Oh, you didn’t hear? The Witcher is for girly girls, too
I am someone who identifies as a very girly gamer. So much so, in fact, that my TikTok algorithm figured this out pretty quickly, which means my For You page is full of creators who share similar interests to my own, which usually equates to looking cute and playing video games. One of them happens to be a girly gaming creator named Navami Nethravathy, who goes by @pinkjusitsu on the app.
The Yassification of Gaming
My favorite series she does is called “The Yassification of Gaming,” the premise of which is to show femininely-presenting gamers how they can play games in a “girly” way. The term “yassification,” like most popular slang these days, came from LGBTQ+ spaces dating back to the drag ball scene in the 1980s, and specifically from people of color. It derives from the simple term “yas,” which is a way of expressing overwhelming approval of something – having to describe it like this makes me uncomfortable in the way of having to explain why a joke is funny, but I digress.
Yassification, then, takes this a step further, and thanks to Urban Dictionary, is defined as, “the process of making something substantially better than its original version, or of having something appear to be significantly better than its similar or comparable predecessor.” The meme swept Twitter last November, filling our timelines with pictures of historical figures and fictional characters sporting new hairdos and full faces of virtual makeup that were created in FaceApp.
An example of a “yassification” relevant to the gaming scene is the viral image of a before and after of someone putting makeup on Aloy from the Horizon series to bemoan the crime of the developers not making her pretty enough. A key difference here is that the original poster of the image was seemingly lacking any self-awareness, while those who post the memes now do so ironically.
This was the original Yassification pic.twitter.com/AUr0OhgbUZ
— mere strömb (@merestromb) November 18, 2021
The type of content one would expect to see from “The Yassification of Gaming,” then, are titles like The Sims, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing – games that are inherently seen as more “girly” because of their relaxing gameplay and large female player-bases. You know, the kind of games that only girls can play because they’re too frivolous compared to the more intense, manly titles gaming has to offer.
Reclaiming the “manly” games for the girls
But what’s so brilliant about Nethravathy’s series is that she instead chooses to focus on titles like Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and God of War, just to name a few. Anyone who’s been around the gaming scene for more than like a day knows these games are considered to be some of the most “manly” titles you can play, and have predominantly white male fanbases. Rather than shying away from these titles due to their reputations, Nethravathy describes how to play them from a female perspective in a way that’s really eye-opening, and quite frankly, fun.
The Witcher 3 is girly because “you can ride a unicorn, date hot women, and dress up your swords with runestones, which proves that accessories are the best weapons.” In the 2018 reboot of God of War, you can “forage for flowers in a witch’s magical garden” and use them to “heal woodland creatures.” BioShock‘s appeal to girlier gamers is “obvious” because you “literally get to live out your mermaid dreams.” My personal favorite is the inclusion of Cattails, because nothing is girlier than “fending for yourself in a cruel and thankless world.”
One of her TikToks even includes her taking Link from Breath of the Wild on a “self-care picnic” because “even the hero of Hyrule needs a break sometimes,” which I think is one of the most delightful examples of role-playing in a game I’ve ever seen.
I love the energy of her page so much, because there are a ton of layers here. While her tone is purposefully silly and satirical, she really is appealing to those who enjoy feminine activities and aesthetics in a way that helps break down the intimidating, gatekeep-y feeling that this corner of gaming tends to have, and introduces more feminine gamers to amazing titles that they may not have tried otherwise.
cozy link ???????????? reuploaded with better quality footage since people liked this one. do y’all want more in-game videos like this? ???????? #botw #cottagecore #fypシ #foryou #browntiktok #browngamergirl #SmellLikeIrishSpring
Something else that’s going on under the surface here is a reclamation of the label “girl” or “girly.” These terms are often used to address women even if they’re well into adulthood (when’s the last time you heard a grown man be called a boy?), and are used to infantilize, discount, or downplay women in subtle ways. We’ve seen a huge resurgence of women taking back derogatory terms that have been used against them in the past (the “bimbofication” movement is a great example of this, and goes hand in hand with “yassification”). It’s cool to see someone like Nethravathy presenting “girly” gaming as a fun, uplifting thing to do, especially because of how historically sexist the gaming industry has been.
There’s more than one way to play
Apparently, some of the male viewers who have come across her videos aren’t too thrilled that she’s presenting their favorite “masculine” games as something girly. A lot of women have noticed a trend of men looking down on the things that women love, perceiving anything feminine as inherently having less substance or importance – a phenomenon in pop culture that has been well-known for years now.
I find any backlash to Nethravathy’s videos to be pretty ridiculous, because perceiving The Witcher or Skyrim as a girly game is in no way negatively affecting anyone. The beauty of interaction through games is being able to experience a fictional world in any way you damn well please, and for a portion of us, that means making things look pretty and riding around on horsies.
Sometimes not taking things so seriously and just enjoying them for their aesthetic beauty or the feeling they evoke in us can be fun, and even freeing. She never said that there’s a right or wrong way to play the game – something some of the male players seem adamant about – but instead simply presents a new way to interpret the content.
Gender performance in games
Another wonderful thing about Nethravathy’s discussion of girly gaming is that it also shines a light on gender performance, and how games allow for a safe space for us to play around with how we want to present ourselves. We’ve seen this for decades with character creators, and even more recently with character creators that allow users to choose genders outside of the male/female binary. Games with inclusive gender options run the gambit, from Dream Daddy to Forza Horizon 5 to Cyberpunk 2077.
It can be so affirming for LGBTQ+ players to have the option to explore their identity in a virtual world, but actual gameplay outside of the character creator isn’t a conversation I’ve seen quite as often. Using The Witcher 3 again as an example, the player has no other choice but to play as Geralt, and while the player can’t change his physical appearance or even romance anyone who isn’t a woman (at least to my knowledge), players can choose to perceive Geralt’s actions as more feminine – which is where Nethravathy’s examples of riding a unicorn and decorating your swords with gemstones comes into play.
Calling the game girly flies in the face of the male fans’ insistence that The Witcher can only be interpreted as a super macho game, because at the end of the day, gender performance just comes down to how you choose to follow or reject the arbitrary rules that our culture has placed on us, and you can play around with those rules in a lot of really fun ways in an interactive artistic medium.
@pinkjujitsu is putting the kind of girly energy I want to see so much more of in the gaming space, because at the end of the day, they’re for everyone. Games are entertainment – the whole point of them is to have fun, so just play them how you want. And if you want to try something new, maybe try playing your favorite game in a girly way, if you haven’t already.