Saturday, September 11, 2010

Geek and Gamer Girl Anthem: Team Unicorn FTW

Remember Stupid Tall Hot Girl aka Riley from The Guild? The FPS headshot queen that devoured Zaboo's heart, loins, and possible sanity? Well, the actor that plays her is Michele Boyd, and I think she's my favorite member of Team Unicorn ("Geek Girls: Like unicorns, we're not supposed to exist"). Check out their Geek and Gamer Girl Anthem video featuring Seth Green! (lyrics below):

Geek and Gamer Girls Song - Watch more Funny Videos
The members of Team Unicorn are Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley, and Rileah Vanderbilt.

Yes, you did hear a cornucopia of geeky and gaming shout outs. Anime, Browncoats, Star Trek? I definitely approve! I also liked the visual satire of the well-known "female gamer surrounded by controllers" image, but will admit that I'm tired of gaming and geekery becoming yet another realm where women are pitted against each other in some "Hot or Not" contest. Yes, you can be attractive and game. Sure, you can be an attractive geek. And while I completely agree with Michele Boyd when she tweeted:
"I think the best responses we're getting are from other geeks who also love being GIRLS. Makeup & gaming are not mutually exclusive!"
The majority of mainstream images I see these days referring to women who game feature the "traditionally attractive, makeup wearing" types. You can be attractive without wearing makeup or tight, revealing clothing, right? Granted, the entertainment industry isn't particularly known for promoting or celebrating diversity - and actresses are held to a very severe standard of beauty, but I'd still like to see more people that look like me and my friends. We can't all look like Team Unicorn, Felicia Day, or Olivia Munn - but we're awesome geeks and gamers just the same. Besides, does my hotness really matter while I'm dominating you in Team Fortress 2?

What do you think about the Geek and Gamer Girl Anthem?
Are you down with Team Unicorn? Check the lyrics, then tell us about the glaring omission of your geeky interests in the comments. You can also download the mp3 here.


  1. I have to admit, I am a little bit in love with Seth Green.

    That aside, I thought that was a pretty fun remix of California Girl (a song that I find stupid in the first place).

    Loved the addition of the Konami Code flashing at the bottom when they mentioned it!

    I have no problems with "traditionally attractive make-up wearing types" and I think it's awesome that they are out there flaunting how awesome our culture is. If you want to see more variety in these types of things, make one! Make a video! Do a photo gallery! The only reason we see one type of woman and not another is that the other types are afraid that they have to compete against the women above. I call shenaniganz on that. The other types of lady gamers just need to stop hiding and start putting themselves out there in all their glory.

    Off topic, but I also think it's kind of interesting that no one ever mentions the fact that all the men gamers on TV (re: G4 specifically) are tall, skinny, attractive guys. Like you mention above-that's just Hollywood.

    We just need to create more diverse content for people to see.

    Oh hey...what's this thing? Is this a website where we could feature stuff like that and empower all women to be as confident as the women who make these videos and imagery already so we can stop pitting ourselves against each other? Why...I think it might be! ;)

  2. See, on the one hand my knee-jerk reaction is "Oh, look gamer girls wearing revealing clothes and flaunting their boobs *rolleyes*." Although, giving it a little more consideration it's not really fair to assume that the attractiveness of these women is a valid reason to question how genuine they are. It really is a fine line to walk.

    That said, I absolutely hate the song they're parodying.

  3. "The only reason we see one type of woman and not another is that the other types are afraid that they have to compete against the women above."

    Wait. What? Seriously? That's just babytown frolics. It's not about women being afraid to compete at all. It's about the entertainment and marketing/advertising industries cherry picking which images we see, promote, and celebrate based on demographic trends and the ability to sell products and services. The targeted community buys into it annnd before you know it has a life of its own. That's where we are now, and it kinda suxx0rs.

    Plenty of people make their own videos. You can find them on YouTube. I just feel that by saying "makeup and gaming aren't mutually exclusive" people could interpret that she's implying most women who game don't wear makeup and by extension, are ugly or unattractive. Which is lazy thinking and patently ridiculous.

    Also - it's something we continually hear, so Team Unicorn isn't saying anything new *and* maybe inadvertently pitting themselves against all those "other gamer girls out there who aren't hot like us".

    I helped start this site because I wanted to promote the actual diversity of the female gamer; to show a more diverse palette of options than we typically see. Hence my focus on more pictures, videos, and viewpoints.

    Also not a fan of "California Girls" by Katy Perry - Van Halen did it better.

  4. 'Besides, does my hotness really matter while I'm dominating you in Team Fortress 2?'

    Isn't this the eternal question here?

  5. we can all agree that "California Girls" is a terrible song.

    Also, this is something we need to work on, and something that will become more prominent with this site. Since we're still young, we haven't focused a ton yet on getting the diverse palette of options for pictures and videos.

    Maybe we should start a vlog?

  6. It's a cute video, but I'd be more interested to see a video where gamer girls and women make a video for each other, not to appeal to dudes ("Greetings friends… Don’t you want to meet a nice girl?", "Set our phasers to stun; You’ll be falling in love."). It's cute and fun and I'm happy they made a video, but my first opinion was "What? Four white, thin, traditionally attractive women in skimpy clothes dancing and acting cute around a geek guy? No way! I've never seen that before!" Maybe if they'd been dancing and singing for each other without the dancing guys and Seth Green and the obligatory naked shots from above I'd feel more like adopting it as my personal anthem.

    As it is, they are seemingly nice women who made a fun video about gamers, but they don't necessarily reflect all of us (And who knows, I haven't read their blog on it, so maybe they weren't meaning to represent all of us). It's fun, but I don't get the hype around it.

    I have to disagree with idea that we only see this one type of gamer woman because others are "afraid that they have to compete against the women above". I don't feel the need to compete against the women of Team Unicorn, and I'm not sure that this why we don't see a more diverse representation of geeky/gamer women. I think it has more to do with accessibility - resources and exposure. How many of us have the time, money, and technology to make a video like this? Even admitting that the technology is easy to come by these days, how much exposure would we get versus individuals who are already in the public eye? I agree, all gamers should try to get their voices out there if they wish (i.e. "Let's go make our own video and try to get people to watch that, too!"), but I think there is also a responsibility from those who already have a large following to do more to represent more than just Western culture's ideal.

    Thanks for posting about it!

  7. Doesn't matter if they're real gamers or not. Stick them mostly naked in front of the camera and my brain has already decided it's a marketing ploy and someone wants my money for something.

    Why are "Girl Gamers" constantly on a pedestal when they appear in media? Is it overcompensation? Novelty? Or the aforementioned Marketing Gimmick? At this point, I don't give a shit if a Girl "claims" to be a gamer; if you're a gamer, sit down and grab a controller. Anything else and I'm going to assume ulterior motives for clinging to the label.

  8. Well, that seems to be the biggest issue when it comes down to it. I think the whole girl gamer gimmick started out as a way to try and draw more women into the industry. How do you do that without making it look completely fake and full of marketing schmooze? Or do we not do it at all, and just say well, if you game you game. If you don't you don't. Period.

  9. I couldn't even get past the first part with the naked woman with lightsaber coverage.

    I don't think they understand that this sort of thing can easily be as off-putting and as damaging to pro-gamer-girl causes as it is "cute or fun".

    That's my biggest beef, really. They can be half-naked women that game all they want, I couldn't care less cause it's their right. But I don't accept that it helps our cause to use it as an example of gamer girls.

  10. Tajah, I love this article. Thank you for writing it. The comments have all been pithy and spot on with concerns we were expecting before doing this video and I love that we're hearing so many geek girl voices.

    One thing I definitely do have to clarify is that we *never* meant for this video to be representative of all girl geeks out there. How could it be? There are SO many different types out there, we are only a small portion of a vast awesomesauce whole. What this video and what Team Unicorn truly is just four best friends with the idea for a parody focused on what we knew and loved best. We actually yelled quite a bit about it being marketed as an 'anthem', we NEVER wanted that. The video is first and foremost, a parody, so thank you for recognizing we were satirizing the American Beauty shots a bit.

    I'll be the first to admit the video is shiny glossiness, but well, it is a music video. I think we were all 12 year olds at heart just wanting to dress up. Hopefully the song is catchy and I'm not afraid to admit I'm in love with the lyrics. Do you KNOW how hard it is to try and get all the references you want into one song? ;)

    What I found most interesting was your assertion that perhaps now the stereotype has shifted to everyone thinking all geek girls are hot and wear makeup/tight clothes? Do you really think so? It seems to me females are making more and more of a stamp in the gaming world in general (yay!), and while I appreciate the urge to distance yourself from being too "girly", I don't believe anyone should be discriminated against because they love the idea of a pink Xbox controller.

    Anyway, hopefully that assuaged some of the questions. I really did enjoy reading the article, I hadn't visited this site until now, but I'll definitely be back. :)

    -Michele Boyd

    P.S. You should ABSOLUTELY start a vlog!

  11. @Awitelin "They can be half-naked women that game all they want, I couldn't care less cause it's their right."

    Stereotypically "cute" or not, I can't be the only so-called gamer girl that plays her games, checks her Twitter, etc while only half-dressed. Hell, I can't count the number of times, especially when I was younger that I'd pause a game to get a shower and actually unpause and start playing again in my towel just because getting dressed first took too much time from the game for that particular moment. Heck, this was especially the case for early PS1 games for me: load times were for dressing (or eating, depending on what stage of waking up I was at) and the rest of the time was for playing until the last possible moment where I could save & leave the house and still not be late for work or school. :p

  12. @Brenna Ce'Dria - But, do you have swirling lightsabers covering your nipples during all that? 'Cause if you do, then you're totally like the half-naked gamer chicks in the video. If not, I have no idea what the point of your comment is, since gaming while half-naked was never my beef :P

  13. @Awitelin No, but not because I wouldn't. I'm a bit too curvy for my ForceFX lightsaber to effectively cover anything. Besides, my cat's terrified of it. ;)

  14. First and foremost...thanks Michele. As a 30+ geek I still appreciate ANYTHING that has time and effort put into it to make a quality production that has geek value. Keep up the good work!

    To everyone else:
    As to the semi-nakeness, et al...I'm male, so weigh that into my grain of salt, but given that what's shown is on a visual medium, it can only be expected that what would be shown should be pleasing to the eye, especially when the intent of the video is clearly lampooning mainstream video medium in a geek-centric fashion.

    That taken into account, I don't think it should be suprising that visual medium in general is presented the way that it is. Speaking as a heterosexual male I'd still much rather see a decent looking guy even in his underwear than a 400 lb guy in any state of clothing. The same can only hold moreso true for females. While super sexy people may not be representative of the whole of our community, who wants to see it? It's no different than everyone bitching about the hygenic practices of many people at geek conventions. Nobody wants to smell you if you haven't bathed for a month. If the medium were scent-based rather than visual you can damn well bet nobody would represent our community publically as smelling like week-old sweat and shame. It may be the dirty truth of some percentage of our community but we don't need our faces (or noses) rubbed into it to know it's there. And we certainly don't have to feel some sick sense of duty to present it just because it exists.

    Most importantly, and (if I don't miss my guess entirely) the point is that looks really don't factor into behavior as much as people seem to think. As others have said here, geeks can be the cultural ideal looks-wise or not. And while it might not get interpreted that way, I think that's the point of this video. We as geeks generally aren't though of as good-looking...even within our community there's only a handful of people one would think of that'd be considered viable as a mainstream model or whatever. They're saying that appearance-standard does not apply. Which I laud them for. Looks and hobby interests are completely independant things. It might not be important to girls who aren't model material but it's important to the geek community as a whole to be able to say "Hey. Guess what? Those good-looking people you'd never peg as geeks? Yup, some of those read comic books and play on their xbox too. We aren't freaks, we're just you. Suprise!"

    Mostly though, again, I say good job on the video and keep 'em coming, showing skin or no (or agreeing with choice of song or no) ;)

  15. Ok, I just want to come out and say this: I really liked the California Girls song! Some of the lyrics are asinine but it's so upbeat! I tend to despise most California girls themselves, though, (not stereotyping, it's all based on experience) so maybe that balances out somehow...

    Anyway, I'm so glad that someone posted this video, it's been sent to me several times and to be honest I was immediately skeptical of it, seeing only four skinny white models singing about being a gamer ("They even have model names!" I screamed at the end)... no offense Michele.

    I agree with the lot of you who said "yeah, this video is great and all, but pick up a controller and let's play". I'm so agitated by the new marketing ploy of using the societal penultimate standard of beauty to either suggest that girl gamers are all super-hot or to encourage girls to game (because we could be sooo pretty). Do they really think this ploy works? Does it work? I don't want to live up to that standard, I just want to play Castle Crashers in my pajamas or go to a Rock Band party and not be expected to glam myself up.

    More power to the beautiful ladies who game, kick some ass and don't let anyone think you're just a pretty face. But don't let marketing companies own your image just because you're a pretty geek.

    I really appreciate Michele's comments, it's great to know it's just something they wanted to do and did it (And I also love Seth Green so I inherently have a jealous rage for you all.) and aren't just corporate puppets like booth babes--that's another story all together.

    I'd also like to thank Pretty Gamer; without you, I would have just sneered at this video and passed it off as the new-girl-gamer-marketing bullshit and not even thought twice about the geek girls who were in it, or the complexity of this issue. Thanks for opening my pretty, pretty eyes!

    Now let's go play some Left 4 Dead! I'm still in my pajamas...

  16. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who commented! I'm really glad that people read the article and were willing to share their viewpoints.

    Note: In retrospect I should have indicated that the "Team Unicorn FTW" in the title came from the group's Facebook page. Sorry for any confusion about my endorsement of the video.

    I agree with Houn, Nomad, BrennaCeDria and others who pointed out that it all comes back to actually playing games. Yes, I've sat in my bathrobe or various states of undress gaming but it's not in pinup style poses or in lingerie or anything. =P

    Beau - my only contention with your statement is that you assume that 400lbs = unattractive, which isn't a unilateral truth. For me, beauty and attractiveness comes in all shapes and sizes, and saying that "no one wants to see" people outside the generally accepted societal standard of beauty is patently false. Because clearly - some people *do* want to see it. But this veers into my personal beef with how more and more society readily accepts images we see in the media as representative of our true desires, wants, etc rather than well - marketing and advertising to sell things (including by preying on people's fears, insecurities, dreams, etc). Don't believe the hype. =)

    Lastly, I won't lie - I've found myself singing some of the lyrics the last few days. And Michele, *yes* song writing is frakkin' hard! Congrats on squeezing in all of the references you wanted, plus that whole rhyming and syllabic matching thing.

  17. Hmm, a bit late to the comment party here, but I needed to sort out my thoughts (also get well enough that I could type a coherent sentence.)

    One thing that I haven't seen in the comments about this video is that it isn't directed at women. This is a music video by girls for boys (or lesbians) and should be viewed as such.

    It makes me sad that so much of women in geek culture (and in society in general) is sexualized for the benefit of men. Michele says that she thinks gamer girl culture in general is awesome, and I will take her word for it, but it would be nice if geek women who say things like that would occasionally make things DIRECTED at other women instead of focusing on getting the attention of the boys. And if getting the attention of the boys IS your goal, then just be honest about it and don't try to pretend that it's for everyone.

    One example I *love* is this fan music video for MC Chris' Nrrrd Grrrl.

    Again, it's a song about chicks but instead of wearing as little as possible the girls are hella cute, wearing adorable outfits and look normal. I can relate to this video, I connect with the people in it and I have watched it OVER AND OVER. Team Unicorn? I'll honestly probably never watch it again despite the song being catchy.

    I think the community of nerd/gamer women has a long way to go before it seems an inviting place to outsiders. We have both cattiness and attention whoring and very little history of supporting each other and creating for ourselves. I would love to see more happen that is by women, for women and if those women happen to be smoking hot? Fantastic.

  18. Eep - I agree with your statements, but how do you distinguish between "looking beautiful and sexy because it makes you feel good" and "doing it for male attention"?

    Someone else pointed out above that the lyrics feature flirtatious callbacks, but I think our cultural assumption/idea that a woman only wants to look good to attract and be attractive to men plays a part here.

  19. I really like this interview with @TeamUnicornFTW by @actionchick:

    It's informative, interesting, well written, and gives you a better idea of who the women behind the video really are.

  20. Tajah: That's a good point and is something very hard to qualify. As someone who has been a member of communities where nudity has been an accepted norm there is just a different feeling between nudity that is sexual and that which is for one's own benefit or for for non-sexual purposes. You can even have female nudity for heterosexual females which has it's own beauty and feel to it, and this isn't it.

    And let me clarify, I'm not sitting here calling "ATTENTION WHORES". I am just acknowledging that this video has an intended audience beyond the people in it (otherwise it wouldn't be so widely posted and promoted) and the primary audience is not other female geeks.

    A lot of it is the body language presented in the video. It is very much the same kind of positioning you find in Playboy compared to Bust or other non-Cosmo women's magazines. The girls appear to be flirting with the camera and are playing for the audience. There is also the lyrics which seem very much directed towards boys:
    "Be a part of our world
    In latex and bows
    Cuz’ these girls play cos’
    Set our phasers to stun
    You’ll be falling in love
    Ooooooh oh ooooooh"

    In the end I really don't have an issue with the video, I just know it wasn't meant for me. The women involved seem cool enough and are genuine geeks. I just would really love to see more done by the female community FOR the female community so there is less... issue I guess is the right word, with people assuming that someone IS attention whoring.

    Women will be much less put off by that kind of thing if they also know that the women involved are actually cool and care about other women. Take at PAX when I was wearing my corset. My girl friends were all over it while some other ladies were giving me hella dirty looks. Why? Because my friends know that I'm all about my fellow women and aren't just out for the attention of the boys. I think if we can get a strong community of women going there will be less hostility even between strangers because the default setting will no longer be hostile.

  21. *continued thoughts while cleaning the house*

    So, I was thinking about this video being directed at men vs feeling pretty and how I said they weren't mutually exclusive. This video IS directed at men and IS sexual in nature, motivation aside, which seems to be the default setting for most things. I'm sure people will say that women are watching the video but that doesn't mean that they were who it was intended for. Take The Man Show for example, it had a pretty large following of women, but was very much directed toward men.

    I wonder if it even occurred to Team Unicorn to do something directed at women, which this video is not, as their introduction piece or is it so ingrained in our culture that women should be sexy for men that it never even crossed their minds. If that is the case I can't blame them, it's how we have all been raised, but I hope in the future they will think about their fellow girls too.

  22. Do none of you realize that the naked scenes with the light sabers or controllers or whatever item was used for each particular girl is just a reference to the Gamer Graphics ads that are shown in Tips and Tricks as well as other gamer and cheat magazines. You guys call yourselves games and you couldn't even put two and two together? Instead you rant about something that has been going on for years likes it's suddenly some big deal. Hell I don't even consider myself a gamer and even I knew what the hell they were referring to. Chill out people.

  23. correction "call yourselves gamers*"

  24. Actually, I believe it was a reference to American Beauty, and the scene itself in the movie was basically a wet dream/masturbation fantasy.

    So, it doesn't exactly help your point.