…we have a beta invite for Halo 3.

More later! Much more, obviously.

…or, why Viva Pinata is sitting on a shelf, collecting dust.

Don’t get me wrong–I like Viva Pinata, liked it a lot when I first got it. It was bright, shiny, full of fluorescent pastel colors and fluttering things and people who looked like they were made out of leaves. Or something.

It was, most definitely, candy for the eyes. The cute little whirlms–well, they whirled around in their cute little mating dances, made cute little babies, and eventually turned into cute little food for other pinatas. And oh, the other pinatas! In the beginning it was easy; I could drop a flower seed into my garden and three new pinata would show up that night. The addition of a pool brought myriad more, and I was honestly surprised at the new creatures that showed up when I just stuck a torch in the corner of the garden.

I’ll admit, I got a little overwhelmed; there were times when I wanted to tell Leafos to back off, but then she was just so nice, giving me all those tips, and I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t like it–so I kept playing, breeding pinatas, dousing those bastard sour shellybeans that kept wandering into the garden. I realized pretty soon that I had to stop naming all of the pinatas (this was after Wiggle, one of my first whirlms, got eaten by something or other) and so began just naming the first two to enter the garden. Losing Wiggle was hard, but I chalked it up to the seedy underworld of the garden, vowed that it wouldn’t happen to Mick and Peg, and moved on.

And boy, did I move. First, I was just dealing in the whirlms–breeding them like mad and selling off the babies for cold, hard chocolate coins. And yeah, that didn’t bother me–by this time, I was a hardened veteran. I was changing the colors of fluttery pinatas, directing my tafflies to jump through flaming torches so that they’d evolve into reddhotts. Hurt much? I didn’t care–breeding two more exotic pinatas just meant that their babies earned me more cash money, yo.

And then, I don’t know, I think it was when I was beating my shovel on the sparrowmint house to drive out Tad and Sophia that I realized–these sparrowmints have been with you practically from the beginning, you monster, and suddenly it’s all ‘out with the old, in with the new horstachios’. I was this close to doing it–to selling off their house, driving them out after I’d bred them to make money off selling their children.

…okay, I exaggerate. A lot. Point is, I played the game hard, for quite a while, until it just became repetetive–lure in new pinata, check. Breed pinata, check. Sell babies, check. Drive out/feed pinatas to other pinatas, check. Repeat. It’s the same reason I get burned out on The Sims–micromanaging someone else’s life is really fun in the beginning, when your SimwhohasanIQof60 is setting the kitchen on fire and peeing on the living room floor (why am I suddenly thinking of Britney Spears?), but then, after cleaning them up, getting their life in order and on a schedule, it’s not fun anymore.

Don’t get me wrong–I truly do like Viva Pinata, and I’ll pick it up and play it again (soon, probably). The graphics are gorgeous, and the possibilities are endless. And I think that’s why I had to take a break; I got overwhelmed. My garden, overrun with new pinatas, had no room for the old pinatas and, okay, I admit it, I’m not cold-hearted enough yet to feed innocent mousemallows to syrupents.

Okay, fine. I did it once. But I didn’t inhale.

girl gamer: n; a girl who plays games. Identical to male gamers, but for differing chromosomes and the dangly bits.

Only, you know, apparently not.

Take a look at the Urban Dictionary’s definition, and you’ll get quite a different picture. Girl gamers, as the ever-so-eloquent Jimmy writes, are, “A rare species of female which makes up less than .02% of the population. Under most circumstances an uggo or is really fat.”

Ouch, Jimmy.

But there’s more! Apparently, we also, “will try like mad to kill you in her game of choice, but can’t because of her inferior fingers.” My heart bleeds, Jimmy, it really does.

We’re not done yet, though. GrimReaper476 (loving the handle, I gotta tell you) mentions that there’s a, “very rare number of them, havent fonud any hardcore gamer chicks, jsut a few casual.” I can tell that you’re a learned man, GR. And take Iridosmene’s definition: “A female gamer who enjoys playing games and regularly does so.” You know, that’s actually a good one. Huh. My favorite, though, has got to be Wasser, who asserts that we are, and I quote, “As real as bigfoot.” He then has a clever acronym that no one’s ever heard of before!

G= Guy.
I= In.
R= Real.
L= Life.

So, class, from Urban Dictionary we’ve learned that girl gamers are fat. They’re ugly. They don’t exist. They’re men.

Also, they’re people, who happen to be female, who like to play games.

And this brings me to the heart of the matter–why the hell does the sex of the gamer matter? Why can’t we just, I don’t know, bond over the time we spend farming the Felwood for Timbermaw rep (fucking faction grind), or the number of times the words “noob” and “fag” drop while playing Halo 2 online? (Xbox Live makes English teachers everywhere weep.)

Yeah, whatever, I know. I know that girl gamers are in the minority when it comes to video games; but honestly, to deny that part of that comes from a male bias would be ridiculous. But this is equal-opportunity blame, folks, and I can’t deny the obvious female bias towards games, even though I have no clue where it comes from. When I was a kid, my parents had an Atari (two, actually, but that’s a story for another time); we then graduated to the holy Nintendo, and then the N64, and there was a massive gap between that and the Xbox. Along the way, I supplemented my greedy gaming desires by gaming with friends–spending time with their Playstations, and then the PS2. And oh, the world of computer gaming–and this, added up all together, probably explains why I play games; my dad played games, and I wanted to be like my dad, so we played video games together and never really stopped.

The idea that girls don’t play games because we don’t like FPSs is ridiculous to me; yes, they’re violent, fine, check, but I don’t think that our delicate sensibilities are holding us back.

Short answer–I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why game companies feel the need to market shit like Barbie Horse Adventures–honestly, how could playing that game do anything other than cause brain hemorrhage and the intense desire to never, ever play another game again? But I digress. I’m not interested, today, in exploring all the reasons why girls don’t play games, or why people assume that girls don’t play games. I just want you to think, for a moment; gather up a mental picture for me of what you picture as a girl gamer.

And then throw that shit out the window, please, and stop caring what we look like, what genres we like, what consoles we own. After all, my Master Chief wields a rocket launcher just the same as you–full of grace and unrepentant hopping all across Beaver Creek.

Or, yeah, maybe that’s just me.