create for ourselves.
When I was born, gaming already existed, in some way. Most of my favourite memories with my Aunt, who loved gaming, were playing Monster Bash, The Sims 2, Halo: Combat Evolved, Theme Hospital, Theme Park, Super Granny. Today I hold dear memories shared with friends I met online, some whose faces I’ve never seen properly.
I think it’s a wonderful way to connect with people around the world. I met with so many different stories and backgrounds. From Portugal to Brazil, UK, US, Germany, India, France, Colombia… All these cultures, these ways of living, their history, brought together thanks to online services and video games.
I believe most gamers are just people who ar going through their own struggles and who turn to gaming as a way to escape. So I feel gaming can really be helpful to people, as well as empower them.
What do you think needs to happen for women to feel more empowered and belong in the gaming industry? Is there anything we can do now to enact change?
One of the things that needs work is the management of harassment on social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Twitch and so on, are incredible places to share experiences, unite people, bring them together, but sadly their ways to manage harassment, bullying, cruelty and trolling are anecdotal. Anyone can make a fake profile, even after being blocked or they are allowed to continue to spew hate without any real consequences. We need to find a way around this to better implement measures to prevent the spread of hate.
Women should continue to be present in commercials, events, and most of all, jobs in the gaming industry. There are a lot of women that would love to work in this world as devs, journalists, content creators, esports professionals, and so on but it’s so rare to see them because they grew up in a world with so few opportunities. Campaigns against harassment and sexism are not enough. We need more action and less words. Don’t say you’re against sexism, SHOW you hire women and, most importantly, show you can understand there are less women to hire because of learning opportunities, and provide them with such opportunities. We all work, but some have to work harder to get to the same opportuntiies. This industry is filled with men, not because they are smarter, not because women have no interest, but because these people grew up learning that it was a man’s world. Because these people grew up in a world with no opportunities for women to thrive. Too many women say “I could never do that. It’s a dream, but never”. It’s time for the industry to say: “This is how you can do it.”
Is there anything that you’ve done in gaming that you’d like to share? Have you achieved anything special or done anything in the gaming industry that we should know about?
Xbox PT Dummies is the project I’m most proud of. I created it in search for a place where people could feel accepted and respected regardless of gender, sex, sexual orientation, gaming skills, race, religion, politics. It’s a place that lets people be who they want to be, as long as they respect one another.
From simple FAQs on our Facebook group, I tried to create my own website. A few weeks later, more Xbox members wanted to be a part of it. Months later the Xbox PT Dummies website was truly born, with news, reviews, opinions, support, help, streaming, giveaways, meet-ups and much more. This family grew so much, and in 2018 my partner and I eventually won Xbox FanFest tickets.
There I witnessed the best of Xbox. I felt I was at home.
This journey took me to LA twice, attending both the Microsoft briefing and Xbox FanFest E3 2018. I also went to X019 in London. I met Aaron Greenberg, Chris Munson, Bonnie Ross and many others.
Xbox proved to me that dreams can be real. Xbox gave me the strength to fight for those dreams.
Even though now we don’t have a website anymore, and much of that work was put to sleep, we keep trying to bring joy and respect.