The Male Female Gamer

Like many others, I play games to have fun, relax, and de-stress from the day. Most nights, I can chat with people, kill some bad guys, have a few laughs, and call it a day. Yet every now and then, real life sneaks in and ruins that. Like when someone asks about your gender and refuses to accept that you won’t answer personal questions.

One of the major tenets of the Internet is anonymity. This is especially true in gaming, where your skill at the game should matter more than your personal life. You are whatever age, race, gender, etc. you say you are, and in most cases, nobody can prove otherwise.

Yet anonymity reinforces the use of stereotypes. With sparse details about a person, we feel the need to fill in the blanks and fabricate a persona for them. We create a first impression based on less information than we get from in-person encounters, and what’s easier to fall back on than stereotypes? Stereotypes, no matter how detrimental, are based on truth. That’s why they continue to persist with such strength.

So what happens when one of those tiny pieces of information is “female gamer”? The reaction depends on the context and audience, but they boil down into four main responses:

Immediate response: sexist jokes.

“There are no women on the Internet.” “A GIRL is just a Guy In Real Life.” “Get back in the kitchen.” “Make me a sandwich.” “Go back to your dolls, gaming is for boys.” “Sure you’re a girl, you just want attention.” I have heard all of these, several times.

Subsequent response: gifts.

A fair portion of the male gaming population seems to think showering a girl with gifts will make her fawn over him. These gifts aren’t really gifts. If you accept them, the giver thinks he owns you, and you owe him. If you don’t give him what he wants (IE an Internet girlfriend), you’re the gold-digging attention whore who took advantage of the poor kid. Declining can be just as bad.

Subconscious response: altered expectations.

Women gamers are assumed to be bad, so any slight mistake we make is judged far harsher and held up as evidence than women shouldn’t game. We’re expected to fail, and as such, endure patronizing remarks and the heroes who want to “protect” us. Even if they mean well, it hurts when people assume you can’t play as well, or need extra help, based solely on your gender.

No response

Then you have the wonderful people who do nothing. They realize how gender means next to nothing in a game. They don’t treat you like a special unicorn, they don’t hurl slurs and sexist remarks your way. They treat you like another human being. I love these people. Unfortunately, their voices are the ones rarely heard.

I’m a female gamer and proud of it. Until recently, I’ve never had reservations about correcting people regarding my gender. Now, though, I’m tired of the harassment, the different treatment, and people not taking me seriously because of my gender.

It’s worse than before, too. Saying *she when someone calls you he isn’t a simple “btw, that’s the wrong pronoun for me” anymore. Instead, people see it as a cry for attention. A “look at me I’m special!!!” and will start a flame war, with you at the heart of it.

I don’t want to deal with that, not when I’m in a game to have fun and relax. People can go ahead assume I’m male; it’s not like they have any physical cues to indicate otherwise. In fact, I prefer they do, that way I won’t have to deal with the attention (both positive and negative) being a female gamer garners.

Online, you are whoever you want to be. Age, race, gender, etc. should not determine how people treat you. Instead, everyone should treat others with the respect and dignity they would any other human being, regardless of which gender they claim to be. After all, the Internet is the easiest place to lie.

Leave the gender issues out of my games. I’m just here to kill stuff.
I won’t answer your personal questions, and if you have a problem with it, don’t talk to me.

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on September 20, 2012, in Fun and Games, Real Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I’m a girl gamer too but in my experiences (through WoW, AoC, RIFT, GW2, and many many others) if you are being harassed for being female, you are hanging out with the wrong crew. Random trolls shouting in general chat don’t get to know that I’m a girl. Guildies that I know and trust know I’m a girl from my voice on Team Speak.

    I had guys flirting with me in game when I was single (and even met my husband through WoW) but never felt harassed. No one cares if I’m a girl. We are just a happy group of people who want to play together.

    • In most cases, I absolutely agree. I’ve rarely had guild-related issues in regards to my gender, and if you can’t trust your guild to not harass you, you should probably find a different guild. Even so, what do you do when there’s one rotten apple in a batch of perfect ones? It’s a tough situation for anyone. I’m glad to hear you have such a great group of people to play with and don’t have to worry about that. Gives the rest of us some hope, hah

  2. I was talking with my husband and he told me that I can be a little oblivious and that I don’t have problems now because I’m not single and everyone knows I’m married.

    He said that when I was single guys paid more attention to me. I probably didn’t even realize it and just thought they were that nice to everyone, which is pretty much the truth. (I’m not as ditzy as that makes me sound, honestly.)

    So I guess in retrospect, I have come across it.

    This probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but with any issue in a well-functioning guild it is usually better to talk to an officer or guild leader. Suggest a solution, and hope they are decent enough people not to tolerate any guildies being nasty to other guildies. It really shouldn’t matter if the issue is sexism, racism, anti-gay, or any other number of offensive things. Hopefully the guild is run by people willing to take a stand about making it a place where everyone feels safe.

  3. My husband is a married gamer and has been talking to a single mom gamer for several months, not lying but definitely omitting. I confronted him and he says that how do I know she isn’t horrendous looking or something. That it isn’t waht I think. I told him doesn’t matter, bothers me, it should stop. It hasn’t. He leaves his boards up so I finally read all posts. A little too intimate for me. She gave him her number and he thinks it’s just innocent fun. When he talks about his life ( a vacation I planned to take him and our son to visit my family) he acted like he was going by himself. He seems to know a lot about her.
    I say you must be naive that woman digs you and if you are looking you must not be getting what you need. So I told him to go.
    What do you think when the opposite happens? When a chick gamer gives out her number?

    • Well. That was a loaded comment.

      In general, in-game flirting is analogous to real-life flirting. Gaming is a bit trickier since it’s so easy to pretend to be someone you’re not. Early in my gaming career, I met someone who was actively being scammed by a “girl” who was actually a Guy In Real Life. He thought he was in love with her, but she didn’t even exist.

      Like anything, you have your horror stories, but you also have your success stories. A “chick gamer” giving her number to a fellow gamer might be nothing more than friendly. All of my Whatsapp contacts are guys I met in games, and all of them are my friends and naught more.

      However, a husband who blatantly ignores his wife when she says she is uncomfortable with a specific situation, is absolutely wrong and disrespectful to a high degree. If his relationship with the other woman is purely platonic, he should have no problems sitting down and talking to you about it. That has nothing to do with gaming and everything to do with his desire (or lack there of) to make your relationship last.

    • So, have you divorced him yet?

  4. Married life gets boring for men. the more you disapprove, the more he will identify you with his mother as a controlling bitch. Whatever you learned from your mother on how to relate to men, SCRAP IT!!!! Don’t ask your girlfriends what to do as they will react against him and tell you to do something that will alienate him even more. You have a child? Well, you probably put your child first and he feels left out. I made that mistake in my second marriage and now I am twice divorced. Guys like to be in control and independent, but they really want someone to hold them, once in a while, without wanting something in return. Kiss on the cheek instead of the mouth means you don;’t need him to reciprocate and that you are not kissing him to get some effection back. If you need him to make you happy, you have shouldered him with adifficult task, Only you can really make yourself happy. give him a break and don’t demand him to be there for you all the time.

    Gaming is just a symptom of the problem, address the problem. If it is you, you can fix it. If it is him, you can’t fix it. So, go with, it is you causing the problem. then you will be in control.

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