All it took was the promise of seeing Stampy Cat on Disney XD’s newest TV show, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, and my 6-year-old begged for the free episode currently offered on iTunes. We’re a family that loves to play video games and watches the Disney Channel regularly, so it seemed like a match made in heaven… until we got a sneak peek at the pilot.
Stampy Cat kicks off the episode, as promised, gamely playing the part of an announcer (no pun intended) at the finals of a world gaming championship. No girl gamer shown in the finals, I noticed immediately, but knowing that there was a girl in the regular cast, I was willing to let it slide. But it turned out to be the portrayal of that girl that sealed my opinion: If the pilot is any indication, this is a show that plays on most of the worst stereotypes about gamers.
Ashley shushes the others for loudly saying that she plays video games, bemoaning that her volleyball teammates will think less of her if they find out. In an age where almost every kid, girl or boy, plays games either on a smartphone or in the world of Minecraft, it seems like an out-of-date attitude for a character to have.
On top of that, Ashley could have served as a strong counterpart to pro-gamer Conor, with smarts and confidence in both herself and her own skills as a “gamer.” Instead, the character my daughter could have identified with (as an avid game player herself) is an easily-distracted ditz. The other gamers have problems with social skills and lack common sense. Is making fun of people who play video games really still a thing?
Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything premieres on July 22 on Disney XD. The channel is more directed at appealing to a young male audience, so perhaps that explains the stereotypes and depiction of Ashley. And, granted, this is a kids’ comedy show, so my expectations shouldn’t be high to begin with. But knowing that there are wonderful female characters on Disney XD’s shows (I’m looking at you, Star Wars Rebels), I can’t simply excuse it away. We’ll stick to Stampy Cat on YouTube instead.