I’m Emanuela a.k.a Zatomas from Italy and I’ve been playing games for fun since forever!
What does being a woman in gaming mean to you?
I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. That was the golden age of video games, but for some reason they were considered as “something for boys”. So, as a little girl, being a female player meant that video games needed to be considered as something for everyone.
As a grown woman, I found out, unfortunately more often than not, men thought I was a male gamer, because of my nickname (which seems to be perceived as a male one). I’ve been asked to literally explain how it was possible for me to be a woman who played games, as if it was something completely unnatural and unbelieveable.
So being a woman in gaming is something that was, and still is, a foreign concept.
As a Mom, I also love spreading the word and supporting parents who want to play with their kids. There still is a lot to do out there on this topic, especially if we want to teach our children what being part of a community means and how videogames can have a positive impact.
What’s your favourite game to play on Xbox and why?
I have too many but if you ask me to pick one, well, it’s Halo. I always go back to it, it’s like my comfort zone. For various reasons, I was playing it during crucial moments of my life. It’s more than a game to me. Right now, I’m playing Reach again.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman who plays games?
Prejudice. I’ve been told “girls CAN’T play videogames” when certain players learnt I was a girl. I’ve had my opinions and ideas marked as “girly ones” because “girls know nothing about videogames”. I’ve also been ignored both in live conversations and online groups simply because of my gender.
Are there any positives to being a gamer? If so what are they?
There are so many! First, gaming allows you to meet amazing people, who you would never meet otherwise. Second, on a personal level, gaming taught me a lot about perseverance, resilience, strategic thinking and the value of sharing. All qualities that, I must admit, also had a positive impact on my daily job.
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?
First and foremost, we need to stop saying that “videogames are a boy thing”.
If out there is full of memes of boys bothered by their girlfriends and wives because they spend times playing games, it is because there are a lot of women reinforcing this. I am not saying that they must play videogames, I am saying that the women who do play, should be showcased in order to balance the outlook that all women don’t play games. That’s simply not true.
At the launch day of the Xbox Series X, when I went to pick up my console the clerk mentioned that I was “the first girl today coming to collect the new Xbox. Is it for your husband?”
I’d never been prouder to explain that I am a gamer. A gamer has no gender attached to it. A gamer is a gamer.
It’s proven (especially through the protests around restricting esports competitions by gender) that when it comes to videogames there is no difference: so why should we be ashamed to talk about it?
Also, let’s support other women in gaming, whether we’re talking about journalists, streamers or fellow gamers.
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?
I’m an Xbox Ambassador Community Champion. When I was informed of it, I was so honored to see that the value I was giving to the community was inspiring other gamers. I consider each and every one of us in the community as heroes. What we do allows us to be role models and positive examples.